Larry Chin has come to the United States in search of his brother. He finds himself shortly thereafter handcuffed to Stud Brown and they do make good their escape. Thus begins one of the most fu-less fu films in the history of…well, fu. The film is not so much punctuated as smothered in ellipses as characters seem to spend most of their time walking places and not doing much of anything, but looking vaguely retrotastic as appropriately frightening music plays. Baddie James Hong (Needcoffee fave and looking really scary in 70s mode…see below) gets so little respect that at one point they forget to mic him. And the fight sequences are so boring that you wish they’d go into full-on Jason Bourne Shakicam mode just to give us all something to look at.
While this sound like the perfect thing I’d watch at home, why would anyone in the right mind pay money to see this on the big screen in a real theatre? Because just like with any bad movie, the fun is in the people you see it with. Here at the site we’ve been saying for the past eleven years that any really egregiously bad film should not be seen unless MST3K does a show on it.
With Cinematic Titanic Live, you’re basically getting to hang out with five of the coolest movie riffers in our poor sliver of reality: Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein. So you get to watch the masters at work as they vivisect this poor unsuspecting film before your very eyes.
[ad#longpost]It’s a fun show that’s not just limited to wrestling the movie to the ground and giving it the comedic equivalent of a good tasering. Gruber is on hand to warm up the show and bring out the team, and the pre-show consisted of angry haikus performed with Josh on bass, WADD radio for people with no attention spans, and Frank arrived to pitch his new animated Saturday morning superhero show by singing the hell out of the theme song. All of the aforementioned are just as mental as you would hope they would be.
The film itself was terrible. The riffing was fantastic. And it’s an interesting thing: when you’re watching MST or Cinematic Titanic on DVD (which you can get here), you–well, I say you, maybe I’m the only one who did this–could at least pretend that these guys, consummate professionals and the senseis of movie riffing–were so good they could just improv each and every movie they did. I knew on some level they didn’t and actually watched the films several times and prepped and whatnot, but I still let myself believe that. And you would think that my poor deluded illusions would be shattered by seeing Team Titanic with their music stands and binders o’ notes.
And you’d actually be wrong. Because the experience is just different. You don’t know when they’re trying out new material and when it’s something they’ve done before. And the interaction on stage is what you would hope for–did Mary Jo laugh at one of the guys’ comments because it’s new or funny or both? And stuff that wouldn’t necessarily work in silhouette works great live, like a bit in unison that I’m afraid I can’t mention lest I ruin the surprise hilarity.
The other fascinating thing about seeing the show live is that you’re seeing a work in progress. This is them having invited you–better yet, come to your neighborhood–to work this material in front of a live audience before it gets canned on a DVD for posterity. So the other fascinating thing was to watch them as some jokes would work splendidly and some things were funny…just not laugh-out-loud funny. You could see the gears turning–and it will be interesting to see the differences in the performances between here–first stop on the tour–and when they release this on DVD.
So would I recommend you see them? Of course. That goes without saying. They’re friendly, they stay after and are happy to chat with folks because they appreciate their fanbase. As Josh pointed out, the fanbase has remained a fanbase for the ten years since MST went the way of all flesh, so how could you not acknowledge that? These are smart people, so of course they do. See the show. And then come back the next night and see it again, since it’s a different movie the next night. I’ll be going for round two tonight–I will report back with any new findings, observations or species of theatre monkey.