The 20 Best MST3k Episodes on Netflix

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The 20 Best <i>MST3k</i> Episodes on Netflix

Here at Paste we’re rather obsessed with Mystery Science Theater 3000. We’ve already ranked the entire classic series in a massive, 47,000 word piece that tackles 176 episodes of MST3k, plus MST3k: The Movie, in anticipation of the brand new season 11 that premieres April 14 on Netflix. So if you want to see a ranking of EVERY EPISODE EVER, go check out that list.

However, it’s been brought to my attention that tackling the entire list of 177 episodes isn’t the most efficient way of deciding which episodes to watch on Netflix during your weekend binging session. To build hype for the new series, Shout! Factory has brought 20 classic episodes of MST3k over to Netflix, including series classics such as Puma Man, Manos: The Hands of Fate and Space Mutiny. Here’s your ranking of these 20 episodes, most of which are series classics—10 from my own top 20, and the rest not far behind.

20. Ep. 202, The Sidehackers, 1969

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: The entire host segment where the crew demonstrates some rapid-fire “sidehacking terminology” in the style of sports commentary is full of brilliant tongue-twisters.

Dear lord—for a movie that initially appears like it’s going to be something lighthearted about silly motorcycle sidecar racing, the actual story of The Sidehackers is pretty damn dour. The actual “sidehacking” scenes are all uniformly hilarious—it’s such a bizarre pseudo sport to see in action, full of men dangling out of motorcycle sidecars and looking moments from a grisly death. But then you get into the meat of the actual story, about a driver named Rommel who turns down a woman and sets a chain of events into motion that ends with his own fiancee raped and murdered. Yeesh. It’s pretty sordid stuff for a MST3k movie, which are usually a bit more innocent than all that. According to Mike in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, this was the result of the cast deciding to shoot this particular episode before they’d fully watched all of the footage, a policy that was changed after the distasteful nature of The Sidehackers forced their hand. Regardless, when you’re not saying “ew,” the episode is otherwise solid, with good host segments that fixate on the inherent weirdness of sidehacking. Of note: This may be the only episode of MST3k where Cambot technically has “a riff,” when he superimposes some ESPN-style graphics over the sidehacking action.

19. Ep. 402, The Giant Gila Monster, 1959

Movie pain meter: High
Best riff: “It’s the magnificent men in their jaunty jalopies!”

The Giant Gila Monster was actually shot back-to-back with The Killer Shrews by the same director/producer team, and the film suffers from many of the same problems: Grainy picture and even grainier audio, which makes it difficult to pick out most of the dialog. Not that it actually matters in this case, as almost all of that dialog is just “teens” jabbering at each other about their cars, or running from the titular giant Gila Monster (actually played by the closely related Mexican Beaded Lizard). The film is as much a celebration of ‘50s teen music and “hot rod” culture as it is a monster movie, and of course, like any other “teen” movie of the period, it has the requisite terrible music numbers. Some of them are just painfully awkward, like the protagonist serenading his little disabled sister as she attempts to walk with new leg braces. However, I think we can all agree that “I Sing Whenever I Sing, Whenever I Sing” is an earworm that gets its hooks in you and just never lets go. It makes for a great running joke, as the SOL crew inserts the tune into the minds of nearly every character on screen (including the Gila Monster) every time a new scene starts.

18. Ep. 204, Catalina Caper, 1967

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “Meanwhile, in the dark, impenetrable void, Jean Paul Sartre was a-movin’ and a-groovin’.”

