Cinematic Titanic

Sorry for being gone for so long, friends. I’ve been busy… I mean, lazy.

Before I get into the main thrust of this post, I’d like to briefly mention the film The Spirit. Not long ago, I wrote about how I thought the movie was going to suck, and I’d like to point out that I stated that before there were any advance reviews of the film.

Well, The Spirit is out now, and I recently dragged one of my friends along to go watch it with me. My reasoning was that if the film was going to be bad, I didn’t want to suffer through it alone.
I wrote an in-depth review of the film elsewhere on the internet, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, click [here].

Now… where was I? Oh yeah! I was going to tell you about going to see Cinematic Titanic live in Chicago.

For those who still need a refresher on it, Cinematic Titanic is the latest pet project of Joel Hodgson, creator and former host of the show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. CT (as it will be called from here on out) is basically MST3K except without the forced plots and commercial breaks. Oh, and you get to see the whole film. (MST3K would sometimes edit movies to fit in the time allotted.)

Now that we’re all up to speed, I went to the live performance with a few friends (and a friend of a friend). I had heard that for live performances, the cast of CT would perform films that hadn’t come to DVD. On a whim, I checked out if the film we were going to see was listed on their website, and it was. After seeing its title, we were all a ‘twitter. The title of the craptacular film we were going to see was called… drum roll please… Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks. Allow me to repeat that so you can soak it in….


That title just reeks of awfulness, doesn’t it?
Despite the adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can certainly judge this film by its title because it was terrible. It had one of the most incomprehensible plots I have ever seen, and I’ve watched Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Star Wars Holiday Special.

The plot and its details are sketchy at best, so the only thing that I can say for certain about the film was that it centered around Count Frankenstein’s (yes, I said, “Count”) eponymous “castle of freaks” and the experiments he conducts there. Early in the film, Franky’s niece shows up for no reason*, along with her financé and her beguiling and busty best friend who just happens to get naked a lot. Oh, and a hunchback and a shrewish, heavy-set scullery maid slap each other around and have rough sex. Also, a dwarf befriends a caveman. And this film takes place in nineteenth century Romania.


Seriously, this film is all kinds of messed up. Then again, what would you expect from an English language Italian film made in the 1970s?

The general feeling of the whole night was really loose. The performers had their scripts perched on music stands while they sat off to the sides of the stage. In center stage, an enormous screen was pulled down for the film to project on to. It was like a roundtable Q&A session, except they were facing away from us.

The CT cast was really excited, and you could tell they enjoyed being there. There was a great sense of comedic spirit and comraderie amongst them — when someone’s joke went over well, the other members would applaud them or give them a thumb’s up. At one point, Frank Conniff actually turned around and thanked us for laughing at his joke because he didn’t think anyone would get it.

As expected, the whole evening was great. The CT crew had a film that was perfect to make fun of, and they did an awesome job of ripping it a new one. I had an absolute blast.
But then I went and humiliated myself at the meet-and-greet after the show.


My favorite cast member from MST3K was Trace Beaulieu, the actor behind Crow T. Robot and Dr. Clayton Forrester. Since he is a member of CT, he was there that night, and he stuck around to sign autographs and speak to the fans. I got all excited at the chance to speak with him…. Unfortunately, I made such an ass out of myself that I didn’t actually get to “talk” to him.
Here’s a general synopsis on how the interaction went….

(I approach him, giggling like a school girl near her crush.)
TRACE: “Well, look at you! You’re downright giddy!”
ME: Pthbth frrvnt thbpt shmnk thhfnerrrr….
(He signs my copy of Cinematic Titanic: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians)
TRACE: “I hope you liked the show!”
ME: “Shmengy thmem nrptk ngtkomlrkr.”
TRACE: “Thanks for coming down!”
(I’m then pushed down the line to meet the rest of the cast.)

Luckily, I wasn’t such an ass-hat around the rest of the cast. And I must say, Joel couldn’t have been nicer. He was really outgoing and happy to be there — shaking hands, smiling and taking photos with fans. You just got a good vibe off of him.
Frank Conniff, on the other hand, was sick as hell. He mentioned before the show that he got a cold coming into Chicago, but it didn’t seem to hinder his performance. Afterwards, it was really apparent that he was under the weather, and considering how crappy our weather has been, that’s saying something.

It was a great night. I wish I could watch their riffing of the movie all over again.

…Hey, wait a minute….


*That’s not entirely true. When the gang arrives at Frankenstein’s castle, they mention that the niece and her financé came “for their wedding.” Since this “wedding” never takes place and is only spoken of in a single line of dialog with no mention of it again throughout the whole film, I’m chalking their visit up to “no reason.”


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