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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: 514- Teen-Age Strangler (with short: ‘Is This Love?’)

Short: (1957) A college couple rushes into marriage, while another couple is taking their time.
Movie: (1964) In a West Virginia town, a newly arrived family is at the center of a series of murders.

First shown: 11/7/93
Opening: Mike tries to phone his grandma
Invention exchange: Dr. F shows off the Frank-n-forcer, M&tB demonstrate the waiter-baiter
Host segment 1: M&tB ask: What is love?
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom want to rumble, but Mike intervenes
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom have a gadget that will make Mike act like Mikey
End: Song: “I’m a Janitor;” Dr. F. cleans up after Frank
Stinger: “And he didn’t steal no bike neither … I did!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (201 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)


• And so the show tries to settle into a new routine, and largely succeeds. The movie is plenty riffable and the memorable riffs are plentiful. The host segments are still a little awkward, but the show ends on a real high note. It’s a sign of good things to come.
• This episode is included in Rhino’s Vol. 10.
• Why is Mike calling his grandma? Not his parents? Not his brother Eddie?
• That’s Mary Jo as the voice of Mike’s grandma; that’s Kevin as the voice of the waiter-baiter.
• Mike channels his TGIFridays days with the waiter-baiter invention.
• Once again we get a short apparently aimed not a grade-schoolers, or even high-schoolers, but college students. I wonder when, exactly, college students stopped listening to mental hygiene movies with 30-year-old Romulans playing the students. Still, the message of the short — take your time, let your parents give you a house — is a good one, perhaps even more so today.
• RiffTrax would later riff “How Much Affection?” which is plugged in the short’s closing credits.
• In the first segment, it’s amazing how many of those celebrity romances are no more: almost all of them. I guess that was the point, but I’m still impressed by their accuracy rate.
• What’s the deal with John Humphries, who plays Mikey? At the first Conventio-Con, he explained. He said was a complete novice to acting when the film was made, and that he took his acting cues from Jo Canterbury, the actress who played weepy girlfriend Betty, whom he knew was from New York and had some acting experience. Thus, as her performance became more teary and shrill, so did his.
• The movie was filmed in, and stars many of the residents of, Huntington, WV. The real sheriff even played the movie sheriff. As one reviewer put it, “The effect is of a small town putting on a high school play about a serial killer.”
• During the introduction to the immortal “Yipes Stripes” number, M&TB try to come up with the dirtiest band names they could get away with, including The Cramps, The Buzzcocks and The Butthole Surfers. I think at the time they were just looking for band names that were good punchlines, but all those bands are now considered pretty important.
• “Yipes Stripes” is a real earworm. I’ve been unwillingly humming it for days.
• We get a nice look at Crow’s legs in second segment, which is otherwise pretty forgettable.
• In this episode they began using something different from the traditional five-second shot of the spinning spaghetti ball when they went to commercial. The bits show closeups of Deep 13. In the first one, the camera focuses in on a datebook that gives the episode number and the name of the movie In the second, the camera pans along a workbench in Deep 13 and stops on a beaker labeled with that info. In the third, we see a blackboard with that info, then what looks to be a big spitball then hits the blackboard.
• In the theater, Servo whistles. Hmmm…
• Segment three is fun, though it goes on a little too long…and why “rime”?
• Mike and Tom are already in the theater after segment three, and Crow enters still wearing the Mikey glasses — and therefore talking like Mikey.
• Callbacks: “Cornjob!” (Gamera v. Guiron). “The Master wants you but he can’t have you.” (Manos) [Note: Mike does that one.] “You can flip any chick in the house.” (Brain That Wouldn’t Die) Also, references to “Eegah” including “Watch out for snakes!” “Mr. B Natural is in one of those lockers!”
• One thing about Mike in these early episodes (and I think somebody in the comment thread last week mentioned this) is that he seems unwilling to actually yell when the line calls for yelling. Instead he sort of whisper-yells. He sort of simulates yelling, though he’s not actually raising his voice. As he got more comfortable in the role, that kind of faded away, but it’s pretty noticeable in these early ones.
• We get another “whu-happa?”.
• The show ends with Mike’s first song as host, and it’s a winner. Mike sang it in the live show at the first conventio-con as well.
• This movie was largely made by, and featured, people who had never made a movie before and would never make a movie again. Hence, no cast and crew roundup this week.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. “The Janitor Song”: Music by: Michael J. Nelson and David Sussman. Lyrics by: Frank Conniff.
• Fave riff from the short: “A big VISA bill!”
• Fave riff: “Fortunately, the Higgins Boys and Gruber were on the scene.” Honorable mention: “Looks like mom has won some dirt track trophies.”

