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Best MST3K episodes

1/
Best Brains

Best MST3K episodes

“Mystery Science Theater 3000”—a show that took some of the worst films ever made and turned them into some of the best TV ever produced.

The premise of the show seeks to discover which horrible and utterly demoralizing film will break the human spirit. Joel Robinson (played by "MST3K" creator Joel Hodgson) and later Mike Nelson, are the test subjects marooned upon the Satellite of Love (SOL) forced by mad scientists with ambitions of world domination to watch one bad movie after another to find the worst one. Joel builds himself robots to maintain his sanity, Crow and Tom Servo become Joel’s closest companions.

The trio turns what is meant to be torturous experimentation into pure hilarity, through the show’s signature uses of wry wit, snarky banter, observational riffs/dialogue, pop-culture references, and cheesy puns. In doing so, the mad scientists’ attempts to break their spirits are foiled.

Whether you are long-time MSTie or just experiencing the show for the first time, it can be easy to forget that the movies featured in each episode—rife with gaffes, kitsch, and unintended humor—were made in earnest, and not for the sole purpose of being lampooned by Joel, Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow. But keeping this perspective makes every riff cut just a little bit deeper and makes us laugh a little bit harder.

The brilliant irony of the whole show is that it shares some of its most defining features and characteristics with the abysmal movies that it mocks. Low production values, improvised props, exaggerated characters, even down to the tropes of mad science experimentation and world domination—it was meta before meta became trendy.

"MST3K’s" humble origins are a major part of it’s enduring, quirky charm. The show first ran on a local station—KTMA—in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region in 1988. When Comedy Central launched in 1989, the show was picked up as its flagship series where it ran until 1996. It was then picked up by Sci-Fi, now known as SyFy, in 1997 where it ran until 1999. The network continued to air reruns until 2004. But the "MST3K" fervor never went away, and its fanbase proved itself as the most dedicated in television history, at least by crowdfunding standards.

In 2015, Joel Hodgson launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce new episodes of "MST3K," the number of which would be determined by the amount of money raised. The campaign raised more than $1 million in the first 24 hours and finished with a total of $5.7 million raised by over 48,000 backers—a new Kickstarter record that usurped the previous record-holding campaign, The Veronica Mars Movie Project. Those involved with the show throughout its history continue to find new ways to revitalize the "MST3K" brand of comedy including Rifftrax, featuring Michael Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, and most recently Mystery Science Theater 300 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour launched by Joel Hodgson.

But the original product will always have an audience. Stacker wanted to provide established MSTies with a reminder of what some of the most classic episodes have to offer and give new fans a place to jump in.

The huge amount of content in each "MST3K" episode—between five different segments across multiple storylines and characters, post-credit stingers, one feature film, and often one featured short film—means a few summarizing sentences couldn’t possibly showcase the show’s genius. There are entire websites dedicated to dissecting the nuance and context of riffs made on the show.

Instead, we are focusing just on the awful films for which each episode is titled. To understand what makes "MST3K" appealing, it is important to first appreciate the shlock they sit through, and how those films are integral to other aspects of each episode and the broader series. This list will illustrate how 50 of the worst movies ever made could finally be a part of a favorable, enduring legacy thanks to these 50 episodes of "MST3K."

We gathered data for every episode of the original run of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and ranked each episode according to its IMDb user rating, with all ties broken by vote count. Only the 1988–1999 episodes of the show were considered.

Click through to read about the best "MST3K" episodes and the movies that made them so. 

You may also like: 100 worst horror movies of all time

2/
Best Brains

#50. Soultaker (1999)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 537
- Season: 10
- Episode: 01

In this episode, Mike and the gang are subjected to the 1990 horror film “Soultaker,” which follows a group of teens as they evade the Angel of Death coming to harvest their souls after they are ejected from their bodies in a car accident. This "MST3K" episode ranks among the favorites for critics and fans in part because Joel Hodgson, creator of the show and the original host, reprises his role as Joel Robinson. His cameo was viewed by fans and critics as a stamp of approval fof the show’s subsequent success after his departure.
Favorite riff: “Story by...so there will be a story. That's encouraging.”