The film that finally put the “beach party” movie subgenre in its grave, Catalina Caper is a real mess. It’s an unusual genre mix-up that combines the typical music/lighthearted juvenile hijinks and comedy of a beach party movie with a crime/heist caper that is happening simultaneously. Our protagonist is named “Don Pringle,” which unsurprisingly is a rich vein of humor throughout. It’s an unusual pick for MST3k in the sense that the film is ostensibly a comedy, which are rarely chosen because they’re more difficult to riff—you can’t simply refute every joke in the movie with riffs saying “that isn’t funny.” This does make some of the riffing a little awkward, and I assume the Best Brains probably thought back to Catalina Caper before choosing to riff comedies in the future. Highlights include the zaniness of the plan, which involves stealing an “ancient Chinese scroll,” and the character of “Creepy Girl,” who inspires some serious devotion from Servo. His ‘50s malt shop-style song for Creepy Girl is one of the early indicators of MST3k’s musical brilliance … as well as the pure singing chops of Kevin Murphy.

17. Ep. 410, Hercules Against the Moon Men, 1964

Movie pain meter: High
Best riff: “Jim Henson’s Exodus Babies.”

Deeeeeep … hurting! Like a spiritual successor to the “ROCK CLIMBING!” in Lost Continent, Hercules Against the Moon Men arrives with quite a bit of hyping from the Mads, which is something I always love to see—when they’re pleased with themselves, you know it’s going to be a painful movie. With this edition of the adventures of Herc, they’re specifically referring to a scene in the last third of the film where the characters wander into a sandstorm, and just wander around foreverrrrrr. The sequence is so bad and so long that it’s practically unriffable; there’s just nothing else you can say after the first few minutes of Deep Hurting in the sandstorm. As for the rest, the episode is a bit up and down—I like Alan Steel as Herc more than the sleepy Reg Park in Hercules and the Captive Women, but there are too many palace scenes full of dialog that goes nowhere and not enough Herc smashing stuff. However: I have to give it points for one of my favorite MST3k stingers ever, with the old man who randomly gets impaled by a spike trap while trying to lead Hercules to freedom. It’s so unexpected and sudden that it cracks me up every single time.

16. Ep. 1011, Horrors of Spider Island, 1960

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “From Los Angeles, they take off from New York, to go to Singapore.”

I don’t know if it’s more accurate to say that this film features a “were-spider” or a literal “spider-man,” but it certainly does, and then some. You’ve got to love the equally lazy and stupid premise: A sleazeball nightclub promoter hires a bunch of dancers to fly with him to “dance in Singapore,” but their plane just so happens to crash within swimming range of Big Spider Island. When the sleazeball gets bitten, he soon transforms into Man-Spider, Defiler of Cabaret Dancers. A whole lot of jokes are thrown in his direction both before and after the transformation, targeting his general undesirability and prominent “Torgo area” in particular. In terms of tone, the film actually reminds me of a more articulate, lucid take on The Killer Shrews—same island, different monsters, but at least you can hear what people are saying, which helps considerably. The extended scenes of the girls arguing in the island cabin can be a little grating, but Mike and the Bots roll ably with the punches … until Servo faints during one of the many girl fights, that is.

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15. Ep. 706, Laserblast, 1978

Movie pain meter: High
Best riff: “Coca Cola is going to need a PR campaign just to undo the damage this scene is doing.”

If not for the Sci-Fi Channel picking up MST3k for its final three seasons, Laserblast would have functioned as the series finale—thank God this was not the case. Still, the fact that the crew figured Laserblast would be their last film imbues it with a sense of “very special episode” that helps make it memorable, including a story in the host segments that eventually sees the SOL flying into a black hole, where the gang become beings of pure energy. The film, meanwhile, is a real piece of zero-budget garbage that is made only worse by its arrogant aspirations—there’s even a scene where the protagonist uses his laser cannon to explode an actual Star Wars billboard in a beautiful display of petty one-upmanship. It combines the worst aspects of shirtless ‘70s slackerism with a protagonist who is slowly driven insane (and possibly turned into a lizard) by the laser cannon grafted onto his arm while being pursued by cops and claymation aliens. Riffing is steady and solid; I enjoyed the repeated digs at Leonard Maltin for daring to give the film 2 ½ stars, and the running joke at the expense of the Hank Williams Jr. lookalike cop is without a doubt a series classic. “Anything you say can be used … to get you ready for some football!”

