31 January 2007

MST3K (618)

618 - High School Big Shot (w/ Out of this World) - "Hey, can I split your top and butter your buns?" Out of this World, in stark contrast to the last industrial short shown, is one of the best short subjects the show has tackled. I consistently laughed when the guys inserted violent mob-style threats into the reformed bread delivery man's conversations and made fun of the Dr. Smith-style devil's speech. The sugary niceness of the short was perfect for Mike and the bots to pepper with humorous animosity. "You tellin' me how to run my store?" One question: just what the hell does DuPont have to do with bread?

The movie was even more of a bummer than The Girl in Lovers Lane, if that's possible. Unfortunately, the guys didn't do quite as well rescuing the gloom with funny comments. There wasn't a "Big Stupid" here; just a pathetic geek with weird lips and his doomed dad.

The host segments were nothing to crow about this time out. There was a Jurassic Park take-off, Mike and the bots selling some not-as-clever-as-expected specialty breads, a bit of slapstick about Gypsy's diary and some egg puns. The only host segment to really get my attention was the one in which Servo drinks a chemistry set potion and turns in a Hulk-like giant Servo. A man-sized Tom Servo is a strange sight to behold. It was also briefly entertaining to see his huge silhouette in the theater. Wisely, he quickly reverted to normal size and intelligence. "Servo kill" isn't exactly quality riffing.

"I'm running you in, lady. You're under arrest for impeding bread delivery." (7/10)

film d. Joel Rapp (1958)
short p. Jamison Handy (1954)
mst d. Jim Mallon (10 Dec 1994)

30 January 2007

MST3K (617)

617 - The Sword and the Dragon - Here's another one where I liked the movie better than the actual episode. This is the third and final "Russo-Finnish" film that MST's tackled. I was a fan of the previous two and I'm a fan of this one. In fact, The Sword and the Dragon is my favorite of the trilogy. From the amusing and well-done wind demon to the classic legend story to the colorful production design, this is a fun flick.

I find that when I'm interested in the movie for the movie's sake, I tend not to pay as much attention to the riffing as I normally do. I did catch a few here and there and there was some comedy to be gleaned. "You know, it would be easy to grab the wrong whiskery fat guy."

During the "Comic Book Bagging / Date" host segment, Frank specifically asks Dr. F about X-Men 354. Was that maybe a special issue for one of the writers? Power of the Internet, show me the way! Turns out: no. That series didn't even reach that particular issue until more than 3 years later.

I did appreciate the fact that they actually referenced the movie in a number of the host segments. The segment in which the entire SOL crew dresses as woodland animals and sings along with a Heidi-esque Gypsy was classic MST-style musical mockery. Nice bunny suit, Mike. Ilya Muromets himself makes an appearance in the hexfield and gets angry about ham. Even the overly-long, just barely funny "Ingmar Bergman Joke" sketch fits, given the Scandinavian locale of both the film and Bergman's birthplace.

"I have some things to explain about me and the wind demon." (7/10)

film d. Aleksandr Ptushko (1956)
mst d. Kevin Murphy (3 Dec 1994)

28 January 2007

Guest OLR: Smokin' Aces (2006)

Excellent foreplay, disappointing climax. (7/10)

d. Joe Carnahan

OLR: Tales from the Crapper (2003)

With an arsenal of fart jokes, naked women and hilarious dubbing, Lloyd makes this pair of atrocities entertaining. (7/10)

d. Lloyd Kaufman & Gabriel Friedman & Chad Ferrin & Dave Paiko & Brian Spitz

26 January 2007

MST3K (616)

616 - Racket Girls (w/ Are You Ready for Marriage?) - Gah, never trust Blogger's "recover post" function. I just lost my original review for this episode and it failed to autosave anything useful from it. Gotta go out to eat now, so this will have to be brief.

The film was nearly as wretched as Monster A-Go Go. Luckily, the guys do a much better job saving the movie with their riffing. The endless lady rasslin' matches gave them plenty of time to riff away. The riffing during the short was also excellent. I think Are You Ready for Marriage? is one of my favorite education shorts now.

