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Sampo & Erhardt

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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Episode guide: 319- War of the Colossal Beast (with short: ‘Mr. B. Natural’)

Short: (1957) A shrill, androgynous succubus urges a gawky middle schooler to take up a musical instrument.
Movie: (1958) When giant Glenn from “The Amazing Colossal Man,” now a deranged and disfigured monster, is spotted in Mexico, his worried sister tries to save him.

First shown: 11/30/91
Opening: J&tB come up with new names for Mex-American food combos
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented the breakfast bazooka, while Joel shows off his between-meal mortar
Host segment 1: Tom and Crow debate the topic “Mr. B. Natural: man or woman?”
Host segment 2: J&tB are singing the Big Head song when Glen revisits
Host segment 3: Joel presents “KTLA predicts!”
End: Joel offers the bots samples of his special bread, Joel reads a letter then Glen reads one; Frank gets another breakfast shot at him
Stinger: That’s a happy king?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (118 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)

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• If there was ever an episode where the short outshines the feature, this is it. But, that being said, this was one of those times where I was expecting to struggle through the movie but was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the dull slog I remembered from previous viewings, I found it pretty entertaining and the riffing was pretty consistently good. The host segments are more good than bad as well. This really is a fun episode all around.
• Ah, Mister B. Calling it a classic short isn’t enough. It is probably the most famous of all the shorts the show presented and maybe the most watched 20 or so minutes of the entire series. I practically have the thing memorized. (Note: I admit to stealing the phrase “shrill succubus” from the ACEG. It’s just too perfect a description.)
• Can I just mention, however, that the short is in horrible shape? Mr. B’s arrival in the kid’s home has been spliced out, for example. It was probably hilarious, and therefore somebody cut it out of the print and kept it for his or her own collection of goofy footage. A lot of classic moments in movies have been lost to anonymous “collectors” savaging the only remaining copy of a particular movie.
• That being said, thanks to RiffTrax, we now know that a pristine, un-chopped-up copy of the short exists—it’s the one they used when RiffTrax re-riffed it.
• The short was filmed at the Waukegan (Illinois) Elementary School and Miami (Ohio) Sr. High School.
• Betty Luster, who played Mr. B, had a brief TV career in the early 1950s. Her first TV job was on the CBS show “Sing It Again” (1950-51), which was a game show similar to “Name That Tune.” Her second TV gig was on the NBC show “Seven at Eleven,” which was only on the air for one month in 1951.
• For a long time I wondered what the target audience of this short was. It couldn’t be the kids. It couldn’t be the school music teacher. Recently, it hit me: It’s for the PARENTS! The music teacher probably was paid to show this during parent-teacher night.
• In the segment 1, Joel says “bogart” instead of “robot.” They just keep going.
• The military guy says the river below Boulder Dam is “a mile deep in some places.” WHAT??
• The Big Head makes another appearance in segment 2.
• The gibberish Joel shouts at the end of segment 3 comes from the chaotic labels of a product known as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap–still available at your local health food store. There’s an explanation of this stuff here.
• Movie comment: Why didn’t they keep Glenn sedated once they got him into the hangar? (I know, they wanted to have the exciting escape scene).
• Callback: McCloud! (Pod People)
• Of course, this movie is known for the 30 seconds of color at the end, triggered by Glenn grabbing the power lines. Did Bert I. really think this was going to help the movie somehow?
• This is one of two MSTed movies (522- TEENAGE CRIME WAVE is the other) that ends at L.A.’s Griffith Observatory.
• Cast and crew roundup: Set designer Maury Hoffman also worked on “I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Assistant director/production manager Herbert E. Mendelson also worked on “The Magic Sword.” Sound mixer Ben Winkler also worked on “The She-Creature.” The voice of monster Glenn’s was provided by the great Paul Frees. We’ll hear his voice again in “The Sword and the Dragon” and “The Deadly Mantis.” By the way, he was the director and script writer for “The Beatniks.” George Becwar also appears in “Bride of the Monster.” George Milan also appears in “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders.” Roy Gordon also appears in “The Unearthly.” Dean Duncan Parkin, who played Glen the monster, also was help behind the scenes of “The Beginning of the End”… he was a grasshopper wrangler!
• CreditsWatch: This was intern Cindy Hansen’s last episode. Trace and Frank are still “villians” and Dr. F’s name is still “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Mom, Dad? Tell me you heard that!” Honorable mention: “Forget music! I wanna dance!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “My nurse fell down his throat!” Also: “Hee Haw, it’s Sam Wainwright!” “Sir, you just described ME!”

