DregNog Video Advent Calendar: Day #2 - Merry MST3Kristmas

MST3K on Jack Frost

Traditions vary, but for me, it just isn't Orthodox Geek Christmas without Mystery Science Theater 3000. Most MST3K connoisseurs might immediately reach for the perennially awful Santa Claus Conquers the Martians episode -- complete with Patrick Swayze tribute -- for their holiday jeer (see vids below). But I'll always carry a special torch for Jack Frost, a not-explicitly-Christmassy Cinderella story set in old-timey Russia. Ah, they don't make 'em like this any more ... except they sort of do.

Even though MST3K shuffled off this mortal coil many years ago, its spirit lives on, in two very different (yet comfortingly familiar) flavors. Hailing from a more purist approach, the show's original creators and other cast members (Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl) have begat Cinematic Titanic. These guys are all about process and elaborate backstory; they've kept the silhouettes, the trapped-in-a-bad-movie-torture-chamber conceit, and the lapsed-copyright crapola. (Check out their twist on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and you'll get the idea.) Make a point to see it live next time they come around.

On the other side of the ideological divide (or rifft, if you will) is RiffTrax. This is the brainchild of Mike Nelson, with regular assists from Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, the stars of MST3K after it made the leap from Comedy Central to SciFi. Unlike Cinematic Titanic, RiffTrax is all about being fast, cheap, and out of control -- and while it might lack some of the soulfulness Joel & co. bring to their movie lampoonery, RT is bloody genius. Instead of mucking around in the public-domain slag heap to keep costs down, these guys just record MP3s you can sync up to movies yourselves. Which means they can skewer, say, The Dark Knight instead of sticking to Manos: Hands of Fate.

But RiffTrax doesn't buck tradition too hard -- and they're really going back to their roots for their big-screen simulcast "Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza." In their live broadcast on Wednesday, December 16, and an encore on Thursday, December 17, they'll be beaming into theaters nationwide to jovially knock the stuffing out of bizarre holiday found footage, including old commercials, cartoons, and "a musical short extolling the virtues of pork." Naturally, Weird Al will be joining them for the occasion. (No, really.) Peep the trailer, then head to the local cineplex if the Christmas spirit moves you.

MST3K on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

"Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas" -- because there's no tradition like a new tradition

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