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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode Guide: 1112- Carnival Magic

Movie: (1981) A clairvoyant magician and his talking chimp become a carnival sensation.

Opening: Tom is giving a TOM Talk
Invention exchange: Kinga announces her wedding; J&tB have Yeasta Pets; The Mads have Flavor Sweat
Segment 1: Carnival barker Tom presents “Markov & Alexander.”
Segment 2: Highway patrol Tom & Crow exchange cop-code radio calls
Segment 3: PT Mindslap and the Great Space Circus Show visit, but Kinga and Max chase him off
Closing: Kinga and Max narrate the disturbing carnival parade
Stinger: Sad cop sitting on his car gets towed away.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (64 votes, average: 4.06 out of 5)

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• The first time I saw this, having heard horrible things about it for years, I felt it really lived up to its billing. I wrote: “Just … whew!”
I noted that it reminds me very much of “Carnival of Souls” and I still think so. Both have that “locals hired to act for the first time in their lives” air to them. But I didn’t LOATHE it like some people do, and no way is it the worst movie MST3K ever did. It actually has a stinky charm, like bad meat or good cheese, as the saying goes.
• Clearly the big news for this episode is the appearance of Mark Hamill — he even sings! If you’d told me in 1998 that I would be typing that, I’d have said you were crazy.
• The credits say “The Great Space Circus Show” lyrics were written by Joel, Elliott Kalan and Robert Lopez, and it was arranged and performed by Stephen Oremus.
• “Who’s the guy on the bridge for a moment in segment 3?” many people, including me, asked. The character is actually in the credits as as Matt Claude Van Damme. He’s played by associate producer and writer Matt McGinnis. In the comments, somebody said McGinnis said on Twitter “it’ll be revealed but it’s hush hush, like Gypsy’s payload.” FYI, he’s also a Skeleton Crew cameraman in a later episode.
• One of my problems with the re-launch, especially early on, was the chemistry between Kinga and Max, which I felt was a little awkward. But I have to say they have a nice chemistry in the opening.
• Following last week’s appearance by murdered actress Lana Clarkson, let’s also note that the director of this week’s movie, Al Adamson, was murdered in 1995.
• Cast and crew roundup: Just one: producer Elvin Feltner also produced “Teen-Age Strangler,” another movie with a “locals hired to act for the first time in their lives” air.
• Classic riff: “Put your shoes on, honey, we’re almost at Grandma’s.”
• Callbacks: “Watch Out for Snakes!” (Eegah).
• Fave riff: “Two words: cattle prod.” Honorable mention: “Polov!” “Did he just pitch them a ‘Planet of the Apes’ sequel?”

127 Replies to “Episode Guide: 1112- Carnival Magic”

  1. Joe Boltonn says:

    We’re still only up to “People That Time Forgot” (Best Episode so far…imho), but I can’t imagine why they chose “Carnival Magic” among all the absurd Al Adamson films they could’ve picked (“Dracula v. Frankenstein”, “Nurse Sherri”, “Blood of Ghastly Horror”, etc.). TCM aired “Carnival” a couple of years ago, and it’s one of the most listless, uninteresting movies ever. As dull as the Coleman Francis films were, they at least took you to a very weird, violently sweaty world of armed men with comb-overs and airplanes. “Carnival Magic” is kind of like “Magical Mystery Tour” without the Beatles, the midgets or the music. It’s like watching your family’s home movies, if they owned a chimp.

       13 likes

  2. docskippy says:

    Mike “ex-genius” Kelley:
    Oh, and I should comment on the one person who actually had something of merit to discuss (rather than those of you who just complain you don’t like hearing negative things about this show): why should I come here when this is a place for others to rejoice?IOW, if I don’t like it, why don’t I just shut up and leave?

    The answer is I paid well over $100 (not as much as some, but more than others) and feel like I have a right to express my opinion.There are obviously at least a few who agree with me or I wouldn’t have any likes at all on my posts, but if the majority here really don’t want to hear anything other than glowing fanboy comments about The Return then perhaps I *will* stay away (although having watched the next and liked it I think I will make one last positive post — after that you’ll all have your safe spaces here and can pretend that this reboot is the greatest thing that ever happened to MST3K).

    As we all know, money = entitlement.

       12 likes

  3. docskippy: As we all know, money = entitlement.

    Admit it, once ticket prices went up past $10, we stopped walking out on bad movies in the theater, didn’t we?
    It just seemed like some shameful “waste” not to get every last second out of it.

    Denver Brown:
    This is one of those movies that they should of ripped to shreds, or at least should have been really tormented by, but alas at the end they’re just smiling as if they’re not really kidnapped and trapped in space being forced to watch the worst movies ever made. I hope in the next season they’re not so nice to their villainous captors and the movies they are supposedly being tortured by.

    At least they’re not snickering, contemptuous-pffting, and tee-hee giggling, and impatiently trying to race through the “wastes” of 90 minutes of their lives that buffoonish/unthreatening Mads are sending them…

       2 likes

  4. docskippy says:

    I would cite this episode and “Avalanche” as the two standouts of S11 (for me, at least).

    Granted, I haven’t seen them since my initial viewing. Once I get my Blu-rays (because I spent money, and therefore I am entitled to the biggest and the bestest) I’ll watch them all again, and see if my opinion changes.

    But I doubt it, because Carnival Magic is, to quote Kevin’s rumination on Werewolf, a gift from God for movie riffing. Everything about it is /off/ in a way that is endlessly fascinating and entertaining (though not in the way Adamson, presumably, intended).

    Thinking about it some more, it occurs to me that this movie violates H.G. Wells’ rule about speculative fiction, to wit, you skew ONE angle of reality and proceed forthwith. ONE, and not TWO – Carnival Magic gives us the nightmarish talking chimp AND the magician’s apparently real magic (or psychic?) power. Is his magic/psychic power the cause of the chimp’s ability to talk? Or are the two not correlated? No answers.

