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Sampo & Erhardt

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Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Visit mst3k.com, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about rifftrax.com, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

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This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1897: Pat Somerset, editor for the movie in episode 202- THE SIDEHACKERS.
1908: Alexander Golitzen, art director for the movies in episodes 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP, 801- REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, 802- THE LEECH WOMAN, 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE, 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS, 805- THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE, plus THIS ISLAND EARTH, seen in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1909: Olan Soule, who played a reporter in THIS ISLAND EARTH, riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1931: Gavin MacLeod, who played a radio operator in the movie in episode 104- WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET.*
1945: Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith, who played Moses in the movie in episode K15- SUPERDOME.
1961: Rae Dawn Chong, who played Yogi in the movie in episode 403- CITY LIMITS.*

DIED TODAY
1970: Jack Dusick (age 54), makeup artist for the movies in episodes 607- BLOODLUST and 808- THE SHE-CREATURE.
1981: Joseph V. Mascelli (age 63), director of the movie “Monstrosity,” seen in episode 518- THE ATOMIC BRAIN and cinematographer for the movie in episode 812- THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES.
1999: Christine Glanville (age 74), puppetry supervisor for Gerry Anderson’s productions, including “Stingray,” seen in episode K01- INVADERS FROM THE DEEP and “Captain Scarlet,” seen in episode K02- REVENGE OF THE MYSTERONS.
2010: Martin Benson (age 91), who played circus-owner Dorkin in the movie in episode 909- GORGO.
2013: Armando Trovajoli, score composer for the movie in episode 412- HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN.

EVENT
1835: Elias Lonnrot publishes “The Kalevala,” stories from which plot of the movie in episode 422- THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE was adapted.


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.

New Commentary Track from RiffTrax

TMNT

Download it here.

Leonard Nimoy, RIP

Nimoy BEL AIR, Calif.–Actor/director Leonard Nimoy, who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died Feb. 27 at his home here. He was 83.

MSTies have heard any number of references to and impressions of him during MST3K’s run. One memorable moment came in episode 503- SWAMP DIAMONDS when Crow and Tom Servo became obsessed with the “This Side of Paradise” episode of “Star Trek,” with Crow as Spock.

The New York Times (somebody probably wrote most of this years ago) has a nice obit.

This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
Mary Jo Pehl* (Happy birthday, Mary Jo!)
1898: Roger Heman Sr., sound re-recordist for the movie in episode 411- THE MAGIC SWORD.
1909: Dick Rich, who played a cop in the season one serial RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON.
1909: Dick Cogan, who played the dirt road motorist in the season one serial RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON.
1909: Jay Ashworth, who did the sound for the movie in episode 311- IT CONQUERED THE WORLD.
1923: Paul Campbell, who played Lt. Fred Pizar in the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1924: Trevor Duncan, a stock music composer whose music was heard, uncredited, in the movies in episodes 810- THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE, 1005- BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z.

DIED TODAY
1887: Aleksander Borodin (age 53), Russian classical composer, whose music was heard in the movie in episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE.
1965: Roger J. Weinberg (age 50), costumer for the movie in episode 419- THE REBEL SET.
1977: Allison Hayes (age 46), who played the witch Livia in the movie in episode 806- THE UNDEAD, Grace Thomas in the movie in episode 320- THE UNEARTHLY, bar owner Erica Page in the movie in episode 511- GUNSLINGER and assistant Donna in the movie in episode 106- THE CRAWLING HAND.
1988: Kenneth Peach (age 84), who did the second unit photography for the movie in episode 912- THE SCREAMING SKULL.
1988: Afro Poli (age 85), who played Chiron in the movie in episode 502- HERCULES.
1991: Frank McWhorter (age 85), who did the sound for the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
2003: Johnny Carpenter (age 88), who was an uncredited kid at the diner in the movie in episode 613- THE SINISTER URGE.
2003: Jean Sullivan (age 79), who played Naomi Sanders in the movie in episode 1012- SQUIRM.
2011: Robert Feero (age 66), who played Mannerjay’s aide in the movie in episode 913- QUEST OF THE DELTA KNIGHTS.

