Rifftober: 5 Great MST3K Episodes Perfect for Halloween
Halloween is all about dressing up like one of the Red Jaguars from Legends of the Hidden Temple (reusing most of your Global Guts costume to do it), going to haunted houses pretending like it isn’t the worst experience of all time, and watching scary movies. As I’ve been clear about before, I’m a wuss when it comes to the final thing on that list, which means I also hate the second thing on that list. I choose to focus on the corny aspects of the horror genre.
For every terrifying movie monster, there was an equally terrible B-movie monster that paved the way first. That dude in a costume with an obvious zipper hanging in the back is trying his best, and we should raise our beers to him that we are certainly drinking while we watch.
Luckily here at Nerdbot, we turn to the professionals to find some of the best movies that tried oh so very hard but failed even to scare, well, me. Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been honoring this niche of the horror/sci-fi genre since the 80’s, so it can be daunting trying to find the perfect episode to help you ignore the texts from your brother, demanding you watch A Quiet Place. Definitely not speaking from personal experience, of course.
Here’s our list of five great MST3k movies to eat your candy corn to, even though you know damn good and well you hate every last piece of the stuff.
Giant Spider Invasion S.8 Ep. 10
This movie had everything scary going for it: spiders and Packers fans. *shudders. Basically a comet, or something that was trying to be a comet, lands in the backyard of the most unbathed family in the United States. If that doesn’t set the tone of horror, then I don’t know what will.
To ramp up the revulsion, there’s a lot about the main character’s back brace, a spider flavored Bloody Mary, and one Alan Hale who is sure the rest of the cast of Gilligan’s Island will show up any minute. The scare factor of this movie comes from the ability to make you feel like there will never be enough showers in your life to feel right again.
Also, if you are from Wisconsin I apologize up front, Mike and the bots do not hold back on your state.
The Touch of Satan S9. Ep. 8
The best MST3K episodes are usually the ones where the movie tries so very hard to be fantastic and thought-provoking. The more those kinds of movies try to convince us, the more the SOL crew have to work with to tear it to shreds.
The Touch of Satan is just such a movie. Some of the cinematography really tries, I have to admit. The opening scene is dark, too dark really as it looks like the camera was dropped in chocolate milk, but the tone is set. Unfortunately, it’s interrupted as a farmer, who is about to be murdered, is briefly distracted by his cat named Robert. Robert the cat. Suddenly the guy is killed, and you still are left pondering the most normal human name for this poor cat.
A family of walnut farmers just trying to make an honest living raising and herding their walnuts have a dark secret as they harbor a witch who really doesn’t do much of anything the entire movie. I think we see her grocery shop at one point and then locate where fish usually make their habitats, which becomes a central conversational point.
Every time something gets close to being scary there’s something completely goofball to through it all off including, but not limited to, seeing the main character from The Giant Spider Invasion play essentially the same exact role here.
Boggy Creek 2 S.10 Ep. 6
Electric Boggyloo. By now you see I have chosen almost all backwoods inhabiting, unshowered characters that frighten me only because this is all too similar to that damn fortune teller’s prediction of my future. In fact, I looked a lot like this guy.
No that’s not the Boggy Creek creature from the movie, but he does smell twice as bad. Mostly because he wears that underwear elastic band right on top of his head but that’s just part of the potpourri that makes up the smells of this man.
Most of this movie revolves around our cast waiting in their pop-up trailer for a man in a monkey suit to show up so that they can be scared of it, even though they are out there to find the thing in the first place. The climax of the movie builds up to the most failed attempt at a jump scare while everyone looks at the burly man’s little creature.
Oh…wait, no this one is actually scary after all.
Werewolf S.9 Ep.4
There’s nothing more classic than a good old-fashioned story of someone horribly shifting their bone structure, skin, and mind into that of a raging beast that can only be sated when it has finally killed again. Ah, culture!
Fortunately, this movie has no interest in actually showing a werewolf being scary in any way whatsoever unless a werewolf driving a Buick is what makes you lose sleep. Yes, you read that right, at some point, a man in dog makeup is driving around town…and at sensible speeds, I might add.
The real crazy changes that take place in this movie have more to do with the ever-changing hair of Yuri the rock-em-sock-em archaeologist with a chip on his shoulder for no reason the plot makes an effort to explain. Every scene that hair does something new. It’s the most intriguing part of the entire movie! That and the fact that this was released in 1995 and they didn’t even try to use any kind of makeup or special effects that were totally achievable at the time.
Meh, who needs real scares when your main cast can’t even say the word werewolf.
Zombie Nightmare S.6 Ep.4
Okay, maybe there’s one thing more classic than a good werewolf story for Halloween, and that’s throwing some zombies onto the screen. And when I say zombies, I mean one single zombie who listened to a lot of “Ace of Spades” just before becoming the walking dead.
This is one of those classic MST3K episodes that revolves around a bunch of young whippersnappers where the writers had no idea how kids acted, talked, or generally existed in any way shape or form.
“Uh, Jim do kids swerve slightly while driving to impress their friends?”
“Yeah as long as they are listening to the rock and/or roll while they do it.”
What makes this episode one of the greatest is the simple, wonderful fact that Adam West graces all of us with his presence in it. It is legitimately one of my favorite performances from him because he is obviously not happy he was roped into this. However, he gets to actually play a bad guy and doesn’t have to wear an ill-fitting mask, so it’s not all bad.
One of the best parts of the movie is how this zombie is hunting down the ones who killed him, and it only shows this monstrosity kill about half of the people it’s pursuing. This is especially disappointing when the most annoying of the characters merely is killed off-screen.
Nothing says scary like off-screen deaths.
Bonus points for this episode, it has one of my all-time favorite riffs in it.
(As a character is being dragged down to hell right under the surface of the lawn)
“Wow, so hell is right there huh? I guess that’s why you call before you dig!”
So if you are like me and prefer the cheesy Halloween aspects of the holiday, then I hope this list steers you in the right direction. And always remember, there’s a plethora of Netflix flops to keep the spirit going if the Mystery Science Theater crew inspires you to riff some of your own classics.