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Weekend Discussion Thread: Your Favorite Ballyhoo Feature

Alert reader “Sitting Duck” suggests:

One of the best things about Shout taking over the DVD releases is how they include all these great extras, particularly the material from Ballyhoo. So I was wondering what everyone’s favorite Ballyhoo feature is. For me, I would say the Coleman Francis documentary “No Dialogue Necessary.” I particularly liked their parody of the random-line-spouting narrator from “Beast of Yucca Flats.”

I’d pick Citizen Wood: Making ‘The Bride,’ Unmaking ‘The Legend.’ Fascinating. I actually learned stuff.

What’s your pick?

(Keep your suggestions coming, please!)

29 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Your Favorite Ballyhoo Feature”

  1. Dropo221 says:

    Yes, the Coleman Francis feature is one of my favorites, but I think I like the one about Santa Claus best. It not only goes in depth about the cast, director Rene Cordona and K. Gordon Murray (Murray the ceiling needs painting!! )and the other Mexican films he brought to the U.S.

    But, there is also a discussion about how Santa really didn’t have much of a role in the Mexican Christmas celebration, until this film premiered in 1959!


  2. Blowie the Dolphin says:

    Larry Blamire geeking out about Robot Monster is a keeper.


  3. Remmie Barrow says:

    I would have to say the one about SANTA CLAUS was my favorite.


  4. tvsfrank2 says:

    I can’t remember one that stood out above the others – although I find them all interesting. But that part when the credits roll, there’s a scream and the skeleton starts dancing…now that creeps me out.


  5. Dr. Batch says:

    I’d have to say the Coleman Francis one as well.


  6. VeryDisturbing says:

    I think they’re all good, really.
    I love having these as special features on these discs. Keep ’em comin’!

    They definitely know this genre, and it’s good to have these docs provide some background/story behind the creation of these films.

    Side note, I love Blamire’s ‘The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra’, it’s such a hilarious, faithful spoof.
    I did like to see his character Lineman Larry explain to that Leave-it-to-Beaver-looking-kid, about who Jam Handy was.
    That was fun.

    But all of them are awesome.
    It’s tough to pick a favorite…


  7. Keith Palmer says:

    I’m not very good at “picking favourites,” but I did find August Ragone’s commentaries on the original Japanese versions of the “Sandy Frank movies” interesting. If those don’t quite count as “Ballyhoo” features, the documentary about Robert L. Lippert, getting into the well-regarded movies of Samuel Fuller, also got my attention and pointed me on to something I hadn’t quite known about before. The Ballyhoo documentaries are good at engaging with the movies of the “MST3K canon” from perspectives that might be missed when enjoying them in a comedic context.


  8. mst3ktemple says:

    There have been a lot of great ones, but I’m going to say the new MST3K: The Movie – The Motion Picture Odyssey because of all the great interviews and behind the scenes footage that I had never seen before. They really dug deep to find some of those treasures.


  9. ck says:

    Favotite bonus: The promotions for the one-hour shows. i wasn’t aware they existed until they started being included in bonuses. Mike Nelson’s finest hour—as Jack Perkins, that is.

    Additonal feature not included so far, SUBTITLES!. I don’t buy arguments against them since they were added to The Movie, both the movie per se and riffs. Subtitles would help not only when dialogue isn’t clear or overlaid by riffs, but some of the more exotic references could be followed/looked up. Oh, and what about hearing impaired viewers?


  10. EricJ says:

    The Mexican Santa Claus documentary covered the basics respectably (I still find myself quoting “It was our first foreign movie as kids, and…boy, was it foreign.”)

