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Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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This Date in MSTory

1892: Ferde Grofe Sr., who composed the score for the movie in episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M.
1903: Del Harris, sound editor for the movie WORLD WITHOUT END seen at MST3K’s first live show.
1904: Arthur V. Jones, screenwriter of the short A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY, seen in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1908: Leo Britt, who played a senior customs officer in the movie in episode 111- MOON ZERO TWO.**
1910: Tom Howard, who did the special effects for the movie in episode 909- GORGO.
1914: Richard Denning, who played Henry Scott in the movie in episode 113- THE BLACK SCORPION and Rick in THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED (riffed by fans in Sci-fi Channel’s “MST3K: The Home Game”).
1919: Douglas Stewart, who did the sound effects for the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1931: David Janssen, who played Mike Shelley in the movie in episode K15- SUPERDOME and Ted Dougherty in the movie “Marooned,” featured in episode 401- SPACE TRAVELERS.
1934: Jody Fair, who played Gloria Barker in the movie in episode 601- GIRLS TOWN.*

1990: Marilyn a.k.a. Marylyn Buferd (age 65), who played Dr. Sharon Gilchrist in the movie in episode 320- THE UNEARTHLY.
1995: Paul Brinegar (age 77), who played Vida in WORLD WITHOUT END, riffed in MST3K’s first live show.
1996: Dervis Ward (age 72), who played Bosun in the movie in episode 909- GORGO.
1996: Alfred Hirschmeier (age 65), production designer for the movie in episode 211- FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS.
2001: Anthony Dexter (age 88), who played Luther Blair in the movie in episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE, Dr. Luis Vargas in the movie in episode 524- 12 TO THE MOON and Herron in the movie in episode 902- THE PHANTOM PLANET.
2006: Stanislaw Lem (age 84) whose novel “Astronauci” (“The Astronauts” ) was the basis for the movie in episode 211- FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS.
2013: Will Zens (age 92), producer, director and screenwriter for the movie in episode 612- THE STARFIGHTERS.

1957: The movies seen in episodes 112- UNTAMED YOUTH and 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS are reviewed in Variety.
2012: Shout! Factory releases The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXIII.
1995: Rick Baker wins his third Oscar for “Ed Wood.” He did special effects makeup for the movies in episodes 704- THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, 1007- TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST and 1012- SQUIRM. At the same ceremony, Martin Landau, who played Comm. John Koenig in the movie in episode K10- COSMIC PRINCESS, won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s film “Ed Wood.”

This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce This Date in MSTory items in any form without express written permission from the authors.
* = According to the IMBD this person is alive. If you can supply evidence that he or she has died, and when, please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a birthday, the IMDB indicates that the person has died, but the IMDB does not have a full death date (probably just a month and year or just the year he or she died). If you can give us the exact date (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a death date, the IMDB does not have this person’s full birthday. If you can provide it (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.

RIP Carl Mahakian (and others)

mahakian PALM SPRINGS, Calif.–Carl Mahakian, an Emmy-winning sound editor with a long career in TV and movies and an even longer career of service in the armed forces, died here March 9. He was 89. In the world of MST3K, he was sound editor for the movie in episode 509- GIRL IN LOVERS’ LANE. A basic obit is here. He was interviewed back in 2010.

And a few other passings of note:
Stunt man Eddie Hice, who did stunts for the movie in episode 516- ALIEN FROM L.A. died March 12. He was 85. The folks at have a nice remembrance.

And Evan Thompson, who was mostly a stage actor, but who apparently had a small role in the movie in episode 618- HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT, died Feb. 28. He was 83. His picture is here at this remembrance. Anybody recognize him from the movie?

And this guy isn’t officially in our database, but we thought we’d mention that actor Gregory Walcott, who played pilot Jeff Trent in “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” died March 20 in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Thanks as always to the ever-vigilant Duane and Timmy.

Episode guide: 210- King Dinosaur (with short: “X Marks The Spot” )

Short: (1944) Careless New Jersey driver Joe Doakes finds himself in a heavenly courtroom, on trial for his vehicular misdeeds. His guardian angel is his only defense.
Movie: (1955) Two scientist couples are sent to investigate a mysterious new planet and are menaced by snakes, gators, giant bugs and other scary process shots.