14. Ep. 903, The Pumaman, 1980

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “The theology contained in this picture may not be wholly accurate. Consult your doctor before embarking on a theology program.”

Pumaman is a definite fan favorite among MSTies, although I suspect that I probably rate it just a bit lower than most thanks to a few slower sections. Still, everything here is iconic MST3k, from our whiny, ineffectual, pants-wetting hero to another appearance by the great Donald Pleasance, once again playing the role of scenery-chewing villain exactly as he did in Warrior of the Lost World. He’s even named “Dr. Kobras!” Not much chance you’re going to end up as a do-gooder with a name like that, is there? Much is name of his inability to pronounce “pew-ma,” and general “balditude.” Our hero Tony is, with no exaggeration, probably the lamest “superhero” in cinema history, the descendant of Aztec alien gods who bestowed his bloodline with magical PUMA POWERS. Such powers include flight, although as Mike notes, “I hate to be picky, but pumas aren’t really known for flying.” The flight sequences are side-splitting, though, achieved by use of horrendous looking rear projection while Tony dangles quite clearly in place on a fishing line, butt sticking straight up in the air. These sequences actually manage to look worse than the giant grasshoppers climbing skyscrapers in The Beginning of the End, which is saying something. And he finds out about his super powers in the most ridiculous way imaginable: When his soon-to-be Aztec mentor sneaks up behind Tony and throws him out a window to test his puma-like reflexes. Stan Lee couldn’t have written it better.

13. Ep. 604, Zombie Nightmare, 1986

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “Fight choreography by Dom Deluise!”

There’s something about Zombie Nightmare that reminds one of The Toxic Avenger—both have a guy who is “killed” and comes back as a monster to punish the kids responsible. Hell, both of them have innocents being run over by a car. But what Toxie does have that Zombie Nightmare is lacking is humor, gore and amusing lead characters—compared to Troma’s classic, Jon Mikl Thor doesn’t have a chance of being half as interesting, and the “John Cage soundtrack” doesn’t help either. Nevertheless, this voodoo zombie flick is rife for the MST3k treatment largely due to the very memorable supporting players, which include Tia Carrere in her first screen role. Tia doesn’t get much screen time, but I’ll tell you who does: Adam West! As the police chief, he’s the source of many of the biggest riffs, as Mike and the Bots paint him as bitter and cynical about not being invited back to play Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 film. Even better is the truly bizarre police coroner, with his inhuman, wheezing voice that draws more Batman references and comparisons to Burgess Meredith as The Penguin. It’s one of the flat-out weirdest performances in the show’s history.

12. Ep. 321, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, 1964

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: “Big John Call IS Santa Claus, in ‘O Little Town of DEATHlehem!’”

You can’t help but compare this classic episode to the Mexican Santa Claus, and the one you prefer ultimately will come down to personal taste. Where the Mexican film is stronger on the absurdism and nightmare fuel, it’s also slower and more ugly. Conquers the Martians, on the other hand, has the feel of an early ‘60s kids TV show that has been stretched out to feature length—it’s good natured, easygoing and campy, like a Christmas episode of Adam West’s Batman. I love every one of the characters, from the precocious brat children, to “laziest man on Mars” Dropo, to Santa, who makes the Bots question what exactly is in his pipe. The episode is notable for having one of the series’ best songs in the form of “Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas” and great host segments in general, but it’s the cheap costuming and generally rushed feeling (they even misspell “costume designer” in the opening credits) that makes me laugh hardest. The scene featuring the worst polar bear costume in the history of cinema (“you can see the headpiece draped over the body!”) is howlingly funny, as is Torg the cardboard box robot. The riffs do slow down just a tad by the end of the episode, but this one remains a holiday staple I have to watch at least once every Christmas season.

11. Ep. 424, Manos: The Hands of Fate, 1966, /w Hired! Part 2

Movie pain meter: Extreme
Best riff: “Every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photograph.”

