Cinematic Titanic: The Oozing Skull review

The creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are back with another bad film mocking show. Ron checks it out...

A while back, when I talked about my favorite cult television shows, I mentioned a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. When going over their post-MST careers, I mentioned that MST3K inventor Joel Hodgson was making plans to launch a new Shadowrama-type movie riffing project called Cinematic Titanic. I was very excited, despite the presence of J. Elvis Weinstein.

After a few months of waiting, the great ship has launched. Cinematic Titanic is no longer the fevered dream of a madman, but reality. I checked it out, with much trepidation. I like Joel, Trace, Frank, and Mary Jo, but would the former Dr. Larry kill it for me?

The maiden voyage of the Cinematic Titanic is the 1972 ‘classic’ known as The Oozing Skull. You might also know it as Brain of Blood, Brain Damage, Myala sto aima, The Brain, The Creature’s Revenge, and The Undying Brain. If you’ve never heard of it, and never seen the unaltered version, then you should consider yourself incredibly lucky. This film is an insult to midgets and mentally retarded man-children everywhere. Thus, it’s perfect fodder. The only thing that made this film watchable was the riffing from the Cinematic Titanic crew.

Like all first attempts, it’s not perfect. The pacing is a little off at times, and a lot of the jokes don’t work. With five people on the screen at once (along the sides of the screen in some sort of riser set-up), it can get a bit distracting and some of the voices and riffers speak more than others. Mary Jo Pehl was particularly quiet. Of the five jokesters making comments, I think the funniest one of the bunch was Frank Conniff, who wrote for the original MST3K, but never riffed on screen in any significant way. Obviously, he should have, since he steals the show. Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis were also very sharp. Weinstein didn’t annoy me, either! When he’s not trying (and failing) to do character voices, he’s significantly less annoying than I remember.

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I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was sitting or standing where in the display, and trying to place who was talking with the voice. Once I get more used to the format, I’m sure some of those issues will go by the wayside. It really distracted me throughout the first half-hour or so of the movie, which is a shame because there were some good Amy Winehouse jokes.

They have already come up with a gimmick for Cinematic Titanic. The Film Crew has lunch breaks, MST3K had the invention exchange and the little breaks and skits, and for Cinematic Titanic? At certain points a riffer will stand up and ask for the film to be stopped. Then other shadow things will appear as necessary (chandeliers, a lifter, Stephen Hawking, etc) and a little comedy bit will ensue.

Unfortunately, the comedy bits this time around suck for the most part, but I have no doubts they’ll get better as the crew gets used to riffing again. The whole show itself was a bit erratic, since most of the crew either didn’t riff before, or hasn’t actively riffed in many years. The second one should be better all around, for a new beginning, it was pretty damn good. There’s room for improvement, but there’s definitely something to build on. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Check out the official Cinematic Titanic website. After that, go check out more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics.


4 out of 5