First shown: 12/22/90
Opening: Joel reads some beat poetry
Invention exchange: A crushed Dr. F. declares that he, “the pocket scientist,” is his invention; Joel’s accidental invention is the “incredibly stinky sweat socks.”
Host segment 1: Crow asks: “Am I qualified?”
Host segment 2: J&tB introduce Joey the lemur
Host segment 3: Joel objects to the “Emotional Scientist” sketch
End: Crow and Tom complain about all the Lippert’s movies, Joel shows off his theramin, Tom reads a letter
Stinger: Gator wrestling aftermath
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (111 votes, average: 4.34 out of 5)

• I want to begin by saying that I disavow all previous instances in which I described Joel’s goatee as “cheesy” and I maintain that a crazy person broke into my house when I wasn’t home and added the word to “cheesy” to my descriptions of Joel’s goatee, which at all times is manly and dignified. Now, on to business.
• This is a fun episode. Between the short, the goofy Lippert movie, Joey the lemur (he wasn’t a lemur) solid riffing and a some memorable host segments, there’s plenty to enjoy.
• This episode was included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIII. Incidentally, I did not steal the description of the movie that appears on the jacket of that episode. THEY borrowed MY description (see above), with my permission, of course. They said they just liked it.
• Joel’s entirely dignified and not at all cheesy goatee is gone — but Crow and Tom are wearing them in the opening bit. He is still wearing the pastel green jumpsuit from last week.
• Does anyone know whose poem Joel is reading in the opening? Google is silent.
• Sir Goofus von Drakesnot is a funny name.
• In the opening Dr. F. is seen working on an elevator. It would reappear a few other times.
• Joel finally provided an explanation to the “hat party” reference, one that had been bugging people for years. It has to do with magic conventions that he and his friends attended, which often had activities for wives of the magicians attending. One was a hat party, and the blurb for it asked: “Will yours be the grandest of all?” or something like that.
• Neither the “pocket scientist” nor the “incredibly stinky sweat socks” are actual inventions, but the former is a very nice illusion and the latter is a pretty funny prop. So I will let them slide. Smile
• With this episode we get our first real short, and it’s clear immediately that this works much better for the show than the serials they’d been using. This isn’t (I don’t think) a classroom short, unless it was something Traffic Court made you watch after you got too many moving violations.
• Crow’s inspirational speech in segment 1, including the brilliant, immortal words “Crush someone with an emotional word or an enigmatic look,” is one of the funniest segments of the season.
• Callback: “That was number 2!!” (Sidehackers)
• Yes, the gecko-Roman wrestling is the same footage from “One Million B.C.” we’ve seen before. Also, Bronson Canyon was used for some exterior shots, as was done in many other MSTed movies.
• “I’m a pan-dimensional being” is a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” reference.
• One of the highlights of this episode is the series of riffs in which Joel, in a gravelly voice, says “Hi, I’m Satan!” every time a snake appears. As these bits go on, they wander into a whole Kraft cheese thing, climaxing with Tom offering a very strange recipe as announcer Ed Herlihy. Great stream-of-consciousness riffing.
• Segment two is, of course, the infamous “Joey the lemur” bit. Now, I like the “handmade” nature of the show as much as the next guy, but what the heck is going on with Joel? Was this planned? Did he just go off script for the heck of it? I have no idea what he’s saying half the time. In episode 611- LAST OF THE WILD HORSES they do a very funny parody of this bit, implying that even they were baffled by it.
• Segment two, in addition to being weird, is also out of order. The “lemur” hasn’t appeared in the movie yet. But it does seem like they are aware of it: Joel sort of backfills as they re-enter the theater.
• Great “Twin Peaks” reference: “The owl footage is not what it seems.”
• Over the years, many fans have noted that the “lemur” in this movie is actually a kinkajou.
• Segment three is sort of another “we’re trying to do a sketch but it’s not going well” sketch. It was “meta” before (most) people said “meta.”
• Naughty riff: “I’m gonna load up the steely dan.”
• The closing bit is also a bit “meta.” It’s only been a few episodes since Joel did a presentation using the “series of sketches” and/or a musical tribute. They’re already they’re making fun of it? Does this reflect a real situation in the writing room?
• The letter that Tom reads is notable. It’s, I think, the only time anybody on the show uttered the phrase “host segment.” Tom pretends not to know what they are (though they’re mentioned in the credits).
• Cast and Crew Roundup: They make a big deal about this being another movie by executive producer Robert Lippert, but they fail to notice a bigger menace–this is the first of EIGHT movies directed by Bert I. Gordon (he directed more MSTed movies than anybody else). Writer-producer Al Zimbalist also produced “Robot Monster.” Cinematographer Gordon Avil did sound direction for “Robot Monster.” Editors John Bushelman and Jack Cornall also worked on “Village of the Giants.” Special effects guy Howard A. Anderson also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet,” “12 to the Moon,” “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “It Lives By Night.” Sound supervisor Rod Sutton also worked on “It Lives By Night,” “Hangar 18″ and “Slime People.” Score composer Mischa Terr also worked on “The Unearthly,” “Bloodlust,” “The Violent Years” and “The Sinister Urge.” We’ll hear narrator Marvin Miller again in “The Day the Earth Froze” and “The Phantom Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: This Week’s Creative Pit Boss: Trace Beaulieu. “Villians” is still misspelled. Intern Nathan Molstad played Jerry the mole person. Additional music: Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson.
• Fave riff from the short: “He said a silent prayer to Bongo, the god of gravity.” Honorable mention: “…but I did find him down by the waterfront dressed in a Spartan costume.”
• Favorite riff: “I’m Chirpy the mutant hellbeast, and I don’t like this film.” Honorable mention: “Relax?! There’s a bee the size of a moose over there and you want him to relax??” and “There is a margin for shame, however.”