Blah! Ick! I had a gut-level revulsion to the host segments in which Crow decides to marry Servo, and it wasn't because they're programmed with the same gender. I think it's because I consider them siblings. Crow wants to marry his own brother? Yuck! Weirdly, Mike doesn't seem to have too much of a problem with it. I suppose he's right. Our evolved aversion to incest really doesn't apply to inhuman robots that lack the danger of creating genetic freak babies together. Still... eww.

"That bra's about as sexy as a concrete abutment." (7/10)

film d. Robert C. Derteno (1951)
short d. Gil Altschul (1950)
mst d. Trace Beaulieu (26 Nov 1994)

25 January 2007

MST3K (615)

615 - Kitten with a Whip - I didn't think this was a bad movie at all. By a long shot, this is the best of the juvenile delinquent movies MST has covered. It actually had some tension; I didn't know what to expect from it. The Hays Code gave me a pretty good idea on what would happen to the delinquents at the end, but I had no idea what the fate of the would-be senator might be. This was one of those films in which I was paying more attention to the plot than I was to the riffing. In this regard, it was possibly not the best choice for the show.

"There isn't a shower cold enough for this man." Riff-wise, this was a standard episode. There were some laughs and some not-so-laughs. The guys reused the line of thinking from The Violent Years -- that the male hostage is happy to be captured by the pretty lady-criminal -- but it didn't work as well here for some reason. Otherwise, the riffing was perfectly acceptable, even if it didn't produce any gut-laughs.

Kevin: sorry you had to wear that cat costume. You looked absolutely miserable in it. That's where the funny came from, though. Thank you for your sacrifice.

"Hey! Dingle balls! Sit down!" (7/10)

film d. Douglas Heyes (1964)
mst d. Jim Mallon (23 Nov 1994)

MST3K (TD94)

Turkey Day '94 - This year's selection of intra-episode bumpers were impeccably hosted by Adam West. His smooth voice and precise intonation eased each episode onto the screen. If you're not going to have real bumpers made by the cast of MST3K, Adam West ain't a bad substitute at all (sorry, Debbie Tobin).

Also adding to the fun were a trio of guest stars. Robert Vaughn, Beverly Garland and Mamie Van Doren all drop by to introduce the MSTied movies they starred in. Great idea. It would've been even better had these guests dropped by the Satellite of Love and chatted with Mike and the bots. Still, Adam West's rapport with his guests was fun. His pair of segments with Mamie was especially nice, with Mamie looking much younger than her then-63 years and still speaking in '50s slang.

What's with the conspicuous product placement? Many of the bumpers begin with a close-up of a not-so-tastefully arranged array of items normally confined to commercials. There's a package of AA Duracell® batteries, a baseball cap with Footaction USA® printed on it, a Gold MasterCard® and some unidentifiable brand of milk. Bad form, Comedy Central. Not only were you too cheap to pay BBI to make real bumpers, you had to make a few nickels by letting the ads leak into the show.

Another solid selection of episodes for this years marathon, even if they did cut it down by 4 hours compared to last year:

23 Nov 1994
20:00 615 - Kitten with a Whip
22:00 512 - Mitchell
24 Nov 1994
00:00 402 - The Giant Gila Monster
02:00 407 - The Killer Shrews
04:00 422 - The Day the Earth Froze
06:00 306 - Time of the Apes
08:00 321 - Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
10:00 315 - Teenage Cave Man
12:00 311 - It Conquered the World
14:00 503 - Swamp Diamonds
16:00 511 - Gunslinger
18:00 601 - Girls Town
20:00 316 - Gamera vs Zigra
22:00 604 - Zombie Nightmare

This is probably the best Turkey Day you can have without the actual cast of the show. The lack of the MST3K folks is a pretty big flaw and the product placement doesn't help at all. Adam West made the pain easier to handle. Thank you, Batman.

