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Weekend Discussion Thread: Riff-Worthy Facial Expressions

Alert reader “Sitting Duck” opines:

In the Q&A following the sneak peak at Reptilicus, Joel stated that one of the reasons they’re not inclined to use animated films is because you don’t get the spontaneous facial expressions that are often incongruous to whatever is happening, which can occur in a live action feature.

So which of these facial expressions (and their attendant riffs) are your favorite?

Mine is from the second half of “Hired,” when a salesman enters the showroom with a dejected expression accompanied by the riff, “Well, my life is a hollow lie.” What makes it extra bizarre is that the scene in question is part of the Things Are Looking Up Montage.

Your favorites?

Also, if you have any topic suggestions, email them to me at msampo at aol dot com.

44 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Riff-Worthy Facial Expressions”

  1. jay
    Ignored
    says:

    In episode 907 Hobgoblins when Pearl needed to store her nice couch on the SOL Mike and the Bots took childish delight in abusing it by jumping up and down. When Pearl discovered them and scolded Mike saying “We just can’t have nice things” Mike’s expression melted from pure, kid joy to heartbreaking lament. Without a word Mike created a superb little boy moment.

       12 likes

  2. duke of puddles
    Ignored
    says:

    in ‘Gamera vs. Baragon’ when the deviously greedy idiot bad guy is trying to sell the prospective buyer of sending some divers down for the opal/egg. the look and dismissive head shake matches Joel’s riff perfectly.

       3 likes

  3. Steve K
    Ignored
    says:

    Of course there’s Rowsdower’s classic “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun” face from The Final Sacrifice.

    My first thought was the unholy trio from Werewolf: Paul, Natalie, and Yuri. But it’s not so much that their expressions don’t match the scene as that they have no facial expressions at all. So I’m not sure if that counts or not…

       5 likes

  4. Jason Davis
    Ignored
    says:

    My favorite was in the incredible melting man. The scene where the kids are smoking ,and the girl shows up and throws the cigarette on the ground. She says that is awful and the camera goes to one of the other boy’s face who has this really sad look on his face. The riff was said by mike don’t make fun of my cigarettes. It was so funny because the boy really had such a sad look on his face.

       3 likes

  5. Loran Alan Davis
    Ignored
    says:

    Nothing says “There’s no one home” as Tor Johnson’s facial expressions in The Unearthly, Bride of the Monster, and after he becomes the beast in The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    Be sure to click my name to see my current project – MST3K Filming Locations Then and Now.

       10 likes

  6. Danzilla "Cornjob" McLargeHuge, Student of Kaijuology
    Ignored
    says:

    ANY time a character’s mouth hangs open and a riffer intones “DUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHH” is a good time.

    In terms of host segments, there are a lot, but I have to give it to Mike switching between his affable self and whiny, whimpering Mikey from Teenage Strangler. That performance is truly brilliant; Mike is able to turn his body language and facial expressions 180 degrees from perfectly normal to contorted and near tears instantly, and then back again, multiple times in the space of a brief segment. Truly brilliant, and it was only the guy’s SECOND episode as host! Cracks me up every time.

       13 likes

  7. bartcow
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, I think The Gesture Professor from The Mole People warrants a mention, even if it’s less facial expression and more entire body movement.

    The grin Kitty jerks out right before singing, accompanied by the wheeeee riff in I Accuse My Parents still gets me every time.

       2 likes

  8. skrag2112
    Ignored
    says:

    Every time Bela Lugosi is onscreen makes for a plethora of facial expression jokes. He could really mug the camera.

       3 likes

  9. Yeti of Great Danger
    Ignored
    says:

    So many from Natalie in Werewolf, but the champion is her dumbfounded face with the riff “Here’s the windup… and the pitch!” before she says, “Wahr-wilf?” Also, I don’t know if it counts as a character’s expression — oh heck, why not — but every time the skeleton is shown in this movie with its open jaws, and someone riffs “AHHHHHH” or “Ave Mariiiiiia!”

       5 likes

  10. Volcanosaurus Rex
    Ignored
    says:

    One of my favorites is from Teenagers from Outer Space: Early in the movie, when Derek is desperately trying to convince his superior that there used to be happiness and love in their society… cut to his boss making an over-the-top derisive face, and Joel’s perfectly timed riff of “Oh, bite me, there was not!” No matter how often I see that episode, that moment always makes me crack up.

    Another that comes to mind is from Operation Double 007, with Neil reading a message, then looking up with a blank look and the riff, “I can’t read.” Something about the matter-of-fact way that line is spoken makes it extra-hilarious to me.

       4 likes

  11. jay
    Ignored
    says:

    The blank expression on my face right now as hurricane Harvey blows the house my uncle and I built in the seventies into Matagorda bay. My friends and neighbors who decided to tuff it out have no water or power. Some have no roofs.