132 Replies to “Episode guide: 514- Teen-Age Strangler (with short: ‘Is This Love?’)”

  1. swh1939 says:

    Killer short and a great movie. Tops all around. I watch this one more often than others.


  2. Fnord says:

    I have to say that, out of all of the episodes, this one here is my favorite. Just the way they handle Mikey and Betty just cracks me up every time. I can’t watch this episode and NOT laugh.

    But, of course, that’s just my opinion.


  3. GizmonicTemp says:

    Just “okay” short and movie for me. What was more important was the “Crowmagnons v. Hover Mothers” segment. It was the first time that I saw Mike being Mike with his delivery of self-fulfilling information. So many great future host segments would be just like this.

    Is it just me, or does the flanged guitar riff of “Yipes Stripes” at the start of the movie creep anyone else out?

    Click on my name above for my full review!


  4. bartcow says:

    The short is awesome, if only for the following bit at the end:

    Know Your Ointments
    What’s That Down There?
    When He Wants It Rough
    Oh No! Pleasure!

    Sends me into paroxysms of laughter every time.

    And I’d love to get my hands on a recording of Yipe Stripes. Does anyone know if this was ever produced? I’d go scavenging used record stores in WV if I had the time.


  5. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    Short is great ( pretty much all the ‘message’ shorts are ). Romulans and Sex, how can you go wrong ?

    The Movie work is very good as well, solid riffing, plus the janitor song is killer ( ha! ) and Mike’s ever so slightly fey waiter ( in the weeds ) is a very nice turn. HS2 is a little weak, or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea.

    But the actual film itself ( sorry to get all SG4 on you ) is a little too annoying in and of itself. It grates a bit, which takes away from some of the enjoyment ( makes it a 4 for me, not a 5 )

    Question: Did they select the first few movies of the Mike Era with an eye to smoothing the transition ? Along the lines of “Let’s use our best raw material right after the transition, throw ourselves some softballs. Keep the audience laughing and engaged while they get used to the new meat”.

    ( The validity of this question depends a lot on how you feel about 513,514 etc )


  6. GregS says:

    Am I wrong, or in the “Is this Love” short, is the female playing the “Romulan” the same actress who played Mrs. Snow (“Uncle Lady”) in “The Screaming Skull”?


  7. GizmonicTemp says:

    Medium – I totally agree with you. “Brain that Wouldn’t Die” all the way to “Batwoman” were definite “fastballs over the plate” for the Brains. But “Alien from L.A.” brought it to a quick stop since you had to look a little deeper to find riff targets, IMHO.


  8. Jason says:

    Love, love, love, love this episode.

    I was one of the people that had hard time cozying up to Mike in the beginning. I had only been watching the show since late ’92 I guess and had played alot of catchup with the 11 pm showings every night. Just long enough to get very bonded to Joel and then he was gone. Poof.

    It was weird, I continued taping the show weekly for awhile, 513 forward but for whatever reason it wasn’t clicking for me with Mike. Later on in the year, 514 was rerun at some point and upon that viewing I really got into Mike as host and the Mike era was finally born, for me at least.

    There are so many strong riffs in this episode. “Looks like operation rescue”, “Your not in Piketon anymore”, “Incredible sexless girl man tells all in crime jag”. And on and on…

    This is such a “Mike” episode too, steady & strong slicing of an easy target. No laid back riffing (which I honestly still prefer, w/Joel).

