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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: 619- Red Zone Cuba (with short: ‘Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance’)

619s

Short: (1949) Helpful advice to make you a better public speaker.
Movie: (1966) An escaped convict and his two pals take part in the Bay of Pigs invasion, then return home with a plan to get rich.

First shown: 12/17/94
Opening: Tom pumps out tonight’s lotto numbers
Intro: Frank owes the mob $50 large, but they stomp Dr. F. instead; meanwhile M&tB hit the casino
Host segment 1: Frank exhorts the nearly-dead Dr. F.
Host segment 2: Mike is Carol Channing; Dr. F. gets “hope you die” wishes
Host segment 3: Dr. F. lives, dies and lives again, but the mob says otherwise
End: M&tB sing a happy, upbeat song, Dr. F. is feeling better
Stinger: Blind lady playing piano
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (246 votes, average: 4.55 out of 5)

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• I maintain that this is easily the worst movie MST3K ever did, and is in the running for worst movie EVER MADE (and, yes, I’ve seen “The Apple”). And for that reason, I LOVE this episode. The badness really drives M&tB at great riffing heights. And that doesn’t even count the wonderful, hilarious short. And host segments are a lot of fun too.
• Rhino released this on DVD as a single
References.
• That’s a neat trick shooting the balls out of Tom. I love the way Kevin grunts as he sends each one skyward.
• Slightly unusual: many of the segments take place in Deep 13 rather than on the SOL.
• That’s Mary Jo as the increasingly rare Magic Voice.
• Slam on Denny Dillon outta nowhere! Also Amanda Bearse.
• Carradine was in a HUGE number of movies, but keep in mind that many of them are movies like this.
• Segment 1 is lots of fun. The sight of Frank and mummy Dr. F doing the knee test is worth the price of admission.
• Callback: “Petey Plane!” (Skydivers) “This nose wheel feels mushy,” (San Francisco International), the “Starfighters” music, “I’m dyin’ in a rush!” (Kitten with a Whip). Also, Crow’s: “Hey Posture Pals was the definitive last word on posture!” and “The master says you can’t stay here.” (Manos)
• “I’m a dreamer, Montreal” is a line from the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers.”
• I’m pretty sure that’s Trace as the voice of Jimmy Carter on the phone. I think that’s a guest appearance I may have missed previously.
• Mike again displays his unexplained and preternatural ability to just become somebody, in this case Carol Channing.
• Mike does the knee test in the theater. It doesn’t seem to help.
• I was humming the “happy upbeat song” for days after I first saw this.
• Nice Harpo gookie by Frank at the end.
• Cast and crew round up: Also working on “The Hellcats:” producer Anthony Cardoza. In front of the camera: Tom Hanson, Nick Raymond and Frederic Downs. Also working on “The Skydivers:” producer Anthony Cardoza (also actor), director/screenplay writer Coleman Francis (also actor), score composer John Bath. In front of the camera: Frederic Downs. Also working on “The Beast of Yucca Flats:” producer Anthony Cardoza (also actor), director/screenplay writer Coleman Francis (also actor). In front of the camera: John Morrison and George Prince. Coleman also appears briefly as a delivery man in “This Island Earth.” Nick Raymond also appeared in “The Sinister Urge.” Frederic Downs also appeared in “Terror from the Year 5000.” John Carradine also appeared in “The Unearthly.”
• CreditsWatch: Frank gets a new credit this week and for the rest of the season: script consultant. Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. The music for the “The Bouncy Upbeat Song” was written by Mike. Frank wrote the lyics.
• Fave riff from the short: “Make sure your part is gouged into your skull.” Honorable mention: “Now you’re ready to rub out Sonny Corleone.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Ho, guys. Step back and think. Are we all gonna fit in here?” Honorable mention: “Why is Phil Silvers rounding up corpses?

