Kinder, gentler MSTies - How we treat those associated with these movies?

I was speaking to someone online, who was in one of the MST movies, and they thanked me for the kind words I offered, and mentioned that some of the comments she’d received were not as kind.

And it made me think about how we, as fans, represent the show. Yes, I know we laugh at the movies and whatnot, and the humor can be cheeky and teasing, but I think when we speak to someone who worked on a MSTed movie we need to remember that this isn’t a character, it’s a real flesh and blood human. (even if you dislike the movie they made or were in, you can be respectful when speaking to them)

Another example - about 15 years ago a woman contacted me about a quote I shared from Bruno VeSota, and as we spoke I mentioned that I really liked his work in Giant Leeches, yeah it’s a silly movie with people in plastic bags playing the creatures, but he brought a lot of heart and soul to his role, he could have phoned it in, but he didn’t, and ever since seeing that ep, I became a Bruno fan and sought out his work.

She responded with relief, because, she revealed, Bruno was her father. I think her expectation was that MSTies would treat her dad with scorn, and not with the appreciation I showed him. I was also able to help her find his autobiography (this is why she contacted me in the first place) that he was working on, with another writer, before he died (I’m no detective, and I have no idea how I did it. I found one little crumb and followed that to the end).

Anyway, she was happy, and I hope, came away thinking that “hey, these folks aren’t half bad”.

I don’t know what the MST3Ks cast and crew, or Joel’s attitude is about these movies and performers, but we as fans also represent the show, and how we treat a person is going to stick with them.

Anyway, end of sermon.

So, have any of you met or spoken with the folks who made these movies, and what kind of impression did you leave?


I never got to speak with anyone personally except for Debbie from Manos, who’s a sweetheart by the way, but I always felt that MST3K only did what they did because they, at least to some degree, respect and admire at least the EARNESTNESS of the creators.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but I kind of felt there was a bit of love in all that mockery.


I haven’t met anyone from the movie that has been riffed. I can imagine randos coming up to me saying I was horrible in an already bad movie being a stressful event. Man, my heart goes out to them. We’re all trying our best.


I would hope I’d be nothing but positive to these people (though I suspect it would be difficult with Tony Cardoza). Some of them - Beverly Garland, Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, and of course Christopher Lee, among others - I have quite a lot of respect for. Not that I’ll be meeting any of them, but the mere fact that they did a somewhat off film is no reason to mock them in life. Most of us are fortunate not to have permanent audio-visual records of our worst moments, or at least such was the case before social media.

Some of the folks behind these films - Frank Dietz, David Worth, the Clonus guys - have proven to be good friends to MST3K fans and I think that is fantastic.

I will say though that if I had met Gene Roth it would have been really hard not to call him Merritt Stone.


:laughing: HaHa! I hear that!


I once met director and star of The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, Ray Dennis Steckler, at a screening of a new (in 2006) movie he made, and he was not happy at all about Mystery Science Theater. I was not going to bring up MST3K, but my girlfriend mentioned it was my favorite show. He said he did not care for what they did and called them anti-semites. I quietly walked away embarrassed.

The movie he made was billed as a sort of documentary about how he returned to his hometown after decades away, which could have been interesting. It was just home videos shot on a consumer hi-8 camcorder with a too-loud rockabilly soundtrack. There was a Q&A afterwards, and when he asked those of us in the audience how we liked his film, no one really had anything to say. He berated us all and we left quietly. It was one of the most awkward nights of my life. I bought a The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies t-shirt from him that I still sometimes wear.


Ouch, yeah that would be rough.

Sounds like he couldn’t handle constructive criticism to me. It would hurt to not make a good movie when you poured out your heart and soul into it, but that’s a childish way to respond to people just not knowing what to say about your movie.


For me, the art of making movies fascinated me. The lower the budget the more fascinated I am. Restrictions make creative Petrie dishes where great ideas can come alive. Granted, low budgets and not high quality actors can make it a B movie, but I still appreciate the artform of filmmaking, and even more so when it’s not a 100+ million dollar budget and CGI everywhere.