       10 likes

  12. mst3kme
    Ignored
    says:

    Hi. I’m Lavendare. I think I’m finally getting the hang of DISQUS.

    Enjoy this announcement from Rifftrax.

    Further your education with our BACK TO SCHOOL sale! 15% off site-wide using coupon code LEARN.

       0 likes

  13. mst3kme
    Ignored
    says:

    jay:
    The blank expression on my face right now as hurricane Harvey blows the house my uncle and I built in the seventies into Matagorda bay.My friends and neighbors who decided to tuff it out have no water or power.Some have no roofs.

    I’m so sorry. I hope you and your family are okay.

    I hope you all will get the necessary resources and aid soon.

    The people affected by Hurricane Harvey are in my thoughts.

       14 likes

  14. Scott Strong
    Ignored
    says:

    Every time Doctor Benson stands there with her mouth open in Night of the Blood Beast they make comments about adenoids or simply make a raspy breathing sound.

    Cracks me up every time.

       3 likes

  15. jay
    Ignored
    says:

    mst3kme: I’m so sorry. I hope you and your family are okay.

    I hope you all will get the necessary resources and aid soon.

    The people affected by Hurricane Harvey are in my thoughts.

    I am now 250 miles inland getting sporadic texts, etc. from neighbors and family. Port O’Connor is cut off by the storm surge, so no way in or out right now. As if a hurricane wasn’t enough looters have already been spotted in other areas. One of them has already found out about the hazards of engaging in that activity. Thanks for the positive thoughts, MSTies! Sorry for the divergence from the thread.

       8 likes

  16. jjk50
    Ignored
    says:

    Loran Alan Davis:
    Nothing says “There’s no one home” as Tor Johnson’s facial expressions in The Unearthly, Bride of the Monster, and after he becomes the beast in The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    Be sure to click my name to see my current project – MST3K Filming Locations Then and Now.

    I didn’t realize Tor Johnson ever had a facial expression.

       5 likes

  17. gf120581
    Ignored
    says:

    One comes to mind, the clip used for the stinger in “Radar Secret Service” when the maid discovers a murder victim, goes all freaky face, then gets sent away while screeching “THANK YOOOOOOU!” Prompting a round of sarcastic applause and Mike’s line: “The director’s mistress everyone, the director’s mistress!”

       6 likes

  18. MajorMac
    Ignored
    says:

    Really, any of Crenshaw’s expressions in the Legend of Boggy Creek II… kind of a combination of annoyance and severe constipation (until he “flirts” with Tanya then it’s just uncomfortable).

    “That ‘shore is a man’s kind of woman.”

       10 likes

  19. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    From Santa/Martians, the villain’s squinting Mean Scowl, followed by “Why, Voldar, you’ve been crying…” still makes me spray my coffee every time. :)

    That, and any hurt/resentful expression necessitating a Truman Capote-esque Droopy voice (“I don’t like him…”), eg. from This Island Earth.

    And does the understandably-irked Lizard Interruptus glowering at the camera (“What?? Can I HELP you?”) from Eegah count, or are we just listing human expressions?

    skrag2112:
    Every time Bela Lugosi is onscreen makes for a plethora of facial expression jokes. He could really mug the camera.

    “He’s soooo coy…” (Bride of the Monster? Or was it Phantom Creeps?)

       4 likes

  20. goalieboy82
    Ignored
    says:

    two things:
    everyone who watch Manos for the first time and everyone reaction to the ending of Monster a Go-Go (but there was no monster part).

       4 likes

  21. goalieboy82
    Ignored
    says:

    goalieboy82:
    two things:
    everyone who watch Manos for the first time and everyone reaction to the ending of Monster a Go-Go (but there was no monster part).

    would also include this from Monster a Go-Go
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dKiaRUKgmA

       2 likes

  22. Warren
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Hale Jr. in Giant Spider Invasion-PUDDING! The model in Brain that Wouldn’t Die, resulting in Servo’s “Hiiii!” Does a screaming; skull count? PARTY!

       7 likes

  23. littleaimishboy
    Ignored
    says:

    jjk50: I didn’t realize Tor Johnson ever had a facial expression.

    Hey, that’s mean! Tor does have a facial expression.

       3 likes

  24. AlbuquerqueTurkey
    Ignored
    says:

    In the Pumaman, when Vadinho wants Tony to go find the mansion, and orders him to “Go!”. The pained expression on Tony’s face earns the “No, not THAT kind of GO!!” riff from Crow. Classic!

       5 likes

  25. Cornjob
    Ignored
    says:

    “I’m gung ho about that.”