EVENTS
1954: The first episode of the TV series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” is broadcast. Later episodes of the series would get the MST3K treatment in episodes 413- MANHUNT IN SPACE and 417- CRASH OF MOONS.
1957: The movie in episode 806- THE UNDEAD is reviewed in Variety.
2011: Rick Baker wins his seventh Oscar for “The Wolfman.” He did special effects makeup for the movies in episodes 704- THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, 1007- TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST and 1012- SQUIRM.


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.

Episode guide: 206- Ring Of Terror (with short: The Phantom Creeps, Chapter 3)

Movie: (1962) A seemingly fearless college kid must perform a ghastly task to be accepted into a fraternity.
Short: (1939) West bails out of the car before it crashes. Zorka, still invisible, steals another car and escapes. Everybody heads back to Zorka’s, where the Feds revive Monk. Before they can take him in, the invisible Zorka rescues him and the two escape. Back in his secret lab, Zorka shows Monk the mysterious box holding his powerful formula. As Zorka tries to sabotage Mallory’s research, Monk attempts to betray Zorka and make off with the box, but is nabbed by the Feds. As they drive him back to headquarters, one of the Feds starts to open the box, causing nearby power line towers to topple toward the car.

First shown: 11/3/90
Opening: The bots trick Joel into thinking it’s Movie Sign
Invention exchange: The Mads have an oversized “Operation” game, Joel shows off his “pin-bolus”
Host segment 1: J&tB do a commercial for The Old School
Host segment 2: Joel conducts an autopsy on Mr. Hoover
Host segment 3: The bots use subliminal suggestions as they complain about the movie; the Mads send a short!
End: J&tB react to the short; Frank sings “If Chauffeurs Ruled the World”
Stinger: “Weird. I guess that is the word for it. Weird.”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (148 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)
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• This is a middling episode at best, with the highlight coming at the end as Frank belts out a classic song. The movie really drags everything down. Dumb, bad acting, dark, poorly cast … as Crow says in segment 3, it’s a dog. The short doesn’t help much either, though at least there’s some action. The host segments — all of which are at least mildly amusing — really save this one.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 11.”
References.
• Joel’s has returned to the teal jumpsuit.
• Tom Servo still has his alternate head.
• In the opening we actually see Joel jump into the hatch that we assume leads to the “spiral on down.”
• The “bonk!-thank you!” bit in Deep 13 is a Firesign Theatre reference. And for you members of the Church of the Subgenius, the Rev. Bob Dobson is also mentioned.
• One of the first things Tom does when they get into the theater is look the movie up in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide. As I’ve noted before, in these pre-World Wide Web days, I get the sense that that book was one of their few movie research tools. No, it wasn’t the only movie book they had, but they seemed to default to Maltin.
• The bit at the beginning of the movie with the gate getting closer and closer is a classic example of how a dull moment in the movie into something funny.
• Instant catchphrase: “Puma? Puma!”
• Callback: “Chili peppers…” (Sidehackers) “Puma?” (Joel notes they’re calling back the same movie… ) “It’s the Power Station.” (Robot Holocaust)
• Naughty almost-riff: Movie character says “It’s going to start getting pretty sticky in here in a minute.” The bots start to respond, but Joel stops them. Also: “Why are you sore?” (The bots whistle and try to sound casual.)
• Then-current word/concept: “Wilding.”
• The first segment is another one of those funny but long-winded season 2 sketches. And it would be 13 years before the Will Farrell movie of the same name. And, all these years later, having Garrett Morris as a speaker would not be that inexplicable.
• One issue I have with this episode is the conflicted message about the two overweight characters in the movie. The riffers mock the other characters for laughing at them — then they proceed to do fat jokes themselves. Later they become aggravated with the continued mockery in the movie, but, hey, let’s remember who called them “the fatties.”
