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The Best Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movies to Watch Without the Bots

Strangely, Baker’s sloppy appearance and lackadaisical on-screen persona work for Mitchell, a movie that is explicitly about a slob of a cop who gets caught up in a larger conspiracy. And even if Baker doesn’t completely work for audiences, Mitchell has the always great John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and the New Hollywood mainstay Martin Balsam (Psycho) on hand to class up the joint.

Night of the Blood Beast (Season 7, Episode 1, 1996)

Another Corman classic, Night of the Blood Beast thrives on its nasty little premise: what if an alien monster implanted embryos inside of an astronaut? And what if that monster comes to Earth to get its embryos back? To help sell the story, Night of the Blood Beast comes with a fantastic poster, featuring a shrieking woman in a state of undress, a giant hairy hand grasping a severed head, and lots of blood. 

Okay, nothing actually in the film pays off the promises of the poster, certainly not the main monster, a reused costume from Corman’s Teenage Caveman. But the film does carry a suggestion of sleaze, the feeling that, at any moment, something truly unspeakable will appear on screen. Night of the Blood Beast overcomes its low budget by using your imagination as its greatest special effect. 

This Island Earth (MST3K: The Movie, 1996)

By now, every MSTie knows about the trainwreck that is Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Not only did the insistence on a feature film from Bad Brains co-head Jim Mallon eventually drive series creator Joel Hodgson from the series, but the picture came in at 74 minutes, a full twelve minutes shorter than the feature’s experiment, This Island Earth. But the absolute worst part of the film, one not lost on the creatives involved, is that This Island Earth isn’t a bad movie at all. 

Like most sci-fi movies of the 50s, This Island Earth features straight-laced scientists standing in labs and trading technobabble. But unlike its contemporaries, the movie gets off-planet quickly, where the heroes battle with memorable movie monsters in the form of a mutant guard. Is it high drama? No, of course not, but it’s exactly the type of movie that made sci-fi such a phenomenon, prompting studios to make the stinkers that test subjects usually cover. 

The Final Sacrifice (Season 9, Episode 10, 1998)

The Final Sacrifice regularly tops lists of all-time best MST3K episodes, so you know it’s bad, right? Well, Final Sacrifice does team the world’s most annoying kid and average Canadian Zap Rowsdower against a mildly smug cult leader. And the cult does largely consist of pudgy dudes in black sweats who couldn’t think of anything scarier than a triangle tattoo for their logo. 

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