       4 likes

  26. mst3kme
    Ignored
    says:

    jay: I am now 250 miles inland getting sporadic texts, etc. from neighbors and family.Port O’Connor is cut off by the storm surge, so no way in or out right now.As if a hurricane wasn’t enough looters have already been spotted in other areas.One of them has already found out about the hazards of engaging in that activity.Thanks for the positive thoughts, MSTies!Sorry for the divergence from the thread.

    No need to apologize.

    I hope you, your family, and neighbors are okay.

    We are a community here.

    Let us know if we can be of help or support.

       8 likes

  27. Scott Strong
    Ignored
    says:

    Cornjob:
    “I’m gung ho about that.”

    I love that one. But you gotta do it in Tony Cardoza’s dead-pan drawl.

       6 likes

  28. Cornjob
    Ignored
    says:

    “We’re Hell bent.”

       2 likes

  29. Stoneman
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve always cracked up when, in “I Accuse My Parents”, Kitty Reed is telling Jimmy she is breaking up with him, and she gets a little smirk on her face, and the riff is, “Courage!” And, in “The Undead”, the doctor’s psychotic “Stayyyy!”

    Oh, another one for Natalie from “Werewolf”, when, with a totally bored expression and lethargic voice says, “This is obsalutly fasinetting…” Oh, and (sorry) when Yuri has been kicked out of the party, and says “Yeah, I’ll go for a walk…”, and Crow riffs “Right over to Kirk Douglas’ house!”

       4 likes

  30. RedZoneTuba
    Ignored
    says:

    Kalgan: “Come on, skull! Pop out of my skin!!”

       4 likes

  31. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    goalieboy82:
    two things:
    everyone who watch Manos for the first time and everyone reaction to the ending of Monster a Go-Go (but there was no monster part).

    goalieboy82: would also include this from Monster a Go-Go
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dKiaRUKgmA

    Look, if you want to invoke There Was No Monster a Go-Go, at least try to look like you’re still on topic, and use something from that movie? Mean, it’s not that hard.

    Like, the confused “What, what?” expression after the monster attacks the scientist-outstanding-in-his-field? (“Well, that didn’t make me happy…”)

    Sitting Duck wrote:
    In the Q&A following the sneak peak at Reptilicus, Joel stated that one of the reasons they’re not inclined to use animated films is because you don’t get the spontaneous facial expressions that are often incongruous to whatever is happening, which can occur in a live action feature

    CtToI, has there been a WDT in what animated films they COULD do if they ever had to do just one for variety? Think back to those freakish 70’s nightmare-fodders that used to turn up on afternoon cable in the 80’s.
    (No 90’s-00’s Disney, please, those disgruntled-fan Eisner-tantrum days have been over for twelve years, and Treasure Planet is a danged better movie than you think. 90’s Wannabe, however, what a gold mine…)

       0 likes

  32. TedH
    Ignored
    says:

    Two Words:

    DULL SURPRISE!

       7 likes

  33. jjk50
    Ignored
    says:

    littleaimishboy: Hey, that’s mean! Tor does have a facial expression.

    You’re right, it’s the one that looks like he’s about to pass a Kidney stone.

       2 likes

  34. littleaimishboy
    Ignored
    says:

    TedH:
    Two Words:
    DULL SURPRISE!

    TOGETHER AT LAST!

    Kathy Ireland
    and
    Tor Johnson
    ARE…

    “THE DEFIANT ONES”!

    ….

    If there are an infinity of parallel universes, that must be a thing in one of them …

       5 likes

  35. PJ
    Ignored
    says:

    mst3kme:
    Hi. I’m Lavendare. I think I’m finally getting the hang of DISQUS.

    Enjoy this announcement from Rifftrax.

    Further your education with our BACK TO SCHOOL sale! 15% off site-wide using coupon code LEARN.

    Haha subtle. Anyways, being finance week it was rough but with the survey bonus they did and the coupon I was able to get all 4 of the Norman saga and Magic Disappearing Money for like a buck. Thanks RiffTrax! (Looks at camera, Teeth Sparkle Bell Ding) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbgW40FCmxo

       1 likes

  36. PJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Danzilla “Cornjob” McLargeHuge, Student of Kaijuology:
    ANY time a character’s mouth hangs open and a riffer intones “DUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHH” is a good time.

    In terms of host segments, there are a lot, but I have to give it to Mike switching between his affable self and whiny, whimpering Mikey from Teenage Strangler.That performance is truly brilliant; Mike is able to turn his body language and facial expressions 180 degrees from perfectly normal to contorted and near tears instantly, and then back again, multiple times in the space of a brief segment.Truly brilliant, and it was only the guy’s SECOND episode as host!Cracks me up every time.