116 Replies to “Episode guide: 319- War of the Colossal Beast (with short: ‘Mr. B. Natural’)”

  1. cornjob says:

    hi there! “long-time listener; first-time caller” as the saying goes… i’d been blown away to see via satNews that “debbie” and “the master” were happy and well, and couldn’t add any more happy explitives to what’d already been said – but banu’s post of BTS “mr. b” pics blew me away even more, and pushed me to say sum’thin’… i split that appropriate bit off there; i’ll leave the rest for here with the featured epi today…

    319- mr. b natural/war of the collosal beast: gad there’s so much stuff here, so many lines from this one lodged deep into the synapses of my brain, it’d take a submarine full of raquel welch clones shrunk to microscopic size to remove it all. (and i’m not sure i’d turn down that experiment…)

    this was the “seller” epi back then; i remember when they promo’ed/covered it heavily on “morning/weekend edition” on NPR around the time it showed. i remember them featuring the (of course) audio-only sample of mr. b going “you think this is just a trumpet? no!” and joel interjecting: “it’s a bong!” even just for a radio show report, you could tell what was going on…

    the short and the mstie crew met head-on and created something you can listen to and laugh to, like an old-ye tyi-me radio show. and that was kind of important coverage at the time… it was coincidentally at that point that cc became available on my two locally-frequented spots (travelling a bit back and forth in-state at the time), so i could start tuning in.

    there probably weren’t many other good examples up to that point, although i think they included some other epi’s audio samples. i just specifically remember “mr. b” being used, to great effect… it was perhaps the one short, or even flick that could be “seen” just by listening to it.

    crow: “what the hell is a chonga?”

    joel: “oh it’s just part of the american way… turning a neighboring country rich in culture and beauty… into a goofy appetizer oops i think the mads are calling.”

    dr. f: “yoouuuu… diiieee – joooeee!!”

    crow: “what a coinki-dink!” … and – “ahhh, they say ya never hear the snack with your name on it!”

    and that’s just the intro to the rest… would take too long to list all i love about the rest (short + movie), but i wanted to point out one little “mistake” perhaps in the first “mr. b natural” host segment, no one else has seemed to notice yet (other than the “mr. crow t. bogart”, but it follows in the space of two or three words, no one else has pointed it out yet… suspensssse!)…

    i never noticed it myself till one day long past, i was showing my old vhs copy of the mst’ed short to a friend (in the spirit of introducing friends to mst back in the ninties, or at least filling in any gaps in their mst-xperience with my viddy collection), and he pointed this out to me – so by now, it’s ages-old to me, but when joel returns the last “thread” of the debate to servo he says loudly and very quicky, “mr. crow t. -bogart- you have twenty MINUTES to rebut!” – instead of the presumed twenty -seconds-… no one else ever catch that?

    there’s a bonus too – crow kinda fluster-flubs a little bit following that, saying first then backing up – “why not men in little pimp – little bo peep costumes?” immediately following! heh! what’s up with thaaat?

    heh! i hope i win the internet today.

    joel’s “mr. b, you’re HOT!” – “ohh, yahhh!” (to the “ever notice the excitement at the end of the day of school” line)… he in this project figured out long before everyone else probably, had his delivery perfected easily long before this point (at least back to “catalina caper”). joel, SENSEI!

    “conform. CONFORM…” – “it’s a goosestep!” – “that’s not how you play it!” – “ahhh – i gotta finish my letter to jodi foster!” good lord, every line is hilarious here… all the people i know who’ve seen at least a little of mst3k, they know this short.

    crow was such the best here. i loved everything about the show, but crow’s “acerbic even by devil’s standards” comments, alternating with trace’s ability to do that “totally hapless,” silly voice. i totally dug crow. “oh mr. lady… oh, oh!” … “the lully-baby-buy, uwwwaahh go away!” “huh… he sucks mr. b natural!” but they spread the dark comments around to joel and servo too… it was all the fantastic group-writing feeding the lines, but in the end, crow stole the show for me. he’s my spirit animal.

    p.s. gotta love how servo is exclaiming their famous george c. scott riff “turn it off, TURN IT OFF!” line as they exit the theater to seg 1. ooops, servo loses a point off the bat! so how -did- this debate end?