205 Replies to “Episode guide: 619- Red Zone Cuba (with short: ‘Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance’)”

  1. jjb3k says:

    Of the Coleman Francis trilogy, this one is probably my least favorite. “The Skydivers” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats” make me laugh until it hurts, but somehow this one misses the mark in my book. It’s good, but it’s not really classic status. A lot of the riffs feel like first-draft efforts that weren’t fine-tuned to be the best they could be. It was like the movie was so crushingly bland, the Brains didn’t know what to do with it. The host segments reflect this too – none of them have anything to do with the movie, and they just sort of slowly meander from joke to joke with some very odd set-ups (Mike as Carol Channing/T-Bone Burnette/Vicky Lawrence is very confusing).

    I noticed something about the Deep 13-centricity and the whole set-up of Dr. Forrester being in traction while Frank heckles him. It seems like it might have been a last-ditch effort by the Brains to make Frank change his mind about leaving the show. You know, sort of a way of saying “We’ll give you more screen time if you stay!” Starting with the next episode, they also promoted Frank to “script consultant”, whatever that means, so it seems like they were trying anything to keep Frank on staff.

    One thing I’ll say about this episode, though – the short is hilarious. “Don’t do this during the speech.”

       1 likes

  2. crowschmo says:

    Well, maybe 25 minutes of editing training wasn’t enough.

    What the HELL is going on in this MOVIE!!!!! AAAAAAHHH!!!!

       1 likes

  3. crowschmo says:

    Oh, wait, #46 Joseph Nebus explained all. Ya see, it all makes sense.

    HUH?

       1 likes

  4. Stickboy says:

    #47 The Professor, I second that. The song comes on the light station here at work at least once a week. Of course I sing it to myself, as no one here would have any clue what I was talking about.

    Not too much longer after first seeing this episode, my family moved. For reasons I can no longer remember, I labeled all the boxes with my personal stuff “Frogs Legs.” Thing is, my mom was so used to my weirdness, she didn’t ask why.

       4 likes

  5. Ah! Now we’re deep in MST3K territory!
    This is the only movie that fought “Manos” to a draw in a cage match. “Manos” delivered devestating blows of long, boring scenes of nothing, dimestore acting, and Torgo abuse. But “Red Zone Cuba” countered with a murderous flurry of unattractive characters, incomprehensible plot, neck breaking jump cuts, and an all around feeling of WTF.
    The rematch is this June in Las Vegas. Watch on pay per view.

       1 likes

  6. Charlie G says:

    “Pie doesn’t make you wanna kill yourself, you want some?”

       1 likes

  7. Trilaan says:

    No matter how many times I watch this episode I don’t remember a thing about the movie afterwards.

       2 likes

  8. The Toblerone Effect says:

    I’m alittle surprised by the number of negative reviews of this episode. To me, this is among the top ten in MST’s CC era, perhaps even history. Because of the movie’s ineptitude, the riffing is top-notch and continously funny. The host segments are good, and are an example of Dr. F and Frank being more involved with them during Season 6.

    Fav riff from short: Narrator says, “You must remember to Think Tall, Stand Tall, Walk Tall, and Talk Tall”. Mike responds, “What if you’re Robert Reich?”

    Fav riffs from movie: “I’m Cherokee Jack” repeatedly, at one point Crow comes out and says, “This movie dares you to watch it”, and as the guys gather to talk about their “invasion”, Servo says, “Men, I want you to study a picture of what my kid drew”. They also rip alot of good remarks during the invasion, particularly about the small size of the force.

    I wonder if the writers on the show had gambling on their minds: in the opening, Mike and Crow call out numbers to Powerball as Servo spits them out through his head, M&tB get involved in a game of bingo, and Frank owes “50 large” to the mob by what was probably a gambling debt.

    It took me years and several viewings to figure out that Luitenant Justine is also a biker in “Hellcats”; he’s the one who tries to get his motorcycle out of the repo yard, only to be caught. Joel & the ‘Bots refer to him as “Kook-ee”. Tony Cardoza was also in that, as the painter who gets the s**t beaten out of him as he’s painting a nude model.

    “Water. Thirsty. Sick man.” Harold Saunders is the human version of Droopy!

