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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: 621- The Beast of Yucca Flats (with shorts: ‘Money Talks!’ & ‘Progress Island U.S.A.’)

621s1 621s2

Short: (1951) The ghost of Ben Franklin visits a spendthrift teenager.
Short: (1973) An upbeat travelogue tries to lure investors to Puerto Rico.
Movie: (1961) After being exposed to atomic radiation, a defecting Russian scientist becomes a murderous monster.

First shown: 1/21/95
Opening: Mike is wallpapering the SOL, Crow and Tom are no help
Intro: The Mads promote “Proposition Deep 13” while M&tB speak up for the Satellite of Love
Host segment 1: M&tB get a visit from some partiers
Host segment 2: Crow asks: Is it 11:30?
Host segment 3: Crow offers a plea for film anti-preservation, but Mike disapproves
End: Mike’s victory speech, Tom reads letters, Dr. F.’s concession speech
Stinger: The beast is pissed
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (205 votes, average: 4.48 out of 5)


• Ah, part 3 of the Coleman Francis trilogy, with the extra special sticky badness of Tor Johnson thrown in. This terrible, terrible movie, the very sharp riffing (especially given what they had to work with in the main feature) plus not one but TWO shorts and some great, memorable host segments, makes for a classic episode.
• This episode can be found on Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVIII.
• Of course the riffing is good in this episode: Mike already riffed on it during his training before his first experiment, as mentioned in episode 513- THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE.
• The political segments managed (mostly) not to offend folks of any particular stripe, but also managed to make some smart satirical observations.
• A rare two-shorter (the last one was in season 3). A nice mix, too: one classic 50s educational short, followed by an industrial. As a side note: I doubt that noted abolitionist Ben Franklin would say “Would you have your slave press my suit?” but I’m willing to overlook that one amid some great riffing. The riffing in the second short has a lot of “fill in the blanks” jokes, as in “A booming economy…” “…is not here.” I don’t think they overdid it, but I think they hit the limit on that one.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Film canister, book, beaker, bulletin board.
• Callbacks: “This nose wheel feels mushy” (San Francisco International) and, of course, “I’m Cherokee Jack” (and several other references to Red Zone Cuba) .
• Segment 1 seems to come out of the blue. Maybe the mention of rum in the short? By the way, during the sketch Tom shouts “water buffalo!” at the partiers. This was a then-current reference. Read about it here.
• Did anybody notice that the opening of TBOYF is vaguely reminiscent of the opening of “The Dead Talk Back”?
• Another then-current reference: “Marlon Brando arrives for the Larry King Interview.” Honestly, it seemed like a big deal at the time.
• Still another: A reference to the short-lived TV show “The Five Mrs. Buchanans.”
• Like Frank, I like to eat lunch at 11:30. So segment 2 resonates for me.
• At the sight of a coyote, Tom says “Humphrey!” That coyote looks nothing like Humphrey.
• I said in 1997, and I still say today, that the Academy should have had Crow and Mike do segment 3 at the Oscars that year (the year “MST3K: The Movie” came out). It would have brought the house down.
• Frank’s face in the closing is great.
• Cast and crew roundup: special effects guy Ray Mercer also worked on “Lost Continent,” “I Accuse My Parents,” “Radar Secret Service,” “Last of the Wild Horses” and “The Sinister Urge.” Sound guy Titus Moody worked on “Incredibly Strange Creatures.” Score composer Gene Kauer also worked on “Atomic Brain” and “Agent for H.A.R.M.” Producer Anthony Cardoza, worked on “The Hellcats” and “Red Zone Cuba.” Producer Anthony Cardoza and cinematographer Austin McKinney worked on “The Skydivers.”
In front of the camera: Eric Tomlin and Tony Cardoza appeared in “The Hellcats.” Marcia Knight, Coleman Francis, Eric Tomlin, Tony Cardoza, Titus Moody, Barbara Francis, Ronald Francis and Alan Francis, appeared in “The Skydivers.” Coleman Francis, George Prince, Tony Cardoza and Howard Morrison appeared in “Red Zone Cuba.” Tor Johnson was also in “The Unearthly” and “Bride of the Monster” as was Conrad Brooks. Brooks was also in “The Sinister Urge.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. The partiers were Patrick Brantseg, Paul Chaplin, Bridget Jones, Tim Paulson and Mary Jo Pehl. The music heard was “Speed of Sound,” written by Dayton Mercil, performed by a band called Ripcord.
• Fave riff from the first short: “Could you get your stomach off my desk?” Honorable mention: “Oh, and kill your parents.”
• Fave riff from the second short: “I’m having a freakout up to ten years later!” Honorable mention: “Just like everywhere else in the world.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Some people just burrow straight down, I guess.” Honorable mention: “It IS more suspenseful when you don’t know what’s goin’ on.”