Statement from Shout! Factory about Vol. XXXIII

We at Shout! Factory know MSTies were looking forward to the titles for Volume XXXIII today, but unfortunately we cannot announce them at this time. We know the fans are just as excited for the next volume as we are, and the moment we can share the titles, we will. We appreciate your understanding.

Sarah J. De Bruin
Manager, Publicity
Shout! Factory

Stay tuned, folks.

UPDATE: Articles and Reviews on Vol. XXXII Begin

In the next week or so, you’re going to see a lot of items in the press and on the web about the arrival of Vol. XXXII, which happens Tuesday. Most of them will just be re-writing the press release (and some will just be cutting-and-pasting it). But not Alex Biese at the Asbury Park Press, who caught up with Frank and got some reminiscences about his time at MST3K. Here’s his piece.

Also, Adam Frazier at Geeks of Doom
and Erich Asperschlager of DVD Verdict have reviews.

UPDATE: And as proof that MSTies are everywhere, the set even got a mention from Robert Kinsler of “Music News Nashville.”

Now Available from RiffTrax…


Stream or download it here.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Cage Match!

Alert regular Timmy asks:

What MSTed movie characters would you like to see fight in a cage match (monsters must fight monsters). I would like to see Gamera vs. Godzilla (because it would be a cool movie crossover) and Mitchell fight Sheriff Geronimo (Joe Don Baker fighting himself, like Graham Chapman fighting himself).

I think I’d like to see Eddie “Froggy” Deezen up against Rod Lauren from “The Crawling Hand.” I see an epic slap fight.

What’s your pick?

Episode guide: 209- The Hellcats

Movie: (1967): The brother and fiancée of a murdered detective infiltrate a drug-running biker gang.

