Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, and by now you've probably gobbled up most if not all of its 14-episode 11th season. And what I suspect you thought after that is "MORE, GIVE ME MORE!"
Considering how popular MST3K's return has been been, it's very likely that there will be more seasons to come. What should they watch, though? Well, there are a lot of factors to consider.
Joel Hodgson has always tried to keep MST3K largely a family-friendly affair, which means a lot of nudity is out. Keeping things PG-13 isn't easy when so much of the '60s through the '90s B-movie stuff tended to throw boobies at the screen as though every director was convinced they'd invented the topless woman.
And then there's also Joel's edict that he wants to like the movies that he riffs. Sure, many of the MST3K movies aren't good in the technical sense, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to enjoy.
Also? MST3K and Rifftrax have riffed A LOT of movies over the years, which makes the pool of movies feel even smaller. And other people have made this list and I don't want to repeat them. The more options the better, I say.
The good news is that there are, in fact, still plenty of movies to choose from. And these are ten (more than ten, since I combined a few for reasons that will become apparent) I think would fit right in among Jonah and the bots. These are movies most of which you probably haven't heard of. But I think MST3K is best served by taking on the lesser-known and weirder fare. After all, if you want a riff of The Room you can watch Rifftrax do it. Or literally anyone else on the Internet do it. Don't worry, though: There are a few crowd pleasers in there, too.
Give these a look and then tell me what movies you want to see riffed for Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 12.
Shout Factory put out a two-pack Blu-ray with last season's Reptilicus and this ridiculous nonsense, Tentacles. You know how there were a glut of Jaws rip-off movies in the '70s? Well, Tentacles is more infamous than Orca, probably the most well-known Jaws rip-off movie. Aimless, silly, yet possessed of some actually talent and some very intense music, Tentacles is about as so-bad-it's-kinda-sorta-maybe-good as it's gonna get. And given the success of Reptilicus (hey, that kaiju song was pretty dope), I think it's double feature companion will fare very well.
Caltiki the Immortal Monster (1959)
I'm a big fan of The Blob and I also derive a certain pleasure in laughing at historically inaccurate and vaguely racist 1950s B-movies. Caltiki is a blending of both, and it's actually not a bad movie for what it is. While looking into an abandoned civilization, archeologists discover what might be the remnants of an ancient goddess, Caltiki. Caltiki is so scary, the Mayans basically picked up and moved to get away from her. And they probably didn't have to move too quickly since Caltiki is just a big blobby thing. It's pretty funny, especially with its over-the-top English language dub. Jonah and the 'bots would have a field day with it.
A*P*E 3D (1976) / The Mighty Peking Man (1977)
I don't think a new MST3K season could be complete without a solidly bad King Kong rip-off. Lots of options are available, but I would say either the Tarantino favorite Mighty Peking Man or the recently restored Ape 3D. Both star men in gorilla suits. Both are absolutely cheesy beyond belief. Mighty Peking Man is more action-packed, but Ape 3D features not King Kong playing with balloons while adorable music plays. Honestly, you can't go wrong with either.
Syfy recently asked me to make a video about this Van Damme movie. I'm glad they did. It's absolutely silly beyond belief. Van Damme is supposed to be helping the titular cyborg get a cure for a plague into the hands of the people who can produce it in volume. But really it's about villains chewing scenery and Van Damme kicking things/being hung from a cross. There's a little nudity, but nothing that couldn't be easily edited out.
Cathy's Curse (1977)
Hey, didn't I just write about this movie? Yes, I did. But it's absolutely perfect for MST3K. An Exorcist rip-off made on the cheap in Canada where a young girl swears like a sailor and pushes people out windows with the power of her evil doll? Yeah, it was destined to be a part of the Mystery Science Theater ouvre. The only thing that held it back was a terrible transfer which Severin finally corrected this year.
Enemy Mine (1985)
Another movie I personally love starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. as a reptilian alien. Two races at war get trapped on a planet together. One of them is pregnant and looks weird. It's a real Odd Couple story with more than enough weirdness to poke fun at.
The Man From Planet X (1951)
If you're of a certain age, you've probably seen The Man From Planet X. And chances are you liked it! It's pretty good for a super low budget movie that reused sets from 1948's Joan of Arc. Remember, though, This Island Earth is a pretty good movie, too. It's also pretty silly. And while The Man From Planet X is one of the first films to do the whole flying saucer bit post the Area 51 conspiracy, you have got to admit the titular alien man is absolutely hilarious looking. Add to that a scenery-chewing villainous scientist and an alien language based on music three decades before Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I think you've got a perfect B-movie for MST3K to tackle.
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) / Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
I don't know if Hammer Horror would allow a Christopher Lee Dracula movie to appear on MST3K, but if they would, then I would be very satisfied with either of these. Taste the Blood of Dracula, wherein a group of dudes get bored, chill with a Satanist and accidentally resurrect Dracula, is absolutely bananas and also one of my favorite Dracula movies of all time. But if that's out and something more modern is the taste of the day, then Dracula A.D. 1972 is perfect. Peter Cushing is back as a Van Helsing for the first time in years, the whole thing is '70s sleazetastic and exactly the kind of psychedelic nonsense I welcome in a bad movie.
Mr. Sardonicus (1961) / Shanks (1971) / The Tingler (1959)
Rifftrax already riffed what is probably William Castle's best known film, The House on Haunted Hill, but I would love for the new MST3K to take on one of Castle's creations. Mr. Sardonicus is suitably bizarre with its "don't make goofy faces or it'll get stuck that way" plot and Shanks, which involves a puppeteer controlling the dead, is probably the most bizarre of all. But, if I had my druthers, I'd go with the Vincent Price classic, The Tingler. And, again, The Tingler is not what I would define as a bad movie, but it is very much a product of its time. And I like the idea of Jonah and the 'bots actually playing along with Castle's goofy concept of there being a 'tingler' hidden underneath the movie seat cushions.
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)
Maybe I've got a thing for 3D movies, maybe I love Star Wars rip-offs, maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you, but I think this Molly Ringwald joint is exactly trashy enough for MST3K. And it just got released on Blu-ray, so it looks ... passable enough for an episode. Also, the film is ostensibly about three women who get captured by a space dictator named Overdog. I mean ... need I go on? I didn't think so.