Oh dear. I seem to have fallen back into old bad habits.
Mystery Usenet Theater 3000
The Wasp Woman Review
By Stuart Galbraith IV
Misted by Matt Blackwell
[The Satellite of Love]
[Mike, Tom and Crow stand uneasily behind the console.]
Mike: [haltingly] Hey all. Welcome back to the Satellite of Love. Er,
again. Even though I'm pretty sure that we're still off the air.
Crow: Have been for years in fact.
Tom: I dunno. I get the feeling that I've been sitting on a beach,
sipping mamosas and getting ready to make fun of a pirate movie.
Crow: Huh. Me too. Plus I get the feeling that people are screaming
at me to finish something starting with "Endea...".
[Mike seems to make a quick kicking motion underneath the console. A
muffled "Ow!" can be heard.]
Mike: Anyway, we've been called back into duty to provide a
counterpoint to a recent review of a DVD. So, we've got review
[The lights flash. Mike hits a button and the door sequence begins.]
[6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .]
[The trio enters and takes their seats.]
> The Wasp Woman (Cinematic Titanic version)
> Goodtimes // Unrated //
Tom: Well, most goodtimes are. Heh, heh, heh.
> August 30, 2005 // Region 0
Mike: I've met Representative Noone, who represents that Region.
Nice guy. Kind of an empty suit though.
> List Price: $4.98 [Buy now and save at Eztakes]
Tom: Ez-Steaks! Food for the cooking challenged!
> Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted September 7, 2008 | E-mail the
> Author | Discuss
Crow: So, are we to discuss e-mailing the author?
Mike: No, I think it's just a general call for discussion. Maybe of
> Poor Roger Corman.
Tom: Death Race didn't do so well in release, huh?
> First Retromedia plasters his face across The
>Roger Corman Puerto Rico Trilogy, three public domain titles in eye-
>straining, at times literally out-of-focus transfers,
Crow: Well, it was part of their "Astigmatism Friendly" line of DVDs.
> then BCI slaps
>his puss even more prominently on the cover of The Cult Films of Roger
>Corman, a ten-film set of unwatchable transfers that might have been
>mastered in somebody's tool shed.
Mike: Ironically, Corman originally filmed them in a tool shed.
Crow: They still made money though!
> He had nothing to do with either
>release. Now comes something like the 25th DVD incarnation (no
>foolin') of Corman's The Wasp Woman (1959), about a middle-aged
>cosmetics company president (Susan Cabot) and her search for eternal
Tom: Which somehow lead her to adopt a trio of streetwise runaways,
a talking dog and a hobo who thinks he's Napoleon...
> I requested the title naively hoping this extremely low budget
>but somewhat interesting film might look better than its earlier
>public domain releases, and to some degree it does; while far from
>perfect, it's an entirely watchable presentation. If only.
Crow: Cue the string section and the crying Indian...
> Turns out this Wasp Woman has been adapted as a self-described "movie
>riffing show" by a label calling itself Cinematic Titanic.
Mike: I've never heard of this before, and yet I feel that people
who like me should instinctively hate this.
Crow: Yeah. Like anyone likes you.
>essentially Mystery Science Theater 3000 in all but name,
Tom: So it's a celebration of all that is good and pure in the
> as it
>features that program's original cast, also the label's owners: Joel
Mike: As "The Other Guy!"
> Trace Beaulieu,
Crow: As "The Guy Whose Name Got Pulled Out of a Scrabble Bag!"
> and J. Elvis Weinstein,
Tom: As "No, The Other J. Weinstein!"
> as well as Mary Jo
Crow: Who's the most A-Pehl-ling member of the cast!
> and Frank Conniff.
Mike: Who's like a god unto men.
Tom: Yes, all shall bow down before he who is Frank!
> The format is in all essentials unchanged: As the movie unspools,
>this quintet of would-be comics appear in silhouette at the bottom and
>sides of the screen - not recommended for plasma TV owners; you may be
>permanently burning them into your TV screen!
Mike: Personally, I can't help but think that Two and a Half Men
might be improved with burned in riffers on the screen.
> - cracking wise, almost
>non-stop, at the action partially blocked onscreen.
Tom: As all good cinematographers frame things to focus on the lower
corners of the screen.
> There are
>tasteless jokes about Susan Cabot's real-life murder, every lame
>bee/wasp joke imaginable
Mike: After "SNL" and "Bee Movie", I wouldn't think there'd be any
left to use.
