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Sampo & Erhardt

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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: 523- Village of the Giants

Movie: (1965) A boy genius invents a growth formula, which is consumed by some trouble-making teens.

First shown: 1/22/94
Opening: M&tB are doing their quarterly workout
Intro: While Mike juices, Dr. F. downsizes TV’s Frank!
Host segment 1: Dr. F. interviews Torgo
Host segment 2: M&tB interview rough-looking Frank
Host segment 3: M&tB sing: “The Greatest Frank”
End: A letter to Frank, Frank gets his job back
Stinger: Tribute to Frank Zappa
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (178 votes, average: 4.52 out of 5)

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• This is just a great episode all the way around: Great segments, a fun and very riffable movie, great riffing, a great song, everything you can ask for.
• This episode is included in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XXVI.
• If you want to know more about this movie — a LOT more — check out villageofthegiants.net. Some amazing stuff there.
References.
• The song Tom is singing in the opening segment is “Chicken Fat” sung by Robert Preston in the original song. I have vivid memories of being forced to do calisthenics to it in elementary school gym class.
• The segments are essentially one story, but each sketch is also a little bit of brilliant free-standing satire on the inanities of the working world. Having been canned myself, the opening resonates.
• Of course, one feature of this movie is an appearance by The Beau Brummels. I had never heard of them when I saw this for the first time, but they have their admirers, apparently.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers; close up film canister; pan down to notebook; shot of blackboard–a big bone hits it
• Callbacks: “Coruba!” (Outlaw) “What sin could a duck commit in a single lifetime?” (Amazing Colossal Man) “I didn’t steal no bike, neither.” (Teenage Strangler) “Dang smoochers!” (The the Eye Creatures) “I’m gonna moon you, man!” (The Beatniks).
• Segment 1 is another gem. The line “Well, I work too hard…hahaha” never fails to slay me.
• See something familiar in those exterior shots? That’s the back lot. Some of those houses were also used for TV’s “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”
• Segment 2 is yet another classic. I always have a hard time not using Frank’s lines when being interviewed.
• “Let Me Be Frank about Frank” is great stuff. The Paul Williams impressions are particularly funny. It was performed at the live shows in 1994, and featured a lovely interpretive dance by a leotard-clad Frank (video of which was included on the “Scrapbook” tape). The segment also features a great montage: Again, Cambot gets the credit, but the real artist is probably Brad Keeley. The song was created by the songwriting duo of Michael J. Nelson (music) and Bridget Jones (lyrics).
• In the credits, we get a reprise of the song and we think it’s all fun and then the whole thing becomes poignant. In the ACEG, I believe it was Kevin who noted that Zappa had contacted the Brains shortly before his death with the idea of doing something together, but time ran out, alas.
• Cast and crew roundup: Again, I am not going re-recite the Bert I. litany. Suffice to say we know him well. Some guy named H.G. Wells also wrote stuff that “Riding with Death” was very loosely based on. Cinematographer Paul C. Vogel, special effects guy Herman Townsley and art director Franz Bachelin all worked on “Tormented.” Photo process guy Farciot Edouart, sound recorder Charles Grenzbach and make-up man Wally Westmore all worked on “The Space Children.” Sound effects guy Jack Cornall worked on “King Dinosaur.” Editor John Bushelman also worked on “King Dinosaur” and “Tormented.”
In front of the camera, Tommy Kirk and Jim Begg were both in “Catalina Caper.” Johnny Crawford was also in “Space Children.” Bob Random was also in “Being From Another Planet.” Joseph Turkel was also in “Tormented.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Also, with this episode the “Manager of Business Affairs” credit vanishes, and in its place is a “Director of Operations” title, held by one Jeffrey P. Young. He lasted a grand total of five episodes. I bet there’s a story there.
• Fave riff: “This is Tommy Kirk REALLY acting!” Honorable mention: “A buffalo shot that covers three states.”

117 Replies to “Episode guide: 523- Village of the Giants”

  1. Strummergas says:

    Beau Bridges and the Beau Brummels in the same movie? WOW!!

    I hadn’t seen this episode before, and I really had fun watching it! Definitely one of the best (if not THE best) Mike experiment in Season 5. Goofy 60s movie, very strong riffing, and hilarious story arc segments. It’s also no surprise that both Ron Howard and Beau Bridges went on to have long careers as their acting is head and shoulders above everyone else in this movie, although that’s not saying much when you’re lined up next to Tommy Kirk. Five stars!