3/
Best Brains

#49. Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 250
- Season: 4
- Episode: 16

“Fire Maidens of Outer Space”—a 1956 Cy Roth sci-fi film about a team of astronauts that discovers a civilization of Atlantean women on Jupiter’s 13th moon—provides the "MST3K" crew with endless fodder. This episode also sees the first and only appearance of Timmy the Dark Crow (Crow’s impish double) who wreaks havoc on the Satellite of Love. Timmy’s character is actually Crow’s black puppet used in the theater segment of each episode.
Favorite riff: “Please remain seated until the movie grinds to a complete halt”

4/
Best Brains

#48. Daddy-O (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 276
- Season: 4
- Episode: 07

If you’re in to drag racing, beatniks, the good guys winning, and a predictable romance between the two main characters, then the 1958 film “Daddy-O” starring Dick Contino is the film for you. If riffing on those, cheesy, trite conventions is more your speed, look no further than Joel and the crew’s interpretation. This episode also features the series’ first education short, “Alphabet Antics,” during which Joel and the bots give their take on the film’s outdated and often politically incorrect subject matter. “P is for PETA who’s boycotting this!” they riff in response to footage of animals like elephants and camels performing farm work.
Favorite riff: “P is for plagiarism from Ogden Nash”

5/
Best Brains

#47. Secret Agent Super Dragon (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 320
- Season: 6
- Episode: 04

“Secret Agent Super Dragon” is a 1966 Eurospy film about an international crime syndicate that smuggles drugs in imported vases. Combine a killer, cliched plot coupled with a titular character fit for a bond movie, and you’ve got yourself a most riff-worthy "MST3K" episode. Host segments throughout the episode include Crow's sensitive screenplay, "The Spy Who Hugged Me," a jazzy rendition of the “Secret Agent Super Dragon” theme, and micro golf.
Favorite riff: “Superagent superjerk if you ask me.”

6/
Best Brains

#46. Night of the Blood Beast (1996)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 320
- Season: 7
- Episode: 01

There’s no shortage of truly terrible reviews for the 1958 sci-fi horror film “Night of the Blood Beast.” The film tells the tale of an astronaut who becomes a host for alien embryos as part of a larger plan for an alien race to save humanity by taking it over. Mike Nelson and the Bots do some of their best riffing not only to this featured movie but also to a short called “Once Upon A Honeymoon” — a short film from the AT&T archives about a wife who laments never having a honeymoon. She copes with the help of an angel who sprinkles a dusty-substance onto the house. Before you know it, she’s dancing, singing, and fantasizing new home decor with matching phones in every room. A perfect body of work for the "MST3K" treatment.
Favorite riff: “Aim high, sister!”

7/
Best Brains

#45. The Creeping Terror (1994)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 333
- Season: 6
- Episode: 06

“The Creeping Terror” is regarded as one of the worst films of all time, so naturally it made for one of the best "MST3K" episodes of all time. The 1964 horror sci-fi film—most of which is narrated by a local radio DJ because the original audio is said to have been lost (or perhaps just too bad to use)—is about a giant tardigrade-like alien that crashlands on Earth and devours humans. The lumbering alien(ish) in the film is rumored to be the creation of a hastily-stitched-together pile of carpets—one of the many details that make “The Creeping Terror” singularly terrible and perfect fodder for Mike and the Bots dry humor and merciless mocking.
Favorite riff: “I was afraid this alien was going to be goofy…”

8/
Best Brains

#44. Time Chasers (1997)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 526
- Season: 8
- Episode: 21

“Time Chasers” was the first movie of the 1990s to be featured on the show. The 1994 sci-fi film directed by David Giancola is the story of an amateur inventor who masters time travel but sees his technology used for evil by a corporation that wants to alter history for financial gain. While the film gives Mike and the Bots plenty to riff on with its unimaginative effects and cast that leaves much to be desired, Crow’s commentary on the protagonist is a fan favorite: “This... is not our star, is it? I will not accept this as our star, sorry.” The “Time Chasers” cast and crew had a reunion/viewing party when the "MST3K" episode aired. While some people deeply appreciated the "MST3K" treatment, embracing the show’s “don’t take yourself too seriously” attitude, others took offense to the lampooning.
Favorite riff: “We could send Bob Saget to meet Charlemagne!”

9/
Best Brains

#43. Laserblast (1996)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 566
- Season: 7
- Episode: 06

The epic awfulness that is “Laserblast”—a 1978 sci-fi film about an angsty teenage boy who finds an alien laser cannon, goes on a rampage, and eventually is consumed by the extraterrestrial tech—was succinctly captured by Crow in this episode: “Could Leonard Maltin be wrong, and this movie isn't worth two and a half stars?” For those who have endured the film, even with the SOL crew’s clever riffing, it would seem two and a half stars was a generous review.
Favorite riff: “Look...are you ready for some football?!"