"Ah, cool it, Turkeyman." (6/10)

cc d. ?? (23-24 Nov 1994)

24 January 2007

MST3K (614)

614 - San Francisco International - I like the randomness of the Mads' portion of the prologue. For absolutely no discernible reason, they pretend they're building contractors. Shirtless and rough-around-the-edges, the pair discuss drywall and then hug. It's a nice change from the standard "here's your [funny description of the movie name], [funny name for Mike]" intro. "Deb is private stock, man."

I wasn't particularly keen on the trio of Urkel segments that followed. It sort of suggests that they couldn't think of anything to do with this show, so they just had a bunch of guest characters do walk-on cameos to laugh at Mike in his nerd costume. I kept waiting for a point to the sketches that never seemed to come. At least my beloved favorite Torgo made a rare appearance, even if it was as the buzz-killing, long-awaiting punchline.

The riffing was at its best when it was directed at Davey. Poor, plane-stealing, unloved Davey. Any comments about how his soon-to-be divorced parents blamed him for their separation got a laugh out of me. Even better were the "you're going to die" riffs while Davey was trapped in his airborne puddle-jumper. "Oh, and Davey, when you die, there's only a dark nothingness awaiting you."

Trace: nice work on the abs, man.

"I hope I'm dead 'cause my pants are full." (7/10)

film d. John Llewellyn Moxey (1970)
mst d. Kevin Murphy (19 Nov 1994)

22 January 2007

MST3K (613)

613 - The Sinister Urge (w/ Keeping Clean and Neat) - The uneven season six continues with its scheduled low ebb. All of the guys' humor-energy must've been completely exhausted after the miraculous salvage of the last episode's movie.

After the strong showing involving BBQ sauce and underwear last time, the host segments in this show were terrible. In the prologue, the guys throw Gypsy a shower for no reason. Each give her pinking shears as a gift. The gag wears itself out immediately, but it takes five pairs of scissors before they're finished with it.

The rest of the host segments were dedicated to Frank's Speed-influenced bombing plot. Other than finding this series of continuity-bound segments humor-free, I also hated that everyone was acting out of character. Ostensibly, Mike and the bots were trying to save Dr. F from Frank's bombs to save their own trapped-in-space hides. Still, it was just odd to see Dr. F and Mike conversing so casually. Worse, Frank actually sent a bomb up to the SoL. In fact, the only bomb that detonates explodes on the Satellite. Frank would never do this. I can see him trying to hurt Dr. F in that playful "let's kill each other" way they have, but Frank has never been evil, mean or even unpleasant to Mike and the bots.

I got a few small laughs from the riffing. These were mostly courtesy of the unpleasant, gravel-voiced lady. Other than that, the comments were pretty lifeless. Again, I think their riff-energy was used all up making 612 work.

Sadly, the best part of this entire episode wasn't technically a part of this episode. The introduction on the Rhino DVD by the humorously incoherent Conrad Brooks was, by far, the most fun to be found here.

"Use pumice on your tender nipple buds." (6/10)

film d. Edward D. Wood Jr. [as E. D. Wood] (1960)
short p. Hal Korel (1956)
mst d. Trace Beaulieu (5 Nov 1994)

21 January 2007

MST3K (612)

612 - The Starfighters - I am impressed. This is a completely worthless movie. To quote Mike: "I really think there's more nothing in this movie than any movie we've seen." The main antagonist of the picture is a freakin' storm that we never even see. A full 85% of the movie is shot of jets flying, refueling and landing. And still, the guys salvage it. They went in there and riffed the hell out of this thing until it was funny. "I've got a lump in my poopie suit."

I am surprised. Up until now, I would've argued that with really boring bad movies, there's nothing that Mike/Joel and the bots can do to make them palatable. I used to think that the bad movie needed to have at least a little of the "so bad it's good" in it to make for a fun episode. I was wrong. Maybe it was just the military setting that opened the way for good riff opportunities, but we got scads of funny lines in this episode. "We have a visual ID on 'numbnuts.'"