       10 likes

  5. docskippy says:

    The Original EricJ: Admit it, once ticket prices went up past $10, we stopped walking out on bad movies in the theater, didn’t we?
    It just seemed like some shameful “waste” not to get every last second out of it.

    I rarely go to the movie theater anymore. I cannot abide watching millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars spent on mediocrity.

       9 likes

  6. MSTieScott says:

    During the opening sequence, right before Jonah’s “simulation” ends and the door opens to Moon 13, the monitors in Jonah’s spaceship display a three-digit number. The number changes from episode to episode, but it isn’t always different. I’ve seen “012” a couple of times and if I remember correctly, this episode showed “005.” Is there a significance to these numbers?

    I’ve been largely underwhelmed by this season, but I would like to spotlight host segment 1 as something I enjoyed. The humorously mundane lines combined with Crow’s delivery of “Mm… looks like rain” and “Sure” got a good laugh out of me. That’s what I want — more moments that I keep replaying in my head because they make me smile.

       4 likes

  7. Denver Brown says:

    The Original EricJ: Admit it, once ticket prices went up past $10, we stopped walking out on bad movies in the theater, didn’t we?
    It just seemed like some shameful “waste” not to get every last second out of it.

    At least they’re not snickering, contemptuous-pffting, and tee-hee giggling, and impatiently trying to race through the “wastes” of 90 minutes of their lives that buffoonish/unthreatening Mads are sending them…

    That’s the problem, they should be snickering, and holding contempt for these movies, and the laughing at the jokes give it an organic feel, and I’m sure it was real because the old writers was way more funnier than the new ones. Them laughing at each other was a way to help each other through the torment, and it gives the illusion that these guys were really watching these movies together, but now they just are riffing away like they are recording their lines from three different studios, no chemistry whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it for what it is.

       13 likes

  8. Denver Brown: That’s the problem, they should be snickering, and holding contempt for these movies, and the laughing at the jokes give it an organic feel, and I’m sure it was real because the old writers was way more funnier than the new ones. Them laughing at each other was a way to help each other through the torment, and it gives the illusion that these guys were really watching these movies together, but now they just are riffing away like they are recording their lines from three different studios, no chemistry whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it for what it is.

    That little fallacy is the problem that caused the Great Rift of MST3K fans: The comic principle of “Do you sympathize with the victim, or the bully? The poor guy on the end of the joke who could be us, or the hip guy snickering and pointing at every peasant beneath him?” Most comics without narcissistic or personal issues would say the former…Because nobody likes a bully.

    Joel and the CC-era played up how the characters’ sanity was being driven to the breaking point by these bad movies, through Rock-Climbing, or “Castle of Fu Manchu”, or having to cheer a hysterically sobbing Servo up as a hap-py king (doo-do-do-dooo!) after “Monster a-Go-Go”. Okay, in reality, the movies weren’t that bad, but it was comic overstatement to say that they would come out staring and jawdropped after “Rocket Attack USA”. What do you want from the Mads, after all?–They’re evil! EEE-VIL!!
    After M&tB took over, and Kevin Murphy followed his anger issues to direct more and more of the episodes, it created the idea that the guys, and presumably us the audience, just wouldn’t feel better until they punched someone or something even tangentially associated with it in the face for wasting their time to make them watch it–The actor! The director! The decade it was made in! The country it came from! A PBS station in Oregon made “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”, it’s PBS’s fault!

    Yes, the chemistry might be improved in S12 if Joel got over his “Too much trouble to wrangle three comics together” issues from the old CT tours, and get Jonah, Hampton and Baron rehearsing more organically on the next season, but at least he knows where the philosophy of the series is, in that we’re laughing at the mutual inexplicable pain of sitting through Carnival Magic, rather than sniggering in hip superiority at the hygiene habits of carnivals.

       5 likes

  9. Johnny Drama says:

    Gotta agree with OG Eric J, contempt for the movies is a major turnoff for me. But, more on that as we go deeper into the season 8 threads.

       5 likes

  10. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find I liked the new MST3K much more than I thought I would. However, that happiness was tempered by there being so many unpleasant movies in season 11, like this. To me riffing works best if it’s a bad, but watchable movie. This movie has the mean spiritedness of a Coleman Francis movie, combined with the action and plot of an Sci-Fi era skit

       7 likes

  11. Gizsonic Screwdriver says:

    Gizsonic Screwdriver: Run that by me again? I was out a bit this week. Is he now the Original EricJ? He has more comebacks from R.I.P. than Tupac.

    Not that its my place to say when and where he can post, live and let troll. God I need to have my thoughts go through in one post. :P

       1 likes

  12. Gizsonic Screwdriver says:

    I just found out on Wikipedia that this movie is available on a…wait for it…combo pack!

    Not just a bluray, not just a DVD, both, a combo pack!

    Because you wouldn’t want anyone left out in the cold from this film.

    Oh….my….

    Just wow…

    Jiminy Christmas….

    What no PlayStation PSP UMD format?

    Netflix and Hulu?

    Yotube Red?

       4 likes

  13. Cornjob says:

    Franz Kafka wrote a short story called “A Report to an Academy” narrated by a simian of some sort that became capable of speech because confinement in a crate on board a ship had been intolerable. The ape describes the sailors as not being particularly cruel, despite their putting cigars out on him. But the intolerable nature of being confined was such that the ability to speak was spontaneously manifested as a means of escape. Can’t imagine why this movie makes me think of that story.

       6 likes

  14. Gizsonic Screwdriver says:

    Mike “ex-genius” Kelley:
    Oh dear.I wouldn’t have possibly imagined the episodes could get any worse and then this comes along to prove me wrong.

    Perhaps most of you are doing your reviews here in hindsight — which, in hindsight () would have been a good thing for me
    to do.Because this one, like the ones before it, puts things into MUCH better perspective.I’m guessing that on a rewatch
    of the entire season (which I doubt I’ll ever do) I’d think the two Wizards episodes were, by and large, not that awful.At
    least the movies themselves were such you could easily make fun of them with or without Jonah.

    But this film?There is no joy to it at all.Oh, it’s an awful, awful film, but that’s what MST3K does best, right?And
    yet Jonah and company don’t make this watchable, not in the least.

    The absolute nadir of the season (SO FAR — now I’m beginning to shudder, except that with only two episodes left it can’t get
    much worse.Right?) was when Jonah delivered the fan service “Watch out for snakes”.It was delivered with so little
    conviction and enthusiasm (or perhaps just not understanding the whole reason behind it) I just thought “Well, that explains it”.

    This version of MST3K is like your kids when they reenact Frozen and think it’s SO wonderful and you clench your teeth and just
    want it to be over.Yep, kids, this is MST3K.Yep, you have bots, and you have mads, and you are SO clever with your…
    I just can’t watch anymore.

    1 out of 10.

    Mike I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but maybe you should not watch for a while. It’s unhealthy and can only lead to more letdown and even depression. I know you kick-started and you feel a Little letdown and maybe even betrayed but it wasn’t just the episodes you pledged to, it was the spirit of the program that gave you alot of good memories and laughs and is doing the same now for a new generation and also us old vets. Maybe take a break from it and I bet you come back in a whole new mindset. ;)

    Ok Goody Gum Drops has said his piece.

       17 likes

  15. Gizsonic Screwdriver says:

    Can someone help me get my Gravatar working?

       0 likes

  16. Cornjob says:

    If you can get the Gravatar working let me know. All I got is my facebook photo that I have to sign in with.

       1 likes

  17. Gizsonic Screwdriver says:

    At the Gravatar page my pic is working, just nothing here.

       0 likes

  18. trennerdios says:

    The Original EricJ: At least they’re not snickering, contemptuous-pffting, and tee-hee giggling, and impatiently trying to race through the “wastes” of 90 minutes of their lives that buffoonish/unthreatening Mads are sending them…

    Yeah oh no that would be terrible if they did a bunch of episodes that some people like and other people didn’t. The horror.

    This movie is pretty icky, but despite that I did manage to enjoy the riffing for the most part. I’m behind on my re-watching, but I don’t dread re-watching this one like I am dreading episode 14. I might not be super enthused with this season, but it certainly has its moments and its own charm, and I’m looking forward to seeing the live show this weekend. I do hope we’ll get a season 2 announcement soon; I’m really looking forward to seeing how they handle another season and what kind of feedback they end up incorporating.

       11 likes

  19. Gizsonic Screwdriver: Mike I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but maybe you should not watch for a while. It’s unhealthy and can only lead to more letdown and even depression. I know you kick-started and you feel a Little letdown and maybe even betrayed but it wasn’t just the episodes you pledged to, it was the spirit of the program that gave you alot of good memories and laughs and is doing the same now for a new generation and also us old vets. Maybe take a break from it and I bet you come back in a whole new mindset. ;)

    Ok Goody Gum Drops has said his piece.

    It’s a good thought and, honestly, if there had been ONE MORE movie like the last three, had we gotten even 10 minutes in and felt the same way, I think I would have indeed pulled the plug and thought, this season just ain’t for my DW and me. But we started the Christmas one and enjoyed it, so we will finish out the journey.

    It might be hard to believe, but each and every time we are hopeful — we don’t go into it thinking “boy, will THIS be a mess” but are as excited as we ever were with new episodes of MST3K, Cinema Titanic and Rifftrax. The last three of this season almost destroyed our hope, though (the good news is we have the “lost” episode of Cinema Titanic that some good soul here was good enough to post a link to, that we have saved as a treat after we make it through this season. Call it a palate cleanser, or whatever you want to call it but I’m sure it will be superb. Then again, I think ALL of these will be and it’s only when we start watching our hopes are dashed).

       7 likes

  20. Denver Brown says:

    The Original EricJ: That little fallacy is the problem that caused the Great Rift of MST3K fans:The comic principle of “Do you sympathize with the victim, or the bully?The poor guy on the end of the joke who could be us, or the hip guy snickering and pointing at every peasant beneath him?” Most comics without narcissistic or personal issues would say the former…Because nobody likes a bully.

    Joel and the CC-era played up how the characters’ sanity was being driven to the breaking point by these bad movies, through Rock-Climbing, or “Castle of Fu Manchu”, or having to cheer a hysterically sobbing Servo up as a hap-py king (doo-do-do-dooo!) after “Monster a-Go-Go”.Okay, in reality, the movies weren’t that bad, but it was comic overstatement to say that they would come out staring and jawdropped after “Rocket Attack USA”.What do you want from the Mads, after all?–They’re evil!EEE-VIL!!
    After M&tB took over, and Kevin Murphy followed his anger issues to direct more and more of the episodes, it created the idea that the guys, and presumably us the audience, just wouldn’t feel better until they punched someone or something even tangentially associated with it in the face for wasting their time to make them watch it–The actor!The director!The decade it was made in!The country it came from!A PBS station in Oregon made “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”, it’s PBS’s fault!

    Yes, the chemistry might be improved in S12 if Joel got over his “Too much trouble to wrangle three comics together” issues from the old CT tours, and get Jonah, Hampton and Baron rehearsing more organically on the next season, but at least he knows where the philosophy of the series is, in that we’re laughing at the mutual inexplicable pain of sitting through Carnival Magic, rather than sniggering in hip superiority at the hygiene habits of carnivals.