10/
Best Brains

#42. 12 to the Moon (1994)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 214
- Season: 5
- Episode: 24

“12 to the Moon” is the tale of an international team of astronauts on a mission to explore the moon. The crew encounters an emotionless alien race living below the lunar surface who fear their way of life will be threatened by Earthlings. The moon-beings trigger a freeze over North America, plunging Earth into another ice age as a means of retribution. After two astronauts journey back to Earth to save the planet, risking their own lives, the Moon-beings realize that Earthlings are loving and peaceful. And they all live happily ever after, for the most part. But many fans consider the star of this particular episode to be the featured short “Design for Dreaming” — a story about a woman who dreams of a masked man who takes her to test drive cars and take some new kitchen appliances for a spin. It’s the kind of dated fantasy ripe for riffing, and it’s these riffs that are among some of the best according to fans.
Favorite riff: “Holly-Go-Weirdly!”

11/
Best Brains

#41. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 223
- Season: 2
- Episode: 13

When Godzilla, Mothra, and a giant crustacean named Ebirah converge in one place for a truly monstrous battle, you can be sure that Joel and the Bots will be at their prime. Especially when you consider a rumble of this scale was produced with all of the cinematic magic of 1966. The role of Godzilla was actually written for King Kong, a fact that seems to shine through in some confusing plot developments. “Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster”, originally titled “Ebirah, Horror of the Deep,” is so campy, it’s almost fun. This was the first of two Godzilla movies featured on "MST3K." Favorite riff: “It’s the Mothra Graham Dance Troupe.”

12/
Best Brains

#40. It Conquered the World (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 234
- Season: 3
- Episode: 11

“It Conquered the World” is the tale of arguably one of the most misguided scientists in all of film history. After making contact with an alien from Venus — who has a secret ambition to take over the human race but is wise enough not to reveal it — the scientist, who, it appears, is not wise enough to question the Venusian’s motives, brings the creature to Earth in an attempt to bring peace to humanity. Needless to say, things don’t go well. But despite the film’s shortcomings, we are treated to a rare poignant bit of script at the end:

"He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature… and, because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, to make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection… they find only death… fire… loss… disillusionment… the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside — from man himself."
Favorite riff: "Oh, now he's Ayn Rand" 

13/
Best Brains

#39. Star Force: Fugitive Alien II (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 236
- Season: 3
- Episode: 18

This episode features “Star Force: Fugitive Alien II,” the second of two movies combined from episodes of a Japanese sci-fi series based on the Edmond Hamilton Star Wolf novels. While still a fan favorite, many fans hold that this episode pales in comparison to “Fugitive Alien,”—one of the most beloved in the "MST3K" series as we’ll come to find out.
Favorite riff: “They must have spent ten dollars on this.”

14/
Best Brains

#38. The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 257
- Season: 3
- Episode: 17

In this episode, Joel, Crow, and Servo are subjected to yet another Roger Corman film. “The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent.” The film is about a group of Viking women who set out in search of their men and are forced to battle—you guessed it—a sea serpent. One critic referred to the film as a “cheap-looking film even by Roger Corman's standards.” It would seem that Joel and the Bots agreed.
Favorite riff: “Sorry about the costume—Corman's poodle died and he doesn't like to waste anything.” 

15/
Best Brains

#37. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 308
- Season: 2
- Episode: 12

“Godzilla vs. Megalon” is the first of only two Godzilla movies featured on "MST3K." This 1973 kaiju film is regarded as one of the most watchable, riffs aside, according to fans. After all, when Godzilla faces off against a giant beetle of sorts, how could you look away? “Godzilla vs. Megalon” was the only Godzilla movie to be broadcast in primetime in America. For film critics, Godzilla fans, and "MST3K" fans alike, this film, with its cheesy, laughable, over-the-top monster action, unanimously falls into the category of “so bad it’s almost good.”
Favorite riff: “He’s got a tree! He’s got a tree! This isn’t the Godzilla we know!”