    “ohh god tell me this isn’t happenningg!!!” “well sir… (we bilked ’em!)” “‘ey, if ya get near a song, play it!”

    and, my favorite – reminds me when i would be sitting in class watching some stupid “homeroom” career-filmstrip… servo: PH-PH-PHHPHHPHHH… (when he mimicks the ‘flight of the bumblehead/carinval of venice’ song)

    and, of course, it must all end with mr. servo: “mr. b natural, WHAT A GUY! yes, a decidely modern man! etc etc…” (“FOOEY-KA-BLOOEY!”)

    too much, too much brilliant genius back with that crew then. a real golden age.

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  2. 319 – War of the Colossal Beast, with short Mr. B Natural

    Memorable riffs from short:
    Mr. B Natural (not on-screen): “Boy, am I glad to see you!”
    Crow: “It’s not mutual….”

    Joel: “Why does my kid have to be a dud? I was popular!”

    Buzz: “Are you a musician, Mr. B?”
    Servo: “Nah, I’m in marketing.”

    Joel: “Uh, Mr. B, what would YOU know about dignity?”

    Fav. riff from short:
    Mr. B Natural: “I was in the garden with Adam and Eve!”
    Servo (sheepishly): “Yeah, you were the snake….”

    Memorable riffs from movie:
    Joel: “It’s a Domino’s guy, and he’s under quota!”

    Servo: “Uh-Oh! They got the truck wet! They’re already over budget.”

    Character in movie: “Anybody home?”
    Servo: “Um, it’s an office. Nobody lives here…”

    Servo: “Dom Deluise big?”

    Crow: “HE SPOKE AGAIN!”

    Joel: “Oh my God! Her arms…. oh, it’s just a sweater.”

    Character in Movie: “How do you expect us to find Glenn?”
    Crow: “He’s 60 feet tall!”

    (Glenn grunts)
    Crow: “Sounds like Tim Allen.”

    Joel: “The big guy was kicking the back of my seat the whole time!”

    Crow: “Help! There’s a normal-sized person under my bed!”

    Crow: “Sponge bath alone could take 2…. 3 hours.”

    Crow: “Okay now pick it up again! Ten more reps!”

    Fav. riff from movie:
    Servo: “It’s your tax dollars at work, Glen!”

    Comments:
    – Crow’s “run for you border” comment in the opening segment *I think* is a reference to some old Taco Bell ads that ran in the early 90s.

    – Also, was the last “Dorito” card supposed to fall off the desk, or stay on? I think it was supposed to fall off, but Joel seems to run with it, as he often does.

    – I’m gonna “pull a Paul Chaplin” here and say that the makers of the “Mr. B Natural” short knew perfectly well what they were doing, and are actually parodying the “Mary Martin” trope. The seemingly sexual poses the filmmakers have Betty Luster do in the short seem to be pointing to that.

    – Servo gets a tad homophobic during the short, and Joel grabs his shoulder. A rare instance of disapproval towards an anti-gay joke.

    – The thing that REALLY gets me about the short, that no one really comments on, is the first half seems to be a moral tale about self-confidence…. and then it abruptly turns into a documentary about how trumpets are made. What?

    – I love the “Pod People” callback where B Natural gives an “okay” sign, and Servo says, “It stinks!”

    – Segment 1 is well-written, but there’s a couple things about it that’s a bit cringeworthy in hindsight. Crow argues that men do not have breasts, and says this very diligently. However, there does exist a biological disorder in some men that does make them develop female-like breasts. I can only imagine their reaction to this host segment. Crow’s rebuttal against Servo’s argument also sounds a tad anti-gay. Yes, I know, it’s the early 90s and crap, but wow.

    – Also, Servo’s mouth seems to be malfunctioning in Segment 1. Servo is supposed to be speaking in a fast tone (because Joel is trying to get him to reach his point), but I guess Kevin is having trouble with the mouth trigger, and Servo’s mouth opens and closes very slowly. It’s weird.

    – As the lead male and female characters climb a mountain, Servo comments they should carve Crazy Horse there. I have no idea when exactly the Crazy Horse mountain started getting sculpted, but if it was after this episode, then add this to the list of things MST3K predicted.

    – State Park joke: “They’re only keeping him there because he’s a big freak.”

