When some people judge a movie to be “bad,” they either stop watching or pledge never to see it again. Other people, like most of the people here I imagine, take another path. What brings you here? Is it just the puppets on MST3K itself? Or the riffs on MST3K, Rifftrax, etc.?
I like discovering weird movies because they tend to explore radically different plots than the mainstream that AND the jokes to make them bearable combine into a really fun experience.
In the '80s, my high school friends and I would go to the video store once every couple of weeks or so, rent the worst-looking things we could find, order a couple of pizzas and spend the evening riffing the movies. MST3K felt like home from the moment I first saw it.
The combination of good jokes, which I always like, and the “can’t stop watching a train derailing” aspect of discovering just how amazingly bad a movie can be and still get released. But the binding that holds it all together for me is the host segments. I enjoy Rifftrax and some of their riffs are classics (Birdemic, Samurai Cop, Guy from Harlem) but it lacks the heart of MST3K, which is all about the relationships between the test subjects, both human and bot.
Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.
I love grade-Z movies already, and always have. And we had a family tradition of making fun of movies on TV anyway, so it was familiar. My dad letting fly on the then-annual airing of “The Ten Commandments” was absolutely hysterical.
I’m going to try to give as honest an answer as I can,
I feel like I’ve seen enough movies to almost have had my fill of movies in general(?) This isn’t accurate, but there’s certainly diminishing returns on the viewing experience as I’ve aged.
And during this process, I’ve transitioned from wanting to hear the director’s commentary over to just wanting to hear running commentary.
But the career of “riffer” adds the element of gagging on movies that are mostly unwatchable or just unfun by themselves. And honestly, from a production standpoint it’s educational to analyze the “suck factor” of a packaged piece.
Is it because I’m more refined and cultured than the average American?
I came for the robots and the exotic Midwest Futurist flavors.
I stayed, because… well: there are certain genres of better-grade movies (or shows, or comics) which I loved in my youth and then became disenchanted with. For reasons too personal, protracted, and complex to expound upon here. The process of observing and thinking about the riffs and sketches helps me process those feelings without hours and hours of costly therapy or post-graduate degrees.
It’s possible that in some way, this got flipped around for certain genres as well. At one time, I hated them. But riffing and goofy sketches gave me a new insight into them. Maybe I even came to like them as much as their fans did.
Great question! I sometimes like cheesy movies, and I’m always up for a good joke, so it’s a perfect match. It also rewards the part of my brain that holds decades of movie and pop culture trivia. And I really like the gentle spirit of laughing with movies vs. laughing at them – poking fun and having laughs, but never with genuine malice.
And riffing has exposed me to stuff I would never have otherwise discovered: Manos, of course, and The Dead Talk Back comes to mind. I’d never have sought out The Room if I weren’t already a fan of riffing.
The bots/host premise of MST3K is really icing on the cake. If all good movie riffs are a delicious meal, MST3K is the one where the chef took a few extra minutes to really polish the presentation.
Riffed movies make terrible movies palatable. Hollywood takes itself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. Bad movies have a strange “refreshing” aspect about them. All of that added together, with friends (robot and test subject alike) to suffer through the movies with you is a recipe for satisfaction.
The Host Segments are crucial to my enjoyment of MST3K. The silhouettes in the Theater are important as a focus for the riffing. I can’t stand Rifftrax because all of that is lacking, and the voices are an annoying distraction.
I like RT much of the time, but I concur with others that without puppets and host segments there’ll always be something missing.
I feel less like a jerk for talking back to movies when there are others doing it too. I can make jokes off of their riffs that don’t make sense plain. Some riffs encourage me to look things up. English dubbed Japanese movies have a lot of translation issues. I watch them in original Japanese and laugh over the differences between the dubbed and subtitled. I still hear the riffs in my head.
It is like watching movies with my smartest friends. I often would comment on whatever is on the TV, usually pointing out inconsistencies and stupid things. Of course, my comments are not as frequent or funny.
Another aspect is I like movies that ask the question, “What if?” The problem is lots of movies in that vein are poorly made. For example the films of Ed Wood, Bert I Gordon, and James Nguyen. Watching this kind of movies Riffed makes watching them easier.
I think I was attracted to it when I was a kid because I liked weird movies, especially sci-fi and fantasy, old movies, and also loved comedy. MST3K was like hitting the intersection of all those things. Plus it felt like watching movies with people that had my same sense of humor. In a way it always felt like hanging out with friends to me, and it’s still my go-to background “noise” because all those voices are like a warm blanket. As others have said Rifftrax lacks that more personal connection without host segments, and had I found them without ever having seen MST I might not have enjoyed it as much as I do now. Part of the fun for me in Rifftrax is that it’s Mike, Kevin and Bill’s voices that I know so well, plus that sense of humor that is now part of who I am having grown up on it!