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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives


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: 615- Kitten with a Whip

Movie: (1964) A naive senate candidate finds a reform school escapee hiding in his home.

First shown: 11/23/94
Opening: Mike and Tom prepare Crow for a secret mission
Intro: Crow’s mission to Deep 13 ends in failure
Host segment 1: Mike gives Crow and Tom bionic noises
Host segment 2: A kitten with a whip visits on the Hexfield
Host segment 3: Mike hazes himself, much to the Bots horror
End: On the SOL, Mike opens up a Dr. F. piñata and reads a letter, Dr. F. has a Frank piñata
Stinger: “I’ll be a celebrity! And so will you!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (213 votes, average: 3.87 out of 5)

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• In his introduction on the Shout DVD, Mike acknowledges that this episode is not a fan favorite. I’m sure we’ll find some folks who adore it, and I like it okay, but he’s right, it’s not a standout. The movie is dumb, the characters are dumber, but it is a competent Hollywood product, featuring several recognizable Hollywood stars, a rarity for MST3K. The riffing is somewhere between good and great most of the time. Plus the host segments have several notable moments.
• This episode can be found on the Mystery Science Theater Collection, Vol. XXV.
References.
• This episode was the kickoff ep of the 1994 Turkey Day marathon, the one hosted by Adam West.
• The biggest problem with the movie, of course, is that the senator character is so crushingly stupid, and blows, like, four opportunities to extricate himself from this situation, only to be saved by random chance and the good intentions of strangers, when, let’s face it, he doesn’t really deserve it. But as dopey as the plot may be, it does become a bit engrossing at points. Even Mike appears to get into the poor guy’s predicament at one point when he hollers “Just go, you idiot!” at him.
• The opening segment, with Crow being launched down the umbilicus into Deep 13, only to be met by Dr. F. (or somebody wearing Dr. F’s coat) caused much excitement on the internet. “The Squab is in the hole” was a phrase that was repeated often.
• Who knew Mike smells like rain?
• Callback: “The Crawling Eye!” “Uh-uh, no way…” (Sinister Urge)
• Segment 1 is a slight bit of fluff without a real payoff, but it’s one of those segments that works because the performers are so comfortable with each other.
• Segment 2, well, give Kevin credit for valiantly diving into the role. Again, not much of payoff. Who is working Kevin’s tail?
• The riff “Typical road trip with a headliner,” is a reference to the stand-up comedy road trips many of the cast and writers lived through in their younger days. Four or five comedians would pile into a car and drive from comedy club to comedy club in the upper Midwest, and according to all the reports, whoever the headliner was among the group tended to be a prima donna.
• Segment 3 is hilarious, especially the bots’ reaction. And, I have to admit, I’d completely forgotten it.
• This is another one of those movies from that era of ’50s-’60s sophistication that depict middle-aged couples cheerfully taking in the show at a strip club (another place you see it is TISCWSLABMUZ). I do not think this happened much in real life.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: datebook, beaker, bulletin board, movie canister (a rare four-fer!).
• I definitely hear Bridget among the kids’ voices at the end. Not sure about any others.
• Oh, and I love that the guy who resolves all the plots is named Sgt. Enders.
• Cast and crew roundup: cinematographer Joseph Biroc also worked on “The Amazing Colossal Man” and “SST: Death Flight.” Art director Alexander Golitzen worked on “This Island Earth,” “Revenge of the Creature,” “Leech Woman,” “Mole People,” “Deadly Mantis” and “The Thing That Couldn’t Die.” Set designer John McCarthy also worked on “Radar Men from the Moon” and “San Francisco International.” Joseph Gershenson was head of the music department at Universal Studios, so you’ll see his name on many credits as composer or arranger.
In front of the camera, Ann Doran was also in “Painted Hills.” Patrick Whyte was in “The Mole People.” Leo Gordon was also in “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Gary Lockwood was also in “Magic Sword.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon
• Fave riff: “Hey! Bingo-balls! Siddown!” Honorable mention: “Dear Penthouse Forum, I’m an average stuffed animal at a small midwestern college…” and “It’s my gin distributor.”
——————-
Next week: we step out of order and do episode 521-SANTA CLAUS.

