Misery Science Theater 3666 By Jessica Kylie Nichols-Vernon
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and absolutely did not happen. Joel Robinson is a very funny and talented man and this Creepypasta is not meant to defame or insult him in anyway. It is a horror story meant to entertain and be shocking.
Due to the disturbing nature of this tale and the fact that most creepypastas deal with a fictional character and this one describes a real person. I felt this warning was necessary.
Diehard fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will know that the show started out as a Public Access Program meant to poke fun at many other public access shows which followed a similar formula. In order to keep costs low and avoid having to write any real scripts what a lot of public access shows would do would be have some kind of whacky host dress up like a wizard, a vampire, or a space man, something following a theme of Horror or Sci-Fi.Fantasy, and then proceed to show whatever crappy movies that the host was willing to afford the rights to. Of course this all being public access, the budget was basically nothing so all the host would be able to get movies so horrible that no studio wanted the distribution rights to theme, public domain sci-fi flicks with two guys in a dark room talking about what the writer was able to bullshit about space and technology while blatantly making things up. Humorous these shows would always use years and dates that had already passed as references for the day we finally made first contact with aliens who, due to a lack of a special effects budget, always wound up looking exactly like humans. To help wash down the taste of that and mix it up they’d also show lame ass horror films so stock and cheesey that they’d never actually show the monster, they couldn’t afford one.
The plots were paper-thin, the jokes corny, and the only thing of any real value at all was whatever funfacts about what unwatchable garbage was being presented on the screen which was sometimes of value. Occasionally you’d learn that one actress with the only convincing scream in Terror At Dracula’s Haunted Castle actually went on to be in that one iconic horror film you really enjoy, or how that one good looking guy in Fantastic Voyage To The Forbidden Planet later became a B-Movie Star as one of the greatest unsung action heroes of the 80’s right up there with Reb Brown, or on the opposite end of the spectrum that the studio had given the people who made this schlockfest either way too much advertising or way too little budget, most often both, to even begin to expect something resembling results..
So of course Mystery Science Theater shows up on a public access channel called KTMA with actual effort put into its robot effects and with a host that doesn’t pretend his show is showing true pants-wetting horror or mind blowing visions of a future that could be one day be the reality of our how grandchildren will live. Instead it actively knows that the movies it shows are enough to put most sane to sleep and not even the biggest Star Trek fanboy in the world could defend them, and a result makes fun of them even going so far as to make smartass comments during the film with the silhouettes of the show’s host, Joel Robinson for the first couple of seasons, Mike Nelson for the remainder of the series, and the two robots Tom Servo and Crow, sitting in the corner. It was quite the hit and to this day has a very strong cult following that was able to get it to eventually migrate off of KTMA and find itself a prime time airing showing on both Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel where it lasted ten seasons, a full-on movie deal where they riffed on This Island Earth, and an eleventh internet crowdfunded season is in the works.
The series is available on DVD, though not every episode as although many of the movies they did were public domain flicks, not all of them were. A few episodes were some held onto by a film studio in denial of just how big of a piece of molded smelly cheese it was. The studios only agreed to have their movie featured on the show not realizing that it was meant to insult the film not glorify it, executive types always were bad at doing their homework. Once said executives finally did find out they quickly pulled the rights and to this day refuse a DVD or Netflix release of those MST3k episodes fearing that it would hurt their brand to have some robot made out of a vacuum cleaner and a gumball machine give their films shit for their terrible special effects. Some of the studios even tried to shut the show down for fear that Hollywood wouldn’t make as much money if there was a show dedicated to making fun of just how bad it can screw up, worried that they might succeed the message “Keep circulating the tapes” was placed into the ending credits. However one thing the show’s creators were always adamant about was that the KTMA Episodes despite being exclusively public domain shows, should never be put on DVD nor given any kind of re-release or TV Airing.
If you look on youtube, you can find various episodes of the Public Domain Episodes of MST3k, Mike Nelson himself has stated that he doesn’t really care about making money as much as he does making fun of terrible films so hasn’t filed any copyright claims nor will he. A few of the episodes he put up himself with text blurbs showing up to give a few funfacts about the making of the episode. However this does not apply to the KTMA episodes which when uploaded get flagged almost instantly. Don’t even try to look them up on youtube, last time I found a KTMA Episode listed it was pulled by the time the page loaded and the user who uploaded it got a three month IP ban.
