Sometime in the early 2000s I was heavy into tape trading for Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episodes. Yes, I was one of those people who "kept circulating the tapes". The internet was still pretty young, and online video wasn't easy or normal. But you COULD use the internet to put up lists of episodes you had on video, and find others who had episodes you were missing, and email each other about trading copies of those tapes.
While browsing websites for information on MST3K and tapes to share, I found a bunch of people raving about some fan made episodes that were outstanding. Mystery Fandom Theatre 3000 (and holy cow that website still works!) was a hard core group of fans who decided to take their love of the show to the logical ultimate conclusion: make their own episodes! And by all account they had done a fantastic job.
This wasn't exactly tape trading, but I was intrigued, and I think they were just asking $20 for tapes and the shipping to cover the costs. So I mailed them a check (because that's what you did back then before PayPal) and a few weeks later three VHS tapes showed up at my apartment. To my delight the reviews were spot on...these were fantastic! The writing was very good, the production was remarkably high quality, and the riffs were hysterical.
Of the three episodes I received the third one stood out as the best. Partially because I think the whole production came together after a few episodes of experience, and partially because the movie was Starcrash: a 1978 scifi Star Wars ripoff with David Hasselhoff, Christopher Plummer, and some of the most hilariously bad...everything. Absolutely everything. It's just a ridiculous movie, and the riffs made it even better. I showed that tape to anyone I could get to sit down and watch it, especially if they were a MST3K fan. Years after I finally ditched my tape collection I found the creators had uploaded the episode to YouTube, and continued to force people to watch this amazing fan made piece of joy.
Fast forward to this weekend. Luke and I finally have some time to relax and watch TV, and we watch the first episode of the new MST3K season on Netflix. It's a little rocky but full of obvious love and joy, and the riffs had me laughing out loud, so once done I checked out the episode list to see what other movies they were going to make fun of this season.
And there it was...STARCRASH.
I had a geek out. Told Luke the whole story as written above and then pulled up the YouTube and made him watch the MFT3K version.
We haven't yet watched the "official" Starcrash MST3K episode. I have no doubt it will be funny. But no matter what I encourage you to go watch the fan made version. If only because you get to hear two different versions of riffs to Christopher Plummer saying a line that is still one of my favorite bad movie lines of all time. I won't spoil it, but trust me when you hear it you'll know what I mean.