    – I love how when Glen escapes the base, and that one military guy runs up to his boss in this very sissy manner. Sheesh, was that the best take they had of this scene?

    – I cracked up laughing over the “Pope becomes grandmother” report Joel gives in Segment 3.

    – I have to say this has to be one the most POINTLESS sequels ever made. Pretty much everything that happened in the first film, happens here too with no real variation. Were they that desperate for cash?

    – I like how Joel gets genuinely concerned at the end as Glenn approaches some electric telephone wires.

    – Erm…. is that a real letter that Glen (Mike Nelson) is reading in the final host segment, or a fake one?

    – They didn’t take the stinger from the short often, but I love that we get one last appearance by Mr. B natural. Almost like she’s….. he’s saying, “Hi! Remember me? See you in your nightmares!”

    Best Segment: Maybe the KTLA segment.
    Worst Segment: Segment 2 only exists just to set up the fact that Glen has letters to read during the closing segment.

    Overall: The short is hilarious to watch, but the film itself doesn’t offer a lot of material for J&TB. Most of the comments they make are just random observations. So ratings wise, I’ll just give it 2 1/2 stars. **1/2

       0 likes

  3. goalieboy82 says:

    Sorry to be so long.
    Crow: Bragger

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  4. Thomas K. Dye says:

    Oh, my God, the slide show bit of the movie is gut-bustingly funny.

    “It’s your tax dollars at work, Glen!”

    “Glen, this is the Lusitania! It has nothing to do with your life, but it was in the packet in the gift shop!”

    “Glen, this is Cy Sperling, president of Hair Club!”

    “Okay, we’ll come back to this one if we have time, but they’re gonna get harder now!”

    It’s my favorite part of the film, because it’s just so silly and overwrought. And when his sister comes in and tries to trigger his memory, it gets better…

    Remember your tricycle, Glen? It was red and it had a light on!

    “And you hit me with it!”

       3 likes

  5. thequietman says:

    Enjoying the short was a given but I actually sort of liked the film, just for the sheer chutzpah on display for a moneygrab this naked.

    By the by, who says that girl IS Manning’s sister? Maybe she’s some unbalanced person who became obsessed with Glen during his exploits in Las Vegas and Baird is just playing along since in the opening scenes he’s clearly making a play for her.

    I wonder if the convicts who wrote the first letter got to see it read on air back in 1991?

    Fave riff: Thanks for the ass prints on the desk, Eisenhower.

       2 likes

  6. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    Thomas K. Dye: Oh, my God, the slide show bit of the movie is gut-bustingly funny.

    “Remember THESE!?”
    “YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, A KISS IS STILL A KISS!!!”

    Brandon Pierce: – The thing that REALLY gets me about the short, that no one really comments on, is the first half seems to be a moral tale about self-confidence…. and then it abruptly turns into a documentary about how trumpets are made. What?

    One thing Mr. B and Spring Fever have in common is the totally nutty first half is followed up by a very long-winded second half(the music store guy going on about how brass instruments are made, the old guy going on about the bazillion uses for springs).

    Both shorts tend to under-utilize their main attraction: the demon spawn that are Mr. B and Coily.

       2 likes

  7. Goshzilla says:

    Whoever was responsible for the cuts to Mr B Natural (and personally, I believe the Brains edited it down a bit more from the incomplete version they were working with), it was for the best. As charming and riffable as the Mr B haunting Buzz scenes are, the balance is a pretty dull and typical sales pitch for musical instruments that 99% of the kids will lose interest in within a year. The whole structure and tone of the film seems to be poorly thought out, considering Conn clearly put a good chunk of money into producing it. The first half is so weird and shrill that it had to have alienated most of the square ’50s parents it was aimed at, and then it completely wears out its welcome with the harder sell, if anybody was still listening. I don’t think it would’ve become quite the beloved MST3K classic if it hadn’t been abridged. (I’m not against RiffTrax redoing MST films on principle, but they added very little to Mr B doing the uncut version. There’s just not much more to work with.)

       1 likes

  8. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    As an odd, pointless bit of continuity, the first movie established that Glen’s sarong was “adjustable” so that it would fit him no matter how big he grew. So in case anyone was wondering about that, well, there it is.

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  9. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    Actually Sampo, the Mr. B short was a film aimed at fifth graders to encourage them to take up band.
    I saw a film like this one when I was in forth or five grade and it was followed by a presentation by the local school band instrument supply company.