       7 likes

  9. MikeH says:

    Riffs galore on this one:

    Water..thirsty…sick man
    Coleman Francis is Curley Howard in The Fugitive
    That’s a weird stain
    I think you’re supposed to choke me until I’m dead
    You shove off!!
    Why is Phil Silvers rounding up corpses?
    Ted you take Havana
    That’s really Castro!!
    That’s why we have a picture of Gene Pitney on the mantle

    Love the ep

       1 likes

  10. The Toblerone Effect says:

    One more thing: Crow violates the cop/donut joke agreement at the end of the movie. After Griffin/Curley is killed, he blurts out “He’s got doughnuts in his pockets” as the lawmen are searching the corspe. Bad Crow!!

       0 likes

  11. R.A. Roth says:

    The segment just after they “leave Cuba” is classic in every way. The old guy (“My father was a can opener, my mother was a wood duck.”) with a restaurant menu scrawled on the exterior walls, a blind daughter (her husband was killed in the war, so she went blind…huh?) wailing away in another dimension (“She’s wed to the devil.”). They toss the old man down the well and Crow does an amazing screaming gag complete with a slight muffling after the well is sealed up, plus a soft “splash” at the end. Seen it too many times to count. I still laugh every time.

    Randy

       1 likes

  12. Two riffs from this one kill me every time.

    Tom (as dog): (mumble, mumble) Snausages (mumble) OH, OH, MY AREA!!

    Crow (as Mrs. Chastaine): And to think that I was once Betty Boop.

    And, probably in third place:

    Crow (as Castro, writing): Get… real… beard.

    #15: I’d noticed the U.S. registrations on the planes. I wonder if the Brains didn’t, or just couldn’t come up with a good joke to use it in?

    #59: A joke I always want to add to the list of “[x] Tall” is “and Dammitall.”

    By the way, does anyone find the cup, or whatever Dr. F is wearing under the bandages, kind of disturbing?

       1 likes

  13. MikeK says:

    “Coffee, a Coleman Francis motif.”

    “John really fills out a pair of overalls.”

    “Morning and Coleman just go together.”

       1 likes

  14. CMWaters says:

    Toblerone Effect: Perhaps since Joel is no longer on the SOL for this episode, the agreement is nullified. It’s not like Mike would have known beforehand.

       0 likes

  15. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I’m Cherokee Jack.

       3 likes

  16. This Guy says:

    @45:
    According to a recap at the Agony Booth, after they kill the old guy at the restaurant, Griffin does… about what you’d expect to the blind daughter (offscreen, of course, but still.) You can see how it was necessary to cut the scene for MST, but knowing about it really catapults the movie to a whole new level of loathsomeness.

       1 likes

  17. Captain Cab says:

    The riff on the helicopter’s inadequate size is my fave also and the comical mental image of the characters realizing this is the first thing that pops in my head whenever I hear this episode’s title. :D

       1 likes

  18. Green Switch says:

    GREAT episode, both the short and the movie.

    The riff about the Cubans sounding like the grownups from Peanuts always gets a big laugh out of me. I always enjoy the repetitive use of “YOU shove off!”

    And Mike resorting to the knee test when all hell breaks loose in the movie – classic!

       2 likes

  19. The Bolem says:

    Also, the stinger couldn’t have been more perfect. Any appropriate stinger would have to be 3-5 seconds of the movie that convey the sense of confused desolation you feel after the entire feature, and indescribably spooky blind lady at her piano fits the bill.

    Does Griffin really kill her in the uncut version? She was such an odd character in such an odd scene that I kind of liked to think she was still out somewhere in that vaguely defined area American pop-culture’s southwest, banging away…

    Someone on IMDB commented that out of MST3K’s early video releases, this was about the only one never released unriffed by Rhino or anyone else. Is there a strait, uncut DVD out there?

