31 July 2006

OLR: Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Truffaut fails to show much difference between those zombified by pills and those by novel memorization. (6/10)

d. François Truffaut

30 July 2006

MST3K (209)

209 - The Hellcats - It's The Side Hackers companion movie, with Russ Hagen and Gus Trikonis together again for the first time. All have to say about this is: finally, a real biker movie with a real chain-fighting biker gang in it. I've been waiting all season for one of these. Drunken parties in bars. Drunken parties in fields. Drunken, unseen races over hills. This is it, Papa.

The movie wasn't 100% biker fun. As things progress, the film spirals into near-utter irrationality. Who was that blonde airhead putting on the stockings? Why was she killed? Why did the bar owner freak out? Why did the bikers want revenge for a road accident? Why did they head towards the docks to seek that revenge? Most of all, how did Wilson Hong ever get work again?

Joel gets to use his invention that the Mads didn't let him show off last episode. That's the last bit of originality before we descend into flashback hell. Boo. I know the guys had to go to New York and didn't have as much time to work on this episode as normal, but that still doesn’t make the repeats any more interesting to watch. K15's typewriter/flashback device, 106's Bill Shatner hands, 201's floating items and 203's scope segment all put in appearances. At least they borrowed from the length and breadth of their history, but I don't know why they picked the overlong scope segment to repeat.

Goatee, week three.

Riff of the episode: some idiot biker shakes up a bottle of beer in an attempt to spray his lady. Instead, as he holds the bottle at crotch-level, the spray hits entering Ross Hagen in the face. Crow-as-Ross: "That better be beer." (6/10)

film d. Robert F. Slatzer (1967)
mst d. Jim Mallon (8 Dec 1990)

29 July 2006

MST3K (208)

208 - Lost Continent - Hey, the proportion of "rock climbing" to "cool dinosaur action" was messed up! I think some saboteur must have switched this film's secret formula during filming. Eddie Haskell? Well, it was that or the producers didn't want to spend the bread.

Forget the blink-or-you'll-miss-it dinosaur stuff. My favorite scene is where Cesar Romero is hanging out with his lady before going off the find the rocket. In addition to the amusing '50s movie sexuality, JatB's references to jimmy hats had me cracking up loudly.

I will give the movie one point. The earthquake at the end was actually pretty good. Sure, none of the falling rocks ever hit anyone in a streak of unrealistic luck, but the stage hands did an excellent job of shaking the plastic jungle trees on set.

Mike shines again as the guest alien in the hexfield viewscreen. This time he does a completely hilarious interpretation of a deeply evil version of Hugh Beaumont-as-Ward Cleaver- but-call-me-Dad. He has the laid back, '50s TV dad voice cadence perfected. Who knew Ward was such concentrated evil? I love the flaming dad-pipe, too.

What is the green button on the desk for? The red one signals a call from the Mads. The yellow one signals a commercial sign, and also seems to be the one Joel hits during movie sign. The green one sits all alone, unloved. This has been bugging me for a couple episodes since I noticed it. Am I missing something?

The seasonal contests are great. Just like the "name the vegetable guy" contest from season 1, we now get a "name that Cool Thing we never showed flying outside of the SOL" contest. Let’s see. I think my Cool Thing would be an intergalactic Disney Electric Parade, except all of the floats are formed into the glowing visage of Dr. Erhardt's head and all speak in Servo's old voice. That might solve a mystery or two. (7/10)

film d. Sam Newfield (1951)
mst d. Jim Mallon (24 Nov 1990)

[I'm selling some MST3K stuff on eBay this week, including the hard-to-find DVD for MST3K: The Movie. Check out my auctions if you're interested.]

27 July 2006

MST3K (207)

207 - Wild Rebels - Fooled again, just like with The Side Hackers. Here I was thinking season two was full of '60s biker movies, but we really haven't had one at all yet. Instead of bikers prowling the highways, we get a group of Nazi morons who live in a shack and suffer from a variety of speech impediments. I do love the "Citrusville First Nation Bank" sign constructed of ceiling tile and electrical tape. Awesome.

Servo's head got repaired, but now Joel's got a little something on his chin there.

I'm not a huge fan of Joel's "artist's renderings" host segments. They're static; I like props and goings-on. Much funnier was the segment in which the leather-clad bots jump Joel for "messing with private stock" (that is, the kicks-seeking Gypsy).

"Like getting hit in the back of the head with a surfboard of flavor." The Wild Rebels Cereal© host segment was brief, but funny and possibly good for you. I like it even more after reading in the ACEG that they essentially made it up on the spot.

Joel sneezes in the theater and a balloon pops loudly in the last host segment and its all left in the final edit. Ah, memories of KTMA.

Is it me, or is the audio for the movie portion way too soft on the Rhino DVD? Side Hackers had the same problem. Is it my system, Rhino, or did BBI mess up the audio (as they used to in the KTMA days)? (6/10)

film d. William Grefé (1967)
mst d. Jim Mallon (17 Nov 1990)

[I'm selling some MST3K stuff on eBay this week, including the hard-to-find DVD for MST3K: The Movie. Check out my auctions if you're interested.]

MST3K (206)

206 - Ring of Terror (w/ The Phantom Creeps, Chapter Three: Crashing Timbers) - Outside of, say, crap on YouTube, this has got to be the most inept horror film I've ever seen. I suppose if you have some kind of innate fear of corpses and a really, really good imagination, you might get something from this film. Else, you're looking at an overextended Twilight Zone episode set in another dimension in which college students look forty. And, no, the guys were not lying about the old age thing. George E. Mather, who played freshman college student Lewis, was actually 42-years-old when this movie was made.

I dunno, but maybe Joel should call his lawyer? I think he could squeeze a few bucks out of Will Ferrell for ripping off the "old school" concept. Then again, maybe Old School is just a loose remake of Ring of Terror? Uncredited remakes of old B-movies are one way modern Hollywood gets out of thinking of its own ideas. More on this subject when we get to 811.

So, was director Clark L. Paylow abused by an obese step-parent as a child? Geez, man, the pair were over-weight. We get it. Leave it alone, man.

One of the few solid laughs I got was during the introductory "show all of the character's faces for five seconds" scene. When they got to a geeky guy in tortoise shell glasses, they dub him Wormy and declare that he has "webbed armpits and an extra big toe." See, movie? That's how you make fun of people.

When Dr. F pulled out the post-movie Phantom Creeps, I really did start to feel like a guy trapped in an evil experiment. About the best thing I can say about this serial is that JatB's pronunciation of one of the director's names always got me to laugh (Beebe! Ford Beebe!). I'm glad we're rid of these things for a couple years. (5/10)

film d. Clark L. Paylow (1962)
short d. Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind (1939)
mst d. Jim Mallon (3 Nov 1990)

[I'm selling some MST3K stuff on eBay this week, including the hard-to-find DVD for MST3K: The Movie. Check out my auctions if you're interested.]

24 July 2006

MST3K (205)

205 - Rocket Attack U.S.A. (w/ The Phantom Creeps, Chapter Two: Death Stalks the Highway) - Outside of, say, film class projects, this has got to be the most inept film I've ever seen. It's the Cold War. A spy has to infiltrate deep into the Soviet Union. His mission: stop Russia's only ICBM before it gets launched at the United States. His contact: a beautiful double agent. How do you mess that up? You make sure nothing exciting ever happens, force the spy to hide in a closet, and pepper the movie with the most annoying alarms sounds you can possibly find. That's how. Sweet Boney Maroney, this movie was painful to both eye and ear.

The guys have fun with it as best as they can. They start strong by Cold-War-izing the credits by adding "…as the commie rat" and "…as the commie scum" and the like after people's names. I also loved their consternation over the incredibly poor service at the restaurant the spy goes to. I hope he tipped less than 10% there. I'm not a fan of the Charlie McCarthy host segment, but the civil defense game show was great. I got all answers right before the bots did.

I take back the nice things I said about Phantom Creeps. Already in chapter 2, it's clear that it suffers from the same problems that Cody did. Nothing really happens in this chapter and it ends with a car going over a cliff. Same old stuff. For the love of Renfield, at least use that awesome robot for something other than moving heavy masonry!

Ahhh! Servo's head is deformed. Medic! As soon as that's fixed, we'll be all set. We've got Frank, we've got Servo's real voice, we've got a proper iris on the hexfield viewscreen and we've got the very first stinger this episode. In fact, you couldn't not invent the stinger after watching the lethargic blind man state "help me" randomly towards the end of the movie. That scene is quintessential stinger material.

Strangely enough, I dreamt that there was a nuke falling towards the US last night. I haven’t had one of those dreams since the Cold War was still cooking back when I was a kid. I knew I was watching this episode today, but I didn't know it involved a nuclear bomb. Weird. (6/10)

film d. Barry Mahon (1961)
short d. Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind (1939)
mst d. Jim Mallon (27 Oct 1990)

[I'm selling some MST3K stuff on eBay this week, including the hard-to-find DVD for MST3K: The Movie. Check out my auctions if you're interested.]

23 July 2006

MST3K (204)

204 - Catalina Caper - I think the actual plot of the movie occupied somewhere around 90 seconds of footage during the entire film. The rest of the running time is just shots of Little Richard hopped up on goofballs, teens dancing, teens slapping each other, and Exidor falling into the sea repeatedly. I liked it.

The riffing was consistently funny in this episode. One line had me roaring early on. Girl: "Ever do any diving, Don?" Joel-as-Don (in his "Oh, wow" voice): "Oh, yeah." I don't know if there's a clean way to read that gag, but I read it lewd and found it hilarious. Later on, some dorks atonally sing a song on a boat. Crow: "I think they sent the wrong people to Nam." After listening to their tune, I agree. The recurring riff whenever there was shot of people walking barefoot -- "Ooh, hot, ow, hot" -- was amusing more than once, too.

I know some folks think that it was a mistake for a comedy show to try to riff on another comedy. I disagree. I think it worked just fine. The humor in the movie was so corny that this movie could barely count as a comedy on its own. The riffing just helped it be what it wanted to be all along.

I agree with Servo. I think Creepy Girl was cute. Not cute enough to ignore the fifty other girls on the beach like the characters in the movie did, but cute.

Frank's host segment as weapon-Tupperware salesman was his best spot yet. His classically abusive relationship with Dr. F emerges here. "You're gonna hurt me!" You can't not like Frank. He receives grievous damage from Dr. F. for the first time here as well, losing an eye to a melonballer. I wonder if that disturbed any of the kids that watch and write letters in?

Speaking of George Reeves, Lee Sholem also directed Superman and the Mole Men and half of season one of Adventures of Superman fifteen years before this movie. He's not grown as a director.

No Mike appearance on the hexfield this time. Ah well, you can't have everything. (8/10)

film d. Lee Sholem (1967)
mst d. Jim Mallon (13 Oct 1990)

[I'm selling some MST3K stuff on eBay this week, including the hard-to-find DVD for MST3K: The Movie. Check out my auctions if you're interested.]

OLR: Close Your Eyes (2002)

Though it had some interesting ideas, shots and sounds, it just moved too slowly and predictably. (6/10)

d. Nick Willing

[thanks, Bill Shatner]

Fincher (1992)

1992 - Alien³ - I like this film. I realize that Fincher was royally screwed with by the Fox suits while trying to make this picture. I agree that it was terribly disappointing, after promises made by the teaser trailer, to find out this didn't take place on an Earth overrun by the xenomorphs. I'm aware that this is far from a perfect film. Yet, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm an Alien³ fan.

One large reason I like this film is for the same aspect that upsets other fans. I love how depressing this entire movie is. I think it was bold and innovative for a sequel to murder the happy ending of its predecessor. Cameron's picture, in addition to containing crowd-pleasing space marine action, ends on a "happy clouds and rainbows" note. Ripley lost her real family due to the xenomorph-caused half-century hypersleep, but gains a new boyfriend, daughter and pet half-robot as a replacement. Together, they set course for home and take a nap. Aww.

The xenomorph, among other things, represents the idea that outside of this little bubble of a planet, the universe isn't friendly to human life at all. Nature is cruel. Fincher's film wisely runs with this theme, rather abandoning it for an Aliens 2: The Ripley Family and Their Space Marine Pals vs. Aliens, The Rematch movie. Ripley is alone right from the start of this film. Those happy clouds rained acid and that rainbow became a noose. As with the brilliant Alien, it was always going to be only Ripley against the monster in the basement.

All of this is not what the public expected. They generally want more of the same, over and over again. Last Crusade puts its tail between its legs and hides in Raiders' pattern after Temple. Return of the Jedi has both an exploding Death Star and a familial revelation. After Halloween III: Season of the Witch, we could've been treated to a brand new Carpenter-produced Halloween horror movie every October 31st. Instead, the public demanded more Michael Myers, eventually resulting in Busta Rhymes battling The Shape on the Internet. Hollywood is well-aware of the public's fear of change. This is the reason we're drowning in remakes right now. I suspect this is also a reason the suits sought to meddle with space marine-free Alien³.

Rant over.

Fincher is already using his unique camera placements in his first full-length film. We'll see more of the slow-motion fire and water in the future. We will also see much more CGI in his next films. However, unlike those movies, the CGI effects in this film are utterly retched. The CG alien looks like a green cartoon crudely pasted into Fincher's composition. For the few times the computer-generated critter is used, it completely kicked me out of the film. The technology was definitely not ready for anything outside of mercury men at this point.

On a personal note, this was the first R-rated movie I ever got to see in a theater. I can still remember the melancholy I felt after the credits rolled. I found Newt's death and dissection on screen particularly shocking at the time.

Although I like this Alien sequel, I hate Alien Resurrection. Ironically, part of the reason I hate it is for the same reasons people hated Alien³ : it reverses the ending of Alien³. Ripley's sacrifice is meaningless if you can clone her and she has, irrationally, fragments of the original Ripley's memories. Worse, I'll have to watch that flick for a future chronocinethon. For now, though, I get to look forward to watching the excellent Se7en next. (7/10)

Guest MST3K: 203

Jungle Goddess. Well, first, The Phantom Creeps. The short that feels as long as a feature length film. Bela Lugosi invents the explode on demand spider! For some reason he thinks this will be worth money to someone, and he has to fake his own death, or something. I lost interest. But it will be continued, thank goodness.

As for the movie, well, it's hard to much sympathy for white guys hunting for a plane wreck to collect a reward for a lost socialite, who seem to regard the natives a shoot on sight target practice. And then have the gall to say something like "What do you care about that native?" Imagine a "hero" of a modern day movie trying to get away with that line. Fortunately, Bob "shoot 'em all" is sentenced to death in eight days time. Unfortunately, rather than spending that time gruesomely torturing him, the natives allow him and his buddy Mike to escape with their Jungle Goddess. After Bob shoots another one of them, of course. Fortunately, one them manages to send a spear through his back as he struggles with Mike just as they reach their plane. Mike shows his gratitude by promptly shooting the native. This movie just simply didn't seem to like natives very much.

What this movie taught me: A plane can land and take off in a dense jungle with no landing strip. Why we bother building landing strips at all, I don't know.

Hey, I wanna play games with the Cosmic Universe too, but it just keeps ignoring me! The host segments started off strong. You simply can't go wrong with merging a power saw and a remote controlled car (unless you stand to close to it's path of destruction, of course.) The infomercial seemed to kinda drag on, so in that sense it was very true to its source material. The various "scopes" were cute, and I liked the mini scenes the robots carried out "You're the only man for me! " and "I am an amoebae." The segment with the white male British overlords was also good. They bring VD and a magic fire stick! And for the end, I have to say the Joel does make a very fetching white goddess.

3 Favorite Riffs

(During the Phantom Creeps, a big ugly robot with an odd looking head makes an appearance)
Hey, what's the big deal? It's just a big metal Richard Kiel [star of EEGAH!]

(Guy in Bar: I'll give you five minutes.
Insipid singer: For what?)
To start running.

(Angry natives run through the jungle"
Meanwhile, in an equally racist Tarzan movie across the way...

21 July 2006

Guest OLR: Texasville (1990)

Thirty years later and the town is still populated with idiots. (4/10)

d. Peter Bogdanovich

20 July 2006

Guest OLR: Targets (1968)

If I ever decided to kill people, I'd do it at a theatre of some kind too. (6/10)

d. Peter Bogdanovich

19 July 2006

MST3K (203)

203 - Jungle Goddess (w/ The Phantom Creeps, Chapter One: The Menacing Power) - After Commando Cody crashed and burned in season one, I wonder what made the guys dip back into the serial barrel again? If we needed to stick with serials instead of real shorts, they chose well. Creeps, so far, is much more entertaining than the rocketman. Bela is great and the man is an expert at playing a mad scientist. I love the head on the robot monster he commands. I'd never think to put a sort of demonic, tiki idol head on a robot. Weird. I also love all of the secret passages and doors and such Bela has in his lab. The invisibility belt and the fake spider that's magnetically attracted to an exploding pellet are just icing on the cake.

One thing I don't understand is how Commonwealth Pictures Corp was able to rip off Universal's horror movie music. I heard snippets of Bride of Frankenstein and The Mummy in there. Also, I'm pretty sure the exterior of Bela's mansion was used in one of the Mummy sequels. Why they didn't go whole-hog and make Bela a vampire, I don't know.

Speaking of spiders and exploding pellets, the guys base a host segment around selling these items. It wasn't SPACOM! , but few things are. What they really needed is something to cut to. The segment was filled with tiny explosions which require both SFX material and set up time. Flubbing a line in the middle of this segment would be bad, given that the segment is just one long take. You can see Joel begin to look more worried about messing up as the segment progresses. He seems glad to make it through mostly intact, despite a few mistakes. At least the He-Man spider got more use here.

Hopefully, this will be the most racist movie MST covers. As a huge Superman fan, I cheered out loud when I saw George Reeves in the credits. Once the movie got going, my enthusiasm waned. At least Superman didn't play the part of genocidal Bob, who I couldn't wait to see get a spear in the back.

The guys set thing as right as they can, especially during the viewscreen host segment. Is Mike going to appear as different visiting movie character every episode? I won't complain at all if he does. (6/10)

film d. Lewis D. Collins (1948)
short d. Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind (1939)
mst d. Jim Mallon (6 Oct 1990)

MST3K (202)

202 - The Side Hackers - Perhaps, after the writers' room encounter with this movie's brutal rape scene (related in the ACEG), the guys were still off-balance. Often, they didn't seem like they knew what they needed to do with this one. As the movie progresses from cycle picture to gritty revenge flick, I felt that the riffing got less and less funny. Or, I was just getting more and more sleepy. Hard to say. Though, we did get the first in the long-running "of Death" riffs on the title.