16/
Best Brains

#36. Attack of the Giant Leeches (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 355
- Season: 4
- Episode: 06

In this episode, Joel and the Bots must sit through another Corman production, this time from Roger Corman’s younger brother, Gene. The 1959 sci-fi film features two giant leeches who live in an underwater cave and feed on humans. They’re also treated to a 1936 short titled “Undersea Kingdom” starring Ray “Crash” Corrigan. The film chronicles an expedition mounted by a professor, his stowaway son, a reporter, and a naval officer and their subsequent discovery of the underwater civilization of Atlantis. The team must prevent the evil Unga Khan, whose ultimate ambition is to dominate the whole world, from taking over Atlantis. The material in both “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Undersea Kingdom” is essential "MST3K" fodder.
Favorite riff: "'Look, Dad!'—How come they all turned when he said 'Dad'?"

17/
Best Brains

#35. Monster A-Go-Go (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 355
- Season: 4
- Episode: 21

Many truly awful movies have been covered so far—that is the premise of the whole show, after all—but “Monster A-Go-Go” is considered to be one of the worst ever made. As proof that something can indeed come from nothing, the film—with virtually no budget, no story, and no resolution—is the tale of an astronaut who disappears after crash landing on Earth, an irradiated humanoid monster who suddenly appears at the same time, and the connection between the two. Surprise! There is no connection, and thus no story. Perhaps it’s only redeeming quality is how perfectly the film tees up Joel and the Bots for some of the best riffs of the series.
Favorite riff: “Take the Kazoo out of your mouth!” 

18/
Fairway International Pictures

#34. Eegah (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 530
- Season: 5
- Episode: 06

In this episode, Joel and the Bots must endure another film regarded by many as one of the worst ever made: “Eegah.” The 1962 horror film is about an encounter with a giant caveman who has survived undetected for millennia and all of the predictably bad things that stem from said encounter with the titular character. This includes being held hostage by Eegah, giving Eegah his first shave, escaping Eegah, and watching Eegah wreak havoc on suburbia and inciting his inevitable demise. "MST3K" fans regard this episode as one of the best because the casts’ clever riffing is enhanced by the awfulness of the film. Or perhaps it’s the other way around?
Favorite riff: “‘'Watch out for snakes!’ -- who said that?” 

19/
Best Brains

#33. The Pumaman (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 579
- Season: 9
- Episode: 03

It’s impossible to be sure if people were clamoring for a superhero film that involved aliens and Aztecs back in 1980, but based on the critical reception of “The Pumaman”, it’s probably safe to assume they were not. Or if they were, this particular execution of that vision is not what they were hoping for. But without it, we wouldn’t have one of the best "MST3K" episodes of all time. Low production value aside, the film’s plot, which concerns a man-god descendant of aliens charged with protecting Earth, who can land on his feet like a cat when thrown from any height...and also fly, is silly and disjointed enough to make for some of the most memorable riffing.
Favorite riff: “I hate to be picky but pumas aren’t really known for flying” 

20/
Best Brains

#32. Teen-Age Strangler (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 290
- Season: 5
- Episode: 14

“Teen-Age Strangler” is a 1964 crime drama about a serial killer who terrorizes a small town by targeting teenage girls. Being riffed on this particular "MST3K" episode revitalized interest in the film, and it was re-released in black and white and premiered in Huntington, West Virginia one year later. This episode also features the short “Is This Love?” in which a girl runs away with her boyfriend despite admonishment from friends and family. The short postulates if their relationship is truly—you guessed it—love.
Favorite riff: “Oof, geez, how many times was SHE held back?”

21/
Best Brains

#31. Earth vs. the Spider (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 295
- Season: 3
- Episode: 13

The only thing more terrifying than giant bloodsucking leeches, the likes of which we’ve already encountered, is a film that capitalizes on arachnophobia. “Earth vs. the Spider” is a 1958 black-and-white sci-fi film about a giant tarantula that terrorizes a town and is killed in spectacular fashion via electrocution. This episode also featured “Speech: Using Your Voice,” a short about how to become a more effective speaker.
Favorite riff: “It’s Carol’s Dad’s Cavern”

22/
Rolling M. Productions

#30. Bride of the Monster (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 304
- Season: 4
- Episode: 23

“Bride of the Monster,” a 1955 sci-fi horror film, is the same brand of comic awfulness that fans have grown to expect from an "MST3K" feature. In this film, a mad scientists carries out experiments in an effort to create a race of superhumans. He finally succeeds after experimenting on his already-powerful giant assistant.