153 Replies to “Episode guide: 621- The Beast of Yucca Flats (with shorts: ‘Money Talks!’ & ‘Progress Island U.S.A.’)”

  1. asdfasdf says:

    A year or two previous to this episode I’d watched the Progress Island short in my spanish class in Junior High. Lolled massively when I finally saw a short I already knew of on MST.

    There’s another “Puerto Rico isn’t so bad” short on from probably a decade previous to Progress Island that mentions how local rebels aren’t much of a problem any more that’s pretty funny on its own.


  2. MikeK says:

    Is “Progress Island, USA” the newest short that was ever shown on MST3K?


  3. Stickboy says:

    According to the review at, the woman at the beginning of the unedited version walks around naked before being strangled to death (and quite possibly molested). Coleman was one dark mamma-jamma.

    My favorite riff comes with an assist from Tom.
    Tom: Don’t you just love how deep Tony Cardoza gets into character?
    Mike: Yeah, he just goes in there and sits.

    As we see later in Laserblast, Coleman’s visionary style does have successors.


  4. Jacob says:

    I maintain that they meant to say “Haiku” when they said “limerick” at the beginning…


  5. MikeK says:

    Post #55.

    I agree. When they said “limerick” I immediately thought it should be something else, like “haiku.” It’s clearly a more appropriate riff.


  6. losingmydignity says:

    Ah, Coleman Francis’s wife and her abandoment issues…slays me everytime.

    But this is a film. End of a trilogy. The abscence of voices. Speaking. Paranoia. Flags are appearences only. North by North’s guest. A yucca plant only blooms every six years. Coffee. A restless heart. Planes make appearences. Cars park things. People stationary in deset vistas. Mountainless buttes. Button down mouths. The opening discounts time. Hints of timelessness. There will always be beasts. Ginsberg said it best. Howl. The beast is yet to come. How? Sinster forces at work. Coleman Francis precursor to Don Delillo. Proven by science and aeronautics. Coffee. Unseen forces. One man up against forces. Hunted down. Always hunted down by forces is the main theme of the trilogy. Post modestnest by way Derrida. People plotting. Sense of government behind the veil. There is no escape for the common man. Common denominator. Endless. Progress overtakes us. Just want to escape or fly but forces above and beyond us taking us to Cuba, to Yucca flats, to freefalling death. Summary of trilogy. Man kind freefalling, alone, with wrinkled neck. Law forces bad. Bunny good. Parking. Coffee. Cigarettes.

    I hope this pretty much answered that guys question about “Flag on the moon” and any other question that could be asked about this outstanding trilogy.

    But this the least funny of the 3 Coleman’s for me. That said, it is still an outstanding ep. Lots of laughs. The Ben Franklin short always wears thin quick for me but Progress Island (there’s that progress theme again!) is one of top ten fav shorts.
    One great thing about this ep is they already had two Coleman’s to reference. Good stuff.



  7. Dames Like Her says:

    I always lose it when Mike says ‘Even Spspss is here!’ in the Progress Island short. And the pink jeans company- I guess they had to come from somewhere. Tom’s 70’s guitar ‘schokataka wokatas’ are funny.
    Mr. Francis seems to have a penchant for casting short haired brunette gals who all resemble each other; in this case, the strangled woman looks rather like the singing blind woman in Red Zone Cuba, the voluptuous ‘attractive man’ who gets out of bed for no reason also has a similar look, and these gals resemble Mrs. Chasteen. Just a thought.
    I think it was mentioned before, but the overtones of suggested necrophilia during the opening scene of Yucca Flats is disturbing indeed. :shock:
    The film is a grey pastiche of characters not shown talking, all fueled by Mr. Francis’ narration ‘As long as I don’t have to speak on camera’ says Crow during the gas station scene, as characters trade dialog off camera.
    Guys running, guys shooting, an A bomb detonates, a hand reaches for a briefcase [‘My Lunchables!], more grey guys chasing guys in planes and on the ground, a spindly mother with flyaway hair- I love how Mike perfectly times his ‘I feel prettty- oh so- pre-teee,’ as her hair flickers in an unkempt halo around her face, seeking her two children who have wandered off blithely into the desert because- why? Her husband chased by ex-paratoopers because- why? Don’t ask why- it’s ‘A thin plot; endlessly restated,’ as Tom intones wisely.
    Love the ‘Is it 11:30?’ bit. Mike shows such tolerant yet firm restraint that hints at his fathering skills as Crow endlessly questions him, making little squeaking noises like a kid, ‘hum da dee he he’-ing at him. It’s such a victory when Crow gets his sammich.
    The ‘I swallowed a bug,’ reference is from outtakes from Apocalypse Now, when apparently Marlon Brando had swallowed a bug. ‘Is it the Beast or my meshugina grandpa?’ Love the Butt Mountain bit.
    And the ending- the rabbit- symbolizing the Beast’s lost innocence?
    I think this one is a lot of fun and watch it the most of all the Coleman Francis offerings. It just cannot be taken seriously on any level as an actual film, so is perfect for the SOL crew to deconstruct with riffing.