    As for the short, while it IS in terrible shape, that helped propel it to the Olympian heights it holds today.
    It is so unusual that the edits make it tighter and funnier.
    I have seen the original and bought the Rifftax version. Too much padding drags the amusement down.
    More is not always better.

       0 likes

  10. mst3ktemple says:

    First MST episode I ever saw (it was already a rerun). 10AM Sunday, 7/11/1993. My cable company had just picked up Comedy Central that month and this was the first weekend I had off from work in ages. The show came on and in one of the most glorious WTH moments in my life I was treated to Mr B Natural. Comedy Central announced that MST was not only on Saturdays and Sundays, but now could be watched every week night at midnight so I began daily viewings immediately.

       2 likes

  11. Smirkboy says:

    Not enough Russ Bender for me.
    CROW: “The slides were working!”

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  12. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    I am beginning to wonder if the “we’re really really white” song was a reflection of guilt on the part of the writing staff arising from their own pool of diversity in Eden Prairie. I think it’s very likely that those riffs reveal self-awareness of the white-bread Midwestern sensibility of the show and its crew. Maybe that was from Frank’s input.

    Even though it could be considered a song, I would say the really white song really qualifies more as a start park joke. I’ve found the ACEG referenced online saying that “State Park” Joke is when you point out something on-screen and call it exactly what it is (i.e. saying “it’s a state park!” when what is being shown is, indeed, a state park.) Saying white people are white is a state park joke.

    Catalina Caper had a bunch of riffs remarking on the whiteness of the cast (except for Little Richard). I give them a little more credit for achieving actual joke status. At least saying the teens are dancing for apartheid takes a little more imagination than saying they’re/we’re really white.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that too many riffs about the teens at Buzz’s school being part of some vast white conspiracy would be a little over the top. They straddled the line of taste and excess with the goose step joke, the really white song, and the white race will salute you line. Naturally, they would never sing “we’re really really black” when The Platters where on the stage. If I recall, they instead made a riff about the restaurant owner telling them to leave out the back. That seemed to provide the right level of social commentary and humor given the era of the film. Likewise, Johnny Longbow wasn’t riffed on his heritage, rather on his hesitative recipe recitation and suggestive surname.

    It’s not like filmmakers who show a non-diverse Eisenhower era cast were the equivalent of the portrayal of people as caricatures as in Jungle Goddess or Leech Woman. Take jabs at those folks, not the kooky teeners in Catalina Caper, or the sebaceous Buzz and his classmates.

    So there, I’ve come out and said it. “White jokes” such as the really white song are for the most part state park jokes. They aren’t really clever. Anything beyond one or two start to detract from my appreciation of an episode. Maybe I should really just relax. The tiny-batched Maltese and Italian stereotype jokes, however…

       0 likes

  13. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Also, is there any explanation for Mike’s pronunciation of “sequel?” I’ve never heard anybody else say it the same way.

    Don’t get me started on the pronunciation of biopic

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  14. Goshzilla says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance:
    Also, is there any explanation for Mike’s pronunciation of “sequel?” I’ve never heard anybody else say it the same way.

    Is it a Wisconsin thing? I’ve been more confused by his atypical pronunciations of karaoke (karokey) and dragon (dray-gon.) Although he’s not the only one who said karokey. Even Frank did, and he’s from New York. Who says biopic funny, and how? I’ve never noticed. Rhyming with myopic? Cuz that’s just evil. :devil:

    And then there’s Bill’s croy-sont in Nightmare At Noon. And while I’m at it, Conan O’Brien’s insistence on emphasizing the the second syllable in advertisement.

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  15. mnenoch says:

    Jeez @ Johnny non. It’s a show, it’s supposed to be funny not a serious psychological break down of what the mads thought about Eisenhower era shorts. Sometimes people go to far in trying analyze something and completely miss the joke, “state park” jokes are a staple of the show. Literally every episode has dozens of riffs on something happening on screen and them pointing that out. As far as the white jokes go the riffs are poking fun of the 50’s and the era where everything white people do is great and this is supposed to be how the world works. It’s funny because it is mocking how utterly absurd that notion was. It’s a lot like how Mel Brooks made fun of Nazi’s even though he is Jewish and fought in WW2.

    I digress. This is a great episode. The short is absolutely fantastic. I was afraid I’d hate the movie since it has been so long when I watched this episode last. However I thought it carried pretty well.

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