I also think everyone deserves respect and shouldn’t be treated poorly just because they make bad movies.


Around the same time that I met Mr Dennis Steckler, I was interning on a documentary that had hired The Final Sacrifice director Tjardus Greidanus as its editor. I only interacted with him once or twice, but he seemed a nice guy. Word around the production office was that he was very difficult, though. I did not mention The Final Sacrifice or MST3K.


I once spoke to Arch Hall Jr and had him autograph his CD, and he was super cool about MST, and they hit him and his dad pretty hard. But to his way of thinking, MSTies like me were buying his product, searching out his other movies, going to his concerts, and were generally nice to him - In regards to MST and Eegah he had a “I can take it, and there are plusses to the attention it received”, type attitude.


My attitude has always been that every actor/director/musician makes at least one stinker in their career, so no reason to think less of someone for it. And for some of the actors it really isn’t their fault the movie was bad.


Debbie’s book “Growing Up With Manos” is wonderful. And it really helps you see how there was a lot of talent that was (gloriously) wasted by one guy with vision.

I feel like the Space Mutiny heroes are probably sweethearts. They’ve been married for, like, 40 years.

MST3K should never be about degrading people. On the “372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back” podcast, Mike (Nelson) and Rifftrax writer Conor Lastowka covered Eye of Argon, and it always stuck with me that the author vowed never to write again, which I think is tragic.

There’s a kind of magic to the whole process and that should be respected. My two cents.


I once asked Joel in a Reddit AMA if he had any riffing advice and he said “Don’t be an asshole”. Assuming he meant this generally and not me personally, I take this to heart and it’s just generally good advice overall in life.

If you’re riffing something, the film, no matter how poorly executed, was made by people who have feelings and lives and problems. They’re not personally attacking you with their film. They’re just folks who, through lack of budget or imagination or limited skill, didn’t make an Oscar contender. It’s fine to poke fun at folks but don’t really go after them. Also keep in mind that the movie is your partner. You can’t do your job without it as a riffer. So keep that in mind when you watch it and have at least some respect for the people who did put effort into making the movies that we use to make a riffing project.


Yep. Check any meanspiritedness at the door.

It’s just good advice for life.


It reminds me a bit of the Angry Video Game Nerd, who made a name for himself ranting against “bad video games”, and one of the first he covered was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Many years later, Mike Matei, one of the collaborators on the AVGN series, revealed that people have taken the belief that they hate every single bad game they mock on their series, when in fact they actually really enjoy them, at least on some level, and that people taking their reviews as 100% gospel of how they feel and that all games deserved scorn and hate for being created are wrong for assuming that. The “Nerd” is a character, not the actor they portray. They might put a bit of themselves into the character, it’s not the same as the actor.

That’s kinda how some people take the MST3K riffing, that their comments should be taken as exactly how they feel about the films and filmmakers, forgetting that it is all joke routines. Sure, sometimes the jokes can get mean-spirited, even dark, but for the most part, they do respect the filmmakers for putting themselves out there in making the films.


Back just after the 1994 ConventioCon (which sadly I couldn’t get to) there was some chatter about guests for a second ConventioCon on the old Usenet group, and I just kind of absently commented that it was a shame that Hal (Manos) Warren and John (Torgo) Reynolds were gone, because the line would be absolutely around the block at the next ConventioCon to get their autographs, and that while they hadn’t created a good movie, they had created a memorable one, which (IMO) was ahead of most Hollywood output.

Next thing I know I get a personal email from Hal’s widow thanking me for my comment and adding that Hal would have loved it.

Sometimes you not only don’t know who you’re talking to, you don’t even know who’s listening…


What made you delete this comment? I thought it was tasteful, insightful and well balanced.

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One thing that I think comes across when Joel is talking is just how much respect he has for these movies.

Bad B movies are special in their own right. The directors and actors are often clearly doing their best with a low budget and like 2 weeks to film. Everyone starts somewhere, some people make their name in making those B movies and continue making them for a group of diehard fans, others use the experience to go on and make bigger, better movies. And some times big names just need the money and there’s nothing wrong with that


Some perspective for the upcoming season: