Over the course of 10 seasons, the folks at Mystery Science Theater 3000 mocked nearly 200 movies. The films were bad, but watchably bad thanks in part to commentary from the show's trio of B-movie snarkers. But how did the MST3K team select films that walked that line between bad and atrocious?
Benjamin Vigeant at Splitsider sought out the answer to this timeless question, and the answer is pretty simple: one guy watched a lot of bad movies. A lot a lot:
Frank Conniff, who joined the show as a writer late in the first season and then joined the cast as TV's Frank in the second season was given the job to select these movies. During his tenure (through the sixth season) they made fun of movies like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Teenagers from Outer Space, and most memorably Manos: The Hands of Fate. "I think I was given the job because everybody else was busy with other stuff." Conniff recalls. The job was particularly difficult because for every one movie that made the show, he had to watch approximately twenty duds. He couldn't skim either. During the second season of MST3K they got the rights to a film that they had only skimmed a part of. When they sat down to write the show, they discovered that there was a violent rape scene towards the end. The movie, Sidehackers, stayed in, and the cast just had to explain to the audience why the female lead suddenly disappeared.
So over the years he watched a few thousand bad movies? That's a lot of terrible acting. At Splitsider, Vigeant further explains the qualities that make for an ideal MST3K film.