Favorite riff: “Don’t talk about my bird” - Servo<

23/
Best Brains

#29. The Beatniks (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 327
- Season: 4
- Episode: 15

This 1960 crime film featured in this episode chronicles the trajectory of a gang leader’s rise to stardom and his subsequent fall from fame. A line from this film—“I killed that fat barkeep!”—became an instant favorite among the cast, crew, and "MST3K" fans. It remains one of the most quoted lines throughout the series. This episode also gives Joel and the Bots a chance to riff on a palpably awkward scene from the soap opera “General Hospital” (1963). In this short, two couples gather for an engagement where all parties involved secretly pine for another.
Favorite riff: “This is Pete from props. Don’t eat the cake!” 

24/
Roger Corman Productions

#28. Gunslinger (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 335
- Season: 5
- Episode: 11

Roger Corman strikes again in this episode of "MST3K," this time with his 1956 American western “Gunslinger”. This was also the last episode directed by Joel Hodgson and the penultimate episode in which he would appear in this role. Kevin Murphy who voices Tom Servo in the series wrote years later, “One of my darkest fears is that I'll one day make my own film, my story, my direction, my own crystalline vision of something so universal, it must be shared with the world on the silver screen. And I make the movie, and it turns out like “Gunslinger,” or any other Corman film—turgid, insipid, clichéd, confusing, every opportunity for artistic expression intentionally ignored.” It would seem one can only handle so much Roger Corman.
Favorite riff: "Most people are morally ambiguous, which explains our random dying patterns.”

25/
Best Brains

#27. Time of the Apes (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 367
- Season: 3
- Episode: 06

In the 1987 sci-film “Time of the Apes” a group of people seeks refuge from an earthquake in a science lab’s cryogenic pods, only to wake up at some point in the future when man-like apes rule the world.
Favorite riff: "My piece of wood! It died so that we might live." 

26/
Best Brains

#26. Hobgoblins (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 551
- Season: 9
- Episode: 07

In this episode, Mike and the Bots must sit through “Hobgoblins,” another film widely accepted to be on the list of the worst ever made. What better content for the "MST3K" treatment than a low budget ($15,000) “Gremlins” knockoff about murderous, hairy troll-like aliens with hypnotic abilities? What "MST3K" has proven to viewers time and time again is that the worse the film, the better episode. Some of the series’ best riffs are from “Hobgoblin.” This episode also features highly-rated segments including one where Tom Servo goes back in time to stop “Hobgoblins” director Rick Sloane.
Favorite riff: "There's been an accident at the studio. "We made ''Hobgoblins!”' 

27/
Best Brains

#25. Werewolf (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 686
- Season: 9
- Episode: 04

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the films riffed in "MST3K" weren’t made solely for that purpose. “Werewolf” is one such film that "MST3K" fans agree is best utilized as material for the comedic chops of the SoL crew. To put it simply and completely, “Werewolf” is 99 minutes of people attacking each other and undergoing Lycanthropy—the process of turning into a wolf. The film was released in 1996 and featured on "MST3K" just two years later. Unlike so many of the other films featured on the show, it didn’t take decades to emphasize how terrible “Werewolf” was.
Favorite riff: "That was the sound of the director getting up and leaving." 

28/
Bert I. Gordon Productions

#24. The Magic Sword (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 270
- Season: 4
- Episode: 11

From the director who brought the world “Earth vs. the Spider,” riffed in season three of "MST3K," comes “The Magic Sword,” a medieval fantasy film about a hero’s quest to save a princess. There are many cheesy and poorly produced elements of the film that make it a perfect fit for "MST3K," but the consensus among Joel and Servo is that, for a Bert I. Gordon movie, it’s not that bad. That’s high praise on this show.
Favorite riff: “My Westley will come for me!"

29/
Best Brains

#23. Fugitive Alien (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 293
- Season: 3
- Episode: 10

“Fugitive Alien” is the first installment of the two-part “Fugitive Alien” series featured on "MST3K" which are combined from episodes of a Japanese sci-fi series based on the Edmond Hamilton “Star Wolf” novels. In this episode, Crow and Servo sing “He tried to kill me with a forklift!” which has become one of the most memorable lines of the entire "MST3K" series.
Favorite riff:"It's Heckraiser!"

