Mystery Science Theater 3000/Recap/The Movie

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Film watched: This Island Earth

The MST3K version provides examples of:
  • Actor Allusion: Steve Carlson is played by Russell Johnson, so a few jokes center around his role on Gilligan's Island and the use of Bamboo Technology.
  • Executive Meddling: According to Best Brains Inc., the film was horribly mangled by the distributors, Grammercy Pictures: amongst other things they insisted a movie with substantially more quality than the average MST3K fare (probably the only point in which Grammercy and Best Brains agreed, though this movie wasn't the latter's first choice), a shorter running time and less obscure riffs to make the movie more accessible. They also threw in some random profanity to just so the movie could be rated PG-13. Best Brains considered the movie to be the least satisfying project they have worked on and even included not-so-subtle Take Thats at Grammercy in the host segments of The Incredible Melting Man episode. The distributors had a choice of which film to put their full support behind: this one, or Barb Wire. They chose the latter, leaving this film to barely make it into theaters. They also insisted the movie have something of an overarching plot. The film begins with Crow trying to tunnel his way out, he picks up a chainsaw in the next scene, and then the ending was going to have him try to tunnel out of the Satellite of Love again with the chainsaw. The ending bit with Crow trying to escape with the chainsaw was cut because the original ending was much longer, and focus groups complained that the movie was too long, so the ending was changed to a shorter one, and many parts of This Island Earth cut out. The focus group consisted of people who'd never heard of the show, and didn't understand it!
    • It's not uncommon for a movie studio to gather people for a focus group unfamiliar with the source material. For example, if you're a Tim Burton fan, it's unlikely you'd be chosen to be part of a focus group for one of his movies. The thinking is, you'd have a biased opinion and think, "Tim Burton is a genius! Nothing in this film should be changed!" So they're going to pick people who don't really know who Tim Burton is, or maybe people who are familiar with his movies, but not Burton per se.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Of course parodied, when Crow breached the hull he asked for the blueprints to his plan. The paper flies into his face and he reads it over. "Oh look at that, 'Breach Hull, all die!' I even had it underlined!"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Tom Servo blocks the hull breach with his hoverskirt, he starts cooing in delight as the vacuum of space sucks at him from underneath, declaring, "I'm experiencing a sensation altogether new to me and frankly, I love it!" When Mike removes him, he growls, "Aw, darn!"
  • Homage: The movie's opening credits play over Mike jogging along the inside of a circular track, similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey...but Mike's in a human-sized hamster wheel, complete with hanging water bottle.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Mike's revelation that he's an instrument-rated pilot in Microsoft Flight Simulator prompts Crow and Servo to dare him to take the controls of the Satellite of Love. Five seconds later, the Hubble telescope is destroyed. Notably, he complains when they make the dare that piloting a satellite is nothing like piloting a plane.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Crow plans to escape the Satellite of Love by tunneling out of it. "Hey, I calculated the odds this would succeed versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid, and... I went ahead anyway."
    • "Wow, look at that! 'Breach Hull, All Die!' Even had it underlined!"
  • Medium Awareness: Averted for a change. Tom doesn't know why their credits would involve puppeteers.
    • There's an odd reversal from the show, which had the SOL crew aware of the audience while the Mads weren't. Here, Dr. Forrester talks directly to us to set up the premise, while the crew ignore us.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe; during the credits, we get the AMAZING RANDO!
  • The Movie: There are some legitimate complaints that Executive Meddling dumbed-down the riffing to broaden the appeal and that This Island Earth may not deserve such treatment, but for the most part MST3K:TM was well-received. For an example of how the riffs were dumbed down: when the insect monster first appears, the original riff was going to be: "Bootsy Collins!" instead of "Leona Helmsley!" The executives didn't know who Bootsy Collins was, so it was changed. The Brazilian dub changed it to Tina Turner.
  • Precision F-Strike: Even if it was Executive Meddling, they made good use out of it:

Tom: (On first seeing Metaluna) What kind of shithole planet is this?!?

  • Room Full of Crazy: We finally get a good look at the room of Tom Servo, which contains a race-car-shaped bed, a chainsaw, his massive underwear collection, and an interocitor.
  • Running Gag: As one example, there's "The Amazing Rando!" from the credits.
    • And Eastman. He came from the east to battle The Amazing Rando!
  • Shout-Out/Mythology Gag: One of the theater doors has a cast of TV's Frank's face on it. The "hard copy of the status report" that Gypsy gives Mike is actually an old Satellite News from the MST3K Info Club. The "Manipulator Arm" Mike uses to delicately pry the Hubble off the SOL's hull is labeled "Manos" and is accompanied by a brief snippet of Torgo's Leitmotif. Many, many references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, especially during the opening credits.
  • Space Is an Ocean: The controls of the Satellite Of Love are almost identical to a boat's helm, to the point Gypsy (whose major duty in-series is running the satellite) drives it while wearing a captain's hat and singing "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor".
  • What Could Have Been: A few years ago, Joel Hodgson stated in interviews that the real reason he left was because of Creative Differences with Jim Mallon over this project. Joel admitted he was afraid of splitting BBI as a result (he didn't want anyone taking sides against each other), which would all damaged the show itself, so he left. One wonders how the history of MST3K would have been very different had the movie never been made. Paramount head Brandon Tartikoff was interested in producing a movie circa-1993, but he wanted an Origins Episode about how Joel got onto the SOL and built the Bots, with far less movie riffing than expected. Joel turned him down and was backed up by the entire BBI crew.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The "hallway to the theater" transitions are accompanied by a ridiculously majestic score (especially the first one). It's probably safe to assume that this was deliberate.
  • Your Head Asplode: Servo's dome seems to be a magnet for interocitor beams.