The host segments were also very good. "Cowboy Mike's Ricochet Barbecue Sauce" was an incredibly funny commercial parody. "Bold?? Well, hell yes it's bold!!" My favorite Mike line in recent memory, shortly after the bots yank his underwear off in another host segment: "How'd you get those off past my jumpsuit?" Kevin Murphy demonstrates that he's just as musically talented as Mike during his "United Servo Academy Men's Chorus Hymn" segment. Kevin both wrote the clever lyrics, which mash lines from popular songs into a choral style, and sang all ten of the Servo parts. Very nice.

I'm just a tad weirded-out by the sexual tint in some of the host segments. In addition to the above-mentioned segment where the bots remove Mike's unmentionables, there were two other host segment bits that made me twist uncomfortably in my seat. After twenty minutes of riffing sexual innuendo over the endless "in-flight refueling scene" in the movie, what do the bots do? They refuel each other. To be terribly, horribly graphic, Crow sticks his nose into Servo's butt. Ahem. Were they not thinking this segment through? Or was it was supposed to be sexually weird just as it appears? Or, what? Perhaps worse was the scene in the final host segment, in which Frank and Dr. F are connected to a mutual mind reading device. Dr. F commands Frank to dwell on a certain thought: "Think it hard. Yes. Good. Yes. Frank! Yes! Yes!" *Cough*. Was this all a result of the frustration the writers must have felt trying to write for this nothing of a movie? Yikes!

"It's the new Air Force Goofy Bomb, from Whamo!" (8/10)

film d. Will Zens (1964)
mst d. Jim Mallon (29 Oct 1994)

Guest OLR: Wassup Rockers (2005)

Larry Clark is only good at making movies about people I would never, ever want to meet in real life. (4/10)

d. Larry Clark

OLR: The Lathe of Heaven (1979)

Interesting hard sci-fi courtesy of PBS succeeds mostly from Ursula K. Le Guin's writing prowess. (7/10)

d. Fred Barzyk & David R. Loxton

[thanks Bill Shatner]

OLR: The Stuff (1985)

Very disjointed, but worth it to see Michael Moriarty and Paul Sorvino chew scenery. (7/10)

d. Larry Cohen

20 January 2007

MST3K (611)

611 - Last of the Wild Horses - And, here's yet another DVD-R disc that froze on me in the middle of watching. Whatever brand of disc MST3Kguy uses, it dies 10-11 months after burn. Having to stop, rip and re-burn a disc never puts me in the best MST-watching mood. It also extends this process to what seems like infinity hours. It already takes 1.5 hours to watch the episode and an hour to construct a blog post. Add 30 to 45 minutes of repair time, depending on which of my DVD drives can actually rip the damaged disc, and there goes a lazy Saturday afternoon. Arg.

Luckily, I was looking forward to this episode. As with post-apocalyptic movies, I'm a sucker for a good parallel universe tale. It was fun seeing Mike, Crow, Dr. F and Frank trading places with their evil/good counterparts from the Mirror Universe. I just wish they'd toned down the Star Trek references a bit. I would have rather seen this episode stand more on its own. The cause of the switch (an ion storm) and Mike's goatee would've been sufficient nods to the source of the idea. We didn't really need the agony booths, the ISS Enterprise-style uniforms or the entire plot structure duplicated from that episode of Trek.

It's been five years since we had only two riffers in the theater. That was quite the burden on Frank. Trace is Trace, whether he's Dr. F or Crow. Frank is essentially replacing both Mike and Servo. That's rough, especially since he's never done any riffing outside of the writers' room before. He was OK, though a little "shouty" with his comments. With some practice under his belt, he could've carried the entire show. I'll admit that I wasn't disappointed that the Mads only riffed one segment of the movie.

There were a lot of old-school callbacks in this episode. The evil universe thing was first seen long, long ago in K05. There was an "I thought you were Dale!" riff, which we haven't heard since, maybe, 106. The Good Mads also duplicate two old host segments. In the first, Frank pulls out the "8 of Chris Lemmon" playing card, from 517. After that, and several times throughout the episode, they sing the "Joey the Lemur" song, from one of my favorite Joel host segments from 210 (also, I'm sure not coincidentally, a Lippert movie).

