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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: 620- Danger!! Death Ray

Movie: (1967) A suave secret agent is on the case after a Europey evil organization makes off with a death ray and its inventor.

First shown: 1/7/95
Opening: Crow has contact lenses, Tom has sneakers on
Intro: Frank is a talent agent
Host segment 1: Servo builds a death ray for peaceful purposes, but can’t resist using it on Crow
Host segment 2: “This is your life, Mike Nelson”
Host segment 3: Crow’s designs for sunglasses seem a bit woman-ey
End: Cambot gets emotional, Frank has a glamour shot
Stinger: John Cameron Swayze intercepts the watch
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (211 votes, average: 4.54 out of 5)


• I’m not a big fan of the foreign spy movie episodes, but this one clicks with me. Maybe it’s because the movie is just barely watchable, the riffing is fun and most of the host segments work. The result is one I really like.
• You can find this one on Shout’s “Volume XXVI.”
• This movie’s original Italian title was “Il Raggio Infernale.”
• This was the first episode of 1995. It would be difficult year in MSTiedom.
• Crow’s contact lenses and Frank the talent agent are a great start.
• Callback to Crow’s screenwriting career. That’s Mike as Torgo, of course.
• Mike wears his sailor suit/Tom wears his sneakers into theater.
• Crow’s giggle, every time the movie pretends the toys are real, is so infectious!
• Callbacks: Starfighters music, “This nose wheel feels mushy.” (San Francisco International), “We tampered in God’s domain.” (Bride of the Monster), “I’m dyin’ in a rush!” (Kitten with a Whip).
• Segment 1 is strange, but it ends with the arresting image of Crow’s eyes catching fire. A classic moment.
• Non spaghetti ball bumpers: film canister, book, beaker
• Mike is very funny at beginning of segment 2, warily fending off Tom’s attempt to start the sketch. The segment is JUST long enough.
• Segment 3 is fun too. Perfect progression from slightly woman-ey to VERY woman-ey.
• Nice to see Cambot involved in a segment for once! But he’s sooo sensitive.
• Um, has anybody noticed the HUGE body count in this movie? Sheesh!
• Set designer Arrigo Equini, who was a scene designer for “Secret Agent Super Dragon,” is the ONLY person on this movie who worked on another MSTed movie.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy.
• Fave riff: “Hi. Welcome to Jack Ruby fantasy camp.” Honorable mention: “Look, let’s just put our balls on the table, shall we?”

132 Replies to “Episode guide: 620- Danger!! Death Ray”

  1. PALADIN says:

    “Abe Lincoln is TIME COP!…Trapped behind Confederate Lines !”

    Oh, I LOVE THIS EP ! I look upon the MST selection of spy-guy pics as ‘anti-Bond films’, great for solid laughs…

    Yepper… I love all the spy-guy eps…even the one that just sorta ‘lays around the house’….


  2. Depressing Aunt says:

    OH I love this one and I’m so happy about the upcoming DVD release. I hope you guys don’t mind my dropping this info on you, but the first night I watched it–I had ordered a videotaped copy from a really nice fellow who supplied me with many missed episodes–it actually prevented me from having a full-blown anxiety attack. Seeing Mike wearing sunglasses with the word “WOMAN” on them was better than a therapy session for me for some reason.


  3. Fred Burroughs says:

    For some reason, “I’m going to shun him” just slayed me. I think amish jokes > Abe Lincoln jokes for most cases, here too. It put a whole new spin on why the hit man was ruthlessly hunting him down with machine gun henchmen. The ‘beard-reveal’ scene is one of many WTF? moments in this fine movie.

    I must say Gordon Scott is a believable secret agent, beefy and aggressive; much moreso than, say, Roger Moore. I waited a long time to see this MST, and though I wasn’t disappointed with Bart Fargo (!?), I was disappointed with the whole Death Ray thing, which barely registers on film. Can the balloon juice–make with the death!


  4. bartcow says:

    A long time favorite. One I cherished when I had only seen a handful of episodes by that point. There’s also plenty of opportunities to work “special effects by Billy” and “lyrics by Hal David” into any pop culture discussion. Not to mention “the grandeur of white guys walking in herds”. Bart Fargo owes you a favor.

