MST3K Font References

Yes, I am the kind of nerd that likes fonts and the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The show is dense with all sorts of cultural references; here are some of the font and typography jokes illustrated and explained.

The Crawling Hand (show 106)

Crow: Hey, Joel, did they do these titles on a typewriter?
Joel: No, that's the Helvetica constellation we're looking at.
Crow: Stellar.

[The slab-serif font is more like typing than sans serif Helvetica. May be Rockwell.]

The Slime People (show 108)

Tom: Sorta looks like "I Dream of Jeannie" lettering.
Joel: Right.... I think this is also the lettering to "The Bionic Woman."
Crow: Boring Bold.
Tom: Well, they had the technology.

[It's Studio--sometimes with a wave effect--as also used on "Jeannie" and Girls Town. "Bionic Woman" used a different calligraphic font.]

Project Moon Base (show 109)

Crow: Jerome Pycha, Jr., cousin of Jerome Elite! Kind of a typist’s joke...

[In typewriter days, you basically had Pica (10 characters per inch) and Elite (12 per inch) which were both fixed-width slab-serif fonts like Courier. Unrelated in style, the film's credit font has been recreated as my Project.]

Moon Zero Two (show 111)

Tom: Titles by Mrs Greevy's third grade.

[Mod 60s cartoon lettering]

Rocket Attack U.S.A. (show 205)

Crow: Daniel Kern did the letters.

[To kern is to adjust the spacing between certain pairs of letters, such as the AT and TA in the title.]

Gamera vs. Barugon (show 304)

Crow: Hey, it looks like a kid wrote this with a crayon.

[Rough hand lettering; now available as a font]

Gamera vs. Gaos (show 308)

Joel: Did somebody write that with soap on a window or something?

[Rough hand lettering; now available as a font]

The Castle of Fu Manchu (show 323)

Joel: Credits by Peter Max.

[The curvy lettering may suggest the work of psychedelic Pop artist Peter Max, an odd choice for this film however.]

The Giant Gila Monster (show 402)

Tom: This kind of looks like "I Dream of Jeannie" Modified Intercept [?] font, doesn't it?
Crow: No, no, no, no. It's "Bewitched" Sans Serif.
Joel: No, I think you're thinking of "Patty Duke Show" Bold Condensed, actually.
Tom: You know, if it was italicized I'd swear it was Jack Webb.
Crow: Dom Casual, actually.

[Crow is right. Besides the "Bewitched" TV credits, Dom Casual appears in The Killer Shrews, The Undead, and other MST3K movies, but "Jeannie" used Studio, see below]

Leeches Attack of the Giant Leeches (show 406)

Crow: Looks like an E. E. Cummings book cover.
Joel: Typesetting by Smith-Corona.

[All lowercase echoes Cummings' writing style, but the serif font is not typing. Looks more like Trooper Roman or even my Columbia Stamp.]

Starring Edward Stolar The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (show 505)

Tom: This is the credits from "I Dream of Jeannie."
Joel: Yeah!
Crow: Hey, yeah. I love that typeface.

[Jeannie's Studio again and the sky background makes it really look like Jeannie's crew
credits (right), but not the main title and cast.]

Beginning of the End Bold Condensed Beginning of the End (show 517)

Tom: This is like "Beginning of the End" Bold Condensed font here, huh?

[Much of the credits appear to be Futura, but the names are something else, more square with rough "horror" edges]

Good Citizenship The Violent Years (show 610)

Mike: The thick chalk years!
Crow: Everyone forced to write with the Palmer Method!

[The Palmer Method was a style of penmanship once taught in American schools, which that resembles.]

What kind of made-up font is this? Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell (show 703)

Mike: Relson? What kind of name is Relson?
Tom: Nelson.
Mike: That's one of the most clearly printed Rs I've ever seen!
Mike: What kind of made-up font is this?
Tom: I think they call it Extra Stuffed Germanic.
Crow: Thom Thristopher!
Tom: Robert Rorth!
Crow: A heavy font like this needs to double-brace the H.

[The font in question is Richard Mueller's Primitive.]

Parts Parts: The Clonus Horror (show 811)

Crow: Apparently E.E. Cummings wrote it.

[The classic joke about lowercase titles. Although he favored lowercase for his poetry, Cummings capitalized his name.]

Key Grip John Ramsey Agent for H.A.R.M. (show 815)

Tom: Credits by E.E. Cummings and k.d. lang.

[Ditto.]

Iselin-Tenney Productions The Horror of Party Beach (show 817)

Mike: The typewriter was drunk when it did that, huh?

[Jagged, irregular, seriffed hand-lettering, not typing. But Emigré's Journal would be a good substitute.]

Santa Claus vs. Susan Powter Space Mutiny (show 820)

Santa Claus: I think they want to drive us into the neighboring constellation.
Susan Powter: Helvetica?
Mike: I love that font!

[No font onscreen.]

The Phantom Planet The Phantom Planet (show 902)

Mike: Hey, this planet is quilted for softness.

[Might make an interesting 3-D font, but looks more like extra crispy to me.]

The Deadly Bees (show 905)

Mike: Oh, that's the "Hee Haw" font; how can it be deadly?

[Perhaps it's the serif cousin to the country comedy's logo.]

Astrology Quest of the Delta Knights (show 913)

[Looking at Astrology sign]
Crow: "Rubber Soul" font.

[Echoes the biomorphic shape of the Beatles' classic album logo, but more pen-like calligraphy.]

Don Barton Blood Waters of Dr. Z (show 1005)

Crow: It’s got playful-teen-beach-movie font.

[Crow is right. The irregular lettering is reminiscent of "Gilligan's Island," the "Green Acres" logo, "The Patty Duke Show", Screwball, and the like. I suppose they thought the irregular letters suggested watery horror. One of a million wrong choices in one of the worst films to end up on MST3K.]

Don (Dean) Atkins Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (show 1006)

Crow: This is "Rich Man, Poor Man" font.

[Crow is wrong, but in the ballpark. Looks like another 70s swash font, perhaps Bookman Italic.]

Brought to you by Harold's Fonts