    I completely understand why it would turn others off, but the fact they were tearing these movies to shreds is what got me hooked on the show, even some of the Joel episodes were pretty hard on the movies. I still constantly laugh at the old episodes, but I’ve maybe had one moment where I laughed at the new show that I can remember. I have watched most of the new episodes five or more times too, I do like it, but I don’t find much of the riffs or host segments too funny. I’m pleased that so many like it though.

       6 likes

  21. Megalon says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes from the season. The riffing is superb both in terms of jokes and timing (it’s really solid when it comes to riffs-per-minute). And the riffing approach shows a real maturity that I think should be a model for future episodes. We get a little of everything in this episode.

    One of my favorite moments is when Alex is first showing off his amazing “talents.” Instead of their usual riffing, J&TB just act as though Alex’s actions are as amazing as the movie wants us to believe they are. I feel like that’s a very Joel- and Mike-era approach that is missing from most of the new season, because the writers are usually so concerned with cramming jokes into every little silence. It took them half a season to get comfortable with stepping back and letting the movie be ridiculous, and here, it really pays off. Because sometimes the best way to riff a movie is to simply get out of its way and let it do its own thing. When Alex is doing just about the most mundane and unimpressive things imaginable, the best way to highlight the absurdity of the moment is by pretending to buy into it.

       12 likes

  22. dakotaboy says:

    This is one movie that I was already familiar with prior to watching it on MST3K. I purchased a copy of it on DVD, which includes commentary with director Al Adamson and a cult film historian. Among the tidbits from that conversation:

    – The film was cast with soap opera actors who were trying to break into film. Don Stewart, in particular, was known for his work as Michael Bauer on Guiding Light.
    – Mark Weston was cast simply because he was the director’s friend.
    – Al Adamson’s wife, Regina Carrol, appears as Kate, the busty magician’s assistant. Regina is perhaps most remembered for having dated Elvis Presley for a short time. She also appeared in several drive-in exploitation films directed by her husband.
    – The outdoor scenes were filmed over three weeks in July 1980, in South Carolina.
    – The owner of a carnival was paid $42,000 to rent it for a weekend. Attendance was strong, and they made their money back.
    – The extras in the background of the carnival scenes were locals who just happened to show up for the carnival that weekend.
    – Listen carefully to the carnival barker – he skims an unsuspecting victim out of fifty cents.
    – In the domestic abuse scene, three slaps were filmed. They had to cut it down to two slaps to keep the G rating.
    – The parade at the end of the film was put together by the local mayor and Chamber of Commerce on just three days notice.
    – The sequel promised in the end credits, “More Carnival Magic”, never happened. Al stated that there were never any plans for it, not even a script or concept. When pressed on what it would have been, he said, “Simply a continuation of the story.”
    – Al didn’t have the backing of a major studio, so he couldn’t secure a wide release for the film. Instead, he booked theaters individually, moving the print from one town to the next on successive weekends, for a total of 42 showings. According to Al, people really liked the film.
    – In addition to his career as a filmmaker, Al also owned television stations. He particularly enjoyed purchasing the rights to large blocks of movies, then promoting and developing revenue streams for the films individually. Al also had a successful career in real estate.
    – This film was thought to have been lost until 2009. It made its television premiere in 2010 on Turner Classic Movies, and soon after achieved cult film status. Fans of the film (outside the MST3K community) cite its anachronistic nature – it’s intended for kids, but it features grown-up subjects.

       24 likes

  23. Cornjob says:

    Thanks for all the info dakotaboy.

       6 likes

  24. Danzilla "Cornjob" McLargeHuge, Student of Kaijuology says:

    Wow dakotaboy, that’s awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing!! :)

       8 likes

  25. trennerdios says:

    A third round of thanks for providing all that info, dakotaboy. Has this movie ever been featured on “How Did This Get Made?” Seems like it would be a good candidate for it.

       5 likes

  26. tibber says:

    Mike “ex-genius” Kelley: Definitely was a possibility, except this morning we watched the Christmas one and (spoiler alert) actually enjoyed it.So, no, you will still have to put up with me (or just x me out with the liberal “I don’t want to see things that disagree with me” feature on this site).

    Good grief.

       8 likes

  27. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    The Original EricJ: That little fallacy is the problem that caused the Great Rift of MST3K fans:The comic principle of “Do you sympathize with the victim, or the bully?The poor guy on the end of the joke who could be us, or the hip guy snickering and pointing at every peasant beneath him?” Most comics without narcissistic or personal issues would say the former…Because nobody likes a bully.

    Fallacy? You keep using that word… The story of the show makes it pretty clear the human subject was the victim and the experimenters were the bullies.

    his bosses didn’t like him–they conked him on the noggin and they shot him into space–she hunts him all across the universe–They have to survive the wrath of Pearl… she sets her sights above just to torture all the captives

    What I don’t understand is why anyone would actually be rooting for a human being to put up with abuse forever without developing a backbone. It seems like a natural evolution of the show, like how the bots started out as essentially child-like and their personalities slowly matured. The human subjects learn to fight back the best way they know how.

    Think about it. Someone is keeping you captive against your will. Every day your captor puts a tape recorder of his own laughter just beyond your reach and plays it for hours. It’s clearly designed to torture you. One day it’s placed just close enough to the bars for you to reach it. Who isn’t going to smash the thing to bits?

    I like it when someone refuses to be a punching bag. Joel and the bots eviscerated Eegah and Mitchell just as much as Mike and co. drubbed any other film. They were simply sticking up for themselves, kinda like the song says… He’ll try to keep his sanity with the help of his robot friends

       15 likes

  28. Gary Carbo says:

    By far my FAVORITE of the new series. The scene with Alex, Markov, Stoney and the orange juice is one of the funniest both original and re-boot. I’ve watched this one about twenty times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time!