  8. Castleton Snob says:

    My son and I watch this episode together and laugh hysterically. Gotta love the shootout scene where the agents politely wait for the guy to reload his gun before shooting him. Mike saying “well I suppose I’m dead” after he apparently gets shot. Watching the huge Tor slip away unnoticied. Really, how could you take a shot and miss Tor?

    Oh yeah, and when the beast strangles the guy and Mike goes, “..don’t tell me, let me guess, Tor Johnson?”


  9. Ryan says:

    I love the Mike impersonating Rochester riffs. “It’s the KGB, Mr. Benny!”

    THe funny thing is, for a long time I thought this was an Ed Wood movie, I assumed just because it had Tor Johnson in it.

    I think that says a lot about Coleman Francis that even Ed Wood did more and got a better performance out of Tor Johnson.


  10. Stickboy says:

    While folks speak of this as the last of a trilogy because it was shown third, I’ve always believe this to be Coleman’s first film. Am I correct?


  11. The Toblerone Effect says:

    Allow me to continue the broken record thread here by saying that this is the toughest of the Coleman Francis trifecta of bad movies to sit through. While “Skydivers” and “Red Zone Cuba” at least had some unforgettable characters to help make the movie slightly more bearable, TBoYF tries to be creepy but instead is just plain turgid. Coleman tries to sound poetic with his one-line remarks, yet it all comes across as distorted. He was reaching for something he had no ability to attain: coherency.

    That said, the riffing is still decent, and the host segments are amusing. Until I read the ACEG, I thought the 11:30 sketch was just a filler (like in Monster A Go Go, with Joel and Servo playing Keep Away from Crow). Now that I know its based on a writing room ritual, it makes it all the more funny. And the AFPS sketch is one of the best ever! In regards to the movie, I did enjoy trying to match up people who made appearances from other CF movies.

    The shorts were the actual highlight for me here; “Progress Island, USA” is rofl-funny and their riffing is very edgy. Someone already mentioned this, but I think considering how PIUSA was set up, they had no choice but to do “fill-in-the-blank” type jokes. The narrator very often uses incomplete sentences, so what else could they do? “Money Talks” also has some great riffs, but it does also offer sound financial advice inspite of the goofy-ass set-up.

    Fav riff from “Money Talks”: kid whines “I don’t get it”, and Servo responds with “Ah, the appeal of Adam Sandler”.
    Fav riff from “Progress Island”: narrator states “Puerto Rico offers many things”, to which Crow snaps “Like flights out!”
    Fav movie riffs: Mike-“Tor’s been bobbing for rubber cement again!”
    Mike-“Never use yourself to block your tires.”
    On the scene with Susie from “Skydivers”:
    Servo-“Okay, BREASTS, we get it!”
    Crow-“That’s a hard face…that’s a face that challenges you!”

    A very good ep overall.


  12. Chris L. says:

    Given recent events, Mike’s riff in “Progress Island USA” about “fun times at Guantanamo” has taken on a whole new meaning.


  13. DON3k says:

    Yeah, Coleman Francis clearly had a good old reliable stand-by, when needing to flesh-out a film; Shooting at someone from an aircraft.

    Also, I really like how Tor strangled people by simply holding their necks. Not firmly grasping, but just holding. And the way people just stood there and took it, without yelling, or struggling. That’s murder-made-easy, the Coleman Francis way!


  14. Johnny Ryde says:

    > Mr. Francis seems to have a penchant for casting short
    > haired brunette gals who all resemble each other; in
    > this case, the strangled woman looks rather like the
    > singing blind woman in Red Zone Cuba, the voluptuous
    > ‘attractive man’ who gets out of bed for no reason also
    > has a similar look, and these gals resemble Mrs.
    > Chasteen. Just a thought.

    I think the strangled woman from BYF *was* Mrs. Chasteen…

    Hmmmmm… IMDB agrees with me ( Lanell Cado ), although that’s not authoritative…


  15. Richard says:

    This episode is very close to being my favorite of all time and is just barely behind my all-time favorite, THE WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD. The shorts are great though I do think that “Progress Island” is by far the strongest of the two. I can never pull out a favorite riff because they’re all great. Add that to a film so bad that the riffing actually adds substantial content to something seriously lacking in that.