This brings me to my father, I’ve always had a close relationship with my father with MST3k being one of the bigger things we’ve always bonded on. I remember being five and not really sure what the movies were about just thinking the puppets looked cool and their shenanigans were funny. Since I was too young to really string words like Mystery Science Theater 3000 together, Dad would always call it “The Robot Movie”, even after my mom and dad divorced and I’d visit him for the summer nothing brought me back to the good ol’ days like a bucket of homemade popcorn and the show’s villain Dr. Forrester for the first five or six seasons cackling about how bad a film like Manos The Hands Of Fate or High School Big Shot was.
So when my father called me up saying that he knew a guy, who knew a guy, who worked with Joel Robinson back in the KTMA days and had ripped for him all of the KTMA Episodes onto a DVD, I was stoked. Once I had a few days off work we agreed to meet up, me taking a bus from New York to his humble home in Virginia, I’d bring some beers and sodas, he’d make his famous homemade popcorn and we’d laugh at some bad movies.
We sat there looking through the DVDs seeing such films including a few of the early comedy movies Vincent Price did when he was just starting out, something called Yellow Beard, Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine, Night Of The Living Dead which isn’t a bad flick but since it is in the public domain I guess they figured it was an easy grab, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen Or Glenda, Child Brides, Buster Keaton’s The General, an old Christian Propaganda film called Rock:It’s Your Decision, though what really stood out in this list was the overtly racist KKK Recruitment flick Birth Of A Nation.
So we had ourselves a few options, I mean we did have a whole season to go through. I wasn’t really feeling very political since I had spent most of the year arguing politics on facebook with supporters of pretty much everyone running. So we skipped Birth Of A Nation which otherwise would have been my choice. Child Brides was the next runner up as in the main show Mike Nelson said in interviews it was the one bad movie he never wanted to riff because of how much the flick’s content shocked him.
Ultimately we went with Plan 9 From Outer Space, everyone knows Plan 9 From Outer Space. Before Troll 2 or The Room, it was the perfect “So Bad It’s Good” film, and something of a Beam Me Up Scotty when it comes to MST3k. For those who don’t know a Beam Me Up Scotty is when line, catch phrase, or idea is heavily associated with a show, game, or movie that never actually appears in said show. It originates from Star Trek where a commonly spoofed line is “Beam Me Up Scotty!” when that phrase is never actually said in any episode of the show, the line “Scotty, two to beam!” being what was actually said, but the misspeaking of the line by an unrelated source has become that much more popular than the real thing.
I terms of MST3k, Plan 9 From Outer Space is often listed as an example of the kind of god awful sci-fi/horror bargain bin fair that they usually do when Plan 9 was never any of the movies they had tackled in ten seasons of the show’s history. They had done other Ed Wood flicks, but never that one specifically. So I figured, after hearing about how they’ve totally done Plan 9 before why not see them do it for real. My father concurred with my selection.
Right off the bat we were hyped as the familiar intro music played. “In The Not Too Distant Future! Next Sunday AD! There was a guy named Joel! Not too different you or me, he worked at Gizmonic Institute, just another face in red jumpsuit, he did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses didn’t like him so they shot him into space!” My dad and I sang along. “We’ll send him cheesey movies, the worst we can find. He’ll have to sit and watch them all and we’ll monitor his mind. Now keep in mind Joel can’t control where the movies begin or end, because he used those special parts, to make his robot friends…Robot Rollcall!”
This is where I noted something was off, now the opening in the main show was low budget and badly done intentionally to mimic the horribad quality of the special effects of the movies being made fun of. Here it was even cheaper with Joel being present the whole time and re-inacting the opening with cheap GI Joe toys that were painted very poorly to vaguely resemble the characters he was singing about. It was at the Robot Rollcall that things began to look distressing.
Tom Servo’s fishbowl head was broken open as if someone had taken a baseball bat to the puppet, Crow was looking no better as his beak was crooked and off-center with his eyes completely missing, his golden paint job hadn’t been done yet so he was all black. Overall I’d say Crow looked a lot like his shadowy evil doppleganger Timmy from the episode Fire Maidens Of Outer Space only without eyes and he too was cracked and broken as if beaten senseless.