    I have a VHS of the uncut movie, and it explains what happens to the Barbershop Quartet Guy from the beginning of the movie (he just disappears in the MST version). He’s left for dead by the Frog Guy after getting caught in an elevator door or something (it’s been a while since I’ve watched it). The fight with the Frog Guy at the end is no less confusing, though. The watch scene at the very end is exactly as you see it.


  5. cubby says:

    I have a VHS of the uncut movie, and it explains what happens to the Barbershop Quartet Guy from the beginning of the movie (he just disappears in the MST version). He’s left for dead by the Frog Guy after getting caught in an elevator door or something (it’s been a while since I’ve watched it).

    A friend sent me an uncut copy, titled “Hellish Beam” with Dutch subtitles. There is a 2 minute pre-credit sequence showing how Frank & the Gang hijacked the car (something to do with jackhammers that also worked as machine guns). BQG destroys the death ray on display, but Brian [of All-Brian All-The-Time], with his dying strength, activates the room’s doors, BQG tries to get out, but instead gets trapped between the pressing steel doors. “Help me, Frank,” he says. Frank helps him by shooting him, somewhat to BQG’s surprise. Also in the cut segment, they shoot the nervous security guard on the phone on their way out.

    Another segment cut is after Bart gets his assignment – he goes to the installation where he and Mr. Carver watch the dailies from the Death Ray scene. Fargo IDs Frank and calls BQG “Gary.” He notes they usually have a third accomplice, “A Spaniard, a man with a scar on his face.” He then gets on the plane and meets cute with the evil blonde lady. End cut.

    My copy doesn’t have the watch intercept at the end. Just the watch hitting the water, cut to it sinking slowly to the bottom. I guess you can’t have everything.


  6. bartcow says:

    Hmmm…Comment 30 is credited to me, but I’m pretty sure it’s not me. The spirit of the comment is the same (didn’t bother to read them all, which is why mine is oh-so-redundant). Internet weirdness. Or maybe I’m losing my mind. Sybil? Is that you?


  7. Neptune Man says:

    I could go forever quoting this episode, is on mu top ten of favorite episodes. And the movie itself has its charm. This movie introduced us to one of mankind’s greatest achievements the “Bop-ba-dop-ba-da-ba-da-da” tune.
    Here in all its glory:


  8. MWH1980 says:

    You know those movies where the absurdity goes from being charming to just downright hate-inducing? This film does that for me.

    Then again, this and Double 007 do stupid things that just get under my skin and fester!

    Funny how they both contain a group going into a demonstration without being questioned, and then disrupting it with no real problems at all.

    Though I just hate Bart’s boss. That line calling him ‘worse than an arab’ to me seemed worse than that bad Chinese impersonation in ‘Batwoman.’ Plus he prattles on like Bart will do this without any questions.

    Speaking of another bad spy film, doesn’t it seem most of them deal with the ‘spy’ lazily saying he’s tired or doesn’t want to do a mission, and then is conned into doing it anyways?

    Plus, Bart’s dubbed voice sounds like one of the smarmiest Gregory Peck impersonations ever. What was it with some voices dubbing like their several layers thick of testosterone? Even Cal in This Island Earth’ sounded deep and manly.

    Stuff like this along with ‘Double 007,’ ‘Secret Agent Super Dragon,’ if any of these really bad Bond wannabes actually were successful. We’re living in a terrible time of vampire over-saturation, one has to wonder if anyone at the time of these films grew sick and tired of these spy films.

    P.S. Mr scientist who made the death ray for peaceful purposes…you are soooo stupid!


  9. "Hotcha!" says:

    It’s surprising how many versions of “Watermelon Man” one can find on iTunes. And a lot of them are pretty good.

    I like this movie a lot. A goofy movie to begin with and all the good rifs listed here.


  10. pondoscp says:

    Count me among the small number of dissenters for this episode. This one just doesn’t do it for me. I find it mostly boring, and the Watermelon Man song is a bad ear worm; I can’t shake it for days after watching this episode. But I’m one of the few who likes Kitten With A Whip, so my tastes are somewhat different. I don’t really care for any of the spy flicks MST did. (Diabolik is probably my fav of the spy genre they did.)
    I am looking forward to seeing a crystal clear copy on the upcoming box set. I’ve had several episodes I didn’t care for reveal themselves to me in a new light once I’ve upgraded from a crappy mpeg copy.


