How many times have you and your friends found yourselves watching some random, awful movie? Faster than you can say “Zardoz” you’re all chiming in with witty comments, ripping the movie apart like you’re Joel — or maybe Mike — and the bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000. You probably think you’re freakin’ hilarious. Trust me, you’re not.
Lucky for you there’s Mile High Sci-Fi, a monthly, live action version of the same hallowed tradition. MHSF masterminds, Matt Vogl and Harrison Rains, follow the basic formula set down well before MST3K — take one bad movie, add a scathing running commentary and the occasional welltimed sound effect — and they do it right there in an actual movie theater with no pansy-ass safety net of endless, pre-recorded do-overs.
A recent MHSF lampooning of 90s schlock classic, Predator 2, was so sickly popular that it sold out.
Imagine that. Most likely for the first time anywhere — ever — a showing of Predator 2 sold out. MHSF’s next performances on March 19th and 20th at the Starz FilmCenter on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver features the 1984 Dennis Quaid vehicle, Dreamscape. In a shameless bit of self-promotion, Matt Vogl talked about the MHSF phenomenon and specifically requested that we mention their website. He’s a nice guy, so here you go, Matt. www.milehighscifi.com. Happy?
Boulder Weekly: How would you describe Mile High Sci-Fi to the uninitiated?
Matt Vogl: You know, we hate using the comparison, but the best example is a live version of Mystery Science Theater. That said, we go to great lengths to make it a very different experience. The [Denver] Film Society calls it live, comedic restoration of a movie, but we add lines, we add music, we add sound effects, and we just put our own commentary over it.
BW: How did Mile High Sci-Fi get started?
MV: Harrison Rains is another comedian from Comedy Works, and he and I were up in the mountains snowshoeing once, and we hatched this idea to do this. It’s been about three years now. He and I have done pretty much every show together. Usually anymore it’s a two-man show. Every now and then we’ll do a three-person show and rotate a third in just for fun.
BW: Why do you guys do this every month?
MV: You know, it’s an absolute blast, and we both love it.
BW: What criteria do you use for picking the movies?
MV: There’s a lot of ‘em, and we have a lot of fun arguments about it. Basically, we try to go for ones that are more recent, kind of 80s and 90s. We try to do ones that at least some people are familiar with, and that’s one way we set ourselves apart from Mystery Science Theater. Instead of doing the obscure sci-fi, we try to do things that have a little bit more mainstream appeal. And then a lot of it really comes down to licensing. There are some movie studios that are more into what we do than others. Warner Bros., Sony and Disney are the kiss of death. We don’t even try to get the rights to those.
BW: Do you have any favorite movies you’ve done?
MV: One of my favorites that we did was Flash Gordon. What we liked about that was that we kept the whole Queen soundtrack idea, but we changed all the songs to be, like, from Queen’s greatest hits. So we put in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Bicycle” and made them work in there. It was a lot of work, but it was really fun to do.
BW: Are all the movies you do strictly sci-fi?
MV: We’ve done a lot of non-sci-fi, too. We did Pretty in Pink and Footloose and things like that. So we had a lot of people show up for the movie and kind of curious about what we did.
BW: Is this your full time gig?
MV: I wish!