James Helsby

Little Red Envelope #7: Mystery Science Theater 3000; Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

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In my mailbox this week:
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

Release Year: 1997
Staring: Michael J. Nelson, Raúl Juliá

In my opinion, there are three schools of thought, when it comes to Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies. First, you watch them for the bad movies, and the commentary is accessory. Second, you watch them for the commentary and the movie is second. Third, you don’t watch them at all.

I consider myself in the second group. There are times when the commentary is first and foremost. It is what makes the movie watchable. But sometimes, it seems, even the commentary can’t keep a stinker of a film from stinking up the place.

How do you review a MST3k film? Do you comment on the commentary? Or do you discuss the film itself?

Well, lets focus on the film portion first. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, was a low (really really low) budget PBS (yes. Public Television) movie, filmed in 1983. It star’s Raúl Juliá as Aram Fingal. A computer programmer who is caught watching secret “Cinema” reels while on the job. As punishment, Fingal is sent to a ‘doppel’  facility. Doppel, German for double, is a process by which your personality is transplanted into another creature, and you live a period of time as that animal.

In Fingal’s case, he is transplanted into some stock PBS videography of baboons in Africa. Oh, sorry, I meant that he is transplanted into a Baboon named Daisy. My mistake; I confused the video source, with the story itself.

Anyways, something goes wrong, for some completely incomprehensible reason, and Fingal is essentially lost inside his own mind. They send Apollonia (Linda Griffiths) into the dream place thingie, to try and bring him back, or at least guide him, or something incomprehensible (yes, I do know how often I used that word.) Fingal, being a lover of illegal Cinema, dreams up a Casablanca scenario, and SHEER BOREDOM ensues.

It isn’t surprising that PBS has a reputation for creating dull, boring, listless, worthless, programming. I know, PBS has really changed in recent years, but in the mid-80’s, it was utter crap. Well, take that crap-tastic sense of production, apply it to a feature length movie, with a subject that is somewhat crossed between Fahrenheit 454 and 1984, and you get Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.

If you ever see this video by itself, immediately find gasoline, and burn it. And anything it has come into contact with.

So, on to the MST3k portion. Like I said in the opening; there are 3 groups of MST3k watchers. This film, I thought might lean towards the second group; those who are in it for the comments. But truth be told, the comments are so sparse, and so dull, that the comment track falls off towards the background.

That’s just fine, as long as the stinker can hold it’s own. Sometimes a movie is so bad, that you just can’t help but watch it. This movie was so bad, I actually turned it off with 20 minutes remaining. I love bad movies, but this one was horrible. And not in the good way. Even the commercial break lead-in’s and lead-outs were terrible. They focus around Pearl doing a fund drive, in PBS style. So you end up with annoying commercial breaks, mixed in with annoying feature film, and a boring commentary track.

What’s the final word on this film? Stay away, unless you are a masochist.

How much alcohol did it take: I don’t remember…
Rating: 2/10. I can’t give MST3k a zero; I love it too much. But this one really stunk.

The Wife’s Retort: Even the hilarious threesome can’t make this painful ‘cinema’ funny. First they lost me at Casablanca baboon brain swap, and then they sealed the deal with Pearl screaming the lovers love song.

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