    And by the way, Al Pacino was definitely NOT in the Beau Brummels at any point in their career. Mike and the Bots were only riffing on one of the band members (possibly Sal Valentino, I forget) looking a little bit like a young Al Pacino. And despite their presence in such a ridiculous movie, they truly are one of the most underrated bands of the 1960s. They started out as an American answer to the British Invasion and would up being pioneers in country-rock on their later efforts Triangle and Bradley’s Barn. There’s plenty of tracks to chedk out on You Tube, I highly recommend them!

       2 likes

  2. maclen says:

    Noticed early on that the “bad” girl character “Georgette”, the brunette played by actress Vicki London, disappears from the film after they eat the goop and grow to 40 feet tall. She then reappears at the end when opie released the antidote gas and they shrink back to normal size. Turns out her role was cut down because she refused the producers request to strip down for those scenes when the women start to grow and their blouses break away.

       1 likes

  3. dakotaboy says:

    Strummergas:
    Beau Bridges and the Beau Brummels in the same movie? WOW!!

    Ron Howard and Tommy Kirk in the same movie? WOW!!

       3 likes

  4. Sitting Duck says:

    Village of the Giants fails the Bechdel Test. The only conversation between two females occurs between Nancy and the sheriff’s daughter, and it’s about Fred.

    Frank in his underwear is as upsetting as Tommy Kirk in tiny shorts.

    Missed riffing opportunity: there’s no response from Mike and the Bots when Tommy says, “You don’t have to be. Not with me around.”

    Love how unimpressed the sheriff is when he first sees the giant teens.

    Guess the film’s budget couldn’t afford any ADR for the sheriff’s dialogue.

    As for why the modified curtains shrank as well, Bert I. was probably already pushing it when he showed the delinquents bursting out of their clothes. Showing them being run out of town as they ineffectually cover up their naughty bits would have likely been seen as going too far.

    For a more traditional stinger, I would have gone with the gangly cowboy getting the Death Jiggle. Or maybe a shot of one of the delinquents bursting out of their clothes.

    The Let Me Be Frank About Frank interpretive dance is also an Easter Egg on one of the Shout DVDs (can’t remember which one).

    Dyne #4: The forced perspective effects of the giants in this movie are among the better forced perspective effects seen in MSTed movies

    That’s not exactly a high bar to clear.

    @ #17: If we were ever told what Torgo did to Dr. F., we’d just be disappointed since it wouldn’t measure up to what we imagined.

    # #50: Perhaps Goemon wasn’t in that particular episode.

    BTW Sampo, you should update those Annotated MST links, as they don’t lead to the episode pages anymore.

    Favorite riffs

    That which does not kill you makes you more musical.

    If her pants were any tighter, they’d be behind her.

    But how will they erase the shame of this movie?

    I blinded me with science!

    Obviously the turtle Gamera can’t be far behind.

    As in tune as Bert I. was with the Fifties, he just didn’t get the Sixties.

    What to do about Clint.

    He blew his hand up! It’s funny!

    Throw in the tongue, and we’ve got a deal.

    I’ve just been rejected by Tommy Kirk. I can’t get any lower than this.

    He allowed himself to be threatened by Tommy Kirk.

    I’m sure the meat from the huge, mutated duck has no side effects.

    Tommy Kirk discussing goo makes me very uncomfortable.

    This part is very true to the H.G. Wells book.

    The Maidenformless Woman. You never know where she’ll turn up.

    Okay, sheriff. We’ve given your idea a lot of thought, and we’ve decided to step on you.

    Okay, show of hands. Who wet ’em?
    I wet mine and yours, sir.

    They want to do Little Women, but they can’t.

    Sorry, honey. Needs of the many and all.

    Be nice to the giant, honey, or he’ll squish you.

    I like to see Tommy Kirk get pushed around.

    He couldn’t hit the barnside of a broad.

    Jim Begg and the I.M. Force.
    Should any of you or your pudgy incompetents be caught or killed…

    “What do we do if we catch her?”
    We dance, dance, dance!

    By this time, my son’s lungs were aching for air.

       4 likes

  5. EricJ says:

    Sitting Duck:
    Village of the Giants fails the Bechdel Test. Missed riffing opportunity: there’s no response from Mike and the Bots when Tommy says, “You don’t have to be. Not with me around.”

    Other missed opportunity: The opening pan where we see Tommy Kirk on the couch with the girl–
    “Oh, Tommy, you shaggy dog!” ;)

    But that would involve not involving the actor or director’s full first and last names, as all M&tB celebrity-related riffs must.

