Better movies and gaming through heckling

Having been to a number of midnight films and grindhouse screenings, let me just tell you the right audience can really make a movie come to life – even if it is a dreadfully bad movie. 

Actually, especially a bad movie, where audiences hoot, and holler and yell things back at the screen. As it turns out, you can make great comedy out of great movies, and you can learn how to make good movies from heckling them.

As Martin Scorsese once told Premiere, “I’ve always said the way I learned how to make movies was by being a wise guy in the theater when I was a kid. We were merciless, my friends and I. You know, picking out clichés, saying the line before the actor said it.”

Woody Allen also did a hilarious job with his early feature, What’s Up Tiger Lily, where he overdubbed an Asian James Bond rip-off, and turned it into a comedy. 

In the early eighties when Plan 9 From Outer Space was dubbed the worst movie of all time from The Golden Turkey Awards, an early version of The Razzies, a local comedy troupe called L.A. Connection would show it, turn off the sound, and improv’d a whole new, hilarious story to it.

Clearly Mystery Science Theater ran with this idea, giving some of the worst movies imaginable a uproarious running commentary (their showings of The Incredible Melting Man and The Horror of Party Beach are just two of my favorites), and Joe Bob Briggs, “world’s foremost living drive in critic,” has also done comedy DVD commentaries to such films as Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. 

Beavis and Butthead obviously did this as well, but with videos, although with the return of Beavis and Butthead they’ll provide running commentary to Jersey Shore and The Human Centipede.

This has also been done in the gaming world with Red Vs. Blue, where funny new dialog was given to Halo, and I’m surprised this hasn’t become a movie or a series on a bigger level. Originally the creators of Red Vs. Blue were going to do a drunken gamers show, but then started adding dialog to Halo when it was the only game available on Xbox. (One member of the Red Vs. Blue team is a big Mystery Science Theater fan, and some of its influence may have rubbed off.)

I’ve certainly made my share of jokes at MTV, and friends of mine have also turned off the sound on movies, and did their own comedy improv to them. Try it some time, maybe you can take your jokes, and turn them into the next big comedy blockbuster. When you win the Academy Award, thank me.