MST3K is an interesting phenomenon. During its run on a cable comedy channel south of the border, it skewered bad movies of the past four decades every week. Though the show would have secondary skits that would highlight the cheesiness of the movie being skewered that week, the bulk of the show was the movie being skewered. As you saw the movie, you would see the silhouettes of the cast of MST3K, who would be watching along with you, throwing out little comments our adding their own 'dialogue'.
Now, there are four tapes available of MST3K:
This is the best of them all. Mitchell was a Joe Don Baker cop drama that absolutely made no sense, making it perfect for MST3K, since you don't really have to pay attention to the plot (for example, John Saxon played a central character that virtually disappears in the middle of the movie for no good reason). There are great comments and references throughout. For example, during a slow car chase in the middle of the movie, the MST3K cast throw out comments like, "This car chase is so slow that it makes Driving Miss Daisy look like Bullitt" or "Hot merging action!... My heart was in my throat until they merged with traffic successfully", or "I've seen funeral processions faster than this". If you only see one MST3K, this is it!
This is one of those nuclear bomb-spawned giant man on a rampage from the 50's movies. Not as good as Mitchell, but there are great comments throughout. The MST3K crew are in fine form skewering the fifties-techobabble that attempts to add plausibility to the plot and pokes fun at all those scenes where people slip into highly-guarded government complexes without anyone noticing ("We'll just leave the door unlocked so that you can go in after we leave", "I'm just passing through, my eyes are straight forward, and I don't see you").
This is some Conan-type movie from the 70's that was so bad, that they took footage from another low-budgeter to use for the opening and closing credits. Unfortunately, like the movie itself, this MST3K is slow and the good comments are hard to find. However, there is a great section where the MST3K crew make fun of the 'shoebox' format of the opening credit sequence of The Cave Dwellers, which bumps it up from one to two stars.
The MST3K crew skewer This Island Earth and though not as good as Mitchell, it is up there. This one just came out at Blockbuster recently
Just as a follow-up to the MST3K review, here's what Leonard Maltin thought of two of the movies that MST3K skewered:
Mitchell: Maltin gives this film 2&1/2 stars and has this to say about it: "Baker plays a tough cop whose singleminded pursuit of a drug ring leads to expected action and violence; slick handling of typical action fodder." Slick handling? I don't think he saw the same movie I did. It was quite lame all the way (though the bit part of a young Jerry Hardin-- Deep Throat on the X-files, was mildly interesting).
This Island Earth: "Suspenseful, intelligent science fiction, about scientists lured to a mysterious project, only to find they've been recruited-- or more appropriately, shanghaied-- by aliens to help them defend their invasion-torn planet. Thoughtful and exciting, with excellent visuals." Intelligent science fiction? Thoughtful and exciting? Syeah... as if. You have a hero (played by Rex Reason) who does nothing heroic throughout the whole movie, a heroine who looks uncomfortable in all her scenes, an annoying cliche-spouting sidekick, and Russel Johnson (the professor on Gilligan's Island). I dare you to watch TIE and a) not crack up and b) agree with Leonard Maltin. I double-dare you..