Tomorrow is Father’s Day. My father passed away nearly 20 years ago. So it will be a tough day emotionally. But I plan on honoring his memory with a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon. You see, my dad introduced me to that show and helped teach me the value of B-movies.
Growing up, Saturdays were the day my dad and I spent together. Usually we’d run a few errands in the morning while listening to Car Talk in the background (that’s where I got most of my knowledge about cars from). We would usually go our separate ways after that.
But one day I walked through the living room and saw him watching some show with a silhouette of talking characters on the bottom of the screen. Perplexed, I asked my dad what he was watching. He explained the concept of the show: a human was marooned in space with some robot companions and mad scientists forced them to watch the worst movies ever made. To keep from losing their minds, the characters talked back to the screen and mocked the cinematic turkey of the week.
I guess all those years of watching Star Trek episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel rubbed off on my dad, because he branched out to the network’s other programming, MST3K included.
The first episode I watched was Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders in case you’re wondering. Well, the show grew on me very quickly. It became our Saturday ritual to enjoy MST3K together. It was during that time that I developed my twisted sense of humor (although I got some of that from my mom too) and gained an appreciation for B-movies.
Anyone that has seen MST3K knows that the movies the characters were forced to endure weren’t just bottom of the barrel. They scraped the bottom of the barrel. But my dad would often point out that the low-budget movies often had more imagination than some of the movies currently in theaters. Sure Manos was a dumpster fire. But you’d never seen anything like it. I’m not saying I would go out of my way to seek it out, but it at least gave me something I didn’t expect.
Over the years I’ve found myself going back to MST3K for nostalgia and laughter. To this day, I can’t help but enjoy a good B-movie when I come across it. Sometimes the movies screened on MST3K even show up on Turner Classic Movies, which allows me to work on my own riffing skills as I do my own commentary on Twitter.
While I laugh at the cheap sets, special effects, bad acting, etc., I have a special place in my heart for B-movies. It’s fun to see what people come up with using their imagination and a shoestring budget. While the end product may not be on par with, say, Casablanca, it usually is entertaining in its own cockeyed way.
It’s worth noting that my dad also routinely rented Godzilla movies for my brother and I. Something about a giant monster stomping around Tokyo was appealing to me as a kid. And I’m still a devotee of Kaiju movies.
I miss those Saturdays with my dad learning about cars from Car Talk and the art of movie riffing from MST3K. I miss my dad’s laugh. I just really miss my dad. But I’ll always treasure the time we had together, especially those Saturdays when we enjoyed spending time with Joel, Mike, the bots and the Mads.