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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Weekend Discussion Thread: Great Beginnings and Endings

Alert reader David suggests:

I was thinking of strange/funny/outrageous beginnings and endings of the movies.

But I’m going grab the wheel here and turn this into: Favorite first riff and favorite last riff.

Me?
Favorite first riff: “Hey look! A sex film!” (Mitchell)
Favorite last riff: “Nice play, Shakespeare.” (Hamlet)

Your favorite?

48 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Great Beginnings and Endings”

  1. Sitting Duck says:

    I can’t think of any particularly memorable first riffs off the top of my head. But for final riffs, this one from Puma Man is a favorite. “Theology contained within this picture may not be wholly accurate. Consult your doctor before embarking on a theology program.”

       11 likes

  2. Kenotic says:

    Best opening and ending Riff in the same movie:

    Werewolf where Tom gives with groan-worthy “I dunno, YOU had him last!” and then Crow tries to tattle on him.
    It ends with the glorious riff on Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk,” which is all I can think of now when the original comes on the radio.

       13 likes

  3. Murdock Hauser says:

    First Riff- Cheating. How to make it work for you at home and on the job. (Cheating Short)

    Last Riff- Please stay away from sharp instruments for three weeks after viewing this film and do not operate heavy equipment. Thank you. (The Wild Wild World of Batwoman)

       8 likes

  4. SteveWithAQ says:

    First riffs are a tough one — I’m guessing both to remember and to write, as the riffers are dealt whatever opening the movie producers chose.

    I’m voting for one that’s not the very first riff in the movie, but it’s very early on. In Beginning of the End, just after the opening credits and the cop scene, the camera rests for a moment on the road sign from the intro scene. Crow says “Rantool’s only 5 miles away. Yesterday it was 10 miles away. Someone’s movin’ the sign!”
    That’s always the first riff I remember from that movie — the earlier riffs are just OK.

    For last riffs, I honestly think the Sci-Fi era has a bit of an edge, just because they were doing more movies with ending credit sequences. This allowed them do to some memorable scenes: the pitching of Final Sacrifice as a TV series, the future history of the teens from SoulTaker.

    But into each life a little troll must fall, so I’m casting my vote for the lyrics for the end credits of Final Justice. It’s you’re move, EricJ. Go ahead on.

       12 likes

  5. Keith Palmer says:

    These are a bit more “what first came to mind” than “long-settled absolute favourites,” but I can think of MST3K The Movie/This Island Earth’s “It’s the nicest weather Earth has ever had!” to begin with and, when closing, a tie of sorts between Teenage Crime Wave’s THE END “Does not justify the means” and Escape 2000’s “This is Dolby Stereo, reminding you to leave the Bronx!”

    Having already taken the liberty (too far?) of a double choice, I’ll move on to considering shorts. There, I’d begin with A Date With Your Family’s “The Woody Allen story!” and close with The Days of Our Years’s “Remember to worship at the railroad of your choice.”

       9 likes

  6. Sitting Duck says:

    Okay, I’ve though of the opening riff from I Accuse My Parents. “Easter Bunny Films presents…”

       10 likes

  7. Favorite closing riff – “Go Packers.”

       11 likes

  8. I’ll probably think of a dozen great beginnings by the end of the thread, but right now, I’m blanking on everything but X Marks the Spot:
    Crow: “‘Marks the Spot’, is that like Mack the Knife?”
    Joel: “No, I think it’s about a dog who changed his name…”

    Even for a Mike-era SciFi, I give great ending to Incredibly Strange Creatures:
    “We hope you’ve enjoyed No-Moral Theater!”
    “And the camera pulls back, as if to say, ‘…Sorry about this, everyone, sorry, my fault, really.'”

    And for the Joel-era CC endings, of course, Rocket Attack USA:
    Narrator: “We cannot let this be…THE END.”
    J&tB: “…Oh yes, we CAAAAN! (exit)

       7 likes

  9. jay says:

    Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues –

    Opening riff – “Chuck Pierce $2.79 lb.”

    Closing riff – (As credits roll) “Sooner or later every movie in The South is going to thank a trailer service.”

       11 likes

  10. And if not for YouTube, only those who hung on to their VHS would remember the beginning of “Amazing Colossal Man”:

    (Long shot of desert highway at night)
    All: “o/`’Scare-CROW…Scare-CROW…’o/`”
    Crow: “Scare me??”