    A couple bullet points…
    – I have used the joke about the spider monkey holding the camera in real life.
    – I’m not sure about the definite reason for the entire skit but I they do drop a line (“Shut up, you water buffalo!”) that has a relation to a real world incident. You can find out about it here…


  16. zacklies says:

    i think ‘flag on the moon’ meant coleman had moved from beer to the good stuff


  17. smirkboy says:

    This movie had some great “Huh!?!” moments.
    Like the numerous close-ups of the cop that looked like Jack Nicholson after a traffic accident.

    And the cameo of blond Joe “Coffee…I like coffee.”

    And who could forget Mrs. Potato Head: “The dingos took my Baby!”

    And Tony Cardoza is to Francis; as Robert De Niro is to Scorsese.


  18. Pete says:

    PROGRESS ISLAND, USA – Could there really been a mall store called “GROOVY CLOTHES?”


  19. MikeH says:

    One other favorite Coleman quote:

    “Boys from the city, not yet caught up in the wheels of progress, feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs”


  20. Kay, ... just Kay says:

    Richard #55 Thanks for the info. Isn’t the Information Super Highway just fabulous?


  21. Cornjob says:

    I know a thing or two about mental illness. I know from personal experience that clinical depression can look like many things. This movie is one of them. Watching this film recently made me wonder when in the course of Coleman Francis’ childhood did his soul die.

    This whole movie is filmed in a lifeless hades-grey palette where the destitute grey landscape almost imperceptably bleeds into a repellently grey sky. Thus creating an impression of being stuck in a featureless limbo that is much more disturbing than the, “Help! I’m trapped in another dimension!”, moments in The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

    The film begins with a murder and necrophilliac rape of a ticking woman that apparently has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. David Lynch’s red room had more context.

    Then people shoot each other. An atom bomb goes off. Tor Johnson staggers around the desert like he’s auditioning for Ishtar, while looking for people to strangle. Some law officers jump to the task by getting into an airplane and shooting at the first person they spot on the ground. And in lieu of dialogue we get Coleman reciting narration that makes less sense than dadaist poetry.

    But the only lasting impression the movie makes is of relentless soul-crushing greyness. The riffers did a magnificent job with what they had to work with, but it’s still a bit hard to watch.


  22. Cornjob says:

    I forgot to mention that after his defining performance as Lobo, and his tour de force interpretation of King Lear, this was a real low for Tor Johnson.


  23. Wow, I missed a lot of good comments while on vacation this past weekend. Since everything I wanted to say has already been covered, I’ll just stick with favorite riffs this week.

    Money Talks. I was unpopular in high school, but not nearly as bad as William gets treated by the riffers:
    “Greasy scarecrow boy not invited.” – Mike
    “On behalf of all girls, none of us are going to the dance with you.” – Crow
    “This is my weekly feigning of interest in you, son.” – Servo

    Progress Island, USA:
    “GAMBLING!” – All three.

    “Tor went bobbing for apples in rubber cement again.” – Mike
    “Come up in here where it’s really obscene!” – Crow
    “My lunchables!” – Servo

    One comment on the host segments: Does anyone think that the Brains knew how dirty the acronym of FAPS would become in recent slang?
    Favorite moment: “OH MY GOD! WRONG WRONG WRONG!” – Rare one from Gypsy


  24. Richard says:

    @Kay #71 – Yes it is a very wonderful thing! I actually clearly remember this story due to the fact that I was living on campus at San Francisco State University at the time and many of us were watching the story to see how it would turn out.


  25. Nicias says:

    I appreciate Cornjob’s (#72) description of soul-crushing, Hades-like greyness. There is something about Francis’ films that seem to absorb all light and hope. I understand that they are black-and-white movies, and yet even the suggestion of color seems lacking from them. Watching them, I get the distinct feeling that no color or light was even present to capture on film. Both the visuals and the actors convey this feeling (ex: Tony Cardoza – “I’m gung-ho on that idea.”). It’s like a glimpse into the underworld, or purgatory, or limbo; whatever you want to call it, there is no passion, joy or life there.

    While I’m a tremendous fan of the show, I’ve never been able to watch this one a second time. It drains away a part of you as you watch it. In my opinion, this is the worst film Mike & Co. ever braved.

    My earnest suggestion: do NOT show this episode to a first-time viewer. You’re likely to wind up with those who care about you surreptitiously slipping samples of zoloft into your briefcase, handbag, or your food.


  26. Fantagor says:

    Irrelevant fact: Dr. F slaps Frank 24 times during the end credits. I counted. I must now find that life I misplaced, it’s around here somewhere…



  27. RockyJones says:

    Yep…it doesn’t speak too well of your movie when it’s obvious that the most ambitious element of the whole project is the musical score.