128 Replies to “Episode guide: 615- Kitten with a Whip”

  1. schippers says:

    I’ve listened to this ep many many times on my iPod, but last night was the first time I actually (partially) watched it in years. One thing I had forgotten was how weinerish John Forsythe’s facial expressions are. Everyone (including Mike) takes issue with his blandness, and indeed he is vanilla as extract, but man does he have some “duuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” expressions during this film, or at least during the first 30 minutes or so.

    I also find it somewhat embarrassing how hard the screenwriter worked to make him seem like an “outsider” politician. At one point, he even states that being popular is not his primary goal. What? Can you imagine a politician today, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN AUDIENCE TO PANDER TO, making a statement like that? What else is politics besides a ridiculously overinflated high school popularity contest? My point here is that it makes ol’ John seem not noble and good, but confused and doofy.

    Really good timing with the riffs, BTW. M&tB really work those sexy-time riffs in well with the onscreen action.

       1 likes

  2. Mitchell "Rowsdower" Beardsley says:

    I remember this as a middle of the road (for Season 6 – my least favorite season) episode for me. But hearing all the gratingly ‘hip’ dialogue being repeated is bringing back bad memories. I do remember being unbelievably annoyed at how stupid John Forsythe was during the entire movie though. Good to see I wasn’t alone. Another one I’d toss in if I was going through the series in order, but not one I’d choose over about 100 other episodes.

       2 likes

  3. Meadows says:

    If I had to choose my all-time LEAST favorite episode of MST3K, this would definitely make my short list. I don’t laugh much during it, and the movie just never really felt like it fit the show.

       1 likes

  4. Dr. Batch says:

    Saw this one for the first time when it came out on DVD. I thought it is pretty funny and enjoyed it. Solid episode.

       2 likes

  5. Matty'O says:

    I agree with a number of the other posters in that when I originally saw Kitten With A Whip years ago, I was less than enamored. The characters were above-and-beyond stupid (even for a MST3K movie) and Anne Margaret was grossly over-rated. But now with a fresh viewing… I don’t know if the episode was always that good or if my tastes changed… but all of a sudden it ranks as a worthy episode! Funny how time changes things.

       1 likes

  6. Strummergas says:

    Ouch, this one hurt! Between the stupidity of John Forsythe and the sociopathic personality of Ann Margaret, I wanted to abandon ship on this episode just after Doodles Weaver was turned off. I’m glad I stuck it out as it did get a little better (I thought the addition of the beatniks to the film actually made it more bearable), but man oh man was this extremely difficult to get through. The Brains make yet another valiant effort, but the movie just overpowers the riffing. I was actually looking forward to the host segments to give me a break from the movie just gnawing away at my soul.

    2 of 5. I won’t be revisiting this episode anytime soon.

       1 likes

  7. Cornjob says:

    “Well, she’s always been straight with me so far…”

       2 likes

  8. Some guy says:

    This is a criminally underrated episode. It’s a real shame that more people can’t get past the annoying movie (I’ll admit that it took me a few viewings to get into it. I’m still a pretty new fan by the way, young too) because I feel that this one has some of their funniest and sharpest riffs. It just gets better and better every time I watch it. And despite how idiotic the film is, I’ve come to appreciate it for what it is. It really is one of the better made films they covered even if it isn’t any good. It’s movies like this when the situations and characters are so over the top and insane that I just have to laugh about it instead of getting worked up over it. I also just love these crime/drama/delinquent movies in general and feel that they make for some of the best episodes.

