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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: 622- Angels Revenge

Movie: (1979) Seven beauties form a paramilitary vigilante squad to shut down a gang that is selling drugs to teens.

First shown: 3/11/95
Opening: Crow remembers that he has amnesia
Intro: Desperate for ratings, Dr. F. turns M&tB into the cast of “Renegade”
Host segment 1: Crow latest screenplay is a “black-sploitation” film
Host segment 2: Mike does his Fonz, Crow and Tom disapprove
Host segment 3: Aaron Spelling’s house passes by the SOL
End: Tom demonstrates the shame-o-meter, the Mads are Bobby Riggs and Billy-Jean King
Stinger: “Shine your love!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (239 votes, average: 4.66 out of 5)

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• I’m torn about this episode. The riffing is great, consistently hilarious. The host segments however, are mostly blah. The result is one of those “good not great” entries.
• This was on Rhino’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2
• I just noticed that there is no apostrophe after “Angels” on the title card, so I have removed it, though it makes the title grammatically confusing.
References. However, here are two I caught that they don’t mention: The much-lamented TV show “The Duck Factory” and Crow’s warning about his “elaborate network of trusses,” a reference to the “Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute,” bit on Saturday Night Live.
• By chance, this was the last episode ever shown on Comedy Central, in late December of ’96.
• When it debuted, it was the first new episode in nearly two months and the beginning of three eps in three weeks as the season came to an end.
• I kind of like the “amnesia” opener, because it’s just silly and doesn’t try to be anything more than that. It also reminds me a little of Scifi Channel-era Crow–and maybe that’s not just a coincidence, since future Crow Bill Corbett joined the writing staff with this episode.
• But the intro, with Dr. F and Frank dressed as Rollie Fingers and Tug McGraw, and transforming M&tB into the cast of “Renegade,” is, as the kids say, random. Maybe it’s because I never watched a single episode of “Renegade” (and in fact had never heard of the show when I first saw this episode). I dunno. It just seemed to go nowhere.
• Segment 1, in which we get yet another reading of yet another spec script by Crow, also kind of goes nowhere. But I will grant that it’s building toward a classic segment in season seven, so I will cut this one some slack.
• Segment 2: Another random concept (Fonzie?). It’s cute and it’s short but I’m left just going: “Huh?”
• Callback to the “rape” scene in “The Violent Years.”
• Segment 3, featuring Aaron Spelling’s house: well, of course mad prop props to whoever built the house. Just gorgeous. It’s a cute idea, and I do appreciate that they don’t belabor it. Still, it’s hardly a laugh riot.
• The classic line, “By this time my lungs were aching for booze,” is such a great payoff for fans who’ve been faithfully watching since the second season.
• The end segments, featuring the shame-o-meter, and a funny bit with Frank and Dr. F dressed as Billie Jean King and the now almost completely forgotten Bobby Riggs, almost save it for me, but not quite.
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Louis George also worked on “Final Justice,” as did producer/director/screenwriters Greydon Clark.
In front of the camera, Jack Palance was also in “Outlaw” and Alan Hale Jr. was also in “The Crawling Hand” and “The Giant Spider Invasion.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. And it is with this episode that the team, struggling to manage their workload as they began working on “MST3K: The Movie,” added “additional contributing writers” Bill Corbett and Drew Jansen.
• Fave riff: “It’s Dworkinfest ’78!” Honorable mention: “Show him the wiener.”

168 Replies to “Episode guide: 622- Angels Revenge”

  1. Dihgdfj says:

    Ray Dunakin:
    There are a couple of really disturbing things about this movie:

    1. The fact that somebody thought a T&A jiggle fest needed to include an underage teen girl.

    2. The teen girl getting so excited and gleeful during the sword mutilation scene.

    Are we sure this isn’t an adaptation of some anime?

       4 likes

  2. Sitting Duck says:

    PrezGAR:
    Amazon Video has the un-MSTed version. If you’re a Prime member, you can watch it for free.

    Shouldn’t Amazon feel obligated to pay people to watch it? :P

    Seeing as how it’s a Charlie’s Angels-fied version of Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, it may be worth noting that Trish is essentially their equivalent of Chico (who in turn was a composite of Katsushiro and certain aspects of Kikuchiyo).