    Sampo, you stole my favorite riff so I’ll give a 1B: “Wait, how did he get on that side!..He crashed, then shot himself”.

    Pre MST3K following, Allen Havey & the Higgins Boys & Grueber were the bomb, to me. So I really admired that Higgins riff.


  9. MST3Kelly says:

    it IS impossible to get that twangy sequence of notes of ‘Yipe Stripes’ out of one’s head. [there it goes now…] Tom Servo I think at one point morphs this maddening melody into the jingle music from an old percolating coffee commercial [Folger’s?] one of my favorite scenes in the film is when the gruff and disgruntled police detective comes over and Betty’s mom keeps offering him a ‘gup of goffee.’ the shell sculpture/mixed media monstrosity on the wall IS frightening!

    I love the riffs in the short on how ancient the eloping girl’s roommate is, and the girl’s cartoonish parents. her mom flutters around like Margaret Dumont meets Billie Burke, and dad is a gravelly-voiced old coot with a soft heart. and yeah, the riffs at the end of the short always make me laugh as if I’m hearing them for the first time. they are a refreshing antidote to the treacly nature of the short.

    it made me happy to hear the Cramps and especially the Buzzcocks mentioned in the film.

    a friend of mine who, noting my obsession with this show, dubbed me ‘MST3’Kelly, was introduced by me to Mystery Science. he loved the show immediately, and we would have five-hour show watching marathons. in one of these, we watched this episode. subsequently we began referring to Mike’s hushed yelling of his riff in the short when the Dad shows the Mom the daughter’s note as ‘MST3K shout-whispering.’ we used to work together and would shout-whisper lines from the show to each other, causing embarrassing laughter to erupt from the other. I would hold up a random piece of paper, shake it in the air while glaring at him, and shout-whisper ‘look at it- LOOK AT IT!’ other favorite lines to shout-whisper are the classic Planet of the Apes beach-pounding ‘damn you all to hell!’ speech and ‘it’s a madhouse- a madhouse!’ he has since moved away, and I miss him, but we call each other occasionally. he’ll often answer my ‘hello?’ with ‘look at it- LOOK AT IT!’
    anyway- thanks for letting me share that.


  10. MST3Kelly says:

    I don’t think it is Peggy Webber, who played Jenni Whitlock in The Screaming Skull, playing the Romulan Roommate, but Ms. Webber did play Anne Brewster- the mom of lead Space Child Bud- in ‘The Space Children.’
    same sort of facial structure though.


  11. MST3Kelly says:

    ok GregS obviously I need more coffee here- apologies. that was Tony Johnson, apparently.


  12. Invader Pet says:

    IMO the actress who plays Betty in the film is just adorable. Pretty face, and I love her old-fashioned hairdo. Sigh…

    When I first saw this episode I was stunned to hear them actually reference Drew Carey. It surprised me because this episode was made in 1993, and back then I think Carey was just a local stand-up comedian. He wouldn’t become a TV star until two years later. I was just amazed that The Brains were even aware of him during that period.


  13. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    GregS #6: I see what you’re saying… I cued up clips from both at youtube and they DO look A LOT alike. I don’t think that they are the same person, but given the ineluctable modality of the visible, I wouldn’t be thunderstruck if they were.


  14. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    well, I can personally attest that DC was well known to viewers of stand up comedy shows on TV well before his sit-com premiered.

    ( well, well, well ) anyway from Wikipedia ( ignore the superscripts!):

    Stand-up career
    In 1985, he began his comedy career by following up on a suggestion by David Lawrence (a disc jockey friend who had been paying Drew to write jokes for David’s radio show in Cleveland) to go to the library and borrow books on how to write jokes.[5] In 1986, after winning an open-mic contest, he became MC at the Cleveland Comedy Club.[6] For the next few years, he performed at multiple comedy clubs in Cleveland and Los Angeles. He was first brought to the national eye as a comedian when he competed in the 1988 Star Search.[7] Carey was working as a stand-up comedian in 1991 when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.[8] His performance that night impressed Carson, who invited Carey to the couch next to his desk; this was considered a rare honor for any comedian.[9] Carey claims he reached the limit on his credit card the next day returning calls from interested casting directors, and he credited Carson with making his career. In that same year, Carey also appeared on the 14th Annual Young Comedians Special on HBO and made his first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.[10] In 1994, Carey wrote his own stand-up comedy special which aired on Showtime, entitled Drew Carey: Human Cartoon, for which he won a CableACE Award for Best Writing.[10]


  15. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    re #14. oops sorry, #14 should have made reference to InvaderPet #12.