    @6 – As one who found Lost Skeleton amusing for about 15 minutes–until Larry thought he was Clever and it turned into the same rib-nudging 50’s parody we’ve seen 50,000 times–the Jam Handy short was toenail-pulling torture:
    First, Jam says something interesting, in vintage footage. Then Larry says something Random and Quirky, pretending to be All 50’s ‘n Stuff. Then Jam says something interesting about how journeyman filmmakers got their start. Then Larry says something dumb and out of context about the words he used. Then Jam says A. Then Larry says “‘Eh?’ Do you want me to repeat myself?”. Then Jam says B. Then Larry says “Bee? Where? Get it off me!” Then Jam. Then Larry. Then Jam. Then Larry. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Run screaming from the room.
    I don’t know if I was supposed to finally take Jam’s side–sort of in the way Roger Corman gets to be pretty interesting after a while if you listen to him talk about his early career long enough–but in the battle between Sincere, and Painfully Forced Rib-Nudging Quirkiness, the Sincerity of someone who was doing what he was doing will always triumph.
    Larry…you are NO BEST BRAIN, or indeed any brain, no matter how much you think LSoC and your other dozen or so unknown “old-movie parodies” are Sorta Like MST3K. Please stop.

    That said, I still want to see Bally’s non-MST3K documentary on the Mexican fairytale films…Whatever happened to that?
    Off of MST3K, they also–shortly after doing the Devil Doll interview with British producer Richard Gordon–did a perfectly straightforward documentary about Gordon’s early-British-film career on VCI’s Blu of the 1951 “A Christmas Carol”.
    With that and the Revenge of the Creature documentary on Jack Arnold, their docs have actually been getting better…Just so long as they remember to kick the unfunny thinks-he’s-a-hoot jerk out of the room.


  11. Miss Mary says:

    I liked the “Ed Wood” feature on Bride of The Monster, because it featured commentary from horror host Mr. Lobo, who is a very sweet guy and a good friend.


  12. Earl B says:

    Here’s another vote for “The Incredible Mr Lippert”. And let’s not forget “Trail Of The Creeper” – which actually won a Rondo Award!

    Quick question: The Bert I Gordon doc was surprisingly short, given the number of his films featured on the show. Is it possible it was a tease for a longer, more in-depth piece – like, maybe, when more of his MST eps are released?

    And, yeah, what *did* happen to that K Gordon Murray/Mexican movie doc?


  13. Gorn Captain says:

    The latest one about the MST movie is my current fave. They’re all well made, informative, and fast paced though. The documentary they did about John Carpenter’s “Dark Star” clocks in longer than the actual movie, and those two hours just breeze by. If that movie didn’t have some influence on MST, I’d be very surprised.

    Wish they could have done an in depth doc about Manos. Hotel Torgo falls short once you know the makers didn’t go very far in contacting surviving cast members.


  14. David J says:

    I liked the features included in Mystery Science Theater: The Movie. They gave a lot of bold insight in the challenges that the writers faced doing the movie and also put a lot in perspective regarding why some fans of classic sci-fi didn’t appreciate the treatment of This Island Earth.


  15. generalist says:

    The first one that came to mind…

    MST3K: The Movie – The Motion Picture Odyssey. They managed to choke me up. Good stuff.


  16. Captn Ross Hagen says:

    Id like to see a where are they now or after MST about Toolmaster Jeff, and others from the show.


  17. GregS says:

    They’re all good, but I especially like Trail of the Creeper.


  18. Kali says:

    Too many good ones, but I think I’ll stay with the master of cinematic parking, Coleman Francis, with the Santa Claus doc a close second. By the way, guys, is it my imagination or are these documentaries getting shorter? I really hoped for a more in depth evaluation of Bert I Gordon since he got the most movies roasted on MST3K.

    And speaking of which, he’s directing again, according to this article on Fangoria:

    Rifftrax? He’s laying in wait for you…

    Flag on the moon. What’s that doing there?


  19. Bill Haverchuck says:

    It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because, really, I just love all the Ballyhoo special features & look forward to watching those before checking out the transfers on the episodes themselves. I’ve learned so much about the filmmakers of the movies featured on MST3K from the docs & feel like they’re really doing a great service to bad movie fans & MSTies alike by lifting the curtain on these “where the hell did this come from??” films… Bravo, Ballyhoo!


  20. Luther Heggs aka Number 6 says:

    Any truth to the rumor that Ballyhoo will coalesce the next (reunion) MST3K movie as an independent venture?

    Finally, a reason to attend the Sundance Film Festival.

    Sundance MST3K II after-show interview panel:

    Servo: That transition between ship and planet that skipped a bit, just before Joel’s resurrection scene and the James Spader clone cameo? I spliced that piece of film myself. I’m proud of it. Pop, scratch, and all, damn it. Print!