    SteveWithAQ:
    But into each life a little troll must fall, so I’m casting my vote for the lyrics for the end credits of Final Justice. It’s you’re move, EricJ. Go ahead on.

    (What, unspontaneously soliciting hate comment, to deliberately break up the discussion for the sake of self-conscious schoolyard games between the posters? Oh, heavens no. That would be trolling, you know.) :)

    Sitting Duck:
    Okay, I’ve though of the opening riff from I Accuse My Parents. “Easter Bunny Films presents…”

    Since that technically comes from “The Truck Farmer”, are we counting shorts individually, or best episode OPs/EDs?

    Which also, btw, gave us the ending of:
    Joel: “Praise to the truck farmer, bow down before him!”
    Crow: “Worship the truck farmer, at the church of your choice!”
    Servo: “Offer burnt sacrifices, to the almighty truck farmer!”
    All: “Hail truck farmer, hail truck farmer!”
    Servo: “(Muslim call to prayer)!”

       2 likes

  11. What else?

    The Wild World of Batwoman with a Servo meltdown.

    EEEND!!!! EEEEEEENNNND!!!!!!!

       14 likes

  12. Bill Murray says:

    When you are out of slats, you’re out of pier!

       5 likes

  13. jay says:

    Bill Murray:
    When you are out of slats, you’re out of pier!

    Slits. It substitutes for Schlitz (beer). “When you’re out of Schlitz you’re out of beer.” And with this ninny-ass correction I reveal my moss covered age, Kind Readers.

       13 likes

  14. Lisa H. says:

    Then I must also be moss-covered at the tender age of not-quite-40, because I got it. (I suppose, admittedly, not because I actually lived through it the first time.)

       5 likes

  15. skrag2112 says:

    The end of ‘Horrors Of Spider island’ when it just cuts out and Servo says “So, you want to end your movie that way, huh? Okay. Get bent!”

       15 likes

  16. Bill Coady says:

    It’s not a riff…but the “Slow the Plot Down” shanty after Mighty Jack puts me on the floor every time I hear it.

    It also reminds of why the show is so great, where the hell else would you get a joke about Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” followed by Melville quotes?

       4 likes

  17. TheAngryBanjo says:

    They may not be the very first or very last riffs, but my favorite bookend riffs are “Whooo arreee youuuu?” and “Whooo werrre youuuu?” from Warrior Of The Lost World.

       3 likes

  18. Ray Dunakin says:

    I think my favorite “first riff” actually came from the Mads, before the movie starts:

    “It’s called Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and it stars Pia Zadora. Shield your eyes, Frank!”

    My favorite closing riff would be from a short (I don’t recall which one):

    This is Jam Handy, reminding you to keep your preserves in a convenient location.”

       7 likes

  19. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    Best opening riff of all time

    Mike: “I’m in space already… damn!”

    Over the title card for “Prince of Space”, ‘natch.

       9 likes

  20. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    Arguably not the last riff.. but it occurs as we fade from our main character to the ending montage:

    “Now I’m going to have a LITTLE BIT of lunch!”

    From “Last Clear Chance”.

       8 likes

  21. Lawgiver says:

    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves:
    Best opening riff of all time

    Mike: “I’m in space already… damn!”

    Over the title card for “Prince of Space”, ‘natch.

    Why don’t I remember this line??? I thought the first line was Servo’s “Japan, HO scale.” Guess I better watch the episode again to remind myself ;)

       1 likes

  22. Son of Peanut says:

    First Riff – “I’m Fido Hitchcock, the director of this film!” (Time Chasers)

    Last Riff – “And good night, Tim, wherever you are.” (Boggy Creek 2)

       12 likes

  23. Beginning of Pod People, with half the screen blacked out.

    Servo: “Hm. Shoebox format.”

       3 likes

  24. IR5 says:

    This has been the official bio pic of Larry Fine.