• The second host segment is very funny–but a little gross and NOT to be watched while or immediately after eating!
• Yes, the actors playing the college students are all in their 30s, and the first five or ten comments about it were pretty funny. The second 10 or 20 were mildly amusing. The 20 or 30 after that were a bit tiresome. They overdid it, is what I’m saying.
• A commenter below astutely notes a basic flaw of the movie: are the students depicted post-graduate medical students or are they undergrads? They appear to be med students (in which case they WOULD be older, though not THAT old) but the movie has them doing undergraduate things like rushing for fraternities and living in dorms. The movie can’t seem to make up its mind.
• And I would add: what’s with the apparent “no girlz allowd” policy for the medical school? The college is clearly co-ed, so what’s the deal? Sheesh. And what was with that out-of-the-blue swimsuit beauty pageant sequence (other than pure padding)?
• The third segment features the final time Joel asks the bots to play the “give me a good thing and a bad thing for ram chips” game that was a fixture of the first season. They don’t really do it, just focusing on the bad things.
• This is the only episode in which the short follows the feature, necessitating an unusual return to Deep 13 during segment 3.
• Again, the previous episode of the short said this one would be called “Crashing Towers,” but it doesn’t actually appear on this short, so I am not including it in the title.
• And this is also the final episode we will get of “The Phantom Creeps.” Has anybody seen the rest of it who can give us a little synopsis?
• Frank really comes into his own with his first song, the memorable “If Chauffeurs Ruled the World” (featuring the classic Dr. F. line “Oh, push the button, Judy Garland!”).
• Cast/crew roundup: Editor Jodie Copelan also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast” and “Laserblast.” In front of the camera, Eddie Erwin also appeared in “The Amazing Transparent Man.”
• CreditsWatch: For some reason the credits are very different this week: the font size is smaller and there is less spacing. Trace and Frank are grouped together under “also featuring” but the words “special guest villians” (misspelling and all) are missing. Jann Johnson and Alex Carr get credits as “special guest writers.” Trace was the “Creative Pit Boss.” Frank wrote the lyrics to “If Chauffeurs Ruled the World,” and Mike did the music. For some reason, the “Set Design” credit is not included this week. Randy Davis, who was the editor for all of season one, returns for this episode and never again. Fuller Productions is listed as the “online post-production facility,” again it was used all through season one and then appears in this episode’s credits and never again. I suspect those two credits are related.
• Fave riff from the movie: “Cause I’m gonna coat you with bear grease.” Honorable mention: “Because he’s got a squirrel in his stomach.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Hmm. The plot gets weaker over here.”

MST3K on the Big Screen in New Jersey

The Rosebud Theater in Westwood, NJ, will be showing an MST3K episode every Sunday night in March at 7:00pm. Up first – MST3K: The Movie (plus a rare screening of Assignment: Venezuela). You can see the full schedule here. And you can visit their MST Facebook page here.

RIP Paul Napier

Napier SHERMAN OAKS, Calif.–TV and commercial actor Paul Napier has died after collapsing outside his home here. He was 84. Longtime MSTies will recall that he played Eddy in in the movie in episode K13- SST: DEATH FLIGHT.

His hometown paper has a nice long obit.

Thanks to Timmy for the heads up.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Best Rock Music Reference

The ever-resourceful Susan suggests:

While watching clips of “Beginning of the End” to get the words right in one of my responses, I heard the “All riiiiight, playing Tull out the window, man, woo!,” riff when the weird frequency is being played over the loudspeakers to attract the giant grasshoppers. So, “best rock music reference?”

Gotta go for Crow’s comment that “KISS were never cool.”

What’s your pick?

RiffTrax KickStarter Quickly Funded (Again)

You already know this. We didn’t even need to say anything. (But we will.)

Yesterday RiffTrax announced another Kickstarter campaign to fund four live shows for 2015. In less than a day, the $75,000 goal was reached and at this writing it’s about to climb into six digits.