  16. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I’m sort of surprised that anyone wouldn’t love this one. It hits all the right buttons for me. But I like to watch this one unriffed on a Something Weird dvd that I’ve got. I kind of root for a movie like this, because it’s so obviously a bunch of novices making it. Except for the ACTRESS who played Betty, apparently. It really does have that feel of a whole community coming together. C’mon gang,let’s go make a movie! I wrote a crappy song we can put in it over and over again!!!

    Fave riff: “Doin’ the Butt! Uh! Uh! Doin’ the Butt!”

    Runner-up: “Oh, you’ve got the boogers again, haven’t you dear…”


  17. MarkW says:

    MEDIUM & GT – If they were intending to use their best matieral right up front to ease Mike’s transition…then IMO they failed miserably. He got hit with 3 of the most dreary & painful-to-watch movies they ever did early on – 513, 515, 518. Obviously they had to use Santa Claus later due to it’s subject matter, but if they wanted to give Mike “fastballs” early on why not use grade A movies like Beginning of the End or Outlaw or Village of the Giants?

    To me there’s vast difference in the MST-worthiness of the films Joel got that year vs. the ones Mike did in the 2nd half of the season.


  18. This is such a great episode that my wife actually stays in the room when I put it on! she also sings ‘Yipes Stipes’ at least once a week…this episode really helped me with the Joel-Mike transition and I’ve since become a big Mike fan as well, thanks Mikey!


  19. GizmonicTemp says:

    MarkW #17 – I agree with you about “Atomic Brain” and “Batwoman”, which was a HORRIBLE movie, but was somewhat redeemed in that it made total fun of itself.

    Also, most of Joel’s final movies were color, but a lot of Mike’s first ones were black and white. Maybe it’s a subliminal thing.


  20. Rowsdower17 says:

    The Frank-N-Forcer is my favorite invention! Frank’s constant bawling(louder and louder) is nicely counterbalanced by Dr.F’s increasing anger. “FRANK!!!!”


  21. derm says:

    A damn fine episode. Lots of good riffs and I enjoy it when Mike “raps” with bots. I always wondered if they really had “Crazy Days” somewhere in Wisconsin.

    “White flight…”


  22. adoptadog says:

    Mikey [to Betty]: “What are we gonna do?”
    Crow: “Rub your face in crunchy underwear!”

    Awful image, always makes me cringe, but I love the sheer, disproportionate rage in Crow’s response, and his muttered “Well, I’m sorry…” to Mike & Servo.

    This is a pretty strong episode, with a great short and a decent enough movie (and with an impossible-to-forget song). I like it very much.


  23. R.A. Roth says:

    Once Mikey joins the drudgery, the riffing really ramps up. What a ripe target Mikey is. Thick glasses. Androgynous. Whiny voice. The second he hit the screen the Brains knew they had a winner.



  24. The actress who plays Liz in the short actually had a significant supporting role in David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome”. I rewatched it recently and did a triple take when James Woods sits down with her at a restaurant.

    Perfect movie for the elderly Romulan teenager.


  25. ck says:

    “The movie was filmed in, and stars many of the residents of, Huntington, WV.”
    Rumor has it, granted a rumor just started
    here by myself, that a comment by Tom Servo
    at the end of the film was cut out due to time constraints:

    “Which means I really, really hate the citizens and officials of Huntington, WV, Mike.
    I never liked the citizens and officials of stupid Huntington, WV! This is just the nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned. Go to hell, citizens and officials of Huntington, WV!