Alright, alright, let’s get the outrage out of the way. Manos is probably the most famous episode of MST3k, and it stands as a contribution to bad movie canon right alongside the likes of Plan 9 From Outer Space. It was chosen as the #1 episode of MST3k by fans when open voting was held by Shout! Factory to determine the top 100 user-voted episodes, but I can’t help but think that its ranking tends to get inflated slightly by the fact that the episode is so well known, and has thus been seen by more viewers. In short: It’s a great episode of the series, but it’s not #1, although it is in hall of fame territory. The main thing bringing it down just a bit is the fact that Manos is a bit inconsistent in delivering the big laughs—it starts out with incredibly funny material but then begins to slowly peter out by the last third, especially once The Master’s wives begin their endless bickering and wrestling. It’s like the movie (understandably) sucks the life out of Joel and the Bots over time, although I absolutely love the bit where the usually laid-back Joel can’t help actually yelling at the film to “DO SOMETHING!” Still, the first 30 minutes in particular are some of the riffers’ best work ever. Highlights of the episode include the interminable opening driving sequences, which are hilariously lampooned in a host segment, as well as the thrilling conclusion of the Hired! series of shorts in Part 2. This short is brilliant, and stronger than the first overall. The old man sitting on his porch, handkerchief on his head, swatting at imaginary elves, brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it.

10. Ep. 506, Eegah!, 1962

Movie pain meter: High
Best riff: While Roxy shaves Eegah: “Why don’t you just cut the string that holds that beard on?”

Eegah! is the best, slimiest movie you’ll ever see about a caveman with a raging libido. For some reason, its hip, swingin’ kids remind of of the Girl in Gold Boots crew, but this movie is far, far zanier and simultaneously more painful. It’s notable for the presence of two actors: Richard Kiel of Human Duplicators and James Bond (he’s Jaws) fame, playing the caveman Eegah, and the director’s son, Arch Hall Jr., taking advantage of supreme nepotism to play the crooning, guitar-strumming male lead. Just the face on Arch Hall Jr. is enough to make you want to turn off the TV—it’s genuinely irritating in its smugness and smushedness, which leads to him being dubbed “Cabbage Patch Elvis” by Joel and the Bots. The film contains one of the great contextless moments in MST3k history, when our three protagonists are venturing into the desert when a completely disembodied voice warns them to “watch out for snakes!” The rest of the episode has a little bit of everything—terrible singing from Arch Hall, wonderful riffing on the makeover Roxy attempts to give Eegah, and more of Richard Kiel’s tongue than you can possibly imagine. There’s even a great host segment where the bots attempt to use a newfangled contraption to smush Joel’s face into the “sunburned baby” countenance of Arch Hall Jr.

9. Ep. 507, I Accuse My Parents, 1945, /w The Truck Farmer

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “He’s taken to selling his essays cheap on the street!”

I’ve often seen this episode cited as one of Joel’s favorites, and it’s pretty easy to see why, once you get past The Truck Farmer, which is a serviceable (if average) short. The main course, though, is classic Joel-era riffing, largely at the expense of poor dullard Jimmy, who accuses his parents in court as the cause of his delinquency-related downfall. You see, Mom is a lush—too drunk to properly serve on the PTA—and it all just descends into fast-talking, ‘40s-style anarchy from there, with lots of cops who seem like they’re straight out of The Brute Man. Jimmy shares much in common with the equally dumb, easily corrupted teens of other fare such as High School Big Shot, but none of them were so dull as to be reduced to robbing a diner owner for a hamburger. This is a heaping helping of melodrama, which flies in stark contrast to the more genre-heavy material of the Sci Fi Channel years. I enjoy the riffers’ fixation on the film’s many lies—there’s essentially not a single sympathetic character in it, and they spend all their time lying to one another. As Joel puts it, during a transition: “Seventeen hundred lies later …” No wonder Jimmy is driven to serve the mob, while simultaneously having no idea he’s doing it (because he’s an idiot).