       2 likes

  20. Cornjob says:

    The editing in this film reminds me of the editing in a Lucio Fulce movie called City of the Living Dead a.k.a. The Gates of Hell. Both movies aggressively make no sense. Things happen, but with no context, explanation, or continuity. Leaving the viewer to try and superimpose their own narrative over it.

    Both movies also seem to have been edited with a meathook and a chainsaw by Hunter Thompson during an exceptionally prolonged LSD bender.

       2 likes

  21. Lloyd's Lungs says:

    “Night Train to Mundo Fine” is on my IPod Shuffle.

    That is all.

       4 likes

  22. The Professor says:

    Cornjob, you’ll find that a lot of Fulci’s movies make no sense. It doesn’t matter what the story is about, Fulci is putting some zombies in there and damage will be caused to someone’s eyeball.

    I got to say that not even Coleman can compete with the editing “skills” of Frank Zappa. His films are seizure inducing. Still love him, though.

       1 likes

  23. rockyjones says:

    I love this one, as well as the other Coleman Francis films. It’ s hard to put your finger on, but somehow, he manages to raise “bleak and depressing” to an art form. And, as far as Joel and the bots go, there’s such fertile ground for riffing…it’s a match made in heaven.

    The short’s an absolute classic…if only for the “knee test” alone. (“Is your speech over, Mr. Johnson?”)

    I can watch RZC and Skydivers over and over. Beast of Yucca Flats, on the other hand, doesn’t have as much going on in the plot department, and is a lot more difficult to get through.

       0 likes

  24. Faruk Alatan says:

    I loathe this movie. I hate watching this episode. It rivals The Creeping Terror.

    It’s really bad and while I do love this show, I think you all are masochists.

    THIS IS AN AWFUL MOVIE!

       0 likes

  25. Dean says:

    You want the paint in your face? That’s optional.

       0 likes

  26. itsspideyman says:

    Damn…. I thought I was Cherokee Jack…

       1 likes

  27. The Bolem says:

    ‘Red Zone Cuba’ and ‘City of the Living Dead’ also both have WTF endings, COTLD’s allegedly being the result of some footage being destroyed, but even my Fulci guidebook (“Beyond Terror”, I think) isn’t clear. Hey, if the “world” within a movie actually ends, the film breaking is as good a representation as any.

    But I think Fulci’s disorienting edits were intended to enhance the feel of something truly incomprehensible happening to Dunwich and the characters within. It accomplishes that better than any other movie I’ve ever seen, making it more truly “Lovecraftian” than a lot of actual HPL adaptations and possibly my favorite horror movie of all time.

    Now for Italian horror with some REALLY bad cuts, try the edited version of Argento’s ‘Deep Red’, which is available in some of those PD dump DVD box sets. The American distributor (HBO?) cut out 20+ minutes of character development, including individual sentences from the middle of conversations, and ironically left in every last drop of blood. This version is called “Deep Red: the Hatchet Murders”, so at least they were honest enough to put the name of their editing technique right under the title! KAZING!

    Someday I’ll acheive my dream of using the medium of film to actually, physically hurt the audience, and Coleman’s neck-snapping jump-cut technique will be my starting point. Someday…

       1 likes

  28. ck says:

    #72
    Just got a thought. Maybe I’ll put “Night Train
    to Mundo Fine” on my answering machine. That should discourage telemarketers! :evil:

       2 likes

  29. Trashman says:

    “Night train to drop the Jeep off…”

       4 likes

  30. V says:

    Have you ever touched a post-it note, have you ever looked at boots?

    I had this thing where I had to watch every MST episode in order and I remember when I was trudging along season 6 and came to this movie, I wanted to just rip my eyes out. I thought it wasn’t going to get any worse than that and then of course Beast of Yucca Flats came along and I just really, really hate Coleman Francis.

       0 likes

  31. Nicolletta says:

    You know a movie is bad when Mike starts to believe he’s Carol Channing. If this isn’t the worst movie MST3K ever did, it’s certainly the most stupefying.

    There are three themes in every Coleman Francis film: Coffee, Misery and DEATH. Not necessarily in that order. No wonder poor Mike nearly snapped.