For the record, the four shows are: “The Room” (May 6–take note–a WEDNESDAY); “Sharknado 2″ (July 9); “Miami Connection” (Oct. 1); and “Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny” (Dec. 3).

I knew nothing about “Miami Connection” but I just saw some youtube clips. Wow.

Episode guide: 205- Rocket Attack USA (with short: The Phantom Creeps, Chapter 2)

Short: (1939) A disguised Zorka, believed by everyone to be dead, arrives at the site of the plane crash and learns his wife has been killed. Despite the fact that he caused the crash, he blames his enemies and swears to avenge her death. The pilot of the plane survived the crash but was put into a coma by the exploding spider. Dr. Mallory concocts a formula to revive the pilot, but it fails. Guessing there is some missing ingredient to be found in Zorka’s lab, Mallory and military intelligence officer West go there, with reporter Jean Drew in tow. But Zorka beats them there, stocks up on supplies and escapes using his invisibility belt, though his assistant Monk is captured. West and Drew pursue him and find Zorka’s apparently abandoned car. West gets into the car and the invisible Zorka knocks him out and releases the brakes. As Jean looks on in horror, the car with the unconscious West inside careens down a hill out of control.
Movie: (1961) The U.S. sends spies to the Soviet Union to learn about an imminent missile attack, while trying to play catch-up with its own missile program. But failure on both fronts leads to a terrible conclusion.