  26. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    Actually, in the version of the rumor I heard, that was Crow’s riff….

    and by ‘heard’ I mean ‘just made up’.


  27. underwoc says:

    What always gets me about this movie is the ridiculous amount of trauma the family has gone to over this stolen bike. Sure, I can understand the anguish and guilt Mikey lives with for setting his brother up, but was the aftermath really so severe that they had to move to a new town? Was it Vito Corlione’s bike or something? (Insert image of Mikey waking up with a pair of handlebars in his bed).


  28. Joey Stink Eye Smiles says:

    Is This Love?

    By Paul H. Landis, who has never known the touch of a woman.


  29. underwoc says:

    “Give me back my diaphragm!”


  30. Stickboy says:

    One of my favorite episodes. Every moment Mikey is on the screen is just golden. I didn’t notice how much whisper-screaming Mike Nelson did till you guys pointed it out. Compare that to Kevin. He had no problem raising his voice.

    Now to make a bold statement. I’ve always thought Joel was better in the host segments, and Mike was better in the theater.

    “Jew? I specifically heard him say ‘Jew.'”


  31. Omega says:

    I noticed Mike (the character not the actor) uses Torgo’s voice near the end of the film even though Torgo hadn’t made an appearance since Mike took over. Unless the Bots showed Mike Manos earlier (during the training in the previous episode), this would be the first of two instances (a Jet Jaguar comment in a later episode) where Mike knew something from the Joel years. Of course, maybe I should just relax.


  32. Jeff says:

    I can recall the fake yelling showing up much later in scifi episodes. I always thought it was a conscious desire to avoid overmodulating the microphone. It always has seemed a bit odd, though, one of those neat little BBI things.


  33. I’m not a medium, I’m a petite says says:

    NOW I REMEMBER, something’s bothering me about this ep and watching it now I recall….

    Andy from the short ( the Romulan’s fiance ) and Sonny / Tony (?), Jimmy Walton’s skinny nerdy friend from the feature.

    They ARE the same actor, no ?


  34. Buck Wendigo says:

    one of my favorite dvd episodes. Mikey is one of the more memorable characters in the Nelson era of shows. He’s not ortega, but still memorable.


  35. Professor Gunther says:

    I LOVE this episode! And I agree with #8 regarding the absence of laid-back riffing. Mike pounces on a movie (e.g., “The Starfighters”), and he pounces on this one. And yet, this film has an odd charm.

    The Police Chief BARELY holds it together as Mikey winds up and then delivers his “And-he-didn’t-steal-no-bike-neither” speech. A priceless bit of homemade acting.


  36. norgavue says:

    Ehhhh what do you want me to look up…..


  37. I’m not a medium, I’m a petite says says:

    cool, the short has an entry at IMDB.

    sigh. I guess my statement in #33 is probably not 100% accurate. oh well.


  38. MikeK says:

    This is a favorite episode of mine, mostly for the short. I just can’t believe how odd looking the Romulan roommate was. She’s even worse than the skinny cavewoman in Girls Town or Big Ethel in Squirm. I mean, I know it’s not a fair thing to say, but wow.


  39. outmywindow says:

    EXCELLENT episode.

    I have to say that if, for some reason, I knew Mike Nelson, I’d ask him to talk like Mikey all the damn time. Even just thinking about the third segment cracks me up. The voice, the screwed up face, it’s all gold.


  40. Fred P says:

    I love this episode and make fun of Mikey all the time. “Then they gave me a swirly” and ” I think we found Waldo” break me up every time. The short was also funny my wife ,who claims not to be a fan but sure laughs alot when I’m watching the show, about fell out of her chair laughing when they made the Romulon riff. Very good episode fun to watch and one I would suggest to a first timer.


  41. crowschmo says:

    Not one of the better episodes for me, though good in spots. I like when the teens in their hangout diner maltshop thingee are shouting out their orders unintelligibly – M&TB yell out some random noises of their own, and Crow says, “Timothy Van Patten’s favorite hang out.”