30/
Suomi-Filmi

#22. The Day the Earth Froze (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 325
- Season: 4
- Episode: 22

In this episode, Joel and the Bots are subjected to a film adaptation of the Finnish epic poem the Kalevala. This 1959 fantasy tells the tale of an evil witch who covets a magic mill (a Sampo) from another land that can produce grain, salt, and gold. When she fails in her attempt to steal the Sampo, she steals the sun instead, causing the earth to freeze. This episode also features the short “Here Comes the Circus”—a look at the circus 1940s.
Favorite riff: “Are you with the bride or the failure?”

31/
Best Brains

#21. The Killer Shrews (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 390
- Season: 4
- Episode: 07

There have been many creatures, both real and fictionalized, featured as the monsters in the films viewed by the crew of the SoL. Usually unexpected and, for most people, never favored, these villianized creatures are fringe species in the animal kingdom. So far we’ve covered Leeches, spiders, and now, shrews. In another example of the experiment-gone-horribly-awry trope, this 1959 sci-fi film is all about how genetic testing on shrews turns them into giant, voracious killers. The short in this episode—”Junior Rodeo Daredevils”—is regarded among fans as one of the best.
Favorite riff: "I think this movie just broke the goofy-meter." 

32/
Rex Carlton Productions

#20. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 424
- Season: 5
- Episode: 13

“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” marks Mike Nelson’s first experimental movie viewing and first day aboard the SoL. What better way to ease into the rhythms of riffing than with a movie centered on a disembodied head? Even Servo is impressed when Mike delivers the first riff, and it’s actually funny. In this film, a physician tries to save his fiance after she’s decapitated in a car accident. He revives her head and plans to murder someone for a replacement body. Mary Jo Pehl makes a guest appearance as “Jan in the Pan,” a separate segment riffing on the main character of the featured film.
Favorite riff: "He'll either win the Nobel Prize or the Heisman Trophy."

33/
Best Brains

#19. War of the Colossal Beast (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 287
- Season: 3
- Episode: 19

“War of the Colossal Beast,” directed by an "MST3K" favorite Bert I. Gordon, is the sequel to “The Amazing Colossal Man.” But, according to many fans, the feature film is not what makes this episode a classic. It is, instead, “Mr. B Natural”—a short sponsored by the musical instrument company C. G. Conn about a musical sprite who helps a shy boy break out of his shell by discovering the trumpet. The trumpet seems as good an instrument as any to inspire confidence, after all.
Favorite riff: "Uh, Mister B, what would you know about dignity?"

34/
Cheviot Productions

#18. Tormented (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 309
- Season: 4
- Episode: 14

In 1697, English playwright William Congreve originally wrote the line “Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd / Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.” It is a trope that Bert I. Gordon took and turned into a poorly regarded movie called “Tormented”—a tale of a shunned, besotted woman who dies after falling off a cliff and comes back to haunt and blackmail the man who rejected her.
Favorite riff: “Honey, I’m ho-oh, yeah, you’re dead.”

35/
Best Brains

#17. The Giant Gila Monster (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 381
- Season: 4
- Episode: 02

We can add a Gila monster to the list of seemingly random animals villainized by 1950s horror films. In this episode, Joel and the Bots have plenty to riff on as a giant Gila monster with an insatiable appetite for humans terrorizes a Texas town. The plot is simple and silly, but perhaps even sillier is the monster footage which is just a real Gila monster decimating a miniature set. It’s not flashy, and it’s not always effective, but it’s the laugh-out-loud brand of cheesy cinema that allows the "MST3K" crew to really shine.
Favorite riff: “I just want to know if the Lord said it this many times in a row”

36/
Best Brains

#16. Santa Claus (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 437
- Season: 5
- Episode: 21

The 1959 Mexican fantasy film “Santa Claus” could give any other film featured in this series a run for its money for the title of most bizarre. In this unique interpretation of a Christmas tradition, Santa is still a jolly, gift-bearing, bearded old man. But in this version, he also lives in space, has an assistant who happens to be Merlin the wizard, and he has an exceptionally naughty nemesis named Pitch—a demon who does the bidding of Lucifer. It is an "MST3K" gold mine, and Mike and the Bots do not disappoint. “Santa Claus” won Best International Family Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1959.
Favorite riff: “Now this is good old-fashioned nightmare fuel” 

37/
Best Brains

#15. Cave Dwellers (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 457
- Season: 3
- Episode: 01