First shown: 10/27/90
Opening: Joel gives Tom a “haircut,” then shows him the products he’ll need to maintain it
Invention exchange: Joel has been working on a candy ribbon adding machine (Gypsy ate the Mexican jumping bean bag chair), while the Mads have invented water-polo foosball
Host segment 1: Joel explains The Charlie McCarthy hearings on un-American activities
Host segment 2: Joel is the host of a civil defense quiz show
Host segment 3: Joel’s Russian counterpart visits on the Hexfield
End: J&tB explain why they’re upset about the movie and read a letter; Frank suggests movies the Mads could send that wouldn’t be so bad
Stinger: “Help me!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (113 votes, average: 4.01 out of 5)
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• This is a great episode. it has three memorable host segments (the “Charlie McCarthy hearings” segment and the “civil defense quiz show” are typical of the long, densely written host segments of this period; Mike is at his goofy, unassuming best as Joel’s Russian counterpart). The short (as indicated by the complicated synopsis above) is action packed. The movie, on the other hand, drags in spots. But the riffing of both is very strong.
• This episode is included in Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XXVII.”
• A first in this ep: Comedy Channel and BBI were getting complaints from viewers that Tom Servo’s head was covering up too much of the screen, so they tried an experiment: they installed a skinnier version of the Executive Snack Dispenser (you can still see them at Mr. Bulky’s) and announced that Tom had received a “haircut.” The experiment would only last two episodes, thank goodness.
• Joel’s jumpsuit is still bright red.
• Frank’s “Ya got me!” is a callback to Jim Begg in “Catalina Caper.”
• The water polo foosball thing is great but almost immediately the ball flies up and out of shot. Frank retrieves it and they keep going.
• Despite the closeup of the prop, I didn’t notice until I got to the Conventio-con, and saw the prop close up, that all the figures in the water-polo foosball game were tiny Dr. Forresters and Franks. (I’m sometimes not very observant.)
• Last week’s installment of “Phantom Creeps” said this one would be called “Death Stalks the Highway,” but it never actually says that in this episode. Chapter 2 is just called…Chapter 2. So, since it doesn’t actually appear on screen in this episode, I am not including that title here.
• There’s about 45 seconds of action in the beginning of this week’s “Phantom Creeps” installment that is pretty much the same 45 seconds that was shown at the end of the last installment. Which means it’s another situation where they end up having to write two sets of jokes for the same footage. But in one case they sort of fudged it: Crow does essentially the same Margaret Dumont joke in both versions. In one Crow says (in his best dowager voice) “Oh Captain Spalding!” In the other, Crow says, in the same voice, “But Professor Firefly!” Essentially the same joke.
• Naughty riffs: “Well, I got to third, if that counts for anything.” And the classic “Good morning!” which they would use again.
• This is a good moment to clear up a common misunderstanding among some MSTies. In the short, a character says, “the driver is gone or he’s hiding,” in a very Ronald Reagan-like voice. Crow’s response was to do his best Reagan impression and say “Welcome to Death Valley Days.” For several seasons thereafter, whenever Ronald Reagan needed to be invoked, somebody (usually Crow) would do Reagan and say, “The driver is either missing or he’s gone” or some such variation of the line. They did this so much that some fans began to believe that Reagan actually said something like this and that this was a direct reference to Reagan. He didn’t. It wasn’t. It was a reference to this moment in this short, where they were reminded of Reagan.
• Then-current riff: “Mallory…” “Yes, Alex?” A reference to then-hit TV series “Family Ties.”
• I wonder who did those drawings in segment 1.
• Watch for two things as Joel carries Tom into the theater after the first host segment. First, you can see the silhouette of the stick attached to Tom as Joel hands it to Kevin. Second, Kevin apparently fumbles the handoff and Tom flops over.
• Some of you young folks may be wondering who Art Metrano is, and why his name makes J&tB break out in song and dance music, accompanied by strange gestures. Metrano was a sometime standup comedian in the ’60s, and he (briefly) hit it big with a silly tongue-in-cheek bit parodying hack magicians. Soon every 12 year old in America (including yours truly) was doing it. Here’s a sample.
• Whoa, slam on “Thicke of the Night” and Kip Addotta out of nowhere!
• I love the line from the movie that slams cheese price supports. SOMEbody has issues…
• Segment 2 really goes on and on. On the plus side, Gypsy falls over with a very satisfying clunk.
• Several times during the scenes at the Russian missile range, the slabs of concrete remind J&tB of the monolith scenes in “2001: A Space Odyssey” so much that they parody the eerie chorus in those scenes. Cracks me up.
• Callback: “The dark one awaits for the Robot Holocaust.” And, a double: “The general is asking for hamburgers instead of chili peppers; they burn his gut (Sidehackers). He’d really like a (as the woman in Jungle Goddess) hamburger and some French fried potatoes!”
• Crow repeats the lyrics of “Bombs Away” by The Police one point. I liked The Police but these lyrics didn’t make an impression, so the reference when right by me.
• Another first: Thanks to one Mark Gilbertson, they’ve finally ironed out the Hexfield ViewScreen. It now sports a camera lens-like shutter, replacing with that high-tech window shade technology.
• Segment 3 was recently recalled by a lot of fans when a Russian version of MST3K was discovered on the Web.
• I can’t say for sure, but I THINK the closing segment and the letter contains the last in a long series if rips on Isaac Asimov.
• The episode ends with the first-ever “stinger”–a short snippet, usually the oddest moment, from the film. For some reason they don’t do one in episode 207- WILD REBELS, but after that it continues until the brief Observer takeover in season eight.
• Cast and crew roundup: Nobody involved in this movie did anything else in any other MSTed movie.
• CreditsWatch: A new element enters the credits this week: “Creative Pit Boss,” a rotating job. This week it was Joel. Trace and Frank are again grouped together “special guest villians” (misspelled). Hexfield Viewscreen Designed and Constructed by: Mark Gilbertson. Sorri Andropoli: Michael J. Nelson. With this episode, the final credit “Executive Producers: Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon” first appears.
• Fave riff from the short: “Stunned?? He took six bullets!”
• Fave riff from the feature: “That’s why we’ve GOT TO CRUSH THEM!” Honorable mentions: “Oh that! My lederhosen just came back from the cleaners!” and “But underneath it was just like a bus ride in the 10th grade, if you know what I mean.” Also, I love the little road runner meep-meep Joel does right before an explosion.