When it comes to enduring bad movies, the comedians of "Cinematic Titanic" have more experience than most. Featuring five founding members of cult TV hit "Mystery Science Theater 3000," "Titanic" continues the tradition of making fun of the foibles of B-movie bombs like "Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks" and "The Oozing Skull." The crew will take their show on the road for a 19-city tour this fall starting Sept. 15-17 in Minneapolis; details can be found at cinematictitanic.com.
We talked to Titanic's Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Trace Beaulieu about what makes a movie truly wretched.Story: Chat transcript: Worst movies ever
TODAY.com: Have you ever walked out on a movie?
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Conniff: I don't think I ever have. Once I'm in, I usually stay till the bitter end. I think one of the reasons people love "Mystery Science" is that people have all watched bad movies with their friends, and that's a fun communal experience. But when I go to a movie in a theater, I don't go in knowing it's going to be bad.Story: Cut! Cut! Movies so bad, you had to leave
Beaulieu: The only bad movies I've walked out of have been comedies. This is going back a ways, but "Hardly Working," the Jerry Lewis epic — supposed to be his comeback or something. My brother and I actually played hooky from work to go see this movie. We were ready to laugh, and and we left the movie and went back to work, it was so bad. ... The last movie that I should have walked out of was one of the recent Harry Potters. It was so incredibly boring.Slideshow: Cartoons: The end of Harry Potter
Weinstein: Probably three of the four movies I've walked out on were comedies. And that's mostly a tone thing. When the tone is so discordant with what you think is funny, it becomes more of an assault than an entertainment.Story: What are the worst movies of past 5 years?
TODAY.com: What qualities make a movie genuinely not worth watching?
Beaulieu: The boredom factor. If I'm so distracted by it, or maybe irritated is a better word, then that turns to outrage that I've spent this money and this time to be here, and I could have pulled something from my library of DVDs and maybe had a better afternoon. ... I've destroyed a DVD, I was so upset. It was "Brüno." A bad comedy, I can't abide that. Actually, my machine stopped playing. It knew.Story: Summer bummer: 5 most disappointing movies
Weinstein: They get under your skin for different reasons. It could be one character who makes you angry the whole time. The could be one actor who's just chewing the scenery so much, or the monster is so half-heartedly built. I think if you look at the dozen or so Cinematic Titanic movies, all five of us have a different favorite and least favorite.
TODAY.com: What's the worst movie you've ever seen?
Conniff: "Manos: The Hands of Fate" is certainly one of the worst movies ever made, and yet there's also something wonderful about it. There are some movies that are really bad and yet you kind of take them into your heart. There are other movies that are soulless, and they might have big budgets but you don't walk away with anything from them.Story: Someone save Bambi's mom! Worst kid films
Beaulieu: "Battlefield Earth" is not a good movie. Probably one of the worst movies ever. But as a train wreck, it's so enjoyable on that level. … Frank and I once got to see [the unreleased, made-for-copyright-reasons 2004 version of] "The Fantastic Four." We watched a blowup of that on a 10-foot screen at a friends' house in Hollywood. And it was almost unwatchable just for the many generations of pirated VHS that it had gone through. If you could animate shag carpeting, it had that kind of quality to it. But it was kind of compelling to see something so awful.Story: Lights, camera, awful! Movies we hate the most
Weinstein: I think there are examples in the 20-year history of "Mystery Science" where some unwatchable movies have ended up being good episodes. But there's a certain quality we're looking for, and it's a very fine line. You want it to be watchable and not just haphazard. What's nice to see in a movie is that someone cared while they were making it. That intent comes through, that there was someone at least who cared. They didn't do a good job, necessarily, but it wasn't just a purely cynical exercise.
Are you a fan of MST3K or Cinematic Titanic? What's your favorite movie they've riffed on? Share on Facebook.