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‘Rifftrax: Space Mutiny’ (review)

If you have ever been a fan of MST3K then you know that one of the best episodes of the entire series was their riffing of the 1988 “classic” Space Mutiny.

All of the railing deaths, the incoherent plot, the editing that makes things more confusing, the industrial plant being asked to pass for a space ship, the fake beard on Cameron Mitchell, the stolen Battlestar Galactica footage and of course the amazing Reb Brown. Fans have made this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 one of the most loved of it’s entire run and oddly flung Reb Brown into cult stardom more than any of his impressive body of work ever did.

We are not here to talk about how Mystery Science Theater 3000 roasted Space Mutiny though… we are hear to see if RiffTrax can up the ante.

The film itself is something of a wonder and with it being a modern signpost of mockery we have to wonder just how such a mess was allowed to be released.

In 1988 prolific director, producer and dance choreographer (I am not kidding) David Winters was set to direct the film we know as Space Mutiny. Debates rage on as to how much of the film Winters actually directed as he states he was called away due to a death in the family before shooting began and first AD Neal Sundstrom actually shot the entire movie with Winters attempting to remove his own name from the project after the fact.

This account is contradicted by some cast and crew who claim Winters indeed directed the bulk of the movie. I personally believe Winters did indeed direct the film as it has his trademarks all over it. If you have ever seen a David Winters film before (or those he made after) Space Mutiny fits comfortably into his filmography.

Conversely when it comes to Neal Sundstrom and his body of work he has proven himself far more resourceful and with a steadier hand so I wager the issues at hand are Winters. Regardless though Winters is solely to blame for the structure and framework incompetence as it was his screenplay, under the pseudonym Maria Dante, which laid the groundwork for everything that would follow. The Winters as Dante script was a disjointed mess and no one could have made this into anything of merit without a complete rewrite.

Shot in South Africa during apartheid by the direct to video AIP (Action International Pictures), Space Mutiny was never meant to be anything more than a product with no regard to quality whatsoever.

And this shows in the release version.

While Space Mutiny was a flawed picture from the very get go it was not unsavable although with Winters at the helm (sic) there was never a real chance. The movie tried to pretend it had more production value than it did and yet was completely unaware of it’s many inherent flaws. Many years after the fact, and after the picture was one of the most mocked movies of all time, star Cisse Cameron claimed the movie was always a satire and was meant to lampoon “Space Operas”.

Since this is how all of the “Worst films ever made” attempt to divert attention from their issues I tend to not believe this as the movie is played too straight to have ever been a satire and AIP did not make satires… they made and released low budget action sci-fi garbage meant to appeal to the lowest discernment of it’s viewer.

While Space Mutiny itself was a disaster when one watches Mike and the Bots you realize they could only have wished for a film such as this (and yes, I am one of the few who had seen this film on it’s own prior to MST3K launching it into the popular consciousness). Movies the likes of Space Mutiny don’t just come along every day and there is a reason fans gravitated towards it as a favorite episode.

That all said, Space Mutiny is the newest RiffTrax Live event from Fathom Events and since the RiffTrax crew are the same ones that riffed said movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000 the question is raised… just why the hell should anyone want to pay good money to see a rehashed version of a nearly two decades old MST3K?

The answer is because it’s not a rehash.

Sure the movie has been done before and by these very same riffers, but the RiffTrax guys went into Space Mutiny with a mission, to revisit the film and not repeat any of the jokes from the previous Satellite Of Love iteration. In essence you are getting a brand new RiffTrax with a hint of the classic MST3K. The actual live showing has now passed but there is an encore on June 19th and since I just left the live screening I recommend this very much. It was hilarious and they are showing a version of the film itself that you had not seen previously.

When MST3K got ahold of films they had to edit out nudity and things such as that but they also edited out non-objectionable content as well to make time for the host segments. So this Space Mutiny is the full film with the 10 or so minutes that MST3K removed and the boobs (kind of… you have to see for yourself).

As with most Fathom Events and with RiffTrax Live especially you get a little extra for your money and this is no exception. Besides some funny placeholder “trivia” cards before the show they also riff a short film about a magic shop by HG Wells himself (they even note how odd this feels). The short is bizarre and fits will into the Rifftrax library.

Check out the replay on the 19th. It’s worth it.


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