Even with the abovementioned scene removed, this is not a happy picture. I was hoping for the motorcycle version of Fast Company: all-in-good-fun drive-in fare. The title is what fooled me. If this had been named, as the IMDb lists, Five the Hard Way, I wouldn't have been expecting a goofy 60s movie about a weird and long-dead cycle sport. As it is, the sidehacking -- which still exists, believe it or not -- is only there as filler and to be a hook to get butts in theater seats to watch the rest of the crappy movie.

What saved this episode were Joel's excellent songs and the well-done pet slinky. The man can sing if he wants to and is an ace at puppeteering the neon slinky. I couldn't tell how he was doing it, honestly.

Also, CamBot offers up his first riff ever. When the screen unexpectedly shrank and ESPN-like graphics popped up, it elicited a "what the hell?" from me. It also woke me up a little, as I was getting sleepy-eyed at that point. Thanks, CB!

Hey, they turned the hexfield viewscreen window shade upside-down. I guess that works better. Mike, once again, does a dead-on impression. He absolutely disappears into his role as J.C. from the movie.

Next up is another Lippert movie. That doesn't bode well for breaking the depressing ending streak, judging by his last movie. We shall see. (6/10)

film d. Gus Trikonis (1969)
mst d. Jim Mallon (29 Sep 1990)

16 July 2006

MST3K (201)

201 - Rocketship X-M - Though it dragged a little in spots, this wasn't a bad 50s sci-fi film at all. In fact, this has got to be one of the first "fear of nuclear war" films ever made. This isn't too surprising, as the Soviet Union had tested their first nuke the year prior. Still, this film beat Godzilla by four years… and that was made by the only country to ever suffer from those weapons.

I liked the bummer ending. For this era of genre filmmaking, it was especially surprising. You'd never see Commando Cody running out of fuel and exploding on the ground.

Mike Nelson's first onscreen appearance was also the funniest host segment yet. His Valaria accent was dead-on. Doug Warren? I was crying tears of laughter during his impression. Plus, this was the first hexfield viewscreen usage. The window shade didn't exactly work, as Mike merely turns off a light when its time to cease communication. I wonder when the iris arrives?

Joel cribs some more KTMA material when he readjusts Servo's voice. That's forgivable, given the cast change. Kevin Murphy doesn't quite sound like himself yet. I think he's trying to do "a voice" in this episode, instead of just speaking. He does a stand-up job with his first time riffing, though.

Ah, MST3K is comfortable, now. This is how my oldest memories of the show are. The set is covered in do-dads and painted gray. TV's Frank is there, dumb as ever and sporting Marlon Brando's hair. The mix of Murphy, Beaulieu and Hodgson's voices in the theater sounds right on the ears. It's all good. (7/10)

film d. Kurt Neumann (1950)
mst p. Jim Mallon (22 Sep 1990)

OLR: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Effused with an utterly fascinating mood, but meanders a little too long towards the end. (7/10)

d. Peter Weir

OLR: The Long Goodbye (1973)

There was one surprise at the end, but the rest was tedious despite neat characters. (6/10)

d. Robert Altman

Guest OLR: A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Viciously depressing; too deep to drown, too sad to cry. (9/10)

d. Richard Linklater

14 July 2006

MST3K (season one closing thoughts)

Goodbye, season one.

Joel's energy in the theater is great this season. No longer relegated to a tiny strip on the bottom, his giant silhouette can reach most of the screen. This gives him the power to fiddle with computer knobs, give ladies pecks on the cheek, and dance, dance, dance. I loved his props, too. Brushes for cleaning on-screen characters' clothes, hot dogs for roasting in lava, and POW-BIFF-BAM signs for extra action in fight scenes.

Commando Cody quickly went from being "neat, I've never seen a serial before" to "not this again." I suppose filling up twelve weeks' worth of one-reel, low-budget action is harder than it sounds. The flying effects were good for the time. They just needed a better-focused plot and perhaps some other type of cliffhanger rather than Cody seeming to die each and every time. I can't wait until we get some real shorts.

Poor Gypsy didn't have much to do this season. After the unexpected success of the Richard Basehart non sequitur in 101, she became limited to mostly that topic. She was allowed a brief moment to shine during 113. As if to take revenge for Servo's condescension, she slowly transforms into a giant scorpion and eats the bot. Of course, her tail immediately falls off during the last transformation, but it was the thought that counted.

In line with common MiSTie convention, I did find that there were a number of not-great episodes this season. My absolute favorites, however, aren't even the ones released by Rhino. The two later robot movies, 107 and 110 had me laughing the most. A close third was 112.

