RogerBW's Blog

Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 12 14 May 2019

The revived show continues, with a shorter six-episode season.

It was broadcast all in one go as the Turkey Day Marathon on 22 November 2018, and insofar as the wrapper skits have a plot, it's one ongoing one: Kinga Forrester and TV's Son of TV's Frank want to drive Jonah and the bots thoroughly mad with a six-film marathon, presumably to have them complaisant for the live tour. Not that it really matters.

Overall Jonah is OK but uninspired, while Felicia Day is clearly having a great time. There's nothing here that's a truly outstanding episode for me, but they're all enjoyable.

Mac and Me

It's often hard work to get through this one. (Possibly because it was designed from the start to be a merchandising opportunity, to cash in on the ideas of E.T. "for a new generation" six years later; truly enjoyable bad film tends in my experience to happen when someone has a Vision.) But the crew do a decent job making what they can of it.

Atlantic Rim

An Asylum film in their "really not trying" mode, obviously a ripoff of Pacific Rim – with a bunch of familiar faces if you've seen any other Asylum productions. Probably the best of the films here, which isn't much of a recommendation; but while the action is all CGI, it does at least make it clear that it's action. (The acting, on the other hand, could have been done rather better with CGI.)

Lords of the Deep

A Roger Corman cheapie from 1989, in the wake of The Abyss, Leviathan and DeepStar Six (well, I'm not sure about the last of those, but having watched this I'm sure he saw the other two). The bits stolen from other films are quite enjoyable, but mostly this is an exercise in how chopping apart a film and remaking it with lesser actors may get you something you can show, but isn't really a route to success.

This shot is not… grate.

The Day Time Ended

The least directly-derivative of the lot, this is a Charles Band film… without puppets. Mostly. There are shades of Mac and Me in that it puts the children in the foreground, and like most child actors they're profoundly unconvincing. The basic problem, though, is that it's just a random collection of ideas which make no sense together (and this is effectively parodied in the season's best song), and indeed none of the action on the screen makes any difference to the ending.

"A binary supernova, a simultaneous explosion of three giant stars."

Killer Fish

This one's clearly inspired by Piranha, but it starts off as a heist film; then the mastermind dumps the loot in a piranha-infested reservoir because, er, look over there, with a plan to come back for it, somehow, and later on everyone gets stuck on a sinking boat… Only the one major scuba-diving sequence, helped along with a song, but lots of twists and turns that are probably meant to be dramatic if only any of the characters actually engaged our sympathy. Italian-French-Brazilian co-production, a sure sign of quality, and a just-post-Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors doing his best Steve McQueen in the lead. (It's not terribly good.)

"The best way to attract Lady Luck, my friend, is to act like you don't need her."


"Just like any other lady."


Ator, the Fighting Eagle

The sequel, as The Cave Dwellers, was parodied back in season 3, but this is the first Ator film, very clearly ripping off Conan the Barbarian. Only with minimal budget, and it rapidly becomes apparent that there aren't any building exteriors apart from the occasional hut; so lots of people seem to live in caves, and we often jump between wooded countryside and indoor sets. Miles O'Keeffe is, well, everyone who's worked with him says he's a really nice guy, and that should count for something, right? Even Laura Gemser is wasted, as a seductive witch.

The spider-god is particularly impressive in that there was no money for a body, just legs.

Run into the twig hut, that'll stop them!

This may be the best of the episodes, but they're all reasonably enjoyable. I don't suppose this season would drag a new fan into the show, though.

  1. Posted by Robert at 04:41pm on 14 May 2019

    Slightly Whartson Hall relevant: The Day Time Ended struck me as very similar to Tri-Tac’s Weirdzone which was introduced to me by the actual plays. The movie release predates Weirdzone by 5 years and I spent at least part of the movie wondering if it was an inspiration.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 04:44pm on 14 May 2019

    Interesting, I hadn't made that connection at all. I suppose there is some overlap, though the Wharties did at least get to take some actions rather than just being helpless passengers…

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