    This film may be a total mess, and probably the most uninteresting of the Coleman Francis trilogy, but I’d still much rather watch this than some of the other dark, bitter, AWFUL excuses for movies that the show took on. (“The Atomic Brain” and “She-Creature” come to mind.)


  28. big61al says:

    This is one great episode…..two shorts and Tor Johnson as the headliner. Pure Coleman goodness.


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

    As mentioned earlier, at least you can say this about Coleman Francis: he got movies MADE. That’s more than most of the rest of the world will ever be able to say.

    “Yeah, I >snort< made some crummy movies. What kinda }belch{ movies did YOU make?"


  30. robot rump! says:

    so did a Coleman Francis casting call consist of him cruising through town in his 54 pick up and grabbing whatever relatives he found at home?
    ‘And then KISS came to town..’
    i tried conjuring one of our founding fathers. didn’t really work out for either of us.
    ‘those butts look ripe for kicking!’
    i’ll never understand why Coleman didn’t win an Oscar


  31. Sitting Duck says:

    The, “Is it 11:30?” sketch IMO falls flat, likely due in part to its being based on an inside joke.

    An odd riff was, “This guy is a terrible shot. No wonder we lost Korea.” Korea was a stalemate.

    I’d donate to the Film Anti-Preservation Society.

    @ #60: Correct. Their order was BoYF followed by Skydivers with RZC being the final one.

    Favorite riffs:

    On behalf of all girls, none of us are going to the dance with you.

    Could you get your stomach off my desk, please?

    Circle Pines is really thriving.

    Why even aliens from Mars are here.

    It’s the KGB, Mr. Benny!

    Just don’t shoot while I’m reloading. That wouldn’t be fair.

    There was no such thing as clinical depression until this film was made.

    Why do I have to go now? It’ll be just as dead after breakfast.

    So long, folks. enjoy our bleak landscape.

    This movie stops at nothing, and stays there.

    Those Donner Party people seem nice.

    If Hank is gone seven years, I’m free to marry again.


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

    During the same interlude as the reference to “Flag on the Moon,” the phrase “secret data” was also used. There’s no particular reason a nuclear scientist COULDN’T know about secret moon flight research.

    For all I know, nuclear technology has direct applications to space travel; it’s certainly something that the average non-scientist moviegoer might find plausible.


  33. Tom Carberry says:

    The third, and (thank God) final of the Coleman Francis trilogy. According to Anthony Cardoza, the rabbit at the end was not scripted; a wild baby jackrabbit wandered into the shot. So, the highlight of the film was a complete accident—count me among the surprised.

    Favorite lines (Money Talks):

    “Why am I always broke?” Maybe it’s my crack [cocaine] habit.
    Why must I be a young Christopher Walken?
    Tom Bosley’s come to haunt him.
    Could you have your slave press my suit?
    “You spend your money without any plan. You buy whenever the mood strikes you.” Furs, cars, trips to Vegas.
    …but it was too late, William filed Chapter 11.
    Benjamin Franklin was tried in the 8th Circuit Court on stalking charges, in a minute the results of that trial.

    Favorite lines (Progress Island U.S.A.):

    “Bilingual Schools”…Bisexual students.
    Wow, fun times at Guantanamo.
    The music of John Phillip Salsa.
    “Pharmaceuticals…” When Judy Garland died it destroyed Puerto Rico’s economy.

    Favorite lines (Beast of Yucca Flats):

    Dou you think Coleman Francis had a casting couch? Probably a casting cot.
    Coleman Francis actually had a staff for this movie?
    Marlon Brando arrives for the Larry King interview.
    Gee, even his head has a beer belly.
    It is more suspenseful when you don’t know what’s going on.
    “Flag on the moon…How did it get there?” These are all just random sentences folks.
    Tor was a Navy Seal, so he can handle this.
    You know, Tor is much like a Thompson’s Gazelle…You know, running, leaping to elude his predators.
    Tor went bobbing for rubber cement again.
    Real, actual dialog.
    Tor snaps into action.
    “…feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs.” Pigs go better with Coke.
    We invite you to visit Yucca Flats for the beautiful fall colors.
    This movie stops at nothing…and stays there.

    Final Thought: Another tough slog. I give this one 2 out of 5 stars.


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

    81: An odd riff was, “This guy is a terrible shot. No wonder we lost Korea.” Korea was a stalemate.

    Well, to some people, any time you don’t WIN you, by definition, LOSE.


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


    Well, it made an even worse limerick than a haiku, so saying that it’s “not very good” becomes even more understated than if Mike had said “haiku.”


  36. Dan in WI says:

    Crow said it best “Films like these are not deteriorating fast enough.”

    When Gypsy absolutely freaks out at the wallpapering, Crow has the greatest response. “Sometimes a new look takes a little getting used to.”

