Short: (1945) A newsreel spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of winter sports, (including “she-ing” and “she-horing.”)
Movie: (1956) With the aid of a deluded Earth scientist, a Venusian pickle creature uses bat thingies to take control of humanity.
First shown: 8/24/91
Opening: Joel tries his hand at ventriloquism, with Crow as his dummy
Invention exchange: The Mads show off their hanged man costumes; Joel has invented the “Sony Sea-man”
Host segment 1: Tom narrates “The Winter Cavalcade of Fun”
Host segment 2: J&tB share sarcastic banter over dinner
Host segment 3: With time to kill, J&tB sing a song about celebrity siblings with the same last names
End: J&tB rewatch Peter Graves’ speech, Crow, Tom and Gypsy each read a letter, the Mads rewatch Peter Graves’ speech
Stinger: “He learned too late that a man is a feeling creature…”
• I’ll start with the good news. The short is great fun, with great riffing. All the host segments, even the oddball song in segment three, are entertaining. And the movie is, well, what can you say? It’s classic Corman. Now the bad news: the riffing just kind of limps along, with only occasional bright spots. State park jokes abound. As with “Amazing Colossal Man,” I think they kind of got caught up in the movie a little. So there’s fun to be had in this episode, just not as much as I would have liked.
• This episode is not yet on commercial DVD.
• For you younger folks, “Star Search” was sort of the ’90s version of “America’s Got Talent.” Amusingly, Geechy Guy (a repeat contestant on “Star Search”), STILL seeking fame, also appeared on AGT.
• Joel’s mannerisms as the ventriloquist are classic. The random movements are done to distract you from looking at the ventriloquist’s lips.
• In Googling around, I actually found a reliable site that gave me a definitive year–1945–for “Snow Thrills,” one of the few shorts we hadn’t been able to put a date on.
• Callback: “That’s not half bad!” “She’s givin’ it back to you!” (a paraphrase from Sidehackers) “Chili peppers burn his gut.” (Sidehackers.)
• Triple callback: “Thong? Ator? Puma?” (Cave Dwellers and Ring of Terror) I half-expected to hear “Chief?” next.
• Naughty line: Announcer: “It’s the biggest one-man thrill in Jack Frost’s show.” Joel: “I know a better one…”
• As previously noted, this movie is our first taste of oeuvre of one Roger Corman. Dr. F. introduces it as one of his best and that may be true. But he also says “it’s really really really bad,” and I don’t think that’s true. It’s not a “good” movie, of course, but it’s not really bad one either. Its chief defect is that it was clearly made on a very low budget. But, despite that, Corman coaxes some really pretty good performances out of people who would go on to be known as pretty good actors. In addition, the story, while silly in some places, is almost gripping in others. We’ll see many worse movies, including some from Corman, is I guess what I’m saying.
• Then-current reference: “I’d rather watch ‘thirtysomething’.” (And the second “thirtysomething” reference in two or three episodes.)
• Joel again warns Tom about Anthony Newly impressions.
• They again do a “Helloooo baaaaaaby…” joke during a plane crash. Two episodes ago somebody called it “mean.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I’ll grant you it’s a little dark.
• My copy is from Turkey Day ’94, and includes a commercial for the video game “Burn Cycle,” for Magnavox’s cd-i game platform. Remember THAT vaporware?
• During the song in segment 3, Tom again does his Tom Waits impression.
• Also, about the song: The joke is that they claim to naming celebrity siblings with the same last name, but they are actually naming people with the same last name who AREN’T actually siblings (i.e. Mary Tyler and Roger Moore). I hate to break it to whoever wrote the lyrics (the credits do not specifically name the person), but Julia and Eric Roberts ARE siblings.
• Somewhat obscure riff: “Not the craw, the craw!” (A “Get Smart” running gag.)
• The closing repetition of the speech can be explained by Joel’s earlier admission that the show was a bit short that week.
• Bot stuff: Is this the first time they’ve used the word “hoverskirt”? Also: In the final segment Joel, also takes a moment to explain Gypsy and her role again.
• Backstage stuff: The Venusian costume was lobster red. It was nicknamed “Big Beulah” by its creator, Paul Blaisdell, and “Denny Dimwit” by the screenwriters. Other names given by the cast and crew were the “Tee-Pee Terror,” “the Cucumber Critter” and “The Carrot Monster.” When she was a guest at an MST3K convention, Beverly Garland recalled that she kept telling herself that it wasn’t finished, that they were still working on it, that it would get better. But of course, it never did. Chocolate syrup served as the Venusian’s blood. Always ready to reuse props, Corman used the bat-thingies again the following year in “The Undead.”
• Once again, the exterior shots were done at Bronson Canyon, which was also used for exterior shots in the filming of seven other MSTed movies.
• Crow and Joel get out of the way so Tom can read the number off the side of the jeep.
• This movie was remade for television by director Larry “Attack of the the Eye Creatures” Buchanan as “Zontar, The Thing from Venus.”
• Cast and crew roundup: LOTS of folks we will meet again in this one, so strap in: Executive producers Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson performed the same roles for “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “Night of the Blood Beast, “The Undead,” “Terror from the Year 5000,” “The She-Creature,” “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” and “The Screaming Skull.” Writer Lou Rusoff also helped write “The She Creature.” Writer Charles Griffith also helped write “Terror from the Year 5000” and “Gunslinger.” Cinematographer Frederick West also worked on “Gunslinger,” “The She Creature” and “Swamp Diamonds. Editor Charles Gross also worked on “Gunslinger.” Prop Master Karl Brainard also worked on “Teenage Caveman,” “Night of the Blood Beast” and “The She Creature.” Score composer Ronald Stein also did the scores for “Gunslinger,” “The Undead,” “The She Creature,” Attack of the the Eye Creatures” and “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” And, of course, Roger Corman, in addition to this movie, directed “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “Swamp Diamonds,” “Gunslinger,” and “The Undead.” Corman also produced “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.”
In front of the camera, Peter Graves is one the actors most seen in MST3K movies: he also appears in “Beginning of the End,” “SST Death Flight,”and “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” He also provided the uncredited narration for “Attack of the the the Eye Creatures. Beverly Garland also appeared in “Swamp Diamonds” and “Gunslinger.” Lee Van Cleef also appeared in “Master Ninja I” and “Master Ninja 2.” Sally Frasier also appears in “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Earth Vs. the Spider. Dick Miller also appears in “Gunslinger” and “The Undead.” Another actor with a lot of MST3K appearances is Jonathan Haze, who was in this, “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “Swamp Diamonds,” “Teenage Caveman” and “Gunslinger.” Karyne Kadler was also in “The Beatniks.” Marshall Bradford was also in “Teenage Caveman” and David McMahon was also in “The Deadly Mantis.”
• CreditsWatch: Karen Lindsey is back in the credits as online editor. Clayton James does the first of 11 stints as hair and makeup person. Additional contributing writers for this episode were Jef Maynard, Jann Johnson, Alexandra Carr and Timothy Scott. I suspect that credit happens when one of them wanders into the writing room and says something funny and they keep it. Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s last name is again spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Get in, old man, you’ve seen enough.” Honorable mention: “Yeah, well, you’re full of skit.”
• Fave riff: “Venus? You know: no arms, nice rack…” Honorable mention: “She’s just going to slip into something a little more clinical.”