There are some who would say that driving 1,362 miles in one weekend to watch a poorly dubbed movie about a family of 19th-century Mexican vampires is not a good use of one's time. To which I would say, "But it was a live stage version of Cinematic Titanic!" Then you -- chastised but just a little bit wiser -- would heartily agree with me that yes, that was quite possibly the finest use of a weekend imaginable. And in a final act of reconciliation, we would hug and eat s'mores.
All of which is my long way of saying The Husband and I drove to Minneapolis this weekend to see Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl and J. Elvis Weinstein -- the original cast of "Mystery Science Theater" -- perform an incredible live version of their Cinematic Titanic project. (And after the show, a hooker hit on my husband. Bonus!)
For those of you who worshiped at the "MST" altar as I did, the idea of seeing this cast once again rip into a truly crappy movie is the equivalent of what Amy Winehouse must feel when she romps with chocolate bears made of heroin and puppies who bark cocaine. In short, it was awesome from beginning to end.
The show took place at Minneapolis' very pretty State Theater and the movie in question was called "Blood of the Vampires." The plot, near as I could figure, revolved around a family in 19th century Mexico whose mother was a vampire. They kept her in a not-very-locked coffin in the basement while the father lounged around aaaalllmost dying every day except for the times when he felt better and went downstairs to whip his wife. Why? I don't know. Oh, and then (spoiler alert!) the son got married and vamped his wife and then the daughter was going to get married but something happened to her beau, which was sad because he was kind of like a hot Filipino Wayne Newton. And then some other stuff happened. The End.
None of which is even remotely important because you don't go see Cinematic Titanic for the bad movie. You go see it for the awesome comedy. As much as I liked "The Oozing Skull," which was the first CT offering I saw on DVD, this was ten times better. The joke-to-laugh ratio hovered somewhere around the 100 percent mark, and I laughed through the entire thing, from giggle to guffaw. And it was exactly the style of comedy I fell in love with these guys for in the first place: smart, esoteric, wonderfully ridiculous and brilliantly head-scratchy. God love 'em, they even did a "stop, drop and roll" joke when a vamp went up in flames. The warm-up act, Todd Carlin, rocked too, perfectly setting the stage for the evening to come.
It was great seeing how much fun the cast seemed to have, laughing at jokes, turning around to look at the audience. The whole show was relaxed yet polished, seemingly spontaneous but so well-timed and written. Many years ago, I saw an MST stage show and seeing Cinematic Titanic reminded me of just how well this format works live. The laughter is contagious, and damn if it doesn't just make you feel, well, happy at the end of the night.
If you only do one thing of consequence in your life...it should probably involve getting a job or helping poor people. But if you do TWO things of consequence, one of them absolutely has to be seeing this show live and in person. They're playing in St. Louis this weekend and Chicago from Dec. 18 through the 20th. The full schedule with ticket info is here. If you live within 681 miles of either of those locations, BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW AND GO.
The cast also does a meet-and-greet after the show so be sure to bring a boob* or maybe some DVDs for signing. Also, for those of you keeping score at home, my social awkardness during the signing was somewhere around a 5.5 (out of what? I don't know). I did, however, refrain from blurting out, "If there is a heaven, let it be filled with you singing 'Joey the Lemur'" while standing in front of Joel, so pat-on-the-back-time for me!
So, to summarize: Cinematic Titanic? Brilliant enough to drive through Wisconsin for. Twice.**
* Just kidding. Bret Michaels isn't on this leg of the tour.
** Speaking of Wisconsin, what the hell is this? We saw a million billboards for it and call me old fashioned, but the words "exploratory" and "family fun" just shouldn't go together.