    The political campaigning is something that I should love. The subject matter is right in my wheelhouse and it doesn’t fall into the trap of taking a side and thusly alienating half of your audience. I even think the performances are good. Yet for some reason I just can’t explain why it falls flat with me. Go figure.

    I do love how Mike and the Bots defiantly claim they can handle any film thrown at them but then I love watching that resolve crumble away at the mention of Coleman Francis. I have to say that is the correct reaction.

    We have a “Daddy what’s Vietnam” sighting. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard that one. All they need to do now is work in a “Jim Henson’s _______ Babies” riff.

    Watch out for snakes call back.

    The FAPS host segment is a real head scratcher. How can Mike possibly disapprove of Crow’s worthy cause? Is he not in the same theater as the Bots watching the same stinkburgers?

    So which movie was worse? This or Red Zone Cuba? I have to go with Red Zone Cuba being much worse. This movie had a plot, as simplistic as it was, and it stuck to that plot. As I detailed in my Red Zone Cuba post, that movie was just a series of vignettes that had no cohesion at all.

    There is some good stuff in the Shout! Factory extras. I forget who says it but the one contemporary of Coleman tells that Coleman was the most prepared guy who was completely unprepared. I’m still not completely sure what that means. I just love the stories about how no locations were scouted in advance. They just got in the car and drove until the found something interesting, stopped and shot it. Not only did they not shoot sound at the time, but also they didn’t even know what the narration would eventually say. And yet they would go on to say that Coleman still knew what he wanted in a shot and was able to get it quickly.
    They do make you realize one thing that was actually done well in this film: the scoring. Yes the music was recycled but what the used worked quite well where it was used. They are right this movie would be infinitely worse that it is without that music.

    Favorite Riffs:
    “Money Talks”
    Kid “I just don’t get it.” Tom “Ah the appeal of Adam Sandler.”

    Ben Franklin “Bob had a goal.” Tom “and two assists.”

    “Progress Island USA”
    Mike “We would like to apologize to all the people of Puerto Rico that we did not offend.” Huh?

    Guy is looking around in the trunk. Crow “I told you kids to settle down back here.”

    Cop walks up to dead body by car. Crow “In all my years on the force I’ve never seen a flat tire like that.”

    Tom “This movie stops at nothing and stays there.”

    The two boys squat on the hillside. Tom “Disappointing turnout for REO Speedwagon at Alpine Valley.”


  37. ToolAssist says:

    Beautiful episode, though I have to admit the second short is my favorite part. The “fillintheblank” riffs always leave me giggling like an idiot.


  38. MattK says:

    Can anyone verify (or at least has thought the same) that the narrator in Progress Island, U.S.A., is none other that “Hogan’s Heroes” lead actor Bob Crane? It sounds just like him to me, but I’ve never been able to confirm or deny it. And we’ve seen from some of the Rifftrax shorts that Mr. Crane has done industrial shorts before, actually appearing on camera in one.


  39. Creeping-Death says:

    One of my favorites, both shorts are great and the movie is hilariously bad. There are numerous funny lines in the shorts and film.

    First Short:
    Franklin: Each week, he would go down to the bank
    Crow: And rob it.

    Mike: Maybe it’s my crack habit.

    Servo(as the greasy scarecrow boy looks in the mirror): Are you talkin’ to me?

    Franklin: You receive two dollars every week as an allowance from your father. Something quite unheard of in my day.
    Crow: Fathers?

    Second Short:

    Narrator: Year-round sun makes this island a vacation paradise.
    Crow: And very hard to sleep!

    Mike, Crow, Servo: [as the music ends] PUERTO RICO!
    Mike, Crow, Servo: PROGRESS!
    Mike, Crow, Servo: GAMBLING!
    Mike, Crow, Servo: A CENTURY AGO!

    Narrator: The largest crop is sugar cane, which has been cultivated here for centuries.
    Mike [as Narrator]: …so you can sugar-frost your damn cornflakes! Filthy American pigs.

    Narrator: Condominiums, leisure villages, and a complete range of outdoor activities make Progress Island an ideal place to live for every member of the family.
    Servo: Except Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Grandpa, Grandma…

    The Movie:

    Crow [as Narrator]: Father Mackenzie, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there.

    Narrator: To get to the top… a man needs an airplane.
    Crow [as Narrator]: Or a giant pogo stick.
    Narrator: Jump from a plane, land at the top.
    Mike [as Narrator]: Or a helicopter would do. Did I say “Flag on the moon” yet?

    Narrator: A woman’s purse… a man murdered… and footprints on the wasteland.
    Mike: His limericks aren’t very good…

    Mike(as Tor): High on hill lonely goatherd leigh-leigh hoo


  40. robot rump! says:

    say what you will Coleman Francis was gold when it came to getting the ‘beautiful people’ to star in his movies. each and every profile or headshot just screams ‘look at me!’ as it burns it’s way into your memory.