Gypsy was the one that had concerned me because she appeared to not a puppet at all, instead she was a blow up doll with tape over the nipples wearing a Fez. At first I had assumed that Gypsy’s puppet wasn’t finished yet and that Tom and Crow had merely been vandalized from bad on-set security. Afterall, these were the days from before it was cool to read Iron Man comic books, where if you played Dungeons And Dragons you were in the public’s eyes an undateable dweeb with Santanic leanings. So it was likely that some dumb jock beat up on the sci-fi robots because it looked like some “Star Wars Stupidity”, I could see it happening.
Once the show itself started things were wrong right off the bat, Joel was visibly drunk with a beer bottle in his hand, it looked like a budweiser with half the label torn off for copyright reasons. “Welcome aboard the Shit Out of Luck!” he stumbled about a set that just looked like a giant purple board of construction paper with a black table in front of him that contained a few props, none of them were remotely science fiction related in design and just looked like ordinary everyday household items, a tub of glue, a baseball bat, a phone, and an Atari 2600 with a Berserk cartridge jammed into it.
“Joel! This is public access, you can’t swear!” Yelled a voice from off-screen, likely the director.
Joel began to rub his head and mouth something, it looked like he was saying. “I’m in no mood for this political correctness BS…” before saying at normal volume. “Okay what did Mike call it when he did the practice versions of the script? Satellite Of Love, okay that’s it.”
Dad and I were understandably confused, this is the kind of thing one would normally cut out of a show. Were they doing this live or something?
The show continued with Joel throwing down his bottle and struggling to get his bearings. “As if anyone cares, the evil Dr. Forrester has me up here to watch a bunch of FU…..fu….funnily bad films.” it really sounded like he was about to say fuck but covered it up. “Here I am with my friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo…. Oh… look.. The Good Doctor is calling us right now.”
After Joel said that, a prop phone he had on his desk started ringing, the broken Tom Servo appeared to answer it. Once Tom had done so the camera panned over to Dr. Forrester and a chubby sidekick with black hair named Larry, not the TV’s Frank that I was used to him palling around with. Dad had told me Larry was the guy they had before he was let go because his acting was a little too stale and straight forward instead of the more ironic stylistic suck that they had been going for.
“Alright Joel, you know the rules! First we’ll do an invention exchange, we’ll show one off and you’ll show one off. If your invention gets someone killed we’ll let you out of the experiment, if our invention gets someone killed you’re watching a movie made by our favorite shemale-wannabe Ed Wood!” Dr. Forrester taunted following it up with an evil laugh. I ignored the shemale comment because it was an old show and the main series had this problem to of using anti-LGBT lingo that for the time was acceptable but would have raised eyebrows if they were released today.
“Like you’re ever going to have the stones to finish off one of your robot pals!” Larry shouted, sticking his tongue and going neener-neener-neener like a schoolyard bully in elementary school.
My dad and I looked at one another confused. Get someone killed? Dr. Forrester always was cartoonishly evil, but the Invention Exchange never had that as a rule. More concerning, finish off one of the robots, is that why Crow and Tom looked so beat up. Was Forrester forcing Joel to kill one of his only friends?
It switched back to Joel who had his head in a guillotine with Tom Servo dressed up like an executioner. “Well Joel, it brings me no pleasure to do this. Naw I’m fucking with you. I’ve been looking forward to shit ever since you spilled my gumballs all over the floor. Any last words?”
“Just get it over with Servo, I can’t take another bad movie!” Screamed Joel.
Crow and Gypsy showed up at this point and began chanting. “Kill Him! Kill Him! Kill Him!” Over and over again. Now when Mike Nelson became the host there was a running gag that the robots liked Joel better than Mike and so as a result would play mean tricks on him and/or try to hurt him, but this was different.
Crow and Gypsy didn’t act in a joking lack-a-daisical silly manner, but with actual passion and anger in their voices. It didn’t sound like someone doing a fake puppet voice at all, it sounded as though someone really wanted to see Joel die.
Servo let the guillotine go and the blade cracked in upon hitting Joel’s neck. “Why can’t I die?” he said, looking quite upset.
The camera panned back to Dr. Forrester’s set which honestly seemed to be the same table with a green construction paper backdrop and some generic hospital tools on the table. “I’ve suicide proofed your satellite Joel. You should know that by now, but it’s fun to see you try.”