Overall, there were some bumps in road in the first national season. Given the major changes coming up, I'd expect we're in for some more bumps in season 2 before we settle into the four long seasons.

The Numbers

Total Length
20 hours, 49 minutes, 24 seconds
(96 min average for 13 episodes)

Years Spanned
(1959 average)

Shorts Years Spanned
(1952 average)

Time to Watch
24 days
Time to Broadcast Originally
99 days

Turkey Day Episodes
1 (8%)
106 (23 Nov 1995)
Episodes with the Words "Robot" or "Monster" (or Both) in the Title
102, 103, 107, 110 (31%)
Black and White to Color Ratio

13 July 2006

MST3K (104)

104 - Women of the Prehistoric Planet - The crystal-clear picture of the Rhino DVD was nice, but it didn't help make this episode funnier. Maybe the guys were running out of steam by the end of the season? Maybe I'm not in the proper mood for the humor in this episode? I don't know. I laughed hardly at all, which is always disappointing. About the only thing that got a chuckle out of me was the mush-mouthed Admiral.

I almost want to travel back in time and demand my money back from the producers of this movie. I was promised prehistoric women! There were none, unless you count an alien Eve. What's the deal?

What, did Joel run out of Gizmonic devices or something? First, 113 had the same device for both the Mads and Joel. Now, he comes up with toilet paper in a 2-liter bottle. C'mon, Joel. I know you've got more in you.

I can't say that I ever remember "Hi-Keeba" being said in the later episodes I've watched. I guess it'll be funnier now that I know the goofy scene that spawned it. We also get a Johnny Longtorso reference, which I do remember shows up as an invention exchange idea later on. An important episode for the future of the series, even if it wasn't too funny itself.

Why did I wait so long to watch this episode? Kevin Murphy explains in the ACEG (bizarrely, in the entry for 113, not 104):

Show 104… actually was the last show produced in the first season. See, near the beginning of the season, the Channel was unable to come up with a movie in time for us to shoot Show 104. So we skipped that show and went directly to Show 105 instead. So after we finished shooting 113, we returned to 104 and shot that show.
Even without this nugget of info, 104's placement in the season was clear due to a callback to a riff in 113 ("Thou shalt not ki…").

What I don't understand is my fellow MiSTies' fascination with putting 104 where it doesn't belong. It seems like every, single, episode guide, fan site, and even the Wikipedia article insists on listing season one in the incorrect order. Part of the reason may be, despite the above description, the ACEG also puts the episode in the wrong spot in the book. Another reason is probably that computers will sort 104 in the wrong spot for you by themselves. A little bit might be due to us sci-fi geek's fascination with numbers. At any rate, this has ensured that those of us unaware of this factoid accidentally watch 104 too early when doing their own marathons. Ah well.

Josh-as-Servo's last word: "three." Josh-as-Lar's last word: "Okay." Goodbye Josh Weinstein. I will admit, I'm really used to your voice in Servo's mouth now. I've nearly forgotten Kevin Murphy's soothing baritone. I know you wouldn't agree, but I think the scripted riffing, which reigned in your often ill-timed and not-really-humorous improv during the KTMA days, made Servo funnier. Sorry, J. Elvis. I never liked Dr. Laurence Erhardt. There's just plain no need to have two mad scientists. The tradition has always been the one rogue, nutty scientist with his dim sidekick. TV's Frank fits the bill (though he lacks a hunchback). Luckily, he also turned out to be hilarious. (5/10)

film d. Arthur C. Pierce (1966)
mst p. Jim Mallon (24 Feb 1990?)

12 July 2006

MST3K (113)

113 - The Black Scorpion - Josh gets done up in some elaborate alien make-up in lieu of real invention exchange. Something different, something new -- neat. But, whoops, he mistakenly credits the movie's stop-motion effects to Ray Harryhausen. There is, presumably, no money or time or energy to re-apply the make-up and re-shoot that scene. Not to worry. The crew sacrifices a host segment further down the line to preserve their title as the "TV Show of Record" (it's really Harryhausen's mentor Willis H. O'Brien's picture). Sorry prop guy. Your repurposed He-Man vehicle never did get to attack the puppet Joel. It was for the honor of the show.

I'm not a fan of the sarcastic clapping thing the guys were doing. Hopefully they weren't either after this. I'm also not a fan of the host segment where the guys pretend to speak Spanish by spewing Mexican food names as they rip off Looney Tunes with the fake subtitle gag. "Fun with ethnocentrism!" the ACEG mockingly remarks.

This has got to be the most boring giant scorpion movie ever. Well, the battle between the granddaddy scorpion and the Mexican military in the stadium at the end was pretty cool. The rest of the film just seemed to be people talking in deserts, houses, offices and caves. I had a hard time paying attention and I wasn't even tired this time. The riffing didn't help much. JatB seemed off their game this week. It's been a while since I didn't laugh this much at an episode. Hopefully, season 1 will go out with a bang with 104. (5/10)

film d. Edward Ludwig (1957)
mst p. Jim Mallon (17 Feb 1990?)