    “D for Drive, F must mean Fly!”

       0 likes

  32. “Night train to Mundo Fine / Night train to the end / Running hard and running fast / To meet my future and away from my past / Taking that gamble that cannot last / Night train to the end…” I can hum the theme song in my sleep to this day.

    Great riffing by Mike on this song alone: “Drink Night Train / Go to the basketball game / Throw up under the bleachers.”

    More great riffs:

    “I’m Cherokee Jack!”
    “Mother of mercy, is this the end of Curly?”

       5 likes

  33. CMWaters says:

    Now I have to wonder which role John Carridene was more willing to block out of his mind:

    His brief cameo here…

    Or the goofiness that was “The Unearthly”

       0 likes

  34. Sitting Duck says:

    The Bolem #70:

    Does Griffin really kill her in the uncut version? She was such an odd character in such an odd scene that I kind of liked to think she was still out somewhere in that vaguely defined area American pop-culture’s southwest, banging away…

    I was always under the impression that he raped her. Though of course he could have killed her afterwards.

       0 likes

  35. Sitting Duck says:

    The Toblerone Effect #59:

    Fav riff from short: Narrator says, “You must remember to Think Tall, Stand Tall, Walk Tall, and Talk Tall”. Mike responds, “What if you’re Robert Reich?”

    Weird thing. I was just reading today’s Dilbert and in it, Topper claims to have once passed a gallstone so big that it became Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration.

       1 likes

  36. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    #77itsspideyman – In a way, deep down, aren’t we all Cherokee Jack?

       3 likes

  37. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    As horrifying a thought as it is to imagine, even Coleman Francis was some mother’s baby once.

       1 likes

  38. 1 adam 12 says:

    I personally think Manos is the worst movie ever MSTied, but I won’t argue with anyone who chooses this one. Love it anyway, 5 stars worth.

    Fave riff: “Now for this next shot, we’re going to focus the camera on my enormous package splayed for all to see…”

       2 likes

  39. MikeH says:

    Fun fact: Coleman Francis is interred in the same cemetery in LA as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Zappa, and many other more important figures. I even went to visit him once!!

       6 likes

  40. Cliff Weismeyer says:

    Mike H- Did you drink a coffee over Coleman Francis’ grave by any chance? Forget Jim Morrison…

    “This is a hazelnut Sumatra blend. I think you’ll like it.”

       1 likes

  41. The Bolem says:

    Several posters have tried to string together a plot for this one, which is technically possible throughout, except for 2 key spots where it pulls the rug out from under the chain of events.

    1.) The omitted plane ride from Cuba back to New Mexico.

    We gather later on that they must be back in the States upon reaching the Frog’s-Legs-Shack, but it’s so unclear at the time since we don’t even see them definitively outrun the Cubans shooting at them, that Crow, even as the trio interacts with Mrs. Shasteen (I think) asks, “Guys…are they still in Cuba, or…?”

    2.) The Incredible Secret Ending: Shasteen returns!

    Just when you think you’ve finally, actually pieced together what’s been going on the whole movie, this comes along and shatters whatever theory you had going at the last minute. Among the countless unanswerable questions about this movie, this one begs an answer anyway; he clearly couldn’t have escaped with his bad leg, so how the hell did he get back!?! I can’t back my theory up with much logic, but here’s what I always thought:

    Coleman saw the world as colluding into one collective, oppressive hive-mentality by the early ’60s, and anyone who wasn’t a cog in the greater machine was just a harmless, baffling character, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, like Cook, Landis, Cherokee Jack, the father/daughter team in the diner, etc. The only exception to this was Griffin; murderous, brutal, and thieving as he is, he’s also the last American outlaw, the only rebel that poses a threat to the Orwellian establishment, in which the democratic and communist governments are actually in cahoots, the Cold War being a ploy to scare the citizens into line. Kennedy and Castro therefore concocted the Bay of Pigs invasion as an elaborate sting operation to catch Griffin, and though he escaped Cuba, the snare encircled the globe, catching him on the way to the tungsten mine instead. Shasteen probably wasn’t in on it when he told them of his mountain in an attempt to be taken with them during the breakout, but a phone call between Castro and JFK probably led to Shasteen spilling the beans to save his own skin, thus winning him a trip back to the USA. The unfeeling silence upon his reunion with the fair Lady Torgo practically screams out that they were now just soulless cogs in the machine, and on that day, all our hopes for individual freedom ran all the way to Hell with the last true American hero, Griffin.

