The Agony Booth (named after a torture device on Star Trek) is a website that for most of its history has posted recaps of So Bad, It's Good movies and TV shows. Sometimes, its recaps-cum-MSTs raise a work up to So Bad, It's Good. The multipage, scene-by-scene recaps usually take longer to read than watching the movie, but that's a feature, not a bug.Unlike many movie sites, Agony Booth isn't run by fans; most of the mods are older professionals (their ranks include a computer programmer, a teacher, a lawyer, a soldier, etc.), some of whom are (or have been) professional authors. The house style is therefore based around thoughtful criticisms of technical and storytelling faults as well as less tangible qualities. They are willing to mock anything, but will almost never do so without backing it up. As such, the Booth tends to have a "nothing is sacred" policy. (While it's become more apparent with the shift towards videos, it's actually always been the case, as bad films with sizable cult followings were ripe targets from the start.) The writers also have a tendency to use Troper terminology.In recent years, in fact, the site's core mission — while still fundamentally cynical — has veered further and further into affectionate nostalgia, with a burgeoning TV-recap section that besides the Worst of Trek includes The A-Team, Degrassi Junior High, Jem and Knight Rider. These now make up the bulk of the site's postings, while films or TV shows that aren't being recapped regularly appear more occasionally then they once did.A relentless dedication to nosing out the most offbeat and obscure hunks of pop culture cheese (Deafula, anyone?) also marks the site off from the Bad Movie mainstream. Over the years their article subjects have also included music videos (Heidi Montag's "Higher"), energy drinks (Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt), interviews (Lloyd Kaufman, Razzies founderJohn Wilson, etc.), and even the website of a presidential "candidate" (Lee L. Mercer, Jr.).In July, 2010, they began a shift towards video recap series. These include:
Mr. Mendo's Hack Attack, a video version of their traditional articles, occasionally taking on well-liked films, hosted by Mr. Mendo.
Movie Dorkness, formerly the Red Suitcase Adventures, a more positive look at popular culture, hosted by Sofie Liv.
Terror Obscura, a look at horror films, good and bad, hosted by The Fear Fan.
The Special Relationship, a spin-off of Britannia Rules?, which examines American remakes of British films and TV shows, originally hosted by Richard Murphy, now run by Sursum Ursa as part of Stuff You Like.
The forums attached to the site have a reputation of exclusivity that is arguably deserved; the list of rules (and rationales for banning) are long and detailed, and intelligent argument on a par with the house style is expected whether for or against the subject in question. Likewise, poorly-handled comments can expect to receive the same treatment as any recap subject.From the FAQ:
What's the point of this site?
The Agony Booth is primarily devoted to posting recaps of movies and TV episodes. These are not "reviews". Movies and TV episodes are thoroughly analyzed and dissected in excruciating detail to show what they do right and what they do wrong. But most important of all, the point of this site is to have fun mocking any and all kinds of movies and shows.
Porn Critic: There's nothing wrong with sending a box of used condoms to a fellow Internet reviewer! What's wrong with that?
Accent Relapse: Renegado has an accent, since English is his second language, but it sometimes get's REALLY thick, especially when he mispronounces words(for example, he pronounces "chemistry" as sheh-mees-tree and "available" as a-bah-ee-lah-ble). It's part of his charm, though.
Accentuate the Negative: Sometimes they recognize a few things are well-done, but that's not why they're recapping the movies.
Angst Dissonance: In-universe, Mr. Mendo opens a serious question in his Scott Pilgrim vs. The World review with a sarcastic acknowledgement that this movie doesn't speak to him in the way it does a lot of college students since he had to join the army.
Ryan: "Then Malhavok shows up, so Batman tosses out a lame taunt to get him to break the dragon's chain. Somehow, I doubt this is going down as one of the great Batman Gambits." (Accompanied by a screen shot of that very page!)
Or, onScott Pilgrim vs. The World: "Do you really buy that this movie is about Scott gaining self-respect, or do you wonder when we were supposed to notice that he had no self-respect, before or after hooking up with three hot chicks and fighting and obliterating six people?"