  41. Yipe Striper says:

    i expect severe torment from this statement, and i plan to remedy this soon…


    I’ve never seen this episode.

    One of the great “overlooks” in my life. I’ve seen Red Zone and Skydivers like a billion times, so i’m not a bad person. wait…


  42. Of no account says:

    2 fantastic shorts, and probably my favorite of the Coleman Francis Trilogy of Grayness. Tor Johnson is probably the best actor ever to work for CF…

    I’ve never actually used a gun, but isn’t it nearly impossible to hit a running target while in an airplane in-flight?


  43. Tom Carberry says:

    #92–you have to adjust for elevation and windage.


  44. Cheapskate Crow says:

    I thought I was cool enough to make it through any movie that MST could dish up but I just can’t take the Francis trilogy. I made it through Skydivers but just can’t finish the next two. The shorts were good though, but the first two host segments fell completely flat to me, a season 6 long problem IMO. And I can’t believe at the mention of oliphants, there were no Tolkies jokes. I agree with Sampo that the Puerto Rico shorts had the limit of the finish the sentence style jokes. My favorite lines were:

    “Sorcerer” as the coin keeps spinning and spinning in the first short.
    “An American democracy.” “Would be really great.”

    And Crow’s Rochester voice was perfect in the Jack Benny riff. Overall not an episode I will go back to since I couldn’t even finish it this weekend.


  45. Joseph Nebus says:

    @82 touches no one’s life, then leaves says:
    March 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

    For all I know, nuclear technology has direct applications to space travel; it’s certainly something that the average non-scientist moviegoer might find plausible.

    Indeed, one tolerably-regarded-at-the-time idea was to use atomic power to generate power which would be used for rocket flight. This got halfheartedly developed (in the United States) as “NERVA” — Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application — until about 1972 when the program was shut down for just having no actually good applications. (It added way too much cost and complexity for the added capability of doing stuff in space to be worth it.)

    There also was, rather famously, the idea of using atomic bombs to push rockets into orbit and through space, but this idea was so crazy that it failed, among other things, the environmental protection standards of the 1950s, an era when “let’s soak the entire planet four feet deep in neurotoxins as a way of controlling foliage that might obscure highway signs” sounded like a sensible idea.

    (Nuclear power has been used for electricity generation — it makes for a pretty good, reliable, steady power supply when solar power, chemical batteries, or fuel cells aren’t useful, such as for probes to the outer planets — but nobody cares about that and it’s not really what anyone thinks of as nuclear power.)


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

    IIRC in “Bride of the Monster,” Ed Wood also made an out-of-nowhere reference to flying saucers that didn’t go anywhere (I think Joel’s responding riff was “Well, let’s not change the plot now” OSLT), so there’s that much Wood and Francis have in common, anyway.

    And both movies had Tor Johnson in them.

    Just think, Lobo dug himself out of the wreckage of Dr. Vornoff’s house, made his way to Russia (maybe he was trying to get back to Tibet, where Vornoff told the lady reporter he’d found him, and got sidetracked), started a new life and became a respected scientist, and then BOOM. Really makes you think, don’t it?


  47. robot rump! says:

    true but being royally butt ugly and totally uninterested in one’s surroundings are factors in marksmanship that can’t be overlooked or overstated. now, if you’re looking to take out that camera toting spider monkey….


  48. I used to think this was my favorite of the Coleman Francis trilogy (maybe I saw it first?), but upon rewatch, it falls all the way to third place. It’s still a great episode, very entertaining, but it doesn’t quite stack up against The Skydivers or Red Zone Cuba. Comparisons aside, The Beast of Yucca Flats still ranks as one of my favorite Season 6 episodes, easily in my top 10.

    I like the opening with Proposition Deep 13 and the Mads introduction of the movie. Crow’s cry of “we’re dooooomed!” is apt, although after the experiment they seem no worse for the wear during Mike’s victory speech.

    The shorts are both really good, excellent even. Someone asked above and I didn’t see an answer, so I will repeat: Is Progress Island, USA the most recent short that they riffed on the show? It’s from 1973, so I’m guessing that, YES, it is.

    The Host Segments are a mixed bag. The partiers that visit in HS#1 are okay, Mike says “pipe down” and the crowd goes “woooo!” HS#2 isn’t very good, even if Trace’s puppeteering is excellent. Finding out that the “lunch at 11:30” bit is a reference to the writers of the show and Frank’s lunch habit doesn’t really improve the skit for me. HS#3 is a true winner, maybe the best segment of Season 6. It’s just irreverent and very very funny, plus the mention of Aspen Extreme sent me on the wayback machine down memory lane.