    I’m not saying I agree with that sentiment, just that that’s what Senior Francis was trying to get across. Please, share your theories as well!

       6 likes

  42. Dave says:

    After the choking scene when Mike adds the line “May I finish my story?” as the guy looks at Coleman. I can’t even think about that without cracking up. I even had to stop for a minute here before finishing this comment.

       5 likes

  43. KSK says:

    GET

    REAL

    BEARD

    I cracked up just typing it out.

       4 likes

  44. pearliemae says:

    A few thoughts: #92 Bolem – I think you’ve finally cracked this case. #82 Nicoletta – there are actually 4 themes in CF movies, the fourth is shooting people from planes. #85 Sitting Duck – heck, for that matter he could have killed her beforehand. To all – close your eyes, breathe deep and feel the Cherokee Jack within each of us. And now, my fever dream: which current director would have the vision and ineptitude to do a remake of RZC? I’m going with Ron Howard.

       0 likes

  45. DON3k says:

    Another thing, Mike’s gravely Coleman voice is pretty unique, too, and a bit creepy.

       2 likes

  46. Nick-0 says:

    I’m Cherokee Jack

       0 likes

  47. The Bolem says:

    I’m glad Sampo mentioned “Red Zone Cuba: The Musical”, since I stumbled across that guy’s web page almost 10 years ago, and he was the first person besides me I’d seen refer to RZC as “Mike’s MANOS”, gushing on about how underappreciated it was. I don’t remember where he was located, but he just performed it at his college, so I’m surprised to hear anyone here saw it (no offense, it just sounded like a very local affair).

    I’d be even more surprised if he didn’t frequent these boards. Is anyone here him?

    As for parallels between ‘Red Zone Cuba’ and “MANOS”:

    – Well, first the obvious, they have similarly overweight producer/directors who insisted on the lead.

    – Both movies open with a shot of similar cars driving through the desert. (Admittedly, I don’t know my cars that well)

    – And the other car thing is REALLY strange: both feature a totally unnecessary scene in which the trio of protaganists want to put the top of their convertible up, but it doesn’t work. “MANOS”: “You can have the top up, or a birthday present” RZC: “(ahem) Your everyday annoyances SHOULDN’T BE FILMED!” Or was that a common motif in the ’60s?

    Did anyone else notice how they made all those “MANOS” references in ‘Skydivers’, but they only made one here where it most counted, dubbing Mrs. Shasteen ‘Lady Torgo’? Almost as though the Brains felt they were being punished for thinking they knew what a “MANOS” caliber Coleman Francis movie was with that first outing, only to have this one teach them the horrible truth?

       2 likes

  48. MikeK says:

    RZC really is the Manos of the Mike era.

    Now, as bas as it is, I still think The Beast of Yucca Flats is worst of the Coleman Francis trilogy. It is that for the simple fact that it’s so damned boring. Sure, RZC is dreary and poorly made, but it’s still strange enough to at least be watchable.

       0 likes

  49. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    #88Toblerone: It is indeed horrible to think of Coleman Francis as someone’s baby, but he kind of looks like a giant infant during RZC. A bearded, smoking, coffee-drinking, murdering, (possibly raping), strangling infant. Ooo ick. :mad:

    ps – I am Spartic-er, Cherokee Jack!

       2 likes

  50. The Bolem says:

    @DON3k #96

    Fully agree about the Coleman voice impressions, especially by the end:

    “Is that the mountain?”

    “Yep”

    “Well let’s kill that mountain”

       2 likes

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