       5 likes

  29. Johnny’s nonchalance:
    What I don’t understand is why anyone would actually be rooting for a human being to put up with abuse forever without developing a backbone. It seems like a natural evolution of the show, like how the bots started out as essentially child-like and their personalities slowly matured. The human subjects learn to fight back the best way they know how.

    Think about it. Someone is keeping you captive against your will. Every day your captor puts a tape recorder of his own laughter just beyond your reach and plays it for hours. It’s clearly designed to torture you. One day it’s placed just close enough to the bars for you to reach it. Who isn’t going to smash the thing to bits?

    It’s exactly the same thing when we hear Jon Stewart or Jon Oliver do political jokes:
    We laugh at Trump because we can’t do anything about him….Except be SMARTER than him, and point out in rich, mocking detail what idiocy is happening in the headlines this week. That’s how we survive, and continue to lead smart, normal lives.
    And what if the captor returns to see that we have not only reached the tape recorder, and not smashed it, but replaced it with our own tape of old 80’s Huey Lewis hits?

    Even the standup comic who keeps saying “…And how about those (insert here), amirite?” is asking for the audience to agree with him, and show that he’s not the lone guy in the middle of nowhere smart enough to notice these absurdities he and us both have to suffer every day. Just that his observations happen to be a little cleverer than ours might be.

    (Again, not to rub my great old theatergoing years in the board’s face, but if you’ve ever sat in a college-town theater and watched Zardoz at midnight–sober–you’ll know that when one guy shouts back at a screen it’s “anger”, and “savagely eviscerating it”, but when an entire audience shouts back at it, it’s something ELSE.) :)

       3 likes

  30. Lisa H. says:

    dakotaboy: In the domestic abuse scene, three slaps were filmed. They had to cut it down to two slaps to keep the G rating.

    I wonder if that would get it the same rating today.

       5 likes

  31. Jason says:

    I remember hearing somewhere (I think it was one of the DVD extras) that the old MST3K’s process for selecting a movie would be that the gang would get together over pizzas and beer and they would put tapes in the VCR. The credits would roll, they would see one name or another they were familiar with, or just see the general quality of the movie, and shout, “NO!” and the tape would be ejected, to be replaced by the next one until they found a movie that was acceptable. (I seem to remember Kevin Murphy saying that, as bad as the movies seen on the show were, they went through oodles of other movies that were even worse.) I can’t help thinking that this movie was one of those rejected by the original MST3K. This one really made me cringe.

    The MST3K crew always got on Roger Corman’s case for being a bad director. I would say, yes, Corman’s movies wear their low budget on their sleeves; yes, they have their flaws (“Cue the horses!”), but they have never made me cringe (and they always made the MST3K cut). This one (and Cry Wilderness)…hoo boy.

    Do they go through a different selection process for this new season?

       10 likes

  32. tomrite says:

    Guys and gals, you’re missing something big here: “Who’s that on the bridge for a moment in segment 3?” I think that’s a setup for for something in Season 12. Keep it in mind as you see how the season unfolds…

       2 likes

  33. Megalon says:

    tomrite:
    Guys and gals, you’re missing something big here: “Who’s that on the bridge for a moment in segment 3?” I think that’s a setup for for something in Season 12. Keep it in mind as you see how the season unfolds…

    I think the implication is that Kinga is carrying out multiple MST3k experiments, i.e. Jonah isn’t the only victim trapped in space.

    They probably did this just in case Jonah Ray couldn’t return for season 12. It’s easy to explain a robot voice change, but a change of hosts requires more preparation. This is their way of priming us for a potential host change in season 12. Or 13. Or 14.

       1 likes

  34. docskippy says:

    Jason: I remember hearing somewhere (I think it was one of the DVD extras) that the old MST3K’s process for selecting a movie would be that the gang would get together over pizzas and beer and they would put tapes in the VCR. The credits would roll, they would see one name or another they were familiar with, or just see the general quality of the movie, and shout, “NO!” and the tape would be ejected, to be replaced by the next one until they found a movie that was acceptable.

    Nope. Frank used to do movie selection, and then Mary Jo took over when he left the show.

       7 likes

  35. Was I the only one who thought the closing credits scene of the film (I mean the actual film, not the funny riffing buy Jonah and the ‘bots) were kind of sweet, with the actors in the movie in a parade in the small town where they filmed it?

       2 likes

  36. thequietman says:

    I’m sitcom mad!

    Actually no I’m not, because while there have been several movies that I’ve been curious to see straight after seeing them on MST3k, this is one that I’d NEVER have gone out of my way to see if it wasn’t featured here. Sometimes I think that’s an underappreciated facet of MST3k, it’s ability to find films like this (and Manos, and Moon Beast and Red Zone Cuba) and give us the ability to gawk at their ineptitude or sleaziness while laughing at the same time.

    Random Notes
    Despite it’s supposed claim to ‘family entertainment’ this feels like the closest in a while they’ve come to a biker film like the trio from Season 2.

    Why the KingaChrome edit in the opener? Seems like they could have easily cut right after Crow says “continue…”

    The riff as the van drives off (No, not that way! Look out for the cliff! AAAUUGHH!) seemed like a throwback to the “Camera 2 get off the track!!” riff from ‘Girl in Lover’s Lane’.

    Fave Riffs
    [Stony] This guy’s the lowest-rent Bond villain I’ve ever seen

    Glen-carny Glen Ross

    How is it I’ve fired you and I’M the loser?

    It wouldn’t be a car chase if it didn’t affect the livelihood of a local farmer and his family.

    There’s no reason I should be attracted to another species and yet here I am!

    Either put on more body jewelry or less shirt!

    I don’t remember the Purge being this mellow.