Overall, despite the attempt to do something fun and different, this episode was a disappointment. Outside of the novelty of seeing Dr. F and Frank in the theater, the only bits of this episode that I enjoyed were the "Joey the Lemur" song, Torgo as the computer voice and the Good Mads calling on the hexfield (I love the nod to the Star Trek "rule of three": reference two real things from the 20th century first, then one made-up thing from the future). The riffing wasn't particularly funny for any of the five characters in the theater and the host segments were too bogged down in Star Trek to really explore the fun of the evil universe idea. Ah, well. Maybe the evil universe got the good version of this episode?

"Only one man has this sweaty 'a neck." (6/10)

film d. Robert L. Lippert & Paul Landres [as Robert L. Lippert] (1946)
mst d. Kevin Murphy (15 Oct 1994)

19 January 2007

Guest OLR: Dreamgirls (2006)

Chicago all over again and I still can't bring myself to care. (5/10)

d. Bill Condon

18 January 2007

MST3K (610)

610 - The Violent Years (w/ Young Man's Fancy) - There was a good crop of weird, funny host segments in this episode. In the prologue, Servo dons a ventriloquist dummy's head, scaring the hell out of Crow. You can't go wrong with a good bot freak-out. This is followed by everyone singing their own theme songs. I like Crow's theme for Mike the best: "Mike. Ma-ma-ma-Mike. Ma-ma-ma-Mike. Ma-ma-ma-Mike, Mike, Mike..." That is followed by the Mads' new radio station with it's classic advertising line "Turn Your Crank to Frank." Coming after that, Servo spends a solid half-hour dressed in a red wig and screaming/crying into a microphone. Mike follows up by dressing as Keanu Reeves. Strangest of all was the final segment, in which Crow and Mike reenact the gas station robbery scene. This involves them not moving and Mike standing with a really bizarre posture. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed every host segment, but there it is.

There was some good-and-funny riffing in this episode as well. One of the riffs from this episode I know I'll be chuckling over tomorrow at work. It was a "call a character a name" riff and was ever-so dead-on appropriate. To the left, I proudly present a picture of Count Juggula.

"Thank goodness for my electric dress." (8/10)

film d. William Morgan (1956)
short d. Donald H. Brown (1952)
mst d. Trace Beaulieu (8 Oct 1994)

MST3K (609)

609 - The Skydivers (w/ Why Study Industrial Arts) - I feel exactly the same about this episode as I did with 603. Both the movie and the short are dull, dull, dull. I've seen Red Zone Cuba before, so I was aware of Coleman Francis' directorial prowess. Man, I can't believe there are three of his films in this season.

Francis' film wasn't without its bits of bad movie gold. The random inserts of characters that don't have anything to do with anything are briefly amusing. Tons of characters walk on screen for ten seconds, do their thing and then disappear. There was Hick Family, at the airfield to watch the crazy parachuters. There was Rubenesque Lady, at the dance to have a good time and break skinny guys in half. And, no one could forget The Scot, fresh from the United Kingdom and there to both watch crazy parachuters and to break skinny guys in half.

I just have two comments on this episode's prologue host segment. Didn't we exhaust the Uranus jokes back in 412? And, that's no Servo-as-a-planetarium, that's Timmy! He's back and he's mutated into a new and terrifying form!

There were a few scattered laughs courtesy of the riffing. After skydiver #2 falls to his death, Servo quips: "This is a real challenge for any band, to bring this party back up," to which I responded with a hearty laugh. Overall, and in complete disagreement with Paul Chaplin in the ACEG who's "fond of the final result," I didn't think this was one of MST's best moments. In fact, the bit that made me laugh the hardest wasn't a riff at all. It was Frank's Joel-eqsue "Nel-stone" rant. "You wake and bake every day. You are so high."