       8 likes

  25. mando3b says:

    Have to second the “Tusk” ending riffs for Werewolf, one of the funniest bits in the whole MST canon! Also “I’m in space already, damn!” from Prince of Space, which came to mind last night as I was trying to get to sleep only to have Ro-man beat me to it by 14 hours.
    I nominate The Creeping Terror for both first and last riffs. At the beginning, M&tBs are able to get in whole ensembles of riffs for both the opening credits and crucial plot-establishing scenes: over the crude graphics behind the credits (“Things I can do with my Spirograph!” “The inside of Robert Morley’s nose.”); the first scene with Martin and Brett driving home from their honeymoon (“Why, it’s not creeping, this terror is clipping right along!” “[Yawn] Boy, am I terrified!”); and then when the alleged monster first appears (“The pontiff has arrived!” “I’m afraid the alien is going to be goofy.”). I think the movie’s narcoleptic pace might have something to do with all this. At the end, Crow angrily declares: “I’ve been to one state fair or rodeo, and that’s the STUPIDEST thing I’ve ever seen!”, and then runs in terror as “The End” finally flashes on the screen.
    Brandon: I’m pretty sure “shoebox format” is from “Cave Dwellers”. Not to be officious or anything . . .

       7 likes

  26. new cornjob says:

    as always, there’s no ‘best’, but there’s always at least a number of ‘most memorables’… first ones that come to my head…

    beginning: “is this love?” … servo: “or is it just rough sex with michael douglas?” (mike: “wow! what?”)

    (another good one; the beginning of “sidehackers”, with the postage-stamp sized picture… crow: “ahhh… this is gonna be hard to watch!”)

    ending: the end credits of “city limits”.

       6 likes

  27. mando3b says:

    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves:
    Arguably not the last riff.. but it occurs as we fade from our main character to the ending montage:

    “Now I’m going to have a LITTLE BIT of lunch!”

    From “Last Clear Chance”.

    Yep, that’s a great one, but the actual last riffs are great, too: when the inappropriately perky music is playing over the credits, Mike sings in his off-key-tenor, “People are deaaaad, people are dyyyying ev’ry daaaay” and Servo comes in with “They’re dead, they’re dead, they’re diddle-iddle didy deaaad”, echoed by Crow.

       5 likes

  28. Yeti of Great Danger says:

    I think the shorts have a ton of great riffs, and who can forget the first one from “A Date With Your Family”? — “The Woody Allen story!” And in the super-depressing “Days of Our Years,” which has so much religion mixed up with train safety and horrible deaths and maimings, “Remember to worship at the railroad of your choice.”

       4 likes

  29. Keith Palmer: Having already taken the liberty (too far?) of a double choice, I’ll move on to considering shorts. There, I’d begin with A Date With Your Family’s “The Woody Allen story!” and close with The Days of Our Years’s “Remember to worship at the railroad of your choice.”

    Yeti of Great Danger:
    I think the shorts have a ton of great riffs, and who can forget the first one from “A Date With Your Family”? — “The Woody Allen story!”And in the super-depressing “Days of Our Years,” which has so much religion mixed up with train safety and horrible deaths and maimings, “Remember to worship at the railroad of your choice.”

    …Who indeed? They did rather seem to stick out in the memory. ;)

    As for good beginnings, there’s always Earth vs. The Spider:

    (fadeout after company logo)
    Joel: “Well, g’night everybody, gotta go–”
    (credits over spiderweb design)
    Crow: (farmer voice) “Hey, Charlotte, it spells out a word!”
    Servo: “‘Earth Versus’…by Walt Whitman!”

       0 likes

  30. mst3kme says:

    Hi. It’s your friendly MST3KMe (formerly Lavendare) with a Rifftrax update.

    Bridget and Mary Jo have riffed on the movie “Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green” now available at Rifftrax.com.

    Enjoy. :-)

       10 likes

  31. pirengle says:

    Wizards of the Lost Kingdom: Bo Svenson appears on the title screen and Jonah says “Sure, that’s a name.” Something about the delivery makes me giggle every time.

       3 likes

  32. I like the credit riffs best

    Opening credits; Hobgoblins

    End credits; Soultaker.

    ……..grain alcohol through toast……

       3 likes

  33. pirengle:
    Wizards of the Lost Kingdom: Bo Svenson appears on the title screen and Jonah says “Sure, that’s a name.” Something about the delivery makes me giggle every time.

    In that vein:

    “That’s not a name, that’s a bad scrabble hand.” Although I thought that line could have been used on a better target than Emby Mellay, which isn’t really such a bad scrabble hand.