11 July 2006

MST3K (112)

112 - Untamed Youth - I want to commit a crime in that county. Sure, you have to eat dog food for lunch and work in a cotton field all day, but it's hard to beat a prison in which you get to party all night with a group of ladies lead by Mamie Van Doren. The really bad proto-rock-n-roll might be hard to sit though, though.

For the first time since the KTMA days, Joel does an "Oh, wow..." I love those; the goofy Joel equivalent of a wolf whistle. This time, it's when the two newest, prettiest convicts tell Tropp they're sisters.

"Gee, you mean it, Grandma? What does Uncle Dad think about that?" Ah man, this line of Crow's had me laughing hearty. Nothing like an out-of-the-blue inbreeding joke for a farm picture.

I dug the Greg Brady tribute host segment. I especially liked Joel's impassioned line delivery. This is the first time the guys really tore into the appearance of one of the movie characters. She did look a little like Greg. An unfortunately hair style choice, I think. In the invention exchange, we get Joel's second smoking-related invention, which I suppose fits into all of the previous fire-spewing inventions. We get another Richard Basehart joke in middle host segment, but that's made-up for with the very first Servo clone in the final segment, courtesy of Gypsy's mouth replicator.

This was also a strangely timely movie to watch today. There's a shortage off cotton pickers in the film. A neighboring ranch can't find enough people to work the fields and figure they'll have to plow under most of their crop. For a large cut of the profit, bad guy Tropp offers to get their field picked. In order to do that, Tropp attempts to hire a bunch of illegal workers from Mexico. Things haven't changed a bit in the past 49 years. Today on the radio and web, I kept hearing about the Florida orange crop. It seems there aren't enough orange pickers this year and the fruit is about to start rotting on the tree.

Overall, a solid episode. The guys are really getting into the swing of things. (7/10)

film d. Howard W. Koch (1957)
mst p. Jim Mallon (10 Feb 1990?)

09 July 2006

OLR: Ultraviolet (2006)

Pretty to look at, but when the hell are the villains going to learn to shoot first and pose later? (5/10)

d. Kurt Wimmer

08 July 2006

MST3K (111)

111 - Moon Zero Two - Perhaps I had one too many beers last night, as I couldn't keep my eyes open for this one. There was a lot of rewinding that needed to be done. My impression is that Moon Zero Two was probably originally a script named Ranch Nada Dos prior to 21 July 1969. Just replace the Old West's desert with a barren lunar surface and a goldmine with a sapphire-laced asteroid and you're cashing in on 69's moon fever. Strangely, despite it being the future, the protagonists pull out an antique 1969 National Geographic map of the moon to navigate with. Damn, the Nat. Geo. people are good.

I liked the reenactment of the moon landing the guys perform. Joel's probably got the worst JFK impression ever. As Crow says, he sounds like Cliff from Cheers.

After a long absence, Gypsy's back! They fixed her noisy mouth and they remembered to turn her eye/light on. Good deal. She's still extremely stupid at this point and seems like more of a pet than a bot (as Joel demonstrates by lovingly scratching her chin). For this appearance, she just repeats her Richard Basehart joke again.

Outside of that, I don't remember too much. There were a lot of scenes with space-ladies dancing in space-leotards. There were a lot of jokes about drinking rocket fuel. The bad guy was the archetypical villain with beard and monocle. The multi-colored space suits made me wonder why NASA doesn't throw some style into their own suits.

I'll need to watch this one again. I suspect I'll like it better if my eyes stay open the entire time. (6/10)

film d. Roy Ward Baker (1969)
mst p. Jim Mallon (3 Feb 1990?)

[watched at Brother-in-Law's house using an Xbox 360]

06 July 2006

MST3K (110)

110 - Robot Holocaust (w/ Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter Nine: Battle in the Stratosphere) - You know that relaxed, comfortable feeling you getting after laughing a lot? It's good. When Crustacean-Bot appears for the first time, the guys all helpfully point out his need for a napkin: "You got a little… something on your mouth there." After that, every time he'd appear on screen, I'd think of that gag and crack up. The riffing was great during the entire movie, from the mocking of Valeria's speech, to the Nuge refs, to the hilarious comments when that annoying robot seemed to die.

Hey, the first cable-era movie in color! The complaint from that letter in 109 must have worked. Plus, this is something made during my childhood, rather than another relic from Boomer-land. Me, I've got a natural affinity for bad 80s movies just the same as the prior generation seems to dig the zippered-rubber-suit monster flicks of the 50s. I liked that Crustacean-Bot was played by Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D. himself.