    The movie itself. . . .well, what can you say about The Beast of Yucca Flats? It just happens before your eyes, never letting your brain know what is going on. You’d think the addition of Tor Johnson would be an improvement for a Coleman Francis production, but the math doesn’t work out when you subtract synch dialogue. It’s a bleak and drab movie, maybe not as depressing as Red Zone Cuba, but it’s close. This film is Coleman Francis’ directorial debut (in 1961). Two years later he would make The Skydivers and three years after that he would helm his final film, Red Zone Cuba.

    The Beast of Yucca Flats would be Tor Johnson’s last film role, although according to IMDB, he had a small, uncredited role as a guard in the 1968 Monkees movie, Head.

    *Here’s a Coleman Francis story you probably haven’t heard, as told by Ray Dennis Steckler, director of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped etc,etc,etc: Steckler had just finished shooting a movie called Supercool (aka: Body Fever) in 1969, when Steckler ran into Francis on the street and he was looking rough and was broke, had no job, and no place to go. Steckler wanted to give him $20, but Francis said he didn’t want the money, that he wanted a job. So, thinking quick, Steckler told him to meet him the next day at a laundromat, and they’d shoot a quick scene for his just finished movie. He gave him the $20 as an advance and sent Francis on his way. The next morning, Francis showed up looking snazzy, in clean clothes and with a shaved face. This, of course, totally bummed Steckler out, as he wanted a derelict to be in the laundromat scene, not some snappy looking business man, but he had no idea that Coleman Francis would go out and spend that $20 on a new(ish) suit and to get cleaned up. When asked about it, Francis said, “I wanted to be presentable.”

    Steckler would go on to say this about Mr. Francis: “Coleman Francis was GREAT. He passed away not too long ago after that. I just saw him opposite Rock Hudson, Twilight for the Gods (1958). It’s amazing what Hollywood can do to someone. Coleman was a professional. He may have been drunk on his own time, but we wasn’t drunk on my set – know what I’m trying to say? I found out later that a lot of people wouldn’t touch him because he was drinking a lot. I said, “Yes, but does he drink while he’s working?” That’s the whole key: does he drink while he’s working? There are great stars that drink too much and there are great stars who’re are too much dope. But somehow they manage not to screw around when they’re working; they stay away from it, or else they wouldn’t work. Anyway, he was a fine actor; I’m glad he worked for me on 2 or 3 movies.”

    *All quotes taken from Re/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films (1986), pages 47-49.


    Money Talks short:

    Crow: “Okay. So we steal the money tonight..”

    movie: “Why am I always broke?”
    Mike: “Maybe it’s my crack habit?”

    Crow: “Bite me, Franklin.”

    movie: “Bob had a goal…”
    Servo: “..and two assists!”

    Crow: “That was my darkest vision yet.”

    Progress Island, USA short:

    Crow: “I’m having a freakout ten years later!”

    Crow: “That nosewheel feels mushy.” —callback San Francisco International

    Mike: “Fun times at Guantanamo.” —-funnier now then it was then

    Servo: “Spinal injuries are popular on the island as well.”

    Crow: “Then KISS came to town!”

    Beast of Yucca Flats movie:

    Mike: “Oh, it was her that was ticking.”

    Mike: “Tor Johnson as the beast. . . that’s just smart casting.”

    Crow: “It is more suspenseful when you don’t know what’s going on.”

    Crow: “MOM, he’s touching me!”

    Servo: “I’m Cherokee Jack.”

    Mike: “Sir, do you have any idea how fast you were dying back there?”


    Mike: “She’s an attractive man.”

    Crow: “That’s a hard face, that’s a face that challenges you.”

    Mike: “But you looked at pigs, and there’s a tire. You had lots of fun.”

    Servo: “A very nice prairie dog taught me about being a woman.” —–VERY NAUGHTY RIFF!

    Mike: “Art, I’m going to have to make a lean-to out of your hide.”

    Crow: “Shhhh. He’s laying his eggs.”

    Another great episode,

    I give it 4 out 5 flags (on the moon)

    :flagus: :flagus: :flagus: :flagus:


  49. jjk says:

    I think Coleman Francis missed his true calling as the Fourth Stooge.


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

    The reference to “Night of the Lepus” at the end (the bunny scene) raises the question: Why have neither Cinematic Titanic nor Rifftrax tackled that one yet? Are the rights really THAT hard to acquire?

    Incidentally, say what you will, but if a 25-foot-tall (or whatever) rabbit was staring you right in the face in real life, you probably wouldn’t think it was so silly THEN…

    That’s an approach somebody ought to take some time, the self-aware and unapologetic “Yeah, we know it looks silly, but guess what, it’s STILL crushing Manhattan! How funny is THAT, huh?”


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