    Crow: The glory of celluloid. They just don’t make’em like that anymore – but we did. I think we had more than a few bottles of Dos Equis lager day. (laughing)

    Servo: (laughing) Yes we did. As I recall, Mike also blew his Dos Equis cookies on that lot where they would later shoot Phantasm 5. It was great.

    Gypsy: (singing) We did it ourrrr waaayyyyy!


  21. Luther Heggs aka Number 6 says:

    To answer the topic’s question:

    It’s a tie between Citizen Wood and their work on the re-release of MST3K The Movie.


  22. Manos Bride says:

    My favorite isn’t actually a Ballyhoo feature. It’s Gamera Obscura: A History by August Ragone, on the Gamera vs. Gaos DVD. There’s one part in particular that always gets me. If you haven’t seen it, he talks about the studio’s original idea for a monster movie. Since The Birds was so popular in Japan, they decided to do another wildlife-gone-wild movie, and came up with an idea for a movie about giant, mutated rats. But the tame, domesticated rats they got for the test footage didn’t look menacing enough, so they offered the general public money to catch live wild rats and bring them to the studio. What could possibly go wrong with THAT idea? Now I’m sure there were some professional exterminators who were able to catch rats relatively safely, but I’ll bet there were a lot of poor Japanese people crawling around in the sewers going “Heeere, ratty ratty ratty!” I just hope no one caught rabies or any other horrible diseases from rat bites trying to catch the darn things! It was obviously a terrible idea from the beginning, but it apparently didn’t get shut down until the Japanese version of the health department found out about it. After all that, they finally just decided to go with another man in a monster costume, and somehow came up with the giant turtle idea. Which was probably for the best.


  23. hellokittee says:

    I liked the Sandy Frank feature (was that one Ballyhoo?) because honestly I knew NOTHING about him for all these years other than having something to do with producing the Gamera movies. Definitely learned something new with that one.


  24. Creeping-Death says:

    So far I’ve enjoyed all of Ballyhoo’s features, they always have good interviews with cast and crew of the shows. I particularly enjoyed the Beast of Yucca Flats and MST3K: The Movie features, though.


  25. Count 5 says:

    I would like to see a Ballyhoo documentary on the history of the Ballyhoo company.



  26. Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments, though a documentary on Ballyhoo would be a bore. I hear it now… the disembodied trailer announcer voice proclaiming… “ONE MAN SITS ALONE WITH HIS COMPUTER. ONE MAN… WITH A DREAM. AND A COMPUTER. WAIT! DID I MENTION THAT ALREADY?”

    Each project is a labor of love, even though they are ALL produced with limited funding, VERY limited resources, and under intense time restraints. But I will keep making them… if you keep watching them. :)


  27. EricJ says:

    @20 – Servo: (laughing) Yes we did. As I recall, Mike also blew his Dos Equis cookies on that lot where they would later shoot Phantasm 5. It was great.

    (There was a Phantasm 5? They didn’t end the series with all that recycled cut-floor footage in “OblIVion”?)


  28. Dirk Squarejaw says:

    @Daniel Griffith – Yes, please keep making these features. They add another, very enjoyable dimension to being both a MSTie and a B-movie buff. And respectfully disagreeing with EricJ (#10), I love Larry Blamire’s role in these and they got me interested in his work, which my wife and I both have enjoyed greatly ever since. Although we were wary initially of “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” (due to many previous disappointments with B-movie parodies), we absolutely loved it. And if you like humor with a playfully sinister undercurrent, I’d strongly recommend checking out Blamire’s web series “Tales from the Pub.”


  29. MSTie says:

    I agree that it’s hard to pick a favorite. They almost all add a lot to my knowledge & enjoyment of the movies, MST3K itself, or actors.

    I’ll mention one that I don’t think anyone else has brought up, the feature about Rondo Hatton on “The Brute Man” disc (Volume XXII). It was so sad yet actually helped me see that Hatton probably found the best way to use his disability. He wasn’t hidden away, he wasn’t in some freak show, and people still remember him with respect today. That feature stayed with me for a long time.


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