Wow, I've got a weird crush on the speech-impediment-addled, terrible-acting Valaria. That voice and that incredibly hammy acting in a villainess… where my Valaria: The Movie spinoff?

Commando Trashcan Head ends unceremoniously when the film "breaks," never to return. This was an excellent and creative way to show him the door. I wish I could say I'll miss the guy. Mysteriously, the guys boo when the film breaks as if they wanted to watch more Cody and as if they weren't a part of an evil experiment. Of course, this is what we all used to do as kids when the same thing happened at the real theater, which was more the point.

The only weak part of this episode was the host experiments. I wasn't keen on either invention and the others definitely weren't Spacom! Although, I can’t wait to see what names people come up with for Carl, the Guacamole Man. I think I would've submitted: Humanoid Booger. (8/10)

film d. Tim Kincaid (1986)
short d. Fred C. Brannon (1952)
mst p. Jim Mallon (27 Jan 1990?)

05 July 2006

Guest MST3K: 112

Untamed Youth. A gritty cautionary tale about hardcore criminal teenyboppers and the cotton picking industry. I don't doubt for a second that life of forced work for the criminally inclined is filled with rousing song numbers and vicious cat fights, but I wondered about the sign in the women's dorm urging the young ladies to "Sleep in your own bed". Was unauthorized same gender bedhopping a big problem for lockups in the mid 50's? Still, the title was a bit of a mystery to me, since the adults were much more out of control than the fun loving, dancing singing convicts.

The host segments seemed mediocre to me. Tom's "tape worm" was amusing enough, but the invention exchange was forgettable. Still, the mad's getting a little carried away with the congratulatory hugging at Joel's "praise" of them creating the most unsanitary children's toy was good for a laugh. The tribute to Greg Brady was also done well enough, but it seemed a bit a of a strain to connect it with the movie. I didn't care for the flashback about seeing Gypsy's thoughts, though I did like the magnifying faceplace Joel was wearing. And poor Gypsy! Barfing up cotton and whatever Tom suggested.

The theater segements seemed a bit weak to me compared to some of the other episodes I've seen. Still it was nice to see Gypsy make an appearance, and I really can't resist seeing Joel get up and dance.

3 Favorite riffs:

(An Untamed Youth stumbles across a desolate field)
It looks like he's playing football against Claude Raimes University.

(Heat stroked blond is placed into the refreshing shade of a car's interior)
Now, roll the windows up!

(Janie explains to the judge's son "Penny's just a sucker for a line."
Oh, really?

(Penny busts out in song. Again.)
She's the one that caused all that trouble in Attica."

(An untamed youth is asked to translate something from Spanish, as they hide behind a tractor.) He's mumbling something about shooting the kid hiding behind the tractor.

03 July 2006

MST3K (109)

109 - Project Moon Base (w/ Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter Seven: Camouflaged Destruction + Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter Eight: The Enemy Planet) - Ah, great, another double-dose of Commando Trashcan Head. I can tell that JatB are getting as tired of the guy as I am at this point. At least this is forcing them to come up with different things to do during the repetitively identical credits, including making up goofy songs. The "dying every week" gag is just wearing thin. Maybe this is why we have ads in front of our movies instead of serials?

The double-dose was again used to pad the extra-short sci-fi movie that followed. What a fascinating glimpse into the confused gender relations of the 1950s Project Moon Base is. This aspect alone made the movie hilariously interesting to watch. Riffing was just icing on the cake.

You've got a female USSF officer who was the first person ever to make an orbit around the moon. That's impressive. Then we learned this was just because she didn't weigh as much as a man, so it was more fuel-efficient to send her. Ah-hmm. But, we learned she's a colonel and in charge of the mission to photograph the far side of the moon with two men under her. That's nifty. Then we watch as she attributes a bout of indecision to her gender while her male subordinate essentially takes charge. Hmm. Hey, the President of the United States is calling and it's a lady! That's forward-thinking. Oh, she's calling to congratulate the space-couple's forced marriage due to the fact that an unmarried man and woman spending ten days in space alone wouldn't sit well with the public. Ah well.

Fast-talking, colorful and funny, I loved the Spacom! infomercial/host segment. I had my credit card out and ready to go... no toll-free 800 number? (6/10)

film d. Richard Talmadge (1953)
shorts d. Fred C. Brannon (1952)
mst p. Jim Mallon (20 Jan 1990?)

[watched half on mom's TV, half on a laptop when her crappy DVD player puked out on the less-than-well-made DVD-R, uploaded using a 26.4 kpbs modem connection. Whew.]

01 July 2006

OLR: Superman Returns (2006)

As an adult super hero fan, I liked the subtle interactions between Lois, Clark, Richard and Superman. (8/10)

d. Bryan Singer