       4 likes

  3. Ralph C says:

    Alright, I’m giving in and looking at this movie again!

    (Actually, I’ve watched this one a lot, as I enjoy it. I enjoyed the movie, the riffing and the host segments.)

       1 likes

  4. tamlin says:

    I’m inclined to think the Fonzie bit is the staff poking some fun at Mike and his insatiable need to share his impressions and impersonations with the world. If this is the case, it’s to Mike’s credit that he goes along with it with a smile.

       0 likes

  5. I just bought an original theatrical one-sheet movie poster for this movie under its original title ANGELS BRIGADE. Rad image, cool poster, “they’ll blow you away” : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Revenge

       1 likes

  6. EricJ says:

    Ray Dunakin: The Rollie Fingers/Renegade skit also works for me. (The tiny motorcycle as the effect wears off always cracks me up.)

    First time I saw the ep, “Renegade” was everywhere in the waning days of cheap first-run syndication, so I thought “Okay, they’re going to make Things-That-Bug-Mike fun of Renegade, this oughta be good–Mike dresses up as Lorenzo Lamas, and then he….changes back again. Whut??”

    (Mike dressing up as Kate Mulgrew was a more pointed slam at Trek:Voyager, and just as baffling.)

    Cornjob:
    ’ve seen plenty of movies that only exist to show off some T&A, but rarely is it done so blatantly and so artlessly that it becomes so off-putting, bordering on repulsive. Particularly when it is presented with a patina of feminist empowerment, which consists of the idea that you can take down The Man by distracting him with your tits.

    There’s Mike-era misogyny dripping aplenty when they make fun of the 70’s Charlie’s Angels strategy with “We-will-give-you-sex,-which-is-something-men-like!”, but it’s been a favorite quote of mine ever since, when addressing almost equally misogynistic action filmmaking.

    Dihgdfj: Are we sure this isn’t an adaptation of some anime?

    I’d put the Dirty Pair…er, Lovely Angels up against the Angels Brigade any day of the week, and bet on the outcome.

       0 likes

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

    Right off the bat, many comments can be covered by one sweeping statement:

    Things Were Different in the Seventies.

    They Just Were, Okay?

       3 likes

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

    khnunn:
    the only part that really made me want to bash my head in was the introduction of the “Vietnamese” girl who teaches karate, fights with a katana, and has a Japanese name. “The Asian one in our group”, indeed

    I am yet again faintly bemused by the sort of thing that other people think qualify as “flaws.” What’s so impossible about a Vietnamese woman with a Japanese name? Her mother moved from Vietnam to Japan, married a Japanese guy (with a Japanese surname), they had a daughter and, since they lived in Japan, they gave her a Japanese first name as well. Simple.

    Having her be the martial arts expert, now, THAT’S a cliché, I agree. She could just as easily have been the stunt driver or the cop or whichever, and caucasians can be martial artists too. In fact, there’s this whole sub-trope about caucasians learning Asian martial arts and becoming the ultimate martial arts master, able to easily outfight any Asian martial artist (who, you know, grew up in the “martial arts” culture and come from long lines of warriors and what not and what have you). Dates back AT LEAST to Tarzan (and John Carter; same difference) and probably way further back, the unsubtle message being “The White Man Overcomes All Others.” Teh. :-|

       1 likes

  9. Sitting Duck says:

    Well the Yakuza goons from Gamera Vs. Barugon certainly didn’t have much in the way of martial arts prowess.

       2 likes

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

    Sitting Duck:
    Well the Yakuza goons from Gamera Vs. Barugon certainly didn’t have much in the way of martial arts prowess.

    Well, they were the BAD GUYS. That’s ENTIRELY different…

    Zee:
    Mike: I have a feeling that Johnny Wadd is going to be in this…

    So, how many people know who Johnny Wadd is/was? I’m not asking how many CARE, just how many KNOW. ;-)

    Johnny Wadd (played by John C. Holmes, who was allegedly to the porn industry what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll) was a fictional private investigator who appeared in a series of twelve porn films (yes, it seems that porn films used to actually have plots and distinctive characters with actual NAMES on a regular basis; I’m not sure how common that is these days, but I’m guessing “less”).

