Monday, December 22, 2008

Cinematic Titanic: Doomsday Machine

As a big MST3K fan, I’ve decided to check out Joel’s Cinematic Titanic. It’s basically the next iteration of MST3K. The original cast (Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and J. Elvis Weinstein) plus Mary Jo Pehl and TV’s Frank mercilessly rip cheesy movies. Instead of puppet silhouettes, you get full body silhouettes of all six cast members. There are no host segments, but they stop the movie at least twice during each episode and do an updated version.

I saw the first offering (The Oozing Skull) when it was originally released and wasn’t overwhelmed. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but it seemed like a mid-level MST3K episode. The second installment (Doomsday Machine), however, is much better.

From the CT website:

American spies discover the Chinese have built a weapon capable of destroying planet Earth, a “doomsday machine” if you will, and that they plan to use it within a matter of days. Immediately, Project Astra, a manned US space mission to Venus, is taken over by the military and half of its all-male crew is replaced by women just hours before launch. The reason for this becomes apparent when, shortly after Astra leaves Earth’s orbit, said planet is completely destroyed (in a cataclysm of stock footage).

Doomsday Machine itself is a much more riffable movie. The plot is murky (even the characters don’t know what’s going on), the special effects are nothing more than stock footage, and the sets are cheesy. The interior of their spaceship is huge and their control chairs are just recliners with seatbelts. The “filmmakers” obviously couldn’t decide what they wanted to have the ship look like and had at least 3 vastly different models for the exterior. And the last 15 minutes of the movie are shot with different actors…who didn’t even try to disguise their voices!

Not only was the movie an easier target, the riffs from the crew were a lot sharper. I can’t count the number of times I actually laughed out loud at this one (“You’re ruining the Apocalypse for everyone!”).

All MST-ies should check out Cinematic Titanic. Doomsday Machine is great and I can’t wait to watch the follow ups: The Wasp Woman and Legacy of Blood.

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