820. Space Mutiny (1988)

The Excalibur of MSTiedom? Eccentric Cinema insists it’s “quite possibly the worst science fiction/space adventure film in English.” Bill Corbett reminisces, “One of the movies that stood out for me was Space Mutiny. It was a South African film that was really fun and really dumb and gave us the gift of having a character killed off pointedly one moment and then, five minutes later, sitting back at her desk.” “Railing Kills”, “Calgon… Take me away!”, “Blast Hardcheese.” Is it the greatest? New Encyclopedias, Thrown In Jail, Tea In Peace, Crow Is Bellerian, Servo Installs Railings, Bobo Burns Rome. “Amazingly Idiotic Productions”, “I have my doubts that this movie is starring anyone”, “Passed from editor to editor in a desperate attempt to save it.” “There’s gonna be seven levels of hell in this movie too” or “Back to the rusting septic system of this futuristic spaceship”?

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New Encyclopedias.

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Tea In Peace.

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Crow Is Bellerian.

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Servo Installs Railings.

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End Credits to Space Mutiny (1988)

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Best of 820.

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Captain Santa Claus.

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The Many Names of David Ryder.

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Space Mutiny - Why We Love It.

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2013 Turkey Day Intro To Space Mutiny (1988).

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Kalgan Blow Me Away.

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Dead Woman.

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Mutiny of Love Space Mutiny Music Video.

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More Best of 820.

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Even More Best of 820.

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Even Further Best of 820.

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Dance Scene.

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The Varied Railing Kills of Space Mutiny (1988).

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Stock footage is ubiquitous in the movies featured on MST3K, as obtaining it from a film library can be far less expensive than shooting it yourself. A similar cost-cutting measure involves reusing effects shots from previous films. For instance, the dinosaur footage from One Million B.C. can be seen in both Robot Monster and Teenage Cave Man. But even more flagrant is how Space Mutiny cribbed footage from Battlestar Galactica for the spaceship shots. At the time this episode first aired, it was considered a minor crime among the fan base that this wasn’t acknowledged in the riffing (apparently Trace and Frank were responsible for the bulk of the riffs which alluded to older TV shows).

An unusual aspect of the movie is how it features the generation ship concept, which you’re more likely to see in literary science fiction. For those who have not seen The Expanse or might otherwise be unfamiliar with it, a generation ship travels from one star to another at sub-light speeds. But unlike a sleeper ship where the passengers are kept in some form of stasis, people continue to live and die, with several generations never knowing life outside a spaceship. This informs the motivation of the antagonists, which came across a bit more clearly in the uncut version that was screened at the RiffTrax Live presentation. Their scheme is to sell the crew and passengers to pirates as slaves and use the proceeds to settle on a closer world. Honestly, I don’t buy it, as interstellar travel through generation ships isn’t conductive to the sort of commerce that would make piracy feasible.

The casting for the leads is unusual, as the roles in question are the sort that normally go to younger performers. Reb Brown and Cisse Cameron were in their mid to late thirties at the time, and it showed (especially for the latter, who was wearing an unflattering leotard). Then there are the Bellarians, who can probably be best described as Space Wiccans. The bulk of their screen time has them doing interpretive dance with no obvious connection to the rest of the plot. Apparently, the footage was shot and tacked on late in the production when it was found that the movie didn’t come up to feature length. Sad really.

For once, the host segments down in Ancient Rome are actually pretty good, as Bobo’s blundering has resulted in them being locked up in a dungeon. Up on the Satellite, Mike’s teatime being interrupted by Servo and Crow engaging in a dogfight is especially memorable. The sight of him daintily dropping a sugar cube into a cup is just so incongruous to his usual image.

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