I could have pointed out that the baseball bat was made of wooden and if he really wanted to Joel could have had Tom Servo or Crow beat him to death with it, but I guess I should repeat to myself that it’s just a show and that I really should just relax.”
I grimace realizing that if Joel failed to kill someone then Forrester would have the succeed as by the doctor’s words on how the bet worked. My heart sank once the skit had began and Larry put up a cage with a rat inside. “Oh God, please don’t….” I said aloud to the TV, I’ve always had a soft spot for rats.
“Now Joel what I have here is the test subject for my new Fancy Fancy Rat Line Of Clothing! Show them Larry.” Dr. Forrester cackled madly like a proper supervillain.
Larry let the rat out and put him, it was definitely a he as male rats have impressively sized shall we say orbs of masculinity, in a small device that impressively managed to actually place upon the rat a two piece tuxedo which he looked adorable in.
I freaked the frigg right out as the rat looked adorable sniffing around, I wanted to pet that little sucker. I used to keep rats myself as pets and never understood why people found such rodents creepy when they’re actually so ADORABLE! Dad almost turned the tape off after what happened next because he knew how much I loved rats which is why it made me cry so much.
Dr. Forrester picked up the rat and began petting before grinning at the camera. “Oh he’s such a Fancy Fancy Rat!” he said making a pun, the type of rat he had was literally called Fancy Rat, and well with the fancy clothing. You see what he means, it was honestly the kind of joke that was right at home for the show. What wasn’t was what came next.
“LARRY! Our friend doesn’t have his hat! Run him through the machine again!” Forrester yelled slapping Larry across the face with a backhanded slap. It looked like it hurt as the actor playing Larry actually rubbed his face, a visible mark left on his face.
Larry took the rat and placed him in the machine, pushing a red button instead of the blue button he pushed earlier. The red button once pressed fired a nail through the rat’s skull with a top hat attached, Forrester picked up the rat and shook him making the rat’s corpse dance around. Crimson blood drops, puss, and rodent brain matter getting everywhere. “Well Joel, we killed someone with our invention. So it looks like you’re watching Plan 9 From Outer Space.”
We did end up watching the rest of the episode, but Dad had to comfort me as I had started to cry about that poor rat. Yes rats only live for two or three years so the rat would still be dead today, but when I saw the rat die I was reminded of when my precious Charon died.
I regained my composure and had myself a quick apple as we popped more popcorn. Dad wanted to know if I was going to be okay, he was always worried about me. I assured him it’d be fine. I asked him why the hell they thought it was okay to kill a rat on a public domain show. Dad didn’t know. My father does his own podcast and had actually interviewed Joel before at a con, Larry as well, and neither of them seemed like the kind of guy who would do something like this.
Dad and I continued watching never being the kind of people who backed down from a flick for being too bad or too disturbing, I mean the two of us did watch every single Hellraiser movie ever made in under a week so we continued watching. Perhaps this was an older episode than I thought, maybe it was legal to hurt or kill animals on camera, there were after all quite a few older movies in the Jungle Cannibal genre that showed real animals getting gunned down.
When we resumed, Joel just shook his head and sighed. “Into the Mystery Science Theater... We’ve got movie sign….” he said his heart not completely into it as he slowly walked off set. Very much unlike the normal show where he’d freak out as the set around him shook violently.
The set didn’t give off lights nor did the camera jostle around like when Joel was sent a movie in the main show nor did it do the transition into the theater which as a kid I heavily enjoyed seeing. Joel just walked off set, the camera cut to black, and then it started showing Plan 9 From Outer Space with the usual silhouette of Joel and the bots on the bottom of the screen tilting their heads about as they watched the flick.
The riffing was rather uncomfortable as Joel did not make sharp observations during the opening credits about other things the actors were involved with or that one of the names sounds funnily similar to another person’s name or to some household object. No instead he was rather mean talking about how they all got paid to do such a terrible film and how a few of them went on to have such wonderful careers and how much he envied their lives. It really got bad when Ed Wood’s name showed up and Joel continuously obscenities about transgender people and whined that Ed Wood’s name would be forever enshrined allowing him to know true immortality. “Ol’ Joel has nothing but some stupid satellite of love!” he screamed as he actually flipped off the screen.