“Cave Dwellers” is modified from an earlier American version called “The Blade Master,” which was an adaptation of an Italian film called “ Ator 2 - L'invincibile Orion.” It has had a bit of an odd history. The film, with a similar main character, is often criticized as an attempt to exploit the success of “Conan the Barbarian,” which was released two years earlier. The film had so little to offer in the way of story, script, and effects that Joel and the Bots riffed largely on their absence.
Favorite riff: "Jeez; Tolkien couldn't follow this plot"

38/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

#14. The Painted Hills (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 280
- Season: 5
- Episode: 10

“The Painted Hills” is a 1951 MGM drama concerning man’s best friend (dogs), man’s great vice (greed), and the toils of prospecting. This episode also featured a short called “Body Care and Grooming,” a film about the importance of personal hygiene. The awkwardness of adolescent bodily changes is not a theme that’s been featured as often throughout the series as giant mutant animals or even sci-fi Santa, but it's the quintessential material for the "MST3K" treatment.
Favorite riff: “Now is this the real old west or the Roy Rogers old west, where they had electricity and cars?”

39/
Best Brains

#13. The Girl in Lovers Lane (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 357
- Season: 5
- Episode: 09

"The Girl in Lovers Lane" is your not-so-classic tale about a pair of drifters—one a career drifter, and the other, a naive runaway—and their mishaps in a small town. It wouldn't be an MST3K feature if it didn't include all of the major cliches: bad boy meets sweet girl, love ensues, subsequent murder and misunderstanding, and of course, a trite ending. Throughout their riffing on the film, Joel and the Bots make pop culture references to "The Hobbit," "Lord of the Rings", "Cujo," and "The Color of Money," among many others. What started out as an undynamic film suddenly has cultural relevance spanning decades thanks to "MST3K." 
Favorite riff: "Uh, camera 3? Get off the track! CAMERA 3! AH!"

40/
Best Brains

#12. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 515
- Season: 3
- Episode: 21

This is the second sci-fi Santa film on our list, and it’s nearly as whacky as the first. In this 1964 sci-fi comedy film, Santa Claus is abducted by Martians so that he may bring joy to the children of Mars. The Martians enlist children from Earth to find the real Santa because there are just too many convincing imposters during the holidays. One Martian named Voldar sees Santa’s presence on Mars as a threat. Rather than send him home, he tries to kill Santa instead. Tricks, alliances, and clever escape plans ensure Santa’s safe arrival back on Earth.
Favorite riff: “Whoa, LANGUAGE, Santa, LANGUAGE!”

41/
Best Brains

#11. Pod People (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 677
- Season: 3
- Episode: 03

Initially intended to be a low-budget horror film about an evil alien on the prowl, “Pod People” was adapted to a sci-fi film that was more cutesy than scary in order to cash in on the recent success of E.T. But director Juan Piquer Simon shouldn’t feel too badly—most of the movies featured on "MST3K" lost their scary edge somewhere along the way, if they ever truly had it to begin with.
Favorite riff: “HUZZAH!”

42/
Best Brains

#10. The Final Sacrifice (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 749
- Season: 9
- Episode: 10

“The Final Sacrifice” is regarded by some fans to be one of the most ambitious films tackled by the crew of the SoL. The film’s plot features ancient cults, evil cult leaders, maps to important cult idols, and a race to save the world. In comparison to some of the other movies featured on this list, labeling “The Final Sacrifice” as one of the most ambitious wouldn’t be a stretch. Despite this relative story complexity, Mike and the Bots riff relentlessly on the main character's name, finding any and every opportunity to say “Rowsdower.” This is a perfect example of how their humor changes and adapts based on the material. Complex plots met primarily with hyper-nuanced quips could potentially be too much follow. But complex stories riffed with the basest humor make it accessible and not too cerebral.
Favorite riff: “Rowsdower”

43/
Best Brains

#9. Teenagers from Outer Space (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 420
- Season: 4
- Episode: 04

In the scheme of bad movies featured on the show, “Teenagers from Outer Space” is regarded by fans and critics as one that’s relatively watchable. When a group of pastoral aliens lands on earth to raise their giant crustaceans called Gargons, one among them, a sensitive alien named Derek—realizes their presence inherently poses a threat to humans.
Favorite riff: “Ah, the foley man's fryin' up a burger."