"Geez, they should set a place for Eraserhead." (6/10)

film d. Coleman Francis (1963)
short d. Herk Harvey (1956)
mst d. Jim Mallon (27 Aug 1994)

15 January 2007

Guest OLR: Children of Men (2006)

Injects much-deserved life into a practically comatose genre. (9/10)

d. Alfonso Cuaron

14 January 2007

MST3K (608)

608 - Code Name: Diamond Head (w/ A Day at the Fair) - And, one episode later, the writers break their own rule. Unlike the Brady Bunch ban of 607, we're tortured with six-and-a-half million mentions of the show Lovejoy whenever Ian McShane is onscreen. It's McCloud Syndrome all over again, though, in their defense, at least Lovejoy was a current show at the time.

Other than that annoyance, the riffing was decent. My favorite riff was early in the movie. Secret Agent on the phone to HQ: "Code two. Tree may be in paradise." Mike: "The hell does that mean? Over." Something about Mike's delivery got me laughing out loud.

So the girl who had her letter read in 524 gets her second letter read in this episode. No fair!

The imaginary scenario cooked up by Magic Voice and Cambot in host segment two was the funniest segment this season so far. In it, Mike dressed as a scoutmaster, berates the poor bots for not finishing their drinks and smashes the cans into their faces. "Shut your pie-hole. I know a thing or two about a thing or two." Robot abuse is always fun. Apparently, this character is from somewhere, but Mike's forceful performance makes it stand on its own.

The other two in this series of "Mike could be worse" segments didn't work at all. In one, Mike is supposed to be Brad Roberts from the one-hit-wonder band Crash Test Dummies. This reference is well out-of-date now and was apparently obscure even when the ACEG was written. In that, the author of the episode summary calls the character "a deep-voiced crash test dummy" (note the lower case). In the other, Mike appears as the Frugal Gourmet. Cutting off pieces of the robots for food ingredients was a good idea, but they should've gone farther with it.

"No one can explain why father is 85." (7/10)

film d. Jeannot Szwarc (1977)
short d. ?? (1947)
mst d. Kevin Murphy (1 Oct 1994)

OLR: Fire in the Sky (1993)

The small town reaction to the abductees' story was an interesting angle, but the execution was too Hollywood. (6/10)

d. Robert Lieberman

OLR: Wolfen (1981)

I learned that sentient wolves just love to eat hobos. (5/10)

d. Michael Wadleigh

13 January 2007

MST3K (607)

607 - Bloodlust! (w/ Uncle Jim's Dairy Farm) - I'm not a big fan of the "most dangerous game" genre. It's been done and done and done too many times to be remotely interesting at this point. This particular take is especially dull. A quartet of uninteresting sheep are chased by an out-of-shape man with a penchant for tedious monologues. I can't count the number of times the kids could've whacked Balleau on the noggin with a rifle butt, vase, or their fists. And, clearly, the Long John Silver's guards weren't much of a threat. They just seemed to lack the motivation to do anything really proactive about their situation. It ended up taking one of those disgruntled LJS employees to actually do the heavy lifting of killing the villain.

Mary Jo writes in the ACEG that they "vowed [they] would only allow... one Brady Bunch reference for Robert Reed" ("I slapped Ann B. Davis once."). That was much appreciated. Harping on an actor's most well-known role gets tiring after a while, and it's the easy way out for the writers. Instead, we got some solid "gut-sucking" riffing, a comment about the part in his hair making his head look like it has a lid, and a few oblique gay references. That's a good trade.

The riffing during the movie is what I think of as "MST Standard." I wasn't laughing so hard that I was crying, but I wasn't bored either. Solid stuff. The riffing during the short was much better. There was much pathos in the plight of the city kids dropped off at Uncle Jim's farm for the summer for the guys to mine in the riffing.

Crow, why'd you have to spoil the murder mystery game? I want to see more of "Colonel Mike"!

"Well, whadaya know? Someone fell in the thresher again." (7/10)

film d. Ralph Brooke (1959)
short p. Jamison Handy (1960)
mst d. Trace Beaulieu (3 Sep 1994)

12 January 2007

MST3K (606)

606 - The Creeping Terror - What a great, bad movie. The carpet monster is brilliant. The "ADR is too hard" narration, the overexposed film, the choppy editing and strange asides are all deliciously amateur. The scene in which the monster makes love to a car is indescribable. This is exactly the kind of movie I expect to see on this show.