> ("Music by Sting!" says one performer;
Tom: But that was an ironic reference to the wrestler's failed
>"Buzzzzzz!" cries another; "Many, many bees were harmed in the making
>of this movie!" quips a third), and innumerable obvious pop culture
>references, everything from The Andy Griffith Show to Monty Python's
>Flying Circus, which someone quotes at length like a geeky fan.
Crow: Five people, one of whom constantly makes Python references?
Sound like they're a bag of Cheetos away from being a group
of D&D players.
> There seems to be no middle ground with shows like this;
Mike: There was a DMZ, but that got destroyed in the great
"Wonderfalls: Lame or Extra Super Great?" debate of ought 4.
> you either
>love 'em or hate 'em.
> DVD Talk's Brian Orndorf is clearly an admirer
Crow: And angels shall descend from the heavens and praise his name.
>but for this reviewer, setting aside the ethical problems of such
>shows for a moment, it's the cinematic equivalent of having bamboo
>splinters jammed up under the fingernails.
Mike: So it's like "White Chicks" then?
> I've sat through some
>pretty dire comedies over the years - Joe De Rita's solo two-reelers,
>endless Joe McDoakes shorts, Invasion of the Star Creatures, Loose
>Cannons, Nothing But Trouble (both versions!) - but this was 70-plus
>minutes of sheer agony, utterly mirthless.
Tom: In fact, it created a zone of "anti-comedy" that turned my
Marx Brothers DVDs into videos of burning fireplace logs.
Crow: But it was still better than "Disaster Movie!"
> Despite its brief length it
>took me three days to get through it; even in short doses I thought it
>would never end.
Mike: Have you tried the new movie watching aid, booze?
Tom: Side effects may include vomiting, headaches and unplanned
> One man's meat is another man's poison, I suppose, but what's so
>clever about sneering at an old movie, rattling off extremely obvious,
>condescending comments at the easy targets onscreen?
Crow: I suppose it's as clever as writing snarky comments about
> I've watched
>ordinary "civilians" with no show business ambitions effortlessly come
>up with funnier ad-libs than this fivesome's scripted material.*
Tom: I can just picture him wandering through a gallery muttering,
"My kid can draw better crap than this."
> It's as if people like Hodgson et.al., lack the talent to create
>their own, original comedy, so instead like parasites they latch onto
>the efforts of others.
Mike: Oh, they're producers.
> People like Hodgson prefer to describe what
>they do as "[riffing] the movies we love," but that's really just a
>euphemism for contempt-laden mockery.
> Maybe what I find so unfunny
>about a show like this is that while on one hand it's a type of humor
>rooted in an attitude of superiority - We're so much hipper than that
Crow: Well, it's a good thing that you're so much better than those
> yet the unfunny material utterly contradicts that assertion
>because it's on such an anti-creative level.**
Tom: Oooh! Two starred anti-creativeness! That's "Mama's Family"
> The movies that serve as the backdrops for these shows usually are in
>the public domain - if Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz were PD, I
>guarantee you they'd be "riffed," too
Mike: I suppose that's worse than having Joel Schumaker or David Hogan
make a movie "Inspired by" the original.
> - and for this reason the
>original creators and/or their heirs do not receive licensing fees,
>nor is their permission required to make fun of their work.
Tom: ...which would be the definition of public domain.
> (To its
>credit, though possibly to avoid legal trouble, Cinematic Titanic
>admits this in a disclaimer up-front.)
> Some would argue that the
>movies appearing on these shows are lousy anyway, so what difference
>does it make?
Tom: And some would argue about information being free and then
we'd be knee deep in talk about Kazaa, DRM and Linux.
> But that's not only missing the point it ignores the
>facts that a) often that's not the case - The Wasp Woman, for
>instance, is now generally regarded as a minor but interesting
>programmer, well-made for its budget, with proto-feminist elements -
Mike: Well, it's regarded that way by me and that's what really counts.
>and b) the vast majority of people working in the world of cheap
>movies were trying their best with the money and time available to
Crow: Well, since this is being typed on a cheap computer using Wordpad
obviously it should be held in the same regard as "Hamlet" since
Mike: Ah. Fourth wall breakage. Just like riding a bike.
> (Producer Jerry Warren was a notable exception.) Could the folks
>at Cinematic Titanic do better under similar circumstances? Probably
Tom: Yeah, they'd probably do some lame horror film about a killer
Crow: Or a TV show about a wheel.
Mike: Or some cartoon about alien invaders.
Crow: Or a TV show where people get hit in the groin with a football.
Mike: That doesn't help our argument, Crow.
Crow: Oh. Or a TV show about disaffected high schoolers in the 70s?
Mike: Or some lame podcast download site that makes fun of movies.