  11. bartcow says:

    Mike’s expression at Crow’s eyes catching fire always made me wonder if that wasn’t planned exactly as it happened. Those flames jump up pretty high!

    And it’s still a Top 10 for me. It’s like watching a yard full of kids play-act a bunch of different James Bond movies they caught on TV: knowing most of the story elements, but no idea how to properly pull them off. Plus, all those toys…


  12. Kenneth Morgan says:

    Mike’s expression at Crow’s eyes catching fire always made me wonder if that wasn’t planned exactly as it happened. Those flames jump up pretty high!

    No, that part was not planned. The guys apparently forgot how flammable ping pong balls are. Check out the full scene on the first “Poopie!” compilation.


  13. maclen says:

    Everytime I watch this episode, when Bart first reports in to Señor Raymond in his office I always wonder why he’s got a bust of the Roman emperor Caligula sitting on his mantle. Mike riffs that it is an “Irving Thalberg Award” but I swear it is Caligula. Maybe it was just the bust they happened to have in props.


  14. Sitting Duck says:

    Danger!! Death Ray fails the Bechdel Test. The only conversation between two females occurs near the end between the retrieval squad and it’s about Bart.

    And that is why I’ll never trade in my glasses for contacts.

    Say what you will about the film, but at least the music is catchy.

    The This is Your Life host segment for me is underwhelming, probably because I’m unfamiliar with that show (aside from the way it was alluded to in that one episode of Are You Being Served?).

    The stinger kind of falls flat. While it has a, “The hell?” quality you expect in a stinger, it’s somehow very meh. I would have gone with one of the instances where Bart attacks an ambusher, somehow just knowing that they’re there.

    @ #13: The radioactive carpets are in Operation Double 007.

    Smoothie of Great Power #18: This is one of those movies where the hero seems to win based almost entirely on the fact that the villain is the more incompetent one in the end.

    Wait until we get to Angels’ Revenge in a couple of weeks.

    @ #79: It’s true that Bart Fargo has a certain invincibility common to Steven Seagal characters. However, unlike with Seagal, some of Fargo’s opponents are at least capable of landing a few hits.

    Favorite riffs

    If Michael Caine and Andre the Giant had a child.

    Merv’s guests are Zha Zha Gabor, the Death Ray, and Tony Fields.

    Aren’t you glad you used Dial? Don’t you wish Europeans did?

    So it’s a peace-loving death ray.

    Can the balloon juice and kill something.

    Can you imagine the horrible kinds of peace the bad guys will wage with that death ray?

    Why have you taken me to the Petersons’ bathroom?

    This must be a massive organization to throw away a $1.50 helicopter.

    Somebody tell the director we’ve lost him. I think he’s dead.

    “Tonight, an American tried to find X-1. We tried our best to prevent…”
    Well, it wasn’t good enough, was it?

    Abe Lincoln is Time Cop.

    I was led to believe this was an Applebee’s.

    Abe Lincoln’s a bad cop on the loose.

    What’s with the secret agent who keeps striking out?

    This happened when I was Mannix’s bellboy, too.

    The way you dove out the window was just terrible.

    Yeah, we know what to do. What do we do?

    Just because you’re having a high speed chase doesn’t mean you can’t have an adequate space cushion.

    Gun placed by the Gideons.

    That antique breakaway chair has been in the family for years.

    He died as he lived. Not really having anything to do with this film.

    Don’t move or the curtain gets it.


  15. Hotchka! says:

    “Of course it’s phallic. Why wouldn’t it be?”
    “It’s much more powerful than a laser.” “So I didn’t just reinvent that again.”

    And I have to say that Lucille looked FINE in that backless outfit on their date.


  16. littleaimishboy says:

    Hi, Mike! Howya doin?


  17. Lisa H. says:

    Crow’s eyes catching fire just kills me. I love Trace’s screaming. “Well, I’ll be in my trailer!”


    “It says, ‘Ba-ba-bap-ap-da-da’.”


  18. jklope4 says:

    “Oh, I have a RAIL-splitting headache!” makes me laugh every time.


  19. trickymutha says:



  20. thequietman says:

    Okay, who here is bald? Show of hands?