    Nothing really memorable for me accept Mike’s janitor song, and movie Mikey, of course. (If this episode had aired in later years, I could see M&TB making some Harry Potter jokes).


  42. ck says:

    Food for thought, who’s more too old for their
    movie role: Space Mutiny–Lea Jansen or the
    movie short’s Romulan roommate?


  43. MikeK says:

    Hmm, interesting. Both women look older than the characters they are playing. Lea Jansen is obviously an older woman playing a younger one, but it’s not really convincing. The Romulan woman is quite homely, and it probably advances her age appearance. This creates enough doubt for me to say that the actress playing Lea Jansen is the one that’s too old for her role.


  44. H says:

    I think Romulan was in Are You Ready For Marriage? as well.
    Very good episode. Short is good but leaves us with an ‘Are you qualified?’ moment and I don’t care for that. Movie is good. I too enjoy Mikey. Host segments are pretty good. Love the Janitor song.
    Interesting fact a lot of you already know- Joel helped create the Higgins Boys and Gruber pilot, so nice callback there.


  45. pablum says:

    Of all the episodes I’ve skipped over, this is the one and I read this synopsis to find out it was filmed in Huntington, WV. Which is very close to me.

    The things WV is (in)famous for. My town even had a couple of reported Mothman sightings.


  46. crowschmo says:

    INAMIAP – #33 – I thought it was the same guy, too! I thought, didn’t I just see this guy – maybe?

    And in my earlier thread, I meant “except”, not “accept”. Sometimes I use my wrong words.


  47. Super Agent Icky Elf says:

    Just rewatched this episode yesterday… I had forgotten how funny it was (especially the short).

    Two favorite (naughty) riffs from the short:
    The pretty roommate reclines on the bed with her arms above her head and M&tB(I think it was Crow) says: “Get the cuffs”.

    The second is when the pretty roommate is confronted by her parants about her boyfriend and someone riffs: “He’s great in the sack and likes to get high”.

    I always enjoy the drug references… probably because I’m a big pothead.


  48. John Seavey says:

    What I really love about the short is just how laid-back the parents are, and how extreme the overraction of the teenage girl is. “We think maybe you should finish this semester of college, while still dating your fiance, and see where he falls in the draft before getting married.”

    “You’re trying to run my life! Well, screw that, I’m eloping right this second!”


  49. Cubby says:

    Food for thought, who’s more too old for their
    movie role: Space Mutiny–Lea Jansen or the
    movie short’s Romulan roommate?

    Answer: C. John Ensign, who plays Jimmy Walton in Teen-Age Strangler.

    He was 47 when he made this movie.

    I lovelovelove this episode. I get a kick out of the community-theater aspect of the movie. My favorite riff is when the Janitor is telling his tale of unjust treatment, and Crow offers, “And then I rolled the lawnmower!”

    Before I saw this episode, I was still undecided about Mike. He hadn’t grabbed me in 513, and at the time, the riffs didn’t either. When this first ran, I only caught the last 10 minutes or so of the movie (from the drag race to the end), and any concerns I had were gone.

    One thing I’ve always wondered about, though: I always thought Stacy Smith, credited as Mary, was the one who played Betty. Every time I listen to Stacy Smith sing, I hear Betty’s voice. Listen to the vocal inflections in “Yipe Stripes” and listen to her start yodeling when she talks to Lt. Anderson, or complaining about the school lunch program. Then compare. If you (like me) have the unMSTed version of this, you can hear more of the song that Mike & The Bots sing as “God Bless America” and compare again. I know that John Humphreys stated that Jo Cantebury was Betty, but this still bugs me. (Then there’s the credit about the fashions that Stacy Smith wears – if she’s Mary, she’s barely in the film, and she only has that one odd dress, whereas Betty wears a variety of outfits)

    Maybe Stacy Smith was blessed with the same singing/speaking difference as Jim Nabors, I don’t really know.


  50. underwoc says:

    Wow, I was going to say Robert Vaughn in TEENAGE CAVEMAN, but I guess he was only 26 at the time…


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