First shown: 12/8/90
Opening: J&tB have colds
Invention exchange: J&tB are feeling better thanks to vapor action, but it may cause flashbacks. The Mads are still enjoying the hobby hogs. Joel’s invention is the sign language translator. The Mads just yell “NOOOO!” for reasons that never become clear.
Host segment 1: Tom’s flashback: J&tB do Shatner with The Crawling Hand (from episode 106)
Host segment 2: Crow’s flashback: Zero gravity humor lesson (from episode 201)
Host segment 3: Joel’s flashback: Gobos lesson (from episode 203)
End: Gypsy attempts a diary entry; Crow and Tom mock her for it at first, but they soon admit they keep diaries too and everybody gets emotional. Joel reads a letter. In Deep 13, the Mads are emotional, too
Stinger: Trumpeter yells something unintelligible.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (154 votes, average: 3.89 out of 5)

• I laughed quite a bit this time around, but I found I could only take this episode in short bursts of 10 or 15 minutes. The movie is just so meandering and pointless, and the retread host segments don’t help. The movie is clearly cut from the same cloth as “Girl in Gold Boots” (even “Sidehackers” looks more professional), but the riffing is really pretty good, good enough to save this one from being truly painful. It’s still not a standout episode or anything, but I had fun watching it — a little at a time.
• This episode was released (in DVD) by Rhino as a single episode in 2002.
• Just about every TV show has a cheesy clip episode, and this is MST3K’s. In the ACEG, it is explained that most of the staff was going to be out of town, so the writing time was shortened and this is what they came up with. Mike calls it a “tribute to ‘Family Ties'” (for the younger folks, that was an ’80s TV show that seemed to have a lot of flashback episodes).
• Joel’s jumpsuit is not a never-before-seen pastel green. The goatee is also still there.
• Joel mentions SPACOM, from “Project Moonbase.”
• Joel finally gets to show off his sign language translator, which he wasn’t able to present in the previous episode. The Mads, still enjoying the “hobby hogs” from the previous episode, offer no invention.
• In the bit in Deep 13 before the movie starts, you’ll notice that it cuts off the INSTANT that Frank says: “I don’t fink on soul brutha.” The reason is that Frank could never say that line and look at Trace without cracking up (as seen in the “Poopie” reel). He finally managed to say the line straight and hold his laughter for about half a second, which was enough.
• During the funeral scene at the beginning, two guys are crouching behind a tombstone: a thin guy and a chubbier guy with sunglasses. The chubbier guy is director/screenwriter Robert F. Slatzer. Crow points out that the director is on screen, but when he says it, the other guy is being shown. At first I thought it might have just been bad timing, but later on they identify the other guy again as the director. So it’s officially a goof by BBI. They got the wrong guy.
• Crow and Tom wear their robes in the theater for the entire show.
• Crow and Joel are very snippy toward each other early on in the theater, but then they re-enact a famous exchange from “Then Came Bronson” (which they felt it necessary to have Servo explain) and all is forgiven.
• Great moment when the shot moves to the gangster and his dog sitting in the convertible and all the riffers can do is laugh.
• Some of the music for this movie was arranged and produced by well-regarded producer Richard Podolor (misspelled “Podlor” in the credits) who also produced Three Dog Night, Iron Butterfly and Steppenwolf. (By the way, there was a soundtrack album. Yes, there was.) The act Podolor tried to push in this movie was a group called Davy Jones and the Dolphins. Their career still went nowhere.
• Incidentally, when Crow (wrongly, by the way) suggests that the Davy Jones of Davy Jones and the Dolphins is the same Davy Jones as the guy in The Monkees, Joel says “He would have been about 14 at the time.” Uh, no. This movie was made in ’67, a year after the Monkees TV show started. So, although Joel’s reasoning is wrong, he’s right: this group had nothing to do with The Monkees.
It was a group out of Connecticut founded in 1960 by a guy named David John Liska with his brothers Walt (bass guitar, he left the band in 1962) and Richard (who played steel guitar and keyboard). Also in the band at the time of “Hellcats” were lead guitarist Paul Bogel and drummer Bob Vilezanti (replacing original drummer John Urbanik, who left in 1965).
In 1966 the four-piece band went to L.A. to record the songs for “Hellcats.” They made a USO tour of Vietnam. When they returned to Connecticut they built a recording studio in New London called East Coast Sound Studios (no longer in existence as far as I can tell).