Being transgender myself, I winced a lot during Joel’s comments. My father kept repeating to me that it was a different time and that in his interviews with the real Joel he never really had gotten a homophobic or transphobic vibe of the guy and that he did once mention he had a cousin who was FTM. Maybe it was a different time and maybe this past version of Joel either thought it was funny or just hadn’t known any LGBT people.
Most of the film was like this. Instead of mocking corny lines like “Future events such as these will affect you in the future” being said to describe things that we’re told a line later happened weeks ago.
It kept going on like that for so long with Joel saying overly mean hurtful things. Sometimes Servo and Crow would whip out a funny gem like “STOCK FOOTAGE AWAY!” during the driving scenes, often saying them like they were nervous and unsure of themselves.
I was actually relieved when they left the theater to do one of the comedy sketches. The first one had Crow dressed up like the film’s narrator Criswell. Criswell had been a professional Psychic prior to doing movies for Ed Wood and had been more of a money seeking con man than an actual fortune teller. Yeah I know at least one of you out there is saying that all fortune tellers are con artists, but rest assured though this story doesn’t end with a possessed Servo eating my soul and leaving you wondering how I wrote this if I died I have seen some shit that tells me that maybe it’s just our bodies that die and not us. Still, Criswell though a fake he knew how to play the part and really worked the mystic angle for a geniunely entertaining onscreen presence in both this and a couple other films he worked on such as Night Of The Ghouls and Orgy Of The Dead.
The Crow as Criswell bit was actually pretty funny with Crow making overly wacky predictions to future events that sounded rather outlandish only to be reminded by Servo that these highly unusual phenomenon were things that had happened not that long ago. Mocking Criswell’s opening narration in which he talked about the movie showing future events despite them taking place in the past according to the very next sentence. It was a rather quality bit.
What made me jump was when he gave a prediction for Joel saying that he was going to die and the date he gave was the airdate of the very first episode with Joel responding that he “Died on the inside that day”, I was really getting sick of the emo Joel thing.
Yet it continued this way, seeing Ed Wood’s wife’s therapist cover his face to pretend he was Bela Lugosi only warranted Joel complaining about the Jimmy Carter administration. The tombstones in the graveyard getting tipped over only for the actor to put them right back up on camera merely prompted Joel whining that his ex-girlfriend was a prostitute, his words not mine. Nothing could make Joel do anything but complain about how horrible his life was or how much he hated someone else for being more successful.
When the movie ended and Joel left the theater for the final time he put on a gun into his mouth that didn’t look like a prop gun. He took it out and said into the camera. “Why do I even bother?”
At this point Mike Nelson who had been Joel’s partner and the head writer for the show actually came on set, not in costume or anything just his regular clothes and tried to wrestle the gun from Joel’s hand. Between the fighting the gun went off and the camera fell onto its side. Joel and Mike both screamed in horror.
“Oh god, is he dead?” Mike’s voice could be heard.
“You idiot, shut the fucking camera off!” Joel responded
“WE HAVE TO GET HIM TO A DOCTOR!” Mike again.
“I’m not going to jail Mike!” in Joel’s voice was the last thing spoken on the camera as the footage cut out.
My dad and I looked at each other. Obviously the show hadn’t been doing very well on Public Access and Joel had fallen into a deep depression worried about where his life was going resulting in the show taking on a much darker tone. Joel later found success when the show was picked up causing him to develop a more chipper mood and the show itself becoming brighter as a result. Since I have dealt with depression before and worries as to whether or not I would be able to transition successfully into a woman, as I’ve mentioned before I’m transgender, I know what that can feel like and since I’m a writer my own work took some dark turns because of my mood. There was however one thing I definitely didn’t do in my depression and that was accidentally shoot someone.
“Did.. did Joel just kill a man?” I asked on the verge of wetting myself, for all I know I could have just seen a snuff film.
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.” Dad said burying his head into his hands, he looked up at me for a second took a swig of some of the beer I brought and said. “Okay, I don’t know about you, but I vote we never watch these tapes again.”
“Agreed….” I said my mind racing with the possibilities.
I’ve still watched MST3k since that night, it’s a great show to watch when you’re trying to fall asleep because of how dull some of the films they riff on legitimately are. Yet sometimes, it has the opposite effect. If by mistake I put on a Joel episode I typically stay up late at night wondering if the true reason the Public Access Episodes were never released was to hide the fact that he was guilty of manslaughter.