    I could not have told you a thing about this episode before seeing it again tonight, but nonetheless the fans have it that this was a hoot. Frank’s talent agency was one of the best Deep 13 segments since the Invention Exchange was dropped. As for the movie, despite all the shooting and death ray-ing this was a breath of fresh air after all the downbeat B&W dramas. And some surprisingly enjoyable music too, even if some of it was an earworm.

    Fave riffs
    This action sequence brought to you by the Stan Kenton Orchestra!

    Lucille: I just forget all about meals when I paint.
    Crow: That nauseating, huh?

    Herbie the misfit spy: The Boss will have me killed!
    Servo: Bruce Springsteen? But why?


  21. Doug says:

    If you could somehow slam this together with Agent for HARM, you’d have the perfect terrible spy movie.


  22. MSTie says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never commented on DDR before, because it’s definitely a top 5 episode for me. If I’m feeling blue I know it’ll have me laughing in no time. Random thoughts:

    @#s 60 and 61 — the theme song does indeed make a fantastic ringtone. I ripped the song, extracted a 10-second clip, and voila.

    Most of my favorite riffs have been mentioned, and I agree that “Special effects by Billy!” is surprisingly useful.

    Wish Cambot was in more episodes.

    Lucille really does look like she just came out of an episode of “Laugh-In.”

    I think Gordon Scott is a hunk. There, I said it.


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

    If I were to make a list of the “top twenty” episodes with what I considered the worst host segments — (but why would I do that? why?) — this episode would be on that list. Shrug.

    5 stars! Danger, Death Ray! is the best of the James Bond knock-offs to be shown on MST3K.Bart Fargo is actually likable and there are some good action scenes. Heck, it could even be a decent movie if it weren’t for the toys and the strange final shot of the hand holding the watch.

    Little split-second details like that kept it from being what you’d call a decent movie? Wow, you’ve managed to totally undiscriminating in taste AND picayune at the same time. ;-)

    Let’s see, you’re a brilliant scientist who wants to improve the world. What do you do? Build a Death Ray of course. After all, a Death Ray has nearly limitless humanitarian uses and almost no potential for abuse. What could go wrong?

    “Ze whole point of haffing a deaff ray iss to let the verld KNOW you haff a deaff ray! Vhy did you geep it a ZECRET?!”

    So he didn’t.

    Smoothie Of Great Power
    * This is one of those movies where the hero seems to win based almost entirely on the fact that the villain is the more incompetent one in the end.

    At the risk of being pedantic AND repeating myself (“Why stop *now*?”), that’s ultimately how every borderline-“serious” adventure/action film works. One must be able to outfight and/or outthink one’s opponent (which isn’t necessarily at all the same as being SMARTER than one’s opponent). Trusting in complete and utter dumb luck is only an option in films that are attempting to be humorous.

    “I should like to be in a barbershop quartet!”

    Yeah, I still don’t know what that one’s about. IMHO the voice is too specifically goofy for it to be just a random riff.

    My favorite of the espionage films done.Does anybody else notice that the villains at the unveilingof the Death Ray were the only dignitaries who weren’t bald/balding?So the movie, unless I’m mistaken, is saying that in a crowd of bald people, people who have hair are inevitably evil.

    It’s just a logical(?) extension of the basic b-movie principle that having a mustache means that a character is evil. The Black-Bearded One, Charlie Blake, Dr. L.G. Blanchard, J.B. Christians aka Ratfink, Sean “Tree” Donovan (okay, his was fake, but still), Dr. Carlo Lombardi, H.W. Manfred, T. Master (“Bobby Fisher?”), Leo McCabe, Mickey Moran, Riley Morgan, Umberto Scalli, Bob Simpson, T.G. Vorelli, Zor, the list just goes on.


  24. Sitting Duck says:

    A further thought on an alternate stinger. Of the failed ambushes, I think the one where the guy tries to tackle Bart but ends up flying out the window would have been perfect.


  25. jjk says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority about liking the 60’s spy movies MST3K did. Being a big fan of the Bond(Connery)films of the 60’s some of my favorite episodes are Danger: Death Ray, Operation Double 007, Secret Agent Super Dragon and Diabolik( yes I know he was a master criminal not a spy). I just like the campy look of these movies. True relics of the 60’s. They are just fun to watch.


