For those who lament the 1999 demise of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Comedy Central's weekly "watch-along" of bad, little-known films with running, mocking commentary by Joel Hodgson or Mike Nelson, and two or more robots, you now have reason to live again. The Gizmonic Institute pays homage to the Minnesota-based show in the '70s style Clown Lounge in the basement of the Turf Club in Saint Paul. Their next screening will take place on this Wednesday.
Hosted by MST3K fans who are a self-described gaggle of geeks, nerds, and other assorted social misfits (though no robots), the monthly gathering continues the tradition of presenting lesser-known to obscure titles that might be unfamiliar even to the members of the Golden Raspberry (or Razzie) Awards committee. Just like the cable show, humorous talk-backs to the cast and crew accompany each film from first frame to last, with no insipid line of dialogue, badly choreographed action sequence, glaring continuity error, or other revelation of inept production spared.
Wednesday night's selection, presented by David Hansen, is a 1975 action fest titled Mitchell. Boasting a surprisingly B-plus to A-list cast, including ubiquitous supporting player Martin Balsam and NFL Hall of Famer, TV priest, and FTD Floral pitchman Merlin Olson, the feature stars Joe Don Baker as Mitchell, a burned-out cop who, when not fighting crime, enthusiastically consumes pornography and alcohol (hopefully not mixed with Pepto-Bismol, which Baker's private detective character in Cape Fear memorably poured into his glasses of Jim Beam).
Mitchell eventually gets back to work in a big way when he is dispatched to investigate the killing of a burglar by a trade union lawyer. Since the lawyer is played by John Saxon, the 1970's slimiest smoothie this side of Robert Wagner, he is immediately suspected by the cop of engaging in more than just self-defense. Linda Evans, whose breathless delivery of even the most mundane lines makes her worthy of a Razzie Lifetime Achievement award, co-stars as a prostitute hired by the lawyer to distract Mitchell. Apparently, Saxon's lawyer is unaware of the bad-movie cliche that every tart must have a heart of gold that leads her to aid (and, no doubt, offer lovin' at no charge to) the man she is supposed to, er, screw.
Hansen and the Clown Lounge will present this stunning achievement from director Andrew V. McLaglen (who also directed Bandolero! a razz-worthy Western starring Jimmy Stewart and Dean Martin as gun slingin' brothers) at 9 p.m. this Wednesday. Watch your feet as you descend the stairs into the subturranean version of the TV show's Satellite of Love space station, especially if you are cradling a beer and/or edibles.
Here is the thrill-packed trailer to Mitchell by which attendees can practice their skills at aping former hosts Joel, Mike, or the other members of the Satellite of Love peanut gallery:
For more information on this and future MST3K screenings, visit their message board.