    The same line would have worked well two episodes later, but I think they did it even better : “I understood everything up to the letter ‘A’.”

       4 likes

  34. Cornjob says:

    Near the beginning of Sidehackers when the image of the movie is a tiny square which prompts the comments, “Postage stamp theater presents”, and “This is gonna be really hard to watch.”

       3 likes

  35. Joseph Klemm says:

    In terms of opening riffs:

    *The Amazing Colossal Man: The aforementioned “Scarecrow” bit.
    *Time of the Apes: “Sandy Frank, Sandy Frank”
    *Here Comes the Circus: “Here comes the Devil.” “Beezlebub the Clown.”

       3 likes

  36. Raigely says:

    If shorts count, one of my favorite opening riffs:
    Why Study Industrial Arts: “Because you’re bad at math?”
    Closing riffs, though I don’t quite recall at the moment if it was the final riff or just one of the last:
    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: “Santa Claus, killed in Vietnam.”

       3 likes

  37. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    What about juvenile delinquency? That’s a viable career option.

    Is this love? Or just rough sex with Michael Douglas.

    Hired 2: Electric Boogaloo

    The end riff for ‘Chicken of Tomorrow’:
    “Baw-baw-baw-bawk… baaw-baaawww-baaaawwwww… BUCK-AAAWWWWWWWWWWWK!!!”

       5 likes

  38. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    mando3b: I nominate The Creeping Terror for both first and last riffs. At the beginning, M&tBs are able to get in whole ensembles of riffs for both the opening credits and crucial plot-establishing scenes: over the crude graphics behind the credits (“Things I can do with my Spirograph!” “The inside of Robert Morley’s nose.”)

    When Spiders Drink Too Much

       4 likes

  39. GareChicago says:

    “Junior Rodeo Daredevils”

    “Smothered in gravy! Texas style!!”

       7 likes

  40. Speedy B. says:

    The ending to “The Touch of Satan”:

    “So, in the end, Satan wins, I guess?”
    “Yup, pretty much a shut-out for Satan.”
    (credits briefly rewind!)
    “Aaah, the devil!”
    “Let’s get outta here!”

       3 likes

  41. mando3b says:

    One more closing riff: “JEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDD!!!”

       2 likes

  42. Speedy B. says:

    The beginning of Servo’s first appearance in the theater in “Last of the Wild Horses” is also funny:

    “Let… me… go! Would you die? I’ll have you killed and then have you tortured! Oh hey, a cowboy movie!”

       3 likes

  43. Blonde Russian Spy says:

    Just after the credits of Incredibly Strange Creatures, “Cinematography by Zapruder.”

       3 likes

  44. Blonde Russian Spy:
    Just after the credits of Incredibly Strange Creatures, “Cinematography by Zapruder.”

    That was a couple of minutes in. The opening riff was when the drunk guy in Estrella’s parlor says “You can’t buy enough booze to get me to go for you.” And the gang adds, “But could you try?”

    I’m with the crowd that the last riff on this is one of the best. The first? Still pretty good.

       1 likes

  45. Speedy B. says:

    A few more not listed:

    Ending jokes:

    “Gunslinger”:
    “Well. That was a turd, wad’nt it?”

    “The Leech Woman”:
    “Good night, everybody. Old people are evil.”

    “It Lives By Night”:
    “Now wait a minute, how could she turn into a bat? The only contact she had with him was in the hotel, and… oh my God. I get the shower first!”

       3 likes

  46. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    Another great short ending:

    “What the hell was that about, anyway!?”

    (Once Upon a Honeymoon)

       3 likes

  47. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    Terry the Sensitive Knight:
    Another great short ending:

    “What the hell was that about, anyway!?”

    (Once Upon a Honeymoon)

    Forgot the beginning:

    “How many times Micheal Jackson and Lisa Marie had sex.”

       3 likes

  48. Endoplasmic Reticulum: In that vein:

    “That’s not a name, that’s a bad scrabble hand.” Although I thought that line could have been used on a better target than Emby Mellay, which isn’t really such a bad scrabble hand.

    The same line would have worked well two episodes later, but I think they did it even better : “I understood everything up to the letter ‘A’.”

    Yeah, this WDT is long past, but just to get it on the permanent record:
    From the painted hills, Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
    Crow: Isn’t that the song Big Bird sang about the alphabet?

       0 likes

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