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8. Ep. 1003, Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, 1996

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: “So Billy, the little boy who looks just like you went through terrible, irredeemable grief.”

Technically the third episode of season 10, this was actually the last new episode of MST3k to ever air on the Sci-Fi Channel, and at one point was considered the “lost episode” as a result. It’s also one of the best, a completely jumbled, pieced-together film assembled from two completely unrelated stories with the common thread of Merlin and his shop. The entire movie is technically presented to the audience as a bedtime story being told by Ernest Borgnine to his grandson, which is referenced often and to hilariously mundane effect by all three riffers: “By this time, Billy, a kid had thrown a chicken while an infertile couple looked at a store!” Or: “And then, the guy with the receding hairline drove a blue car, carefully signaling his turn and pulling into a suburban driveway.” This “bedtime story” quality only becomes funnier as the film gradually becomes incredibly dark, shedding any pretense of “family adventure” and killing not one, not, two, but THREE DIFFERENT PETS throughout. The first half is the strongest for its villain, an insufferably snobby “professional critic” whose job it apparently is to write scathing reviews of novelty magic shops and drive them right out of business. There honestly isn’t a slow moment, from the inexplicably pissed-off psychic woman in the second half to the bizarrity of the “rock ‘n roll martian” sequence, when one of the child actors dons googly glasses and starts singing a tune he seems to be plucking out of thin air. Merlin’s Shop is extremely watchable, if only because you spend half the film razzing its soap opera production values, and the other half marveling at its unexpected brutality in murdering cats and dogs.

7. Ep. 813, Jack Frost, 1964

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: During the opening credits: “These names are all Russian for ‘Alan Smithee.’”

Jack Frost is a hallucinogenic voyage that is only surpassed in trippy visuals by the likes of Santa Claus, but the riffing is on an entirely other level from that Mexican holiday drug bender. This is another of our “Russo-Finnish fantasy cycle,” and it’s undoubtedly the greatest of the lot, full of colorful characters and absurd plot points. It’s a jumbled hodgepodge of Russian mythology and folklore, starring stock characters like the witch Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged cabin, but characters pass in and out of the film so quickly that it ends up feeling like several episodes of a Russian fantasy TV show that have been unceremoniously stitched together to form a celluloid golem. Our hero Ivan is a pompous braggart who must be taught the meaning of humility by being changed into a bear-headed monster by the diminutive sprite known as “Father Mushroom,” before wandering the woods as a bear man seeking to do good deeds for strangers. Meanwhile, the doe-eyed girl known as Nastenka slaves away in a Cinderella-like scenario, awaiting rescue, except “Every time I meet a man, he’s either gay, or a bear,” as Mike quips. It’s a film that is incapable of being boring, and you never have any idea where the next absurd moment or carefully honed pop culture reference will come from.

6. Ep. 404, Teenagers From Outer Space, 1959

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: Dog owner, looking at skeleton: “This couldn’t be Sparky.” Crow: “Yeah, Sparky had skin.”

It might go against the spirit of the show in some respect, but I really do think that “not absolutely terrible” films often make for some of the best episodes—or at least legible films do, and Teenagers From Outer Space is considerably more competent than most. I mean sure, it concludes with a giant, rear-projected lobster threatening all of our heroes, but UNTIL then it’s actually sort of decent. A group of 40-something-year-old “teenage” aliens land on Earth to prepare for an invasion, but the young, rebellious “Derek” (that’s his alien name!) instead runs away and starts hanging out with the local kids. Too bad the aliens send the psychopathic Thor after him, leaving a trail of skeletonized remains in his wake with a nifty ray gun that very cleanly and thoroughly destroys everything in its path. The broad, one-dimensional character archetypes are a hoot, from the affable, overweight grandfather who is just poured into his sweater vest, to the alien commander who loves to threaten the treasonous Derek with the likelihood of “TORTCHA!” It’s a good-natured slice of vintage sci-fi that seems to really tickle Joel’s funny bone, and the entire crew is in ebullient spirit throughout.