       1 likes

  37. Dan in WI says:

    I don’t know anything about TED talks. But if it is your standard stereotypical motivational speaker garbage then the TOM talk nails it.
    The Kinga getting married story arc seems divisive on this site. I don’t mind it. (I didn’t mind the mandated Sci-Fi story arcs either.) Who doesn’t want a mate at their total mercy? Kinga really has ticked off the most important quality in her choice! And who could resist a proposal of marriage from a megalomaniacal girl when their oxygen supply is at stake especially when you are microscopic lifeform fit to be consumed?
    This week’s (that’s right I’m not binge watching this) invention exchange is a mixed bag again. The Yeasta pet falls completely flat with me. But speaking as someone prone to sweating, Flavor Sweat has potential. Here again Max totally channels Frank in his reaction to Kinga’s extra cheesy pizza flavor sweat. But what else would you expect from a product containing plutonium waste? I’m not sure why Kinga doesn’t love it.
    For my money instead of introducing this as the twelfth “nightmare fueled world” movie of the season, this one qualifies as the one weird mamajama movie of season 11.
    Callback sight gag. Crow gets nauseous during scenes of the carnival rides. It’s not the first time Crow has been queasy in the theater.
    Tom in the carnival barker host segment really sums up how underwhelming this movie’s presentation of a taking chimp his. But let’s face it. Alex has no charisma whatsoever.
    I’m getting better at distinguishing between the voices in the theater on straight riffs. But whenever the riff is down as an impression or a sound effect (see the meditative sound effect riff or slapping riffs in my favorites below) I still have no idea who is doing the riff. This a problem I never had in either the Comedy Central or Sci-Fi days. I hate to say it again but as good as Hampton and Barron might be they are just too similar sounding to be effective in a Shadowrama setting.
    Have you ever noticed it doesn’t seem to matter if a guest star is visiting Moon 13 or the SOL but they pull up to the same docking station either way?
    Yes everyone else is right, Mark Hamil is the guest star of the season. Having just seem The Greatest Showman he could have pulled off the role just as well as Hugh Jackman.
    Let me offer a slightly less conspiratorial interpretation of the guy in the red jumpsuit that Kinga says doesn’t exist. It is either a play on discussion Jonah and the Bots just had about Carnival Magic not existing or a mash up from yet another Kingachrome spill.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Trudi, the Chimp’s credit appears. Tom “I’ve had lots of movies promise me chimps and not deliver.”
    Stoney chomps on a cigar. Crow as David “Good luck with the Boss Hog audition.”
    The police officer can’t start his car. Jonah “Police cars don’t work on grass. Unless you got Power.”
    Alex steals Kate’s bra. Crow “I knew I should have locked my tent.”
    Ellen “You know it’s funny. Um. We’ve known each other for a long time except we really don’t know very much about each other.” Jonah as David “Yeah, that’s the plan.”
    Markov moves from a meditative praying position to upright. Tom(?) makes a hydraulic platform noise.
    Tom as guard duty nurse reading a magazine. “Maybe Lipitor is right for me.”
    Markov “I had a feeling this morning.” Tom “Dum-da-dum dum dum.” Markov “That Alex was in pain.” Tom “Dum-da-dum dum dum.” Markov “Afraid” Tom “Lost Monkey Blues.”
    Kim knocks at Kirk’s door. Jonah “Candy-gram.”
    Kirk splats Kim. Jonah (?) “Now let’s rewind and see what Kirk could have done differently.
    Kim tells Stoney that Kirk knows where Alex is. Jonah “How many people do you think she called before she gave up and called Stoney?” Tom “Police, Fire Department, Animal Control.” Crow “TMZ, Empire Carpet Cleaners, the bartender at the Triple Rock” Tom “baby holding a phone, that voice that tells what time it is, then she even called Kirk.” Crow “and when he was busy, she called Stoney.”

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  38. Colossus Prime says:

    Patton loves pointing to this movie as the one that destroyed his brother, Matt (a writer on the show and great follow on Twitter).

    What is this movie?! Markov starts off as incredibly unlikable but then is clearly the protagonist. He has psychic abilities of sorts in a movie called Carnival MAGIC so you think that’s going to have something to do with ANYTHING. Like, oh hey, he has a talking chimp. Maybe that’s because of some sort of magic spell or curse. Nope, just a chimp that can talk. Random scientist shows up claiming he thinks Alex is a missing link just because he can talk, and Markov doesn’t just point out, “No, he’s just a normal chimp I taught to speak.” Just a little effort put into any idea could have actually added some interest to this movie, but no. Nothing.

    A fun watch of an episode though.

    I don’t remember the whole of it, but I do love the riff at the end with Markov trying to talk Alex back to life and Jonah riffs, “And you’re Gus.”

       0 likes

  39. Sitting Duck says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but Markov reminds me of the drug kingpin from Angels’ Revenge (the actual kingpin, not Palance’s character). Especially with the smug pomposity.

    No “STAY!!!!!” callback?

    tomrite:
    Guys and gals, you’re missing something big here: “Who’s that on the bridge for a moment in segment 3?”

    Pay no attention to the purple jumpsuited man on the screen! The Great Oz has spoken!

    Dan in WI:
    Flavor Sweat has potential. Here again Max totally channels Frank in his reaction to Kinga’s extra cheesy pizza flavor sweat. But what else would you expect from a product containing plutonium waste? I’m not sure why Kinga doesn’t love it.

    My guess is that’s it’s the greasy kind you get at low end pizzerias

    Favorite riffs

    Business just hasn’t been the same since the Rapture, and everyone left behind is so sinful.

    And the crowd goes mild.

    Al Adamson is the name Alan Smithee uses when he doesn’t want his name on a film.

    How is it I fired you and I’m the loser?

    “What else does he do?”
    Besides being a talking chimp?

    “Looks like we’re big time again.”
    Can’t wait to blow it.

    “I feel like a carny.”
    Sweaty and gross.