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

    I was really looking forward to watching DANGER!! DEATH RAY last night, as it is one (of two) episode that I haven’t seen before.Well….that’s not entirely true.I saw this episode one time about 15 years ago, I think I might have even taped it, but it was a tape that would get lost when I loaned them out to friends.So, not seeing it since 1995, I considered this a first time viewing as I remembered nothing about this one.For example, I thought it was a black and white movie, but my memory has been proven wrong.Now that I’ve seen this one, there is just one left I haven’t seen:#909 GORGO, which I think we’ll get to later this year…

    “That’s nice, is there a point to your little story?” Oh, wait, you in fact got to it. Never mind.

    (I just like that “is there a point to your little story” line…)

    “Abe Lincoln is TIME COP!

    I vaguely (*really* vaguely) remember Timecop having a handful of imitators, a sort of time police renaissance OSLT, but now I can’t find any. Maybe someone changed history…

    Though I just hate Bart’s boss. That line calling him ‘worse than an arab’ to me seemed worse than that bad Chinese impersonation in ‘Batwoman.’

    Aside from the fact that casual racism was, of course, much more common fifty years ago, Arabs frequently make a convenient go-to villain (TV and films during the Reagan years…eesh). If I were to guess, “reasons” for that include a character’s “Arabness” can easily be “established” with just a burnoose, they can be played by either white or black actors, they (until relatively recently) had no strong real-world presence to object to stereotypes so writers felt free to play fast and loose with Islam, and of course there’s the harem girls/slave women thing for that EXTRA bit of tastelessness. Also, back then, the British Empire was in the process of disintegrating as more nations achieved self-rule (unless I’m totally wrong about all of that), so British filmmakers were probably trying to tap into resentment of “those ungrateful [insert racial slur here]s.”

    IIRC there was a strong “Arab” presence in Operation Double 007 (also of 1967; huh).

    Plus he prattles on like Bart will do this without any questions.

    Well, that is kind of what’s expected of most government agents. Spies don’t get to decide what is and isn’t worth pursuing.


    Off-topic, but while seeking data for that list of mustache villains (I initially thought John Saxon had a mustache but I realized I was thinking of the Cave Dwellers guy whom the Brains *compared* to John Saxon), I found a villains wikia that’s thorough enough to cover Deaney from “Mitchell” (who was of course played by John Saxon). No way to know if the site’s writers would’ve remembered the film even if MST3K hadn’t revived it and it had remained way more obscure, of course.


  27. 70's run on car. says:

    Waiter, I will seat you in the back because of your dress you know.


  28. Cornjob says:

    If the Scientist built a death ray when he was in a good mood, I hate to see what he’d make if he felt mad at the world. Doomsday weapon I suppose. Maybe a satellite mounted planet splitting version of the death ray. But then the Sith might sue.


  29. Into The Void says:


    That was one of those rare references that I recognized back when I saw this episode in the ’90s …and I didn’t know it from the movie itself, but from an old K-TEL LP song compilation (or some such label) that we had when I was just a youngster that had that tune on it.

    My favorite bit in this fantastic episode is where one of the goons in pursuit of Fargo–in an apartment, standing in front of an open window–leaps towards him, Fargo steps aside (akin to the hilarious fighting style of Graham Chapman’s King Arthur in Holy Grail!) and the obvious occurs with the thug jumping out the window, lol


  30. Johnny Drama says:

    This one feels like if the cast had stayed the same when they went to the Sci-Fi era. An example of Season 8 w/ Trace and Frank.


  31. Sampo says, “Set designer Arrigo Equini, who was a scene designer for “Secret Agent Super Dragon,” is the ONLY person on this movie who worked on another MSTed movie.” Unless you count actor Nello Pazzafini. While watching Colossus and the Headhunters from Vol. 38 just the other day, I noticed that Kermes’ right hand man (he plays “Gunk”) looked familiar, because he’s also Frank, the full-bodied bespectacled thug from Danger!! Death Ray (if Michael Caine and Andre the Giant had a child!). In D!!DR he is credited as “Ted Carter” so it would have sneaked by a computer comparison.

    Thanks to Ballyhoo’s featurettes on the Shout! Factory discs I’ve learned that the Italian film industry of MST3K times was a kind of small (large) family, so there may be others with more than one credit on the show. Nello is just hard to miss. Think about it, won’t you? Thank you.


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