5. Ep. 1004, Future War, 1997

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “You know, I COULD point out that it’s not the future, and there is no war. But you know me; I don’t like to complain.”

This movie has the most amazing one-sentence synopsis ever for a MST3k feature: A kickboxing slave from space who looks like Jean Claude Van Damme crash-lands on Earth, pursued by cyborgs who use dinosaur puppets as their trackers, and battles them with the help of a former prostitute turned nun and a Latino street gang. None of that is exaggerated in any way. That’s just Future War for you. “John Claude Gosh Darn” starts off the film as a mute—sort of a kickboxing Marlee Matlin—before blossoming into someone you simply wish was mute. The riffs fly furiously and attack the absurdity of the premise but especially the hilariously slapdash production values, such as the director’s seeming obsession with knocking over walls of flimsy cardboard boxes, or the “TV anchorman” using an obviously cardboard video camera. The aforementioned prostitute-turned-nun lives in what Servo describes as “a halfway house for huge guys,” rooming with two gigantic dudes who love to stuff their craws when they’re not being eaten by dinosaurs. You’ve even got a reappearance of mega-chinned Robert Z’Dar, who was just in Soultaker two episodes earlier. The laughs never slow down for a moment, but if I have to pick just one, I can’t help but cackle at Mike and The Bots’ confusion over the identity of one “Fred Burroughs,” who is never seen in the film.

4. Ep. 821, Time Chasers, 1994

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: “Woah, two different plaids? I’m a naked robot, and even I know that’s a fashion no-no.”

“A David Giancola film … is not something you’d want to see,” begins Mike on this all-star riffing of an obviously Back to the Future-inspired film. Truth be told, I love Time Chasers the film—it’s one of the most purely entertaining movies ever featured on MST3k, and its comfortable, cheesy badness fits it like a glove. I could happily watch it without riffing, but with the MST3k treatment it becomes transcendent. It gets off to a strong start immediately, as Crow absolutely refuses to accept that the big-chinned Nick could possibly be our hero, holding onto hope that he’s riding his bike on a trip to meet the real hero of the film: “This cannot be the star; can it movie? Can I see your supervisor, movie? This will not stand!” We’ve also got a strong cast of supporting actors: Corporate villain “Bob Evil” who wants to use the time machine as a weapon; plaid-wearing and vacuous reporter love interest Lisa, and of course “Pink Boy,” the villain’s primary gopher. The crew really zeroes in on the movie’s seeming lack of budget for location scouting, which results in elementary schools meant to stand in for corporate headquarters and a CEO whose desk appears to be located in a branch library. Also a lot of fun in this episode are the host segments, which see Crow travel back in time to warn a young Mike about how the Mads will trap him on the SOL. Unfortunately, this has the butterfly effect outcome of Mike’s “older brother” Eddie ending up on the SOL instead, which gives us an entire theater sequence of Mike in character as chain-smoking, heavy-drinking Eddie, who takes breaks throughout to loiter on the rarely used left side of the theater. There isn’t a single slow moment in Time Chasers.

3. Ep. 303, Pod People, 1983

Movie pain meter: Medium
Best riff: “He died as he lived, with his mouth wide open.”