In 1970 the group was signed by Columbia Records, had their name changed to Crossroads and had a moderate hit with a song called “Shannon,” but couldn’t follow up. In 1974, David and Richard formed a bluegrass band called “Kentucky Wind” and toured for a while. In 1981, David moved to Nashville and wrote for various publishing companies. In 1991, David and Richard and their families moved to Nevada and formed a country-western group called “David John and the Comstock Cowboys.” They were regulars at the Famous Bucket of Blood in Virginia City, Nev., but Richard died in 2010 and it’s unclear how busy the band has been since then.
• There’s also music in this movie from a group called Somebody’s Chyldren. The group was founded by David Clark Allen. Also in the band were Paul Dobies, Ricky Cameron, Angela Allen (David’s sister) and Dennis Trerotola. After the band broke up, Allen lived in England, and pioneered what he called “flamenco rock.” He formed one band called Carmen and later formed a band called Widescreen. Last we heard from him, he was back in the U.S. Fronting a band called El Tigre!papa-tigre/c1cod. I was able to email Allen and he told me their music got into the movie because it was promoted by their producer, a guy named Chance Halladay. Halliday had a few singles of his own, but Google is virtually silent, as far as I can tell, about his work as a producer.
• Several times the bots reprise bits of the Weiner Man song. Is this the last time we hear it?
• Callbacks: Several variations on “That was number 5!” (“Sidehackers”). Ross Hagen’s name appears in the credits and there are numerous callbacks to “Sidehackers.” Later, “He hit Big Jake!” (Sidehackers) and “Yew and your daughter are doomt!” (Robot Holocaust)
• Kids, in the host segments, that thing sitting on the desk was known as a “typewriter.” It was a very lo-fi word processor and had a REALLY slow internet connection.
• Servo notes that the flashback he introduces happened “before my voice changed.”
• Note that Crow’s arm works in segment 2.
• Toward the end of the movie, Tom spots a fire hydrant and makes a pass. Joel reins him in.
• Okay I know the plot’s in tatters by the end, but how did the biker gang know to go to the docks and not the bad guy’s office?
• In the closing bit in Deep 13, Frank uses a little AA lingo with the line: “work the steps, Doctor.”
• Cast roundup: Coleman Francis’ drinking buddy Tony Cardoza produced this movie, so lots of Coleman’s regulars are in this thing, along with some “Sidehackers” alumni. Assistant director/screenwriter Tony Houston also worked on “The Sidehackers” and was an actor in “Attack of the the Eye Creatures.”
Production manager Eric Lidberg also worked on (and acted in) “The Sidehackers.” In front of the camera, there’s Ross Hagen, of course. Nick Raymond was also in “The Sinister Urge” and “Red Zone Cuba. Warren Hammack was also in “Sidehackers” and “Attack of the the Eye Creatures.” Eric Tomlin was in “The Skydivers” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats. Gus Trikonis directed “Sidehackers.” Frederic Downs was in “The Skydivers,” “Terror from the Year 5000” and “Red Zone Cuba.” Cardoza, of course, produced all three of Coleman’s movies and performed in “Red Zone Cuba” and “The Skydivers.”
• CreditsWatch: This week’s Creative Pit Boss: Joel Hodgson. “Villians” still mispelled. Additional Music: Michael J. Nelson.
• Favorite riff: “Now Ross can put the star on the tree.” Honorable mention: “They’re all piano tuners.” “I like to shoot heroin straight into my head.” “Looks like she’s into safe walking.”

Now Available for Download from RiffTrax…


The good news: The guys have rerecorded the “Anaconda” riffs for those who may have missed the live version.

The bad news: You have to watch “Anaconda” to enjoy it.

View a sample or download it here.

Weekend Discussion Thread: MSTed Movie Characters in TV Shows

As several of you have written to tell me, in this week’s episode of the CBS drama “Elementary,” a witness/suspect tried to throw investigators off the trail by giving a description of the killer he claimed to have seen that basically was a description of Torgo in “Manos: The Hands of Fate.” The guy turns out to be a B-movie fan. They actually mentioned the name of the movie and John Reynolds.

So, a thought experiment: What character from a MSTed movie would you insert into TV show?

Me, I like the idea of a special episode of “Breaking Bad” in which an L.A. detective named Mitchell flies into town on the trail of blue meth. Walter leaves a honey-baked ham in his hotel room and he’s no further problem.

What’s your pick?

Keep those discussion thread ideas coming!