    Perhaps it’s only for a niche audience and I and others who enjoy this one will forever remain in the minority, but I say give me this over Pod People or Pumaman or whatever any time, 5/5

       5 likes

  9. Zillamon51 says:

    Perfect timing! I rarely read these weekly episode columns, but this ep. recently came out on DVD, and I just watched it a few days ago.

    It was a first-time viewing for me. The movie itself, while competently made, seems like it would be pretty dull on its own and probably put me to sleep. The riffing was good, though.

    Does anyone else have a glitchy DVD w/ horizontal lines popping up from time to time? Has Shout! addressed this? Or did I just get a bum one?

       1 likes

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

    jjb3k:
    As the resident animation geek ’round here, allow me to throw in my own bit of trivia for this episode: the Looney Tunes cartoon that Ann-Margret watches on TV at John Forsythe’s house is “Canned Feud”, released in 1951 and directed by Friz Freleng. A.K.A. “the one where the mouse keeps hiding the can opener”. It’s one of my favorite Warner Bros. cartoons (and I was surprised to see it in a Universal movie – you’d think they would have just used one of their own Woody Woodpecker cartoons or something).

    What kind of a philistine would rather watch Woody Woodpecker than Sylvester the Cat?

    Kramer: You’ve got a problem with Woody Woodpecker?
    George: Yeah, what is he, some sort of an instigator?

       2 likes

  11. Sitting Duck says:

    Kitten with a Whip fails the Bechdel Test. The conversations between Jody and Midge concern Stratton.

    I thought the Umbilicus was attached to Gypsy. Yeah, yeah, it’s just a show.

    Wonder if the line, “Get right into bed with that headache,” was a deliberate double entendre on the part of the screenwriter.

    I’m surprised they didn’t make cracks about the weird way the newsreader pronounced felon.

    @ #9: In other words, it’s permanently on hold.

    Dan in WI #72: This week we get a minute of Crow in Deep 13. There is something I would have loved seeing arced through all the host segments of this episode. He could have created a little havoc there before being sent back.

    But then Crow couldn’t have feasibly participated in the riffing.

    Favorite riffs

    I’m a fugitive from a slumber party.

    We meet later and frag Shari Lewis.

    Dear Penthouse, I’m an average stuffed animal in a small Midwestern college.

    Good to see the Senator keeping up with the issues.

    Suzy Chapstick was arraigned today.

    This car handles much easier after three martinis.

    It’s probably the Senate Ethics Committee dropping by unannounced. Again.

    David, there’s some DNA samples on the rail and some carpet fibers under your fingernails.

    She’s calling Bob Woodward.

    What I’m trying to say is, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

    “We don’t like to call our girls bad just because…”
    They’re evil.

    Thrill as they exit.

    How’d you like it if someone picked your apples?

    This changes nothing. I’m still selling you to white slavery.

    Welcome to Coincidence Corner.

    Certified new shot. We promise.

    Mexico would have a better retail environment if they signage.

    You know, I think you’re right. They’ve given up. GAH!!!!!

    Should have told you, I’m transporting napalm to my aunt’s house.

    “I don’t know. How bad am I?”
    Well you’re in this movie.

    “You’ve got some influential friends. That’s why you’re in San Diego now.”
    “I am?”
    No, I’m kidding. You’re in a cheap Tijuana hospital.

    When in Universal City, ride the Kitten with a Whip Ride.

       3 likes

  12. Ned Raggett says:

    God, this horrible stupid movie. (Not episode, movie.) I think I’ve only watched this all the way through…twice? And the second time was to reconfirm how the ‘I’m dying in a rush!’ line was originally delivered. Either way, easily the least amount of times I’ve seen any episode outside of the KTMAs. I’ll be interested to see what I think of it whenever I do an inevitable third watch, since I’m planning next year on a full-on rewatch of the whole series start to finish (probably after the new episodes debut). Maybe fresh eyes will help but I kinda wanted all the characters to die, and we were denied that joy.