    Grand Theft Auto: Chimp City

    So, Jonah, he’s endangered the lives of two people just now.
    Yeah, but it’s an ape, so it’s cute.

    Alex the Chimp as you’ve never seen him, in Glen or Glenda.

    But their remains nourished this mighty oak.

    Jonah, is this skating?
    Uh, yeah, tongue skating.

    You’re ruining the act. Now get in the cage.

    Hi, I blacked out. Did you make me cluck like a chicken?

    Come ride the Tilt-a-Hurl!

    You kiss almost as good as those tigers.

    Alex is now a real estate agent in Park City, Utah.

       2 likes

  40. yelling_into_the_void says:

    Seeing him billed as Markov “the” Magnificent reminded me of that scene from the Futurama episode “Luck of the Fryrish”
    Fry: It’s all lies, every word of it! He wasn’t Original, he wasn’t a Martian, he wasn’t Philip Fry, and since when is he a “the”?
    Bender: You’re twice the “the” he ever was.

    “Damn tiger shot me.” Good!
    “CARNIES ASSEMBLE! SOOEY! SOOEY!” That’s a little dehumanizing for my taste…
    “All your favorite carny characters with their custom vehicles and accessories.” That’s three episodes in a row and the fourth time this season (that I remember) where they promote an non-existent toy line.
    “Carny Patrol Security Journal: No carnies. Another perfect day. I almost feel bad taking $5.25 an hour knowing no carnies are ever going to show up.”

       1 likes

  41. TheAngryBanjo says:

    This episode was the only time my brother and I got frustrated with this season. There’s so much riffable material happening under the credits, but they just keep soldiering on with their “Shared Universe” semi-sketch like it’s one of the words-on-a-black-screen credit scrolls they had to deal with in the older seasons.

       1 likes

  42. Lisa H. says:

    I dunno, this is a hard one for me. And I always feel like this one is from the 70s, something about the clothes and the sleaze, but somehow it’s not. Meh.

    Why does none of the carnival audience seem to think it terribly remarkable that there’s a talking chimpanzee? They just sort of chuckle along rather than being wowed. Maybe they’re meant to be thinking “oh, obviously it’s some kind of trick”?

       1 likes

  43. docskippy says:

    thequietman:
    Actually no I’m not, because while there have been several movies that I’ve been curious to see straight after seeing them on MST3k, this is one that I’d NEVER have gone out of my way to see if it wasn’t featured here. Sometimes I think that’s an underappreciated facet of MST3k, it’s ability to find films like this (and Manos, and Moon Beast and Red Zone Cuba) and give us the ability to gawk at their ineptitude or sleaziness while laughing at the same time.

    Man you said it. MST3K is responsible for exposing me to genres and directors that I might not have taken an interest in otherwise.

       4 likes

  44. yelling_into_the_void:
    Seeing him billed as Markov “the” Magnificent reminded me of that scene from the Futurama episode “Luck of the Fryrish”

    Seeing him billed as Markov only reminded me of the late-90’s days when outside generic wandering MST3K-illiterate trolls tried (muahahaha….TRIED >:) ) to attack the Usenet group of rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc, which could often be a crushing experience in just-walked-into-the-wrong-room futility, rather like burping at the Algonquin Round Table.

    After a while, the more particularly persistent and hopeful ones would soon get Q&A interviews with one “Marco Chaney”, where we would take the more colorful bits of seven or eight of their collected posts, put them into a Markov-chain random-text generator, and continue the troll’s “conversation” deadpan with some of the more entertainingly readable chimp-with-a-typewriter gobbledygook that came out. Oh, would that drive them to tear their hair. :)
    Word soon got out that there was one Usenet group you did not troll, even if you were an amateur.

    (…Because that’s what we MSTies USED to do back then, y’see: We don’t get mad…We get clever.)

    TheAngryBanjo:
    This episode was the only time my brother and I got frustrated with this season. There’s so much riffable material happening under the credits, but they just keep soldiering on with their “Shared Universe” semi-sketch like it’s one of the words-on-a-black-screen credit scrolls they had to deal with in the older seasons.

    That feels like a “bit”, probably from writers that grew up with the forced self-conscious bits M&tB had to write for those long, long SciFi credit scenes–
    But that felt like “Stuff comics write when they couldn’t care less about the movie”, while Jonah&tB’s was more “Self-conscious scripted riff material ahead of time, since there’s no collaborative riffing”, and the 10’s writers were so pleased that they could do “current” Marvel jokes for the new kids.

    It would have been nice to get a few riffs on the parade (sort of like a non-crabby version of “Fun in Balloonland”‘s parade riffs), but at least as a “bit”, it’s not as painfully self-aware as the Femmy-Movie Game, or What Happened to Our Hero Afterwards, and it’s one of the things we’re all crossing our fingers for S12 to fix.

       0 likes

  45. Johnny Drama says:

    Mike “ex-genius” Kelley:
    Oh dear.I wouldn’t have possibly imagined the episodes could get any worse and then this comes along to prove me wrong.

    This version of MST3K is like your kids when they reenact Frozen and think it’s SO wonderful and you clench your teeth and just
    want it to be over.Yep, kids, this is MST3K.Yep, you have bots, and you have mads, and you are SO clever with your…
    I just can’t watch anymore.

    1 out of 10.

    Go to bed, old man! (I kid, I kid…)

    Johnny Drama: Thank you for that. Now, on to the episode at hand:
    Oh, this one. Finally, Al Adamson makes his way to MST3K. If Cinematic Titanic was still going, this would have been right up their alley. Yet, the episode itself has a distinct Sci-Fi era feel to it. That’s based primarily on the movie itself, it being more in line with the later Sci-Fi choices.
    Wow, the movie is just terrible. The riffing is fun, but the movie makes it a little too painful for me. But wait until next week! This season’s Christmas episode is easily my least favorite of the bunch. That’s not saying I dislike either of these episodes, it’s just something has to rank at the bottom.
    I can see why they put this one so late into the run. If you’ve stuck with it this far, you’re ready for a classic MST3K assault. They didn’t want to scare anyone off early on. For those worried the movie choices were too colorful and lively, look no further. Brutal, yet ultimately necessary.