From Japanese Hell: "When I think of America, I think of Encino Man. I mean, is there a more patriotic film? It's a movie that shows that no matter what your background is, people will accept you! I mean, sure, it's not perfect, I mean, there are times when you just want to weaz the ju-uice, and they're like, 'Dude, need fundage, bro.' And yes, sometimes we spend a little too much time trying to edge some nug with nice cones to really focus on our problems, but America is a country that would never bag on a bro just 'cause he gets a little crus-ty!"
Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Mr. Mendo forwards a bunch of his hate mail to the Film Renegado's site, Renegado forces him to watch Atletico San Pancho. And, when that doesn't work, he starts playing Menudo!
Mendo: "The title of the song is 'Biological Didn't Bother'; I was expecting more of a diss track about the 'biological' who 'didn't bother'. I don't think I'm expecting too much when, as I said, it's the TITLE OF THE SONG!"
Nycea: "Usagi runs into the mysterious asshole again, and he's an asshole...again"
Determinator: Mr. Mendo managed to write and film the first two episodes of his show despite being in the middle of a war zone!
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Often a recapper will say something extremely perverse, then follow it with a note to themselves to edit it out before posting.
Early Installment Weirdness: Comparing the early recap-plus-snark (with rare, off-center images) of fairly obscure terrible movies, to the later work, with both Agonizer analysis and recaps which go from box office bombs to divisivework (with frequent, large images) is jarring. And then there's the video reviews...
Funny Foreigners: A significant portion of the staff is from Europe or Latin America, and this is often played up for laughs. According to Full of Questions, everyone on Team Agony Booth "learned English together"; even Mendo, who is from America. (Albeit from his own sovereign nation in Virginia...)
Albert: Let's take a moment to appreciate the character of Myra. As far as I can tell, Rusty's only crime is being homophobic. Oh, and he also has the outrageous desire to actually get married and have children. So what does Myra do to him? She ties him down, rapes him, and then demands that he thank her afterwards. Ladies and gentleman, our hero.
Hypocrisy Nod: To cap off a review of Rubber, a pointless, nonsensical film that is being watched from inside itself, Mr. Mendo and The Omega get into a pointless, nonsensical argument that is being watched from inside the review.
Mythology Gag: In Renegado's Halloween special, Full of Questions kills Mendo while in vampire form. In her next episode, Mendo's disembodied form caused her to take a drill bit to her head. In that same episode, he announced his return from his hiatus, which debuted three days later, and featured both Full of Questions AND Renegado. He wasn't happy to see them.
In the That 70's Girl review, it's revealed that Mendo "blows a homeless guy" for porn. Three episodes later, we learn said homeless guy is the one who informed Mendo that Equestria Girls was out on DVD. Also, that homeless guy is actually Horror Guru.
Overly Narrow Superlative: "Swamp Thing is quite simply the best damn movie about a swamp creature fighting a sort of fake-looking wild boar/gator hybrid that used to be a French guy while Adrienne Barbeau and her cleavage watch anxiously."
Mendo hypothesizes that there must be a "super obscure Navajo fanbase for white lesbian porn that I'm not aware of..."
Running Gag: Frequent in the individual recaps, and a few (including the Overlords of the UFO & Mr. T's guest explanations) that cross over. The TV series recaps are much more prone to ongoing gags; Albert's Degrassi recaps are typical:
The Girls' Bathroom of Ill Repute and the Boys' Bathroom of Neutral Repute.
Albert's ongoing frustration at Yick and Arthur's B (and sometimes C) plots.
Joey (Insert Letter Here) Jermiah, the (X) stands for (Blank).
Nicknames for the characters: Loosey, Astrodog, Rockin' Rompin' Raditch and Sweet Caitlin Ryan.
Stephanie Kaye is also frequently compared to Nixon.
Ursa: This…this whole review has been…you’ve scripted this review to be deliberately self-consciously quirky just so you can illustrate how annoying that is!
Mendo: I most certainly did!
Ursa: Well played.
Sophisticated as Hell: "There is literally no way to figure out what the movie is about just from watching it. Clearly, Donnie Darko is not supposed to make sense, and the fact that it doesn't make sense means it's brilliant. There is a term for this: fucking pretentious."