Bad as the film was, I think its monster was pretty original. Usually in the films from this era, you're going to get either a giant turnip or an alien that miraculously looks just like a Homo sapiens. The carpet monster is huge, hungry and amorphous. He kind of looks like a reared up centipede. His erect head resembles a sexual organ and his mouth, located exactly in the correct spot below, resembles an excretory orifice. If I were still in college, I could write papers and papers of baloney just on this aspect alone. Anyway, I've never seen anything like it. Point me to the Aurora model kit and I'll grab my charge card.

"Hey, if you could help me out by climbing in..." With plenty of eating-related jokes to make about the monster, the riffing had plenty of fun to offer. That poor monster. The caloric intake he required every day must have been astounding.

I guess there was a lot of time to kill in this episode. Both the end credits and the "Mike's Hi-Fi" segment ate up acres of minutes using the cheesy song from the movie's dance sequence. I loved the "Hi-Fi" segment. The expressions on Mike's face as he soaks in the "sweet spot" sounds of his system were perfect, as was the technobabble relating to the equipment he purchased.

It was kind of a loose theme in the host segment this episode. The guys stick it to Love, American Style (twenty years after its cancellation), coffee shop snobs, audiophiles, Tories and, um, bad launderers. You said it, Mike and the bots!

"And Bobby's hopelessly inbred synapses slowly begin to fire." (8/10)

film d. Arthur Nelson [as A.J. Nelson] (1963)
mst d. Jim Mallon (17 Sep 1994)

Guest OLR: El Laberinto del Fauno (2006)

I would have enjoyed more magic. (7/10)

d. Guillermo del Toro

Guest OLR: Blood Diamond (2006)

DiCaprio fails at making another accent and Zwick fails at making another movie. (5/10)

d. Edward Zwick

Guest OLR: The Fountain (2006)

Watching it is practically a religious experience. (9/10)

d. Darren Aronofsky

11 January 2007

MST3K (605)

605 - Colossus and the Headhunters - I discovered today that I'm not a Nummy Muffin Coocol Butter fan. This slightly modified, stuffed pink puppy occupies every single host segment in this episode. Mike and Frank fall in love with him, he sheds a lot, Frank sings a ballad about him and, most alarmingly, Dr. F. spends his final moments onscreen coochie-cooing it. It's all disturbingly Cousin Oliver-esque and just about as funny. Intellectually, I can understand that Frank's tremendously off-key song dedicated to this fur ball is very humorous, but it didn't get me to laugh today.

Fortunately, the Mike part of the final host segment restored a little normality to this episode. In fact, it's just the kind of final host segment that I like. It starts with the bots asking a movie-related question of Big Brother Mike: can you still see for a while after your head is cut off? That segues into viewer mail. One thing I like about the viewer mail segments -- besides their down-home charm -- is that they're clearly un- or less-scripted. The bots appears to be throwing spontaneous comments at Mike, which interrupts his reading of the letter. Mike even has trouble pronouncing the kid's last name in this episode, which is left in. It's raw and KTMAish. I'll be sad to see this part of the show leave.

The riffing for this show took a while to get going. It was sparse and not particularly funny for quite a while. I didn't chuckle at all until about 2/3rds of the way into it. Finally, comments like "A steel piñata? That could take hours!" and the jabs at the guy who looked like a cross between Spock and McCoy began to liven up this pretty lifeless episode.

Maciste and his men pass by some ferns in the woods. Mike, in a stoner voice: "Look at all the pot." Hey, did Joel drop by the writing room?