    No EricJ attack? Was he visited by the three ghosts of RiffTrax? :D

       5 likes

  37. mando3b
    Ignored
    says:

    The princess(es) in “Deathstalker”, esp. the first one who looks like she has to go to the bathroom as DS is rescuing her (Mike: “Desire…? Anger. . . ?” Always have to hit pause on that one until I can catch my breath); and her sister looking insufferably smug as one of the guys riffs: “I have a cat poster!” Then there’s Troy in “Final Sacrifice”, as he’s traipsing through the woods with the map: “Ooo, nature smells!”, followed by a series of simian grunts. And then there’s Adam Chance about to come onto the babe at the end of “Agent from HARM”, as Mike quips: “Here’s the windup, and the smarm.” Joel’s expression as he comes out of the theater at the end of “Cave Dwellers” is a fave, too.

       3 likes

  38. Professor Gunther
    Ignored
    says:

    Two from The Brain that Wouldn’t Die: First, right before as well as when Dr. Cortner wraps up his fiance’s head and removes it from his car; second, when he discovers his partner dead with his arm ripped off (as he works out in his head what happened). Oh heck, I’ll throw in a third — when he says “ways.”

       3 likes

  39. Speedy B.
    Ignored
    says:

    From “Future War”:

    “I open my mouth at you!”

    From “Space Mutiny”:

    “Come on, skull, pop out of my head!”

       3 likes

  40. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    PJ: No EricJ attack? Was he visited by the three ghosts of RiffTrax? :D

    No, but Nick Nolte came over to the apartment dragging chains, warned me to change my ways, asked to borrow fifty bucks and then passed out drunk on the couch; he’s been sleeping in the garage for the last three days…Guess he was all they could send over, does that count?

       4 likes

  41. pirengle
    Ignored
    says:

    Surprised nobody mentioned Already Has Loverboy Beat as a Live Act and his slack-jawed stares of surprise from Hobgoblins.

    Re: Nick Nolte, just where did RT get their fondness for him anyway? I’ve seen about two dozen of them now–the ones rotating through Amazon Prime–and nearly every one of them has a Mike impression of boozed-up old has-been Nolte. Did they riff a famous movie with him in it or something?

       2 likes

  42. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    PJ: No EricJ attack? Was he visited by the three ghosts of RiffTrax? :D

    Oh, wait, come to think of it, remember there was this one little bald Ghost of RiffTrax Future who kept singing corny 70’s songs, and deliberately kept on doing it every time I said “Yes, THANK you, I get the freakin’ gag already…”
    Huh, the hell that was all about.

    pirengle:
    Re: Nick Nolte, just where did RT get their fondness for him anyway? I’ve seen about two dozen of them now–the ones rotating through Amazon Prime–and nearly every one of them has a Mike impression of boozed-up old has-been Nolte. Did they riff a famous movie with him in it or something?

    No, and I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck’s up with that, too (just try getting into some of the newer ones that show up on PlutoTV)–
    Yes, Mike uses his new medium to suddenly launch off onto tirades of Any Celebrity That Bothers Him, but why the inappropriately creepy and avengingly bloodthirsty lingering on the homeless-bum-Nolte gags, for two or three excruciating minutes of screen time, EVERY time, until it starts scaring some of the older fans out of the room? Yeah, I get that he’s proud of his imitation, but they call me “Disturbingly fixated”.
    To his credit, even he didn’t do that to Coleman Francis during the Sci-Fi years–Like the post-Transformers obsession with “nutty” Shia LaBeouf, I’m guessing it’s one of the contributions of the newer-generation RiffTrax writers, who don’t really have the pop-culture lore to their street-cred, and think the gadfly-sword of MST3K/RT is there to punish Big Bad Current Celebrities.

    Haven’t watched any of Cole Stratton & Janet Varney’s solo riffings, usually of kitschy 80’s movies, to make a back-to-back comparison with MK&B’s licks, but I’d put money down that the Nolte-bullying has Cole’s millennial fingerprints smudged all over it.
    (Remember, it’s always the unsung head writer who’s the true creative influence on the show!) ;)

    Keeping on the topic of expressions, I’m blanking on the episode where a character jealously watches the conversation from the background, and the guys riff a Peter Lorre “Hehh, how dare you negate my existence!”?

       0 likes

  43. EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    He can’t just quit when he’s ahead, he has to keep plodding on and on…

       3 likes

  44. DaveJ3k
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ: No, but Nick Nolte came over to the apartment dragging chains, warned me to change my ways, asked to borrow fifty bucks and then passed out drunk on the couch; he’s been sleeping in the garage for the last three days…Guess he was all they could send over, does that count?

    Aw, ding dong dagnabbit, Orig! I go and give you a like for an amusing post not actually bashing RT, but then you had to follow it up with some long winded post basically taking it back, mostly. I admired your restraint, briefly. ;-)

       3 likes

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