       0 likes

  6. Bellerian says:

    I first watched this one 4 years ago on youtube, got drunk midway through and started hating the **** out of it.
    I watched it for the second time a few days ago and the first thing I thought was : Tim Rooney looks like Kristen Stewart in Panic Room . Also, Clint Howard’s more successful brother is in this too.
    I still dislike the movie (thanks, Mr. B.I.G.) but as an episode, it’s great.
    I’m a Zappa fan so the stinger kinda gets to me. :weep:
    I wonder if Zappa’s idea involved Hunchentoot in any way…
    Also : Jim Begg

       1 likes

  7. Atorgo says:

    EricJ: Other missed opportunity:The opening pan where we see Tommy Kirk on the couch with the girl–
    “Oh, Tommy, you shaggy dog!”

    But that would involve not involving the actor or director’s full first and last names, as all M&tB celebrity-related riffs must.

    Now this is something about Mike that must be criticized!? The Jonah Era can’t come fast enough – EricJ needs new material to bellyache about!

       16 likes

  8. Johnny Drama says:

    pondoscp:
    Hands down, the greatest Mike episode of MST3K. It just narrowly edges out San Francisco International for my favorite. I love everything about this episode. I love all the host segments, and theriffing and great, and the movie is perfect cheese.
    Some of the music from this movie ended up in “Death Proof” a few years back!
    And, of course, this episode contains the best song the Brains ever did, Let Me Be Frank About Frank.
    I may write more about this episode later

    It’s funny how four years can change your tastes. Village Of The Giants is still one of my all-time favorites, but recently I’ve come to the (unpopular) conclusion that the best Mike episode ever is Kitten With A Whip.
    This one still has the best song ever, though!

       2 likes

  9. Johnny Drama says:

    Invader Pet:
    Was Mark Marin (whoever he is) really fired for taking MST3K’s side? Can aperson really legally be fired for something like that? I think Marin should have sued Comedy Central.

    I’m trying to locate where the Mark Maron conversation started, as I’d like to read through the whole thread. I suppose I should look for the SAST clip on YouTube.
    Just to make this all come full circle, Jonah Ray guest starred on two episodes of Mark Maron’s “Maron” show, which the first 3 seasons are on Netflix. Just like MST3K will be.
    And on that note, if you search for MST3K on Netflix, you can add it to your queue! It’s quite a sight to see 2017 written next to it!

       2 likes

  10. EricJ says:

    Atorgo: Now this is something about Mike that must be criticized!? The Jonah Era can’t come fast enough – EricJ needs new material to bellyache about!

    Tommy Kirk could never appear in a Coleman Francis movie like Shia LeBouef could, he needs Bert I. Gordon…

    (It’s like when your mom used your full name, that was when you knew you had to clean your room?) :)

       1 likes

  11. thequietman says:

    “I’m coming!”
    No, you’re COMBING.

    So, you don’t know if you want to make a juvenile delinquent movie, a sci-fi giant creature feature, a teen sex romp, or a happy-go-lucky Disneyesque family film with precocious kids and cute animals?

    If you’re Bert I. Gordon, why not make all four at the same time! That amazing clash of styles and tone makes this film almost one-of-a-kind for me, and its presence here on MST3K is just perfect.

    Although, with the touching tribute to Mr. Zappa and the arc of Frank’s downfall and ultimate triumph, I wonder why this was only the second-to-last episode of the season? As much fun as Nuveena will prove to be next week, this one seems like the perfect note to close out the fifth season on.

       4 likes

  12. 70's run on car. says:

    …With all the Zappa love, Weekend Discussion Zappa riffs?

       1 likes

  13. Ro-man says:

    Actually just saw this one for the first time this past week.

    The riff when giant Beau Bridges is being gassed by Opie – “By this time my son’s lungs were aching for air” – about killed me. Just perfect! :laugh:

       4 likes

  14. doug says:

    Strummergas I gotta agree with you. The Beau Brummels were an unappreciated group and Triangle and Bradley’s Barn are two great albums.

       4 likes

  15. Ian L. says:

    For some reason, I love this gag:

    “Please?” “Bees. Yes, quite.”

    Also enjoy the hard-to-hear police officers (“What?! Speak up!”).

       2 likes

  16. Calgonite vs Spotmaker says:

    Great, great episode… one of my all-time favorites.

    My vote for what a traditional stinger ending to this episode would be, is any portion of this short scene. :laugh:

       6 likes

  17. Johnny Drama says:

    Tommy Kirk, Beau Bridges, Ron Howard, you can’t go wrong with this one.
    It really is a testament to the Brains’ powers that they could take a movie that’s already a semi-comedy, and make it soar to new comedic heights. (pun intended)

       1 likes

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