While Hobgoblins is probably not the worst movie to ever be screened on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is one of them, and possibly the sleaziest.Though director Rick Sloane requested that his film be featured on the show, it suffered some of the harshest riffing ever. The Mads removed the film case from the Ark of the Covenant. The bots tried to flee the theater during the opening credits. Crow set up a hotline for people traumatized by the movie. Mike and the 'bots tried to escape again by replacing themselves with cardboard cutouts in the theater and the bridge (it nearly worked, too). Crow impersonated Sloane during the end credits claiming he was "high on crack" and had "[his] brain replaced with rat droppings". Servo tried, and failed, to go back in time to prevent the movie from being made.
Crow: "Yes girls, this is the only way to make your boyfriends like you."
Cardboard Pal: Mike and the 'bots try to trick the Mads by placing cardboard cut outs of themselves in the theater, along with a tape recorder playing some poorly acted generic riffs ("That's stupid") and escaping. In the host segment, we see they did the same on the bridge. Only Observer wasn't fooled.
During the movie's closing credits, they used another cutout for their faux interview with Rick Sloane.
Notably, the cardboard cut-outs are based on the silhouettes of Mike and the bots that appeared on the back of Rhino VHS releases of MST3K at the time (the "Pointing Mike" cut-out being the most obvious).
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Much is made of Nick's military service. Naturally, when Nick runs away from the hobgoblins the second he realizes they're dangerous, Crow riffs "Oh, Nick's in the French army, I see."
Conspiracy Theorist: Crow makes a documentary that initially is supposed to counter the movie's portrayal of women and show how to treat the fairer sex with respect. Because Crow couldn't actually find any women, though, it turns into a conspiracy video.
"We begin to ask ourselves: 'where are all the women?' The overheated references in poetry, the images that dominate our media—is it all an elaborate fraud?"
Nausea Fuel: Invoked. Mike and the bots get audibly disgusted whenever Daphne is sex-crazed.
Daphne: (singing) Everybody have sex tonight! Tom: Everybody throw up tonight.
Running Gag: Whimpering whenever the young security guard is on the screen.
Screw This, We're Outta Here: The movie was getting so bad that Mike resorted to a Cardboard Pal plan to try to fool the Mads. By the time it failed, we see that he and the 'bots had changed into Hawaiian shirts and packed a lot of luggage for a vacation.
Ship Tease: When Bobo calls Tom & Crow's "Hobgoblins Crisis Hotline" for advice about the crush he had on "a woman... (looks at Pearl behind him) a woman not of my species"note (a chimpanzee named Emily), squicking the 'Bots horribly.
Stable Time Loop/You Can't Fight Fate: Servo's attempt to erase the existence of Hobgoblins by going back in time and kicking Rick Sloane in the shins ends up being the latter's inspiration for the movie.
Tom explains this while dressed in a leather jacket and sunglasses while holding a machinegun; Mike explains that he thought that Tom was going to "terminate" Sloane.
"That bastard! I'm gonna go back and kill him."
Appropriately enough, Rick Sloane's admiration for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Hobgoblins inspired him to create the sequel. According to an interview with Rick Sloane, he enjoyed the riffing until he got to the part with the faux-interview attacking him personally at the end.
Sloane: "I had never seen them rip apart any other director before on the show."
He must have missed the Coleman Francis episodes...and possibly the Sandy Frank ones too. Bert I. Gordon takes quite a few lumps from the cast as well. Not to mention Corman.
Stylistic Suck: The prerecorded riffs that accompany the Cardboard Pals in the theater are very stilted and generic when compared to the gang's usual quips. This carries out into the following host segment, where they sing an equally uninspired song.
Hobgoblins, hobgoblins / What do you do with those hobgoblins? / They're over here / They're over there / Those darn hobgoblins are everywhere!
Team Dad: Mike shows shades of this. For example, in the middle of the film, Servo pretends to bounce on the sofa that a couple of the characters have fallen asleep on, just like in the first host segment, and goes 'Whee, this is fun, this is fun! No, it's not, no, it's not' and Mike consoles him. Awww.