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By Eric Campos | June 25, 2008

What’s going on here? Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me Mystery Science Theater 3000 was alive and well again?

Okay, so it’s not officially MST3K, but the same idea is there and it features its original cast and writers – Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (Crow/Dr. Clayton Forrester), and J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo). Also joining the line-up are Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester) and Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank). This new project, which officially kicked off in December of ’07, is called “Cinematic Titanic” and it had it’s second public performance ever at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Yes, I know that Mike Nelson has been helping keep the spirit of MST3K alive for the past few years with his Rifftrax in which people can download audio commentaries recorded by Nelson to play alongside movies such as “Point Break,” Roadhouse” and “The Sixth Sense.” Even though it’s supposed to be easy to set-up, the idea of having to sync up downloaded audio to a DVD you have to already have in your own personal collection always seemed to be a little too troublesome. Blame it on laziness. Sorry, Mike.

But now we have “Cinematic Titanic,” and it is every bit as funny as the original MST3K. The screening took place on a gorgeous, albeit quite warm, Saturday evening at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, an intimate little outdoor venue nestled in the Hollywood Hills. The event was sold out and beer lines were massive, but I was able to make it to my seat just in time to hear the announcement that the originally scheduled film to be projected on a giant screen and riffed on live by the Cinematic Titanic crew, “Wasp Woman,” was being switched last minute to “Doomsday Machine,” due to a competency issue – the issue being that “Wasp Woman” is actually sort of competent and “Doomsday machine” is a complete wipe-out of a mess and would serve better as the evening’s entertainment.

Boy, did it ever. To an ever-growing roar of applause, the cast of Cinematic Titanic took their seats onstage, and with a script before them, started taking shots at this “Doomsday Machine” which finds a bunch of boneheads cruising around space aimlessly in their rocketship that changes its exterior appearance like four or five times throughout the course of the movie. Oh yeah, and Casey Kasem plays a mission control operator. I wish I could tell you more, but the movie is so bad with stretches of time dedicated to nothing happening at all, that I have no real clue as to what was supposed to be going on. Of course, I was also laughing hysterically at the sharper than ever riffing coming from the CT crew, so there was that welcome distraction.

The Cinematic Titanic screening was like a couple of dreams come true – the first was to have, in a way, MST3K back; the second was to see and hear these guys ripping apart a movie live along with over one thousand other fans, all howling hysterically throughout the event. And it doesn’t stop there – Cinematic Titanic is an artist owned and operated project that will see episodes being released directly to DVD or downloadable files you can burn to DVD yourself. Two episodes have already been released – “The Oozing Skull” and just recently “Doomsday Machine.” The Satellite of Love may still be lost in space, but the Mystery Science Theater spirit is still among us. If you’ve read this entire review, you’re probably a big MSTie and should really be going over to the Cinematic Titanic website right now!

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