Way back in 1988 Mystery Science Theater 3000 launched and soon gained an enormous fan base as a group of very talented individuals mocked classic b-movies, tearing in to the likes of Revenge Of The Mysterons From Mars, King Dinosaur and The Amazing Colossal Man among many, many other films. It’s a show which has undergone a fair few cast changes over the years but even if they’re no longer attached to the main show many of the cast are still riffing on movies, and that’s the case with Trace Beaulieu And Frank Conniff, the original mad scientists, or The Mads, from the series.
Normally they tour around the US doing live shows but have now moved to live riffing online, and the movie they chose to affectionately mock in this first of a planned series of live online shows was Ed Wood’s Glen Or Glenda. Wood is of course famous for directing what’s considered to be one of the worst films of all time, Plan 9 From Outer Space, but though cheap and cheerful it’s actually not too bad, and at least has a coherent narrative, which can’t really be said of Glen Or Glenda. Not that it’s a film which isn’t fun to watch though, as Wood explores his fondness for what was back then referred to as cross dressing.
The Mads have made it even more enjoyable though, throwing in many a killer line throughout the film. Perhaps that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that this is apparently the forty sixth time they’ve riffed on the film, though they clearly have fresh thoughts about it as they describe it as “A JK Rowling nightmare” and there are some fun jokes about social distancing and how they shouldn’t have released “The Snyder Cut” when it comes to one rather dodgy moment.
There’s a lot for the Mads to sink their teeth in to elsewhere as well, and though they discuss the fact that Wood’s not the worst ever director, at least while Michael Bay is around, it’s clear that he is a pretty poor one as they joke about his odd choice of close up’s (their confusion at a close up of a radiator is especially amusing), the rather weak dialogue he was responsible for writing, and how one scene looks like “An all mime version of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf”.
Also very funny was an impression of Bela Lugosi supposedly saying “What the fuck do you want?”, a surprised reaction at some dodgy footage where it’s suggested “Oh that’s what this movie was missing, racism”, and the fact that no one questions that there’s a tree in a living room. Plus there were some big, big laughs due to comments about a water cooler looking like Tom Servo, confusion over “Why is she wearing nautical flags as underwear?” and whether two characters are having sex as “It’s the fifties, I have no way of knowing”, while an appearance from “F. Murray Abraham in a role that will surprise you” was hilarious too.
I really could go on and on but this review would be thousands and thousands of words long if I quoted every funny utterance from the duo as this really is movie riffing at it’s very best, Beaulieu and Conniff have a natural talent for not only satirising cinema and absurd strangeness like this, but they’re also excellent at affectionately teasing it too, in the wrong hands it could have been horrible, but thankfully they’re very careful to treat Wood’s fondness for cross dressing with great respect throughout the show. The duo also took part in a Q&A at the end which was a lot of fun and made it even better value for money, and I’ll definitely be back for their next live online show in just under a month’s time given how great this was.
The Mads return for another live riffing show on August 18th, where they’ll be taking on the Vincent Price classic The Tingler.
You can also follow The Mads on Facebook here, or on Twitter here.