    Upon further examination of this experiment, I now hold it as one of the best of Season 11. Watching it in a group helps. A talking monkey that really doesn’t do much of anything. Perfect MST3K fodder.

       0 likes

  46. Johnny Drama says:

    Mike “ex-genius” Kelley:

    The absolute nadir of the season (SO FAR — now I’m beginning to shudder, except that with only two episodes left it can’t get
    much worse.Right?) was when Jonah delivered the fan service “Watch out for snakes”.It was delivered with so little
    conviction and enthusiasm (or perhaps just not understanding the whole reason behind it) I just thought “Well, that explains it”.

    Jonah put out several comedy albums named after riffs from various episodes. I think he gets it. I’m sorry you don’t. At least we’ll always have the old episodes to watch.

       2 likes

  47. Yeti of Great Danger says:

    Lisa H.:
    I dunno, this is a hard one for me. And I always feel like this one is from the 70s, something about the clothes and the sleaze, but somehow it’s not. Meh.

    It very much has a ’70s vibe, and I think because it’s from 1981, it’s more ’70s than ’80s. Bear with me here; what we think of as a decade’s style doesn’t come crashing in on New Year’s Day, 19X0. So what we think of as the psychedelic ’60s is generally from the mid ’60s through the early ’70s, and so forth. 1980s styles like big hair, neon makeup, Madonna, etc. didn’t come until a few years later.

    Also, rural areas like the South Carolina we see in this film were slower to catch up to newer fashions and styles than the big cities. I grew up in the rural South in the 1970s and man, I could swear I went to high school with half the characters in “Carnival Magic.” The clothes, hair, makeup, and even the way they talk was so familiar. Ick.

       1 likes

  48. I love that the New Season found time on the schedule for a genuine WTF movie like CARNIVAL MAGIC, the grimy, dirty, weird, nonsensical blandness of this movie is perfect MST fodder and makes for one of my favorite episodes of the season! Not only is the movie a fascinating piece of badness, but Jonah and the Bots’ deliver some excellent riffing, bringing their A game! This episode sees Kinga’s proposal (plot movement!) and an entertaining Invention Exchange; flavor sweat seems like an old school Mads invention and the yeast pet reminds me of the pet oatmeal from an episode of KIDS IN THE HALL.

    The Host Segments all hum along and have their moments. In HS#1 we see Crow’s excellent Alex impersonation (“Looks like rain.”), HS#2 offers up some solid Cop Jargon, and HS#3 of course sees Mark freakin Hamill make an appearance as PT Mindslap, which in and of itself is wild, but while I appreciate his performance I cannot say that the song and jokes worked. Still, cool cameo.

    RIFFS:

    Crow: “A lot of unattended kids at this carnival.”

    Jonah: “This must be that Children of the Corn festival.”
    Servo: “You must be this tall to ride, Outlander!”

    Servo: “And the crowd goes MILD.”

    Jonah: “Al Adamson is the name Alan Smithee uses when he doesn’t want his name on a film.”

    movie: “Reach inside.”
    Jonah: “Eww. In what?”

    Jonah: “Now get in there and become a man, Dad!”

    Jonah: “No way! He is NOT getting the broom?!”

    Servo: “Monster!”
    Crow: “Kill the freak!”

    Crow: “My hats off to the filmmaker, he’s created an incredible simulation of being at a really crummy carnival.”

    Servo: “Mad Max: Furry Road.”

    Crow: “Does she not have a spine?”

    Jonah: “It’s just Randy Quaid and his wife again.”

    Crow: “Sorry I just took a klonopin.”

    Jonah: “WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES!”

    Crow: “Thank you, you trashy 70s people.”

    Servo: “Wait, wait, wait. Is this a sequel to Scanners?”

    Crow: “How long was I asleep?”

    Servo: “Lost Monkey Blues.”

    Servo: “Hey, Run the Jewels!”

    Crow: “Can anybody button their shirt in this movie?”

    Crow: “It’s the producer telling him to unbutton his shirt.”

    Crow: “Carnies ASSEMBLE!”

    Crow: “George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Carnies.”

    Jonah: “You know, I don’t remember The Purge being this mellow.”

    Crow: “You’re alive?! Back to work!”

    Jonah: “Did we really watch a movie just now?”

    —-

    That last one from Jonah sums up CARNIVAL MAGIC perfectly.

    I give this one 4 out of 5 glasses of pulpy orange juice.
    * * * *

       2 likes

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

    Cornjob:
    And when the scientist gets a hold of an earth shattering discovery and within 24 hours decides to vivisect it? No point in talking to the talking chimp I guess.

    Well, by definition, vivisection is performed upon a LIVING subject. Now, it would take a scientist to say for sure, but I suppose that a scientist could vivisect a subject, do pretty much whatever the heck he wanted while he had the subject open, and then sew the subject back up, while keeping the subject alive the entire time. I mean, seriously, as long as the heart and lungs keep working, pretty much anything goes. Although in this instance, he’d probably want to keep the brain more or less intact too.

    That way he could go back later and, armed with whatever knowledge he’d gleaned from the first vivisection’s results, vivisect the subject all over again, perhaps indefinitely. After all, he’s bound to find something useful sooner or later, right? :-|

    At no point in the exercise would the subject be in a mood to talk, I suppose, but then, that’s what torture implements are for.

    I wouldn’t be remarkably surprised to learn that, at some point in the history of medical atrocities, someone actually took a shot at doing such a thing…

       1 likes

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