"There's no one around for miles and he's still self-conscious about tinkling." (6/10)

film d. Guido Malatesta (1960)
mst d. Kevin Murphy (20 Aug 1994)

08 January 2007

MST3K (604)

604 - Zombie Nightmare - Mike: "I wish I could understand the lyrics." Crow, mockingly: "Maybe it's for the young generation?" The riffing about Motörhead's classic metal anthem "Ace of Spades" should've warned me that I was going to be on a different wavelength for this film than the guys from MST. Though Mike was 16 and Trace was 22 when that song was released, I think we're looking at more of a cultural gap than a generation gap here. A low-budget, '80s Canadian horror movie starring a bodybuilder/heavy metal band frontman filled with rock music is right up my alley. I'd buy the unMSTied flick in a second if it were available. The MST clearly crew felt otherwise. "This was a very painful movie for us -- we thoroughly, intensely, and unequivocally hated this movie," wrote Mary Jo in the ACEG. It showed.

The host segments were near-nonexistent, presumably to make more room for the movie. Unfortunately, the movie was still chopped up to bits by the Brains. It looks like they cut out nearly every bit of zombie violence directed at the teenagers. Were they worried about their young fans? Did they find the violence distasteful? Or did they just find it easier to riff on the post-violence dialogue? I don't know, but I didn't like it. I was especially disappointed that the entire death scene for the incredibly unlikable, pasta-throwing mullet-guy was cut. Man, I wanted to see zombie-Thor kick that guy's ass.

Not that this episode was without laughs. Outside of the geezer-rific comments on the songs, there were many laugh-out-loud-worthy moments in the movie. "Oooh... it's stuck in his hinder-holster!" Any comments about the "rebellious" mullet-guy's sensible driving were great. I was impressed that the Batman jokes weren't too abused despite Adam West's mustachioed presence. I feel like I got my laughs-worth.

"Suddenly the Twist & Crème seemed a much darker place." (7/10)

film d. Jack Bravman (1986)
mst d. Trace Beaulieu (24 Nov 1994)

07 January 2007

MST3K (603)

603 - The Dead Talk Back (w/ The Selling Wizard) - A dull short and movie combined with only occasionally funny riffing and host segments. This is one of those episodes that I won't be able to remember anything about in two weeks. I'm not surprised to read that this film was never released when it was made and didn't see the light of day until 1993.

Yeah, some bands do have really long guitar solos at their live shows, don't they? I'm sure the Grateful Dead was even worse in this regard. It's kind of a one-note joke to occupy three entire host segments. Crow's Dead-ish solo lasts for an impossibly long time, just like a concert. Yep, that's amusing and true-to-life... can we move onto something else? I will offer my compliments to Andy LaCasse for the actual guitar composition. He really nailed that goofy-meandering-waa-waa Dead sound.

During the fake séance, a stool floats handily into Krasker's hands. Crow: "So, big deal! My stools float." When all else fails, go for a poop joke. I'll give 'em credit for this one: it took me a beat to catch it. Most of the rest of the riffing didn't do too much for me. I don't know if I'm out of practice at watching these things or if the guys were just off this show. I think they were just off. The poor source material didn't help.

Not a great choice for a short, either. It's just a really long ad for Budweiser freezers. Once you get past the amusing idea that these macrobrewers used to dabble in ice creamer freezers, there's just pitch after pitch for the wonders of '50s grocery technology. Plus, I'm still disturbed by that enormous scab on the saleslady's knee. Yeesh, thanks for the close-up.

This is also the infamous Rhino release marred by constant glitches. It wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting. There are probably hundreds of video glitches during the episode. Luckily, the vast majority of them only last for one frame. These are noticeable, but honestly not too distracting. There were only three major areas of bad video, found at 0:24:41, 1:04:08 and 1:23:19. Other than those bits, this ep is watchable; no worse than the dozens of fuzzy/hissy taped-from-cable episodes I've seen.

"The pizza dominatrix!" (6/10)

film d. Merle S. Gould (1957)
short p. Jamison Handy (1954)
mst d. Jim Mallon (30 Jul 1994)

[Real life managed to knock me off of my MST schedule for the last two weeks. An Xbox 360, three family Christmas parties and a funeral were the main contributors. It didn't help that I knew my next episode was both poorly regarded by fans and had a flawed transfer from Rhino. As soon as the opening theme started, though, it felt good to be back. I don't think I'll be able to get back on track within season 6, but I'll definitely recover by season 8.]