Like Dracula or a horde of zombies from a cheesy B movie, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has proven impossible to keep down.
The Peabody Award-winning cult favorite — which mines laughs by showing and making fun of eye-poppingly awful movies and educational shorts — is going it alone for Season 13, launching its own streaming service after raising $6.5 million though a Kickstarter campaign. Cast member and writer Felicia Day was disappointed when Netflix canceled MST3K in 2019, but had a feeling that creator Joel Hodgson would find a way to resurrect it.
“Joel has a lot of pluck, a lot of passion for the content and the fans, and I knew that somehow it would pop up,” she says. “It’s an independent season, and I think it’s really innovative.”
This season does indeed blend the familiar with the fresh. Beginning Friday, May 6, new episodes will debut at gizmoplex.com and on Mystery Science Theater 3000 apps that can be downloaded for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and other devices. Three new movie riffs will launch in the first three days, including the premiere, Mexican wrestling/time travel/vampire flick Santo in the Treasure of Dracula.
They’ll be followed by 10 more over the next several months and 12 new shorts. Season passes are priced at $135 and include tickets to livestream events. Tickets can also be purchased separately, and individual films will be available to rent or buy. Additionally, classic episodes of MST3K will be available free for a limited time.
Day returns as mad scientist Kinga Forrester in the wacky segments that frame each film, along with Patton Oswalt as her henchman Max. But this time they have three prisoners to torture by forcing them to watch bad movies: Jonah Ray’s Jonah Heston, who’s been Day’s captive since the Netflix reboot in 2017; Hodgson’s Joel Robinson, the show’s original host; and newcomer Emily Marsh as Emily Connor, who joins the show as the first female space hostage. Each is accompanied by a familiar trio of robot companions: Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and GPC (formerly Gypsy).
Like any self-respecting mad scientist, Kinga is bent on world domination, as were her father Clayton (Trace Beaulieu) and grandmother Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl, who returns for a few episodes). To that end, she’s built the first movie theater on the moon — appropriately named the Gizmoplex. “Kinga has a grand plan to use the Gizmoplex to take over the world,” Day says. “But at the end of the day, it’s me trying to prove to my father that I’m a worthy evil scientist, and I think I do a great job!”
MST3K is also a family affair in Day’s real life. She watched the original series with her brother Ryon while growing up, and they wrote some of the jokes and snarky comments for two Season 13 films: Gremlins ripoff Munchie (premiering May 27) and Mexico’s The Batwoman (August 19), featuring a bikini-clad superhero.
Munchie, which stars Dom DeLuise as “a demented puppet, is probably one of the worst things I’ve ever had to work on,” says Day. “It actually hurt my soul a little bit.” Still, she adds, “there’s nothing better than the MST3K writers’ room because all of us are miserable watching this awfulness, and we’re brought together by that.”
The 12 short films will be riffed on by various teams. Day is mum on whether Kinga will get in on the action. “I can’t reveal whether I’m a riffer or not,” she says. “You’ll have to tune in to find out.”
Since its debut more than 30 years ago, MST3K has created its share of memorable comedic moments. Day cites the hilariously atrocious Manos: The Hands of Fate as her favorite classic episode, and hopes families will tune in to the new season to revel in the joy of bad movies together.
“I have a 5-year-old, and I can’t wait till she’s a couple of years older to enjoy MST3K with me,” Day adds. “That’s what’s wonderful about it — it’s really for all ages. Joel is conscious about making it family friendly, which I think we all appreciate sometimes.”
Mystery Science Theater 3000, Season 13 Premiere, Friday, May 6, Gizmoplex.com/MST3K app
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