44/
Best Brains

#8. Attack of the the Eye Creatures (1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 288
- Season: 4
- Episode: 18

“Attack of the the Eye Creatures”—no, that’s not a typo, it’s actually written on the movie poster as “the the”—was a color remake of the 1957 black and white American film “Invasion of the Saucer Men.” If the demise of a monster is an indication of its strength, then the aliens featured in “Attack of the the Eye Creatures,” ultimately brought down by evaporation via headlights, were not much of a concern, it would seem. This episode introduces fans to the line “they just didn’t care!” which gets recycled over and over again throughout the series.
Favorite riff: “You know, they’ve got a lot of optic nerve”

45/
Best Brains

#7. Space Mutiny (1997)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 820
- Season: 8
- Episode: 20

“Space Mutiny” is a 1988 sci-fi film about a flight crew aboard in intergalactic space ship that must save it from being commandeered by space pirates. Among some of the favorite riffs featured in this episode are the myriad jokes at the expense of and nicknames given to the protagonist David Ryder. “Space Mutiny” was also presented live on RiffTrax in 2018 with a host of new nicknames for Ryder, including Burpee McCrossfit. This episode is regarded by many fans to be the best episode of the sci-fi era of the show.
Favorite riff: “Big McLargeHuge”

46/
Best Brains

#6. The Amazing Colossal Man (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 298
- Season: 3
- Episode: 09

The 1957 film “The Amazing Colossal Man” is the bleak tale of a man who grows 50 ft. tall after being exposed to a plutonium bomb blast. His circulatory system cannot keep up with the rapid growth rate. Vital organs like the heart and brain don’t get the blood they need and he begins to lose his mind. As you might expect any giant to do in a B-rated sci-fi film, he terrorizes Las Vegas.
Favorite riff: “No man is a Three Mile Island, Glen.”

47/
Produzione D.S

#5. Operation Double 007 (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 311
- Season: 5
- Episode: 08

“Operation Double 007” is a Eurospy comedy film starring Neil Connery, Sean Connery’s younger brother. The film, an obvious parody of the famous Bond franchise of the ‘60s, falls under the category for many viewers of hilariously, outrageously bad.
Favorite riff: "All right, here's the church, here's the steeple, open the door and go to sleeple."

48/
Best Brains

#4. Gamera vs. Guiron (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 330
- Season: 3
- Episode: 12

This is the fifth movie in the Japanese kaiju Gamera series. With all the hallmarks of a terrible, low budget film—and, relatedly, the hallmarks of a great "MST3K" episode—including recycled bits of “Gamera vs. Gyaos,” gaping plot holes, and cheap effects, “Gamera vs. Guiron” feels reminiscent of “Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster.”
Favorite riff: “We’re from the padding department! Where’s the plot hole?”

49/
Best Brains

#3. I Accuse My Parents (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 534
- Season: 5
- Episode: 07

“I Accuse My Parents” is a 1944 American drama about a teen accused of manslaughter who blames his parents for not creating a better home life. The film was produced to teach morals and encourage parents to take an interest in their children’s lives. Despite the relatively wholesome content, the riffing is considered to be among the best as it sharply contrasts the film’s bland, serious tone. This is episode was cited by Joel as one of his two favorites.
Favorite riff: “I accuse you, Joel!”

50/
Best Brains

#2. Mitchell (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 670
- Season: 5
- Episode: 12

“Mitchell,” starring Joe Don Baker, is a 1975 action film about an obstinate, abrasive police chief who, according to one reviewer, spends most of the film getting in and out of automobiles and pursuing other automobiles. According to the “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide”, Joe Don Baker threatened physical violence against any "MST3K" cast member who crossed his path because he was so displeased with the film being featured on the show. This episode was Joel’s last appearance as Joel Robinson until his cameo in season 10.
Favorite riff: "She’d say, 'He’s not mine! You can’t prove it!"

51/
Best Brains

#1. ‘Manos' the Hands of Fate (1993)

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 1,119
- Season: 4
- Episode: 24

It was this episode that brought “‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate” out of obscurity and into the world again as a popular cult film. Produced in 1966, this film follows a family who encounters a cult in the desert and must avoid becoming human sacrifices. Its reputation is a level of awful few other movies in "MST3K" history have reached, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself. Among critics, it volleys for the title of the worst movie ever made, along with “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” It is perhaps most clearly illustrated in this episode that the worse the movie, the better the "MST3K" treatment. In this case, Joel and the Bots took the very worst, a seemingly perfect candidate for the Mads’ efforts to break the human spirit, and made the very best.
Favorite riff: “Ya know, there are certain flaws in this movie.”

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