    Oddly enough, though: a few months back I was looking through some books at a favorite local spot (glad they still exist) and noticed a Joe Bob Briggs book from 2005 I’d missed, Profoundly Erotic. In randomly flipping through it I was thoroughly surprised to find one of the chapters was on Kitten With a Whip. Didn’t pick the book up at the time, but a quick scan showed that he was making a pretty interesting case for the film — and about the only discussion of the film anywhere I’ve read outside of MST3K fan circles. Apparently it was a fairly high profile release, which makes sense enough given the similarly high profile cast. I’ll get around to getting the book at the some point and see if he’s onto something.

       2 likes

  13. A.J. (A Jerk) says:

    I’M DYIN’ IN A RUSH

       4 likes

  14. Johnny Drama says:

    “In his introduction on the Shout DVD, Mike acknowledges that this episode is not a fan favorite. I’m sure we’ll find some folks who adore it, and I like it okay, but he’s right, it’s not a standout.”

    Mike, you couldn’t be more wrong about your own work. Give me deep subversiveness in my MST3K, please! Kitten has quickly risen to the top of my favorite Mike episodes! It is so good!

    People say they dislike this one because the characters are “stupid.” I disagree. The characters in Kitten are not “stupid,” they are manipulative and enjoying themselves. Jody has every one completely under her control (or does she?), and John Forsythe’s character is actually ENJOYING all of this! If he wasn’t getting off on all of this excitement suddenly thrust into his life, he would have gotten himself out of the situation. He had many, many opportunities to do so, and never took them. Why? Because he liked it! It’s very evident that this is the case just after they get to the fence at Mexico, and Jody leans on the gas pedal, and Forsythe agrees “yeah, I guess we got rid of him.”

    This is a dark movie that was completely misunderstood by critics at the time. I am convinced the screenwriter and film makers were not setting out to make a movie about a bunch of “stupid” characters, and instead were making a movie highly charged with sexual tension about control. Who is manipulating who, Jody or David? Who is really in control?

    This is actually a decent movie.

    So I ask my fellow MSTies, embrace something different, and the next time you watch Kitten, try to see it the way I do. You may be surprised.

    And the episode itself is hilarious! Great host segments and top notch mid-season 6 riffing! I sure do love the dark of season 6!

       9 likes

  15. DarkGrandmaofDeath says:

    The varied reactions here to the movie itself are intriguing. I tend not to like this episode as much, specifically because I don’t care for Kitten with a Whip. I finally realized why; it’s because it may be an over-the-top plot, but it’s also a not-impossible plot. There will very likely never be giant spiders or flying turtles or colossal, possibly indestructible men appearing in our lives – but there COULD be a sociopathic, runaway teenager who plays on our sympathies and gets us into terrible trouble.

    I think Johnny Drama’s above assessment is part of that: “This is a dark movie….I am convinced the screenwriter and film makers were not setting out to make a movie about a bunch of “stupid” characters, and instead were making a movie highly charged with sexual tension about control. Who is manipulating who, Jody or David? Who is really in control?” Yes, there’s a lot of manipulation going on.

    However, I think Jody is entirely in control, and has found a way to exploit David’s attempts to help the poor little girl (and his unspoken interest in her sexually). And I have a hard time watching that manipulation – it is not an enjoyable movie, no matter how well made. Well, the ending is so ridiculous, too.

    All that said, the riffing is strong with this one.

       6 likes

  16. maclen says:

    Yeah, after watching this episode the very first time I’ve never watched it again. The film was too annoying.

       3 likes

  17. Brock Lee Rubberband says:

    My least favorite episode. The color of the print gives me a migraine. Ann Margret is one of the most annoying actresses ever. John Forsythe would’ve made a much better anchorman than an actor.

    Now if I were the director I would’ve made John phone in his lines pool side with some hot babes by his side Charlie Style and I would replace Ann Margret with Ann Margrock from The Flinstones. I like her better.