Tom: Yeah. Stupid folks.
> Another problem I have with shows like this is that they perpetuate
>unnecessarily negative misperceptions about old movies,
Mike: Such as that some of them suck?
> the kind of
>backward thinking that causes some to avoid black and white movies
>because they're not in color, or silent movies because they don't have
Crow: Or Michael Bay films because they lack "plot."
> For a while, during MST3K's peak, even less talented
>imitators were encouraged to try their hand at public showings of old
>movies, whether invited to do so or not.
Mike: These people were generally referred to as "dickweeds."
> Making fun of old movies
>because they don't have exactly the same conventions, technology, and
>visual style of present-day films is truly odious thinking, and a real
>disservice to impressionable viewers (pre-teens are probably a big
>portion of this label's audience)
Tom: Yes, the pre-teens who weren't alive when the show aired are
naturally the best audience for this.
Mike: They're who the "Fibber McGee and Molly" DVDs are aimed at too.
> who, partly thanks to shows like
>these, develop prejudices against old movies generally, except as
>things to be derided.
Crow: It certainly can't be due to people saying, "Hmmm. That guy likes
it. Do I really want to be associated with him?"
> Video & Audio
Mike: Two things which this misting lacks!
> As mentioned above, if you own a plasma TV, this edition of The Wasp
>Woman is not for you; there's a good chance it'll burn a permanent
>silhouette of the cast on your TV.
Crow: Geez. Where did you buy your TV from? Guatemala?
> (Me, I'd rather have the CNN logo
>or the "Bilko" on the Sgt. Bilko DVD menu screen.)
Tom: Well, I never thought that I'd find someone with a Sgt. Bilko
fetish, but this is the internet...
> The movie itself is
>full frame, and a halfway decent print, not that it matters in the
Mike: Because I had my eyes shut and my hands over my ears and was
singing "La,la,la. I'm not watching!" until the accursed movie
> If you want to see the movie, not the show - don't buy
Crow: This advice and more in this week's issue of "Duh!" magazine!
> The original film in its original form is not available here. If
>it had been, I might have been inclined to recommend the DVD just for
>that. There are no subtitle or alternate audio options, and no Extra
Mike: No trailers?
Tom: No interactive menus?
Crow: No cast and crew bios?
Mike: Not even a scene selection?
Crow: Technically, isn't this considered to be a commentary though?
> Parting Thoughts
> The Wasp Woman deserves better. Hell, even Manos, the Hands of Fate
Tom: Ooh. Spoken like a man who hasn't seen it. Several dozen times.
Day after day. Watching it over and over and over....
Crow: He's flashbacking, Mike.
Mike: I got it. Tom! Look! It's Joey Pantoliano!
Tom: Joey Pants? Where?
Mike: See? Back to normal.
> Skip It.
Crow: Or watch it, if you haven't had your humor surgically removed,
like our author has.
> * My favorite to this day remains something writer Christopher Potter
>(or maybe Jeff Mortimer)
Mike: Or perhaps it was Mortimer Christopher.
Tom: Stuart, namedropping only works if we actually know who the hell
these people are.
> said at an Oscar Party I attended, when
>Sophia Loren came onstage to present an award. "I remember my first
>Oscar..." she started to say, when he continued, "'I was 13, he was
Crow: Wow. That certainly puts everything that I've ever said to shame.
> ** I wrote an anti-Mystery Science Theater 3000 column for The Ann
>Arbor News almost 20 years ago, an article that actually prompted its
>own so-called MSTing, a "riff" still easily accessible on the Net.
Tom: Yes, the internet. Dredging up your stupid statements from the
>Like the TV show its worst offense is that it...just...ain't...funny.
Tom: This must be an alternate definition of "Funny" that I'm not
Crow: With which I am not familiar, Tom.
Mike: Crow, you've known Tom longer than I have.
> This month Stuart Galbraith IV celebrates his 5th Anniversary at DVD
>Talk. You can read the very first review here.
(They stand to exit.)
Mike: Or, you could read the response to it over here:
Tom: Let's roll.
Crow: Do you think Stuart's still mad that I told him to bite me?
Mike: Nah. It's been 15 years. No one holds a grudge for that long.
Tom: Should we do an ending host segment?
Mike: It'd be a better tribute to the first one if we just end with a...
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--- * --- PWOOOOSH!
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Mystery Usenet 3000: "The Wasp Woman (Cinematic Titanic version)"
Written by Stuart Galbraith IV
Misting by Matt Blackwell
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Keep circulating the posts.
>Like the TV show its worst offense is that it...just...ain't...funny.