Double Feature Theater

A weekly movie series that pairs two movies streaming on Netflix in an interesting way. Context is the key. More...

So, I have to take a little break from serving up the sweet, sweet Netflix pairings to get some (important) writing done.

While I’m taking a powder, why don’t you check out the archive and go nuts with some new-old-finds?

I’ve also enabled Ask Me Anything, for a bit of a writing diversion. So, ask away.

  • The Farmer: Stay on this road here, past Dead Man's Curve, you'll come to an old fence, called The Devil's Fence. From there, go on foot till you come to a valley known as The Cathedral Of Lost Soap. Smack in the center is what they call Forgetful Milkman's Quadrangle. Stay right on The Path Of Staring Skulls and you come to a place called Death Clearing. Cabin's right there, can't miss it.

The “hard copy of the status report” that Mike reads is a copy of Satellite News, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan newsletter.

  • Ranger Brad: Well again I didn't mean to throw a damper. Believe me that's the last thing I'd like to throw. I don't want to throw anything at all really. But when folks are horribly mutilated, I feel it's my job to tell others. We take our horrible mutilations seriously up in these parts.
  • Betty Armstrong: I'm sure you do. Honey, the Ranger's just doing his job.
  • Dr. Paul Armstrong: Of course he is. I'm sorry Ranger Brad. I guess all this talk of horrible mutilation has me on edge.
  • Ranger Brad: That's all right Dr. Armstrong. This horrible mutilation has a whole lot of people on a whole lot of edges.

THE technical effects of “This Island Earth,” Universal’s first science-fiction excursion in color, are so superlatively bizarre and beautiful that some serious shortcomings can be excused, if not overlooked. Featuring Rex Reason, Faith Domergue and Jeff Morrow, this William Alland production, at the Victoria, can also boast reasonable acting and plucky, even literate, writing. It sorely needs a pair of shears, a less conventional musical score and a director of considerably more drive and less awe toward his subject than Joseph Newman.

Just where Raymond F. Jones’ novel leaves off and the scenario (Franklin Coen and Edward G. O’Callaghan) begins we can’t testify. After a dawdling introduction the camera looks in on a remote mansion in present-day Georgia, where an international assortment of top scientists has been lured by a strange-looking, smooth-talking world altruist, or so Mr. Morrow claims.

Mr. Reason and Miss Domergue, the brainiest and handsomest guests, correctly peg him as an invasion scout from the unknown. And Mr. Newman can take full credit for a dandy scene with the pair eluding a death ray in a station wagon. Absorbed by a huge, revolving disk, they are briefly deposited on a disintegrating planet and just as abruptly escape back to earth for a conventional sweet-hearts-together ending, for all the churning stratospheric commotion around them.

And most of the commotion is pretty wonderful, once the Universal art wizards take over, as the disk streaks toward its goal in a vast, brilliantly spangled, interplanetary void. One setting alone, a panoramic vista of the doomed planet “Metaluna,” should leave anyone bug-eyed.

So, if the real stars of the picture will step forward, we have; Clifford Stine, William Fritzsche, Alexander Golitzen, Richard H. Riedel, David S. Horsley, Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron, technical artists.

The New York Times original 1955 review of the movie-within-a-movie in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

H.H.T., “‘This Island Earth’ Explored From Space”, The New York Times, June 11, 1955

A set of promotional cards Gramercy sent out to promote Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

"Skeleton Frolic" (1937) by Ub Iwerks was shown before The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra during its theatrical run (and is included as a bonus feature on the DVD).

  • Joe Wilson: Here's something my wife could use in the house...
  • Crow T. Robot: A man?
  • Joe Wilson: ...an interositer incorporating an electron sorter.
  • Cal Meecham: She'll probably gain twenty pounds while it does all the work for her.
  • Tom Servo: Cal, you bitch!

To recreate the feel of a low-budget 1950s sci-fi film, Skeleton had to be photographed accordingly, meaning bountiful two-shots and master shots with centered framing and little, if any, coverage. Jones was somewhat familiar with the genre’s style of cinematography, which he labeled “Mexican soap opera,” but a quick crash-viewing of a few classics enabled him to emulate the style to perfection. “I’d say, ‘Oh my god, this looks terrible,’ and be laughing about it, and Larry would say, ‘Yes, it’s perfect!’,” Jones recalls. “And it was absolutely perfect for what he wanted.”

"There is a certain art to making a film not look good, and Kevin, like the rest of us, had to fight a natural inclination to do good work," admits Blamire. "I felt we were doing good work, but we were doing good work that looks like bad work."

"People who don’t get the movie think I’m the worst cinematographer in the world," says a chuckling Jones. "To explain to somebody that you did it deliberately requires an extra step in the résumé process. I told Larry that I’m never going to get another project because of this film!"

Douglas Bankston, “The “B Movie” Rises Again.” American Cinematographer, April 2004