It has been said, on occasion, that this film and the things within it “stink.” This is the correct assessment. But as an episode? Top notch. Pod People truly is a weird, weird movie, and one that proudly wears the evidence of a troubled production on its sleeve. It’s pretty clear when you’re watching it that the original film was intended as more of a horror/monster movie about an alien hunting band members in the woods, but following the success of E.T. the year earlier, they added a side-story about a disturbingly dubbed young boy and his alien companion, Trumpy. The result is like two unrelated movies running side-by-side. On one hand, we’ve got an untalented band full of unlikable people mucking around the woods in fairly unmemorable fashion. And on the other hand, you’ve got the colorful lunacy of Trumpy, whose magic powers allow him to do “STUPID THINGS!” This is one of Trace Beaulieu’s very best episodes, as his hilarious Trumpy voice makes every scene exponentially more hilarious, such as when Trumpy is browsing through Tommy’s room, calling all of his different pets “potatoes” and debating which he should eat first. Meanwhile, Joel shines in the host segments, where the gang parodies the untalented band’s big musical number with the song “Idiot Control Now.” What can you say about “It Stinks!”? It’s one of the show’s most enduring and oft-repeated catchphrases, along with the likes of “Watch out for snakes!” and “hi-keeba!” Along with Cave Dwellers, this episode was a sign to fans that MST3k had ascended to a new level of quality in season 3.

2. Ep. 904, Werewolf, 1996

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: “You know, it’s economical to not have a storyline, because then you can just film people saying things.”

Sometimes, when you’re watching a MST3k movie, you start wondering if it was covertly produced explicitly so it could be featured on this show. Werewolf is one of those episodes. Everything about it invites mockery so openly: The cast of “European-sounding” Americans in the American southwest; the presence of Joe Estevez; the sleazeball villain who can’t decide if his accent is Mexican or Russian; the werewolf costume that looks like a giant fruit bat. There’s no MST3k episode that gets more mileage out of bad accents, between villain Yuri and unforgettable protagonist Natalie. Poor Natalie … she may bear the weight of “the worst single performance in MST3k history,” thanks to a complete inability to emote properly or get a line like “this is absolutely fascinating” out of her mouth in a way that seems human. Some of her lines are even more ridiculous when written out: “You and Noel is in it for fame and fortune? But over my dead body!” She speaks in tenses referred to by Mike as “the future conditional pluperfect subjunctive.” Or more succinctly, it’s a movie about “foreign people talking in attics,” until writer Paul is turned into a werewolf by getting clubbed with a werewolf skull by an angry archaeologist. The smug Yuri is also a highlight, particularly in the way his hair seems to change both style and color—going from black to brown to grey—in nearly every scene. There’s no end to the hilarious sequences, including a werewolf behind the wheels of a car, and Mike & The Bots performance of their ‘50s-inspired girl group song “Where, Oh Werewolf?” It’s all brilliant, top to bottom.

1. Ep. 820, Space Mutiny, 1988

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: “You know, if we pretend we know what’s going on, it’s actually kind of exciting.”

The rare episode where you actually have to wait for a little while before the good stuff arrives, Space Mutiny seems pretty conventional for the first 15 minutes or so, before the arrival of the hero changes everything. If there’s a pantheon out there for “big, dumb, bricks of meat,” Dave Ryder would sit at on the throne. Re-using the “tough guy names” they first tested out in 12 to the Moon, Mike & The Bots this time turn them into an absolute art form, rechristening our hero everything from “Gristle McThornbody” to “Bolt VanderHuge!” He’s the perfect dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers action star: White, beefy, slow and in way over his head in terms of delivering his lines, when he’s not screeching in a bizarrely feminine way. But that’s just the start: We also have Captain Santa Claus (played by the ever-surly Cameron Mitchell), with a never-ending parade of jokes about his elves and reindeer. We also have his “grandma daughter” as the female lead, who appears to be roughly the same age. And to top it all off, there’s the scenery-masticating Kalgan, who murders both spaceship crewmen and common decency with his over-the-top delivery and bug-eyed countenance. The characters make the episode, but the observational humor is just as strong, as Mike & The Bots riff on the film’s obsession with “railing kills” and the howlingly funny continuity error of an actress who was just killed showing up on the bridge in the next scene. Says Crow: “I think it’s very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance!” The laughs fly fast and furious right up to the painfully obvious “the end?” conclusion.

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident bad movie obsessive. You can follow him on Twitter for more film writing.