On November 24, 1988, a little life-altering puppet show premiered and changed the face of movie-watching. No, not Kukla, Fran and Ollie, though I understand your confusion. The puppety program was, in fact, Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, you’re dead to me. If you’ve somehow survived that statement, I’ll explain, though I really shouldn’t have to, because this is the Internet, and you should really know.
The premise is as such: an affable janitor/affable temp is forced to watch terrible movies by a mad scientist and his henchman/a mad scientist and his mother/just the mother with a monkey and pale body-less gentleman. He – Joel or Mike – does so with his two robot pals, Crow and Tom Servo. In order to stay sane, our three heroes make fun of the movie, or “riff” on it, as we in the know refer to it.
Also, there’s Gypsy. No one ever mentions Gypsy in their brief descriptions of the show for the benefit of non-fans, but Gypsy was a cool cat, and she was purple, which is my favorite color.
MST3K is my favorite show of all time. I posses most of the episodes, many in their original taped form (because I like commercials), their book, The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, and I professed my fandom in a frightful enough manner to actually get three of the guys (Mike “Mike Nelson” Nelson, Kevin “Servo/Bobo” Murphy and Bill “Latter Day Crow/Brain Guy” Corbett) to allow me to write a bit for Rifftrax. This was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and always will be, and I will tell my children this when they ask why the day of their births are a close second, and I will only say the “close” part for appearances.
In honor of my favorite show’s 21st birthday, and to drink away the sorrow I still feel for that horrible day 10 years ago when the show was canceled, I’m taking it out for a birthday drink. And who better to honor than the show’s best drunks? Feel free to pick the one you’re doing body shots off of (note: if you choose Rowsdower or Mitchell, I’m fairly certain they produce their own salt).
June Talbott, Leech Woman
Poor June. All she wanted was love. And youth. And vodka. Just … so much vodka, like, all the time. And when her younger/smugger husband decides to leave her and take all his in-office booze with him, she’s naturally devastated. But luck! He decides to use her as a guinea pig for an African aging cure. She gets young, she gets hot, she gets her husband killed by tribesmen and she gets to nail her hot lawyer. But our June refuses to let a thing like happiness get in the way of her drinking. For booze is a stronger soulmate than the wimpy lawyer, Neil. And that is why, June, we salute you. Two straight vodkas for you, old lady-face.
Zap Rowsdower, The Final Sacrifice
Woodsman. Beer swiller. Child rescuer. Cult fighter. Double denim sporter. Mullet owner. Zap. Rowsdower. Canada’s finest. Recognize.
Rowsdower pulled up in a crappy pickup truck and pulled away at our hearts, never to look back. Sent from the heavens (Canada) to save the world (Canada) from a band of evil (vague group of snowmobilers) and to protect our hero (a skinny useless rat child) by sending the bad guys … to space … I think. I still have no idea what happens in this movie. I’m generally too distracted by the majesty of Rowsdower. A sixer of Molson to you, Zap. Three for your gullet, three for your hair.
Ev, Giant Spider Invasion
“You been hittin’ the BOOZE again, Ev!” And yes, yes she had, back-braced ginger-bearded redneck husband. Yes she had. A drunken hillbilly, who no doubt boozes to avoid her horrible cheating/molestery husband, slutty sister, rampant spiders and decaying cow carcasses, Ev lives a quiet life of simple pleasures. Mostly in her underpants (see picture, which is the only picture available of our heroine). A blended delight of vodka, ice and spider coming your way, Ev.
While not a movie character, Jack was an important piece of MST’s magic. I’m not sure if he was quite so magical to Mike Nelson, who spent roughly eleventy-thirty hours in makeup, and no doubt still suffers panic attacks when he gets near crepe hair, but it was magical to us and that’s what really matters. Whether he’s telling long dull stories to the uncaring Mads or groping a fey lady-boy who teaches the joy of music, Jack was more than a series of flesh-toned latex applications. He was a hero. A scotch and soda laced with Detrol to you, Perkins.
Father Dude, Soultaker
I’m almost 97 percent sure his name was Brad, but that’s not important. Nor is it particularly important that he wasn’t drunk, per se, rather coked to the gills. Shiny dewy gills at that, the kind of waxen sheen that only pure ’80s Colombian marching powder can provide. But his lips were no doubt coated with some kind of petroleum-based situation, and I’m sure that could get one all kinds of inebriated. A trough of that stuff for Dude.
Jimmy’s mother, I Accuse My Parents
Jimmy’s mother really kicks it up a notch. Where others drink to the destruction of their livers, Mrs. Wilson drinks to the destruction of her son’s entire life, leading to the titular accusation. She shows up to his school quasted (quite wasted) in a fancy hat that would make Edie Beale jealous and embarrasses him enough to lead him down the path of sex, murder and hamburgers. And it was his birthday … AND he won the essay contest. She’s a walking (stumbling) course on how to be a proper mother. Serve her whatever she wants, but make sure she drinks it out of her hat.
My my my my Mitchell. But he’s really all of our our our our Mitchell, isn’t he? Drunk, slovenly, lazy, fat, greasy, hooker-infested, our Mitchell is all these things and so much more. He probably smells like mildew and some variation on pork. He is the king of all things drunken and MSTy. No birthday party would be complete without his presence, slurred insults, failed buttock strokings and passings out on the pool table. He doesn’t need a drink from us – he can undoubtedly suck the remnants off his stained pants and get a decent buzz on.
Commence the party. I’ve brought a cake. Ev dropped spiders all over it, but it’s fine. Party on, folks!
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.