       1 likes

  18. thequietman says:

    It’s a swingin’ world, baby!

    This is the one episode above all others where the movie is too good for the show. I’d even swear the riffing slows down for several stretches because the movie is strangely fascinating, in that ‘did filmmakers really think actual people talked like this?’ sort of way.

    Watching it again it became clear why they used Sylvester in ‘Canned Feud’ as the background cartoon in that one scene instead of a Woody Woodpecker or other Universal-owned cartoon. A cartoon cat is destroying himself through his own hubris as our ‘kitten’ starts the wheels of her own demise in motion. It’s art imitating life imitating art! It’s poetic juxtaposition, get it? GET IT???

    Fave riff
    He who got slashed: I feel no pain…
    Servo: YEEEOOWWWCHHH!

       1 likes

  19. dakotaboy says:

    The intro with Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank is one of the reasons why I love the Mads. “Say, this really is Nut-rageous!” Their takes in this scene are priceless.

    It is really striking how utterly witless the senator is in this movie.

       3 likes

  20. Dihgdfj says:

    It’s nice that shout has this on their annotated line of episodes. It was tough to find this ep easily online between copyright and fan apathy towards this one.

       2 likes

  21. Cornjob says:

    This is a tense ugly movie. I think I agree that the senator was getting off on all the excitement on some level. One of my favorite moments is when the big thug starts beating the tar out of the senator and a riffer says, “That was for NAFTA. And that was for GATT.” As if the senators legislative record was what had the lunkhead so cheesed.

       2 likes

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

    I watched this one for the first time last night. Having scanned the comments here, I was not really sure what to expect – definitely all over the board. This one has always held sort of a mystique for me, because, well, Ann Margaret!

    Random Reactions: Ann Margaret – rowr! I thought she did a fine job as a vivacious and unstable young girl. The movie was entertaining; I could see watching it on its own. A weird blend of fun, stimulating, and disturbing. And sure, it’s easy to make the statement that the John Forsythe character was uniquely stupid, but which of you guys out there can’t see yourself being a sucker for that act? I did think it was interesting from the psychological perspective. The fight sequence in the hotel room was an interesting little piece of cinematography (as Crow notes, they cameraman wasn’t expecting it).

    I found myself laughing out loud a lot. Having grown up listening to my Mom’s old Spike Jones records I was delighted to see Doodles Weaver and hear him mentioned several times in the riffs. The Star Trek “Vol” reference was a great one that nearly slipped by me.

    I’d say a B, B+ episode; I’d certainly watch it again.

       3 likes

  23. Gobi says:

    Someone should do a mash-up of this movie and “Touch of Evil”.

       0 likes

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

    I’d presume that Stratton, like his actor, was born circa 1918. The teenage girls of 1964 would’ve been NOTHING like what he was raised to think teenage girls of his era — “good” teenage girls in the mid-1930s, when he himself was a teen — “should” be like.

    He instinctively reacts to Jody, who initially presents herself as a veritable damsel in distress, as if she is what he considers to be a “good girl” and has a great deal of difficulty wrapping his mind around the fact that she just plain ISN’T, that’s all, just as a stereotypical white racist character would have trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that a non-white isn’t inherently untrustworthy.

       3 likes

  25. DirtyTerry says:

    “He’d never touch you, picture. You’re dirt.”

       1 likes

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

    “Next week: we step out of order and do episode 521-SANTA CLAUS”

    “You’re out of order! This court is out of order! The candy machine by the men’s room is out of order!”

       4 likes

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

    Gobi:
    Someone should do a mash-up of this movie and “Touch of Evil”.

    “Touch of Evil II: This Time, It’s a Kitten…”

       2 likes

  28. Josh says:

    I actually think this is one of the most solid episodes. The Riffs are consistently funny, moreso than some of the ones that typically end up on best of lists.

       2 likes

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