    I’ve never seen any of Holmes’s work — most of what I know about porn I’ve learned from film review sites — so I’m not sure how I already knew who Johnny Wadd was (I got the details from Wikipedia) but I did. Shrug.

    Juxtaposing the subject of porn with the subject of Japanese names…ohhh, “what the hell is the deal with Japan,” indeed.

    Sitting Duck:
    Arguably the least dignified take on Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, even more so than Battle Beyond the Stars. And when you’re less dignified than Corman, you’re in a bad way.

    Your underlying premise seems to be that they were TRYING for dignity. I am politely dubious. ;-)

    It never occurred to me that either film was a “take” on any previous film. Huh.

    Nicias:
    I recall groaning the loudest at the introduction of the ninja character, whose name was something like Keiko Ogawa…from VIETNAM. You’ve got to admire the acute cultural awareness of 1970’s America. I mean, be reasonable, who can keep track of all those non-American countries anyway?

    It’s possible that you THINK you’re being sarcastic. You have in fact captured the seventies’ concept of international awareness almost perfectly. :-|

    Nicias:
    No wonder our fighting men couldn’t hold out in ‘Nam, being pitted against all those ninjas.

    Ninjas. Ohhhh, ninjas. The world really needs a Brains production that tackles ninja films (more film review sites; I read about WAY more films than I watch). The world must hear more about Godfrey Ho…

    Nicias:
    you’re telling me that no one in L.A. associated with this movie knew someone from Asia who could fact-check them?

    Does the phrase “just didn’t care” ring a bell…?

    Cabbage Patch Elvis:
    I love the beach scene, especially when they tongue the binocular guy’s ears.It’s absolutely disgusting to look at and listen to, but it’s fantastic if you know it’s coming, just to see the look on an unsuspecting viewer’s face.“THEY’RE SUCKING OUT HIS BRAIN!”

    So, the whole time, they were members of Barbella and Florbella’s alien race from “Gamera vs. Guiron” pretending to be Earth-humans?

    That would actually explain quite a bit…

       1 likes

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

    Sorry about the format futz-up where Cabbage Patch Elvis is “shown to be saying” both his original post *and* my reply to it. Tch. :-|

       1 likes

  12. Sitting Duck says:

    touches no one's life, then leaves: It never occurred to me that either film was a “take” on any previous film. Huh.

    I can’t speak for how intentional the Seven Samurai aping was in Angels Revenge. However, Battle Beyond the Stars is more deliberate. As well as casting Robert Vaughn (who admittedly was the least memorable of The Magnificent Seven), the planet the menaced farmers live on is called Akir (as in Akira).

       1 likes

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

    Cabbage Patch Elvis:
    When Alan Hale answers the phone: “Shining Your Love!”

    Of course, Alan Hale’s phone presence later dominated, yes, dominated, I tell you, “The Giant Spider Invasion.”

    Zee:
    Did those gals REALLY cut the drug dealer’s dick off? Because that’s what they implied but he seemed to be walking around fine mere hours after the ‘surgery’…

    Maybe it never really had any effect on his life to begin with.

    Smoothie Of Great Power:
    * Director Greydon Clark makes a cameo appearance by directing the movie that Terry is doing stunt work in. I like to joke that he spent more time focusing on whatever movie that is than this one.

    Did the film provide the title of the film-within-the-film? I don’t recall.

    The woman who played April went on to appear in not one but two Greydon Clark/Joe Don Baker films (“like Scorcese and DeNiro”), “Joysticks” and “Wacko.” So, did she go on to success? Well, there are at least two schools of thought…

    Richard:
    I have been known to drop “I wonder if it aroused suspicion when they bought those jumpsuits” from time to time.

    Jumpsuits were much more common in the seventies (as were members of the general public fighting crime, I suppose; technically, The Seven are no less vigilantes than Paul Kersey and his crowd). IIRC jumpsuits were even anachronized back into the fifties in the “Happy Days” episode where the Fonz…jumped? flew? hurled?…his motorcycle at a row of several more motorcycles.

    Besides, they’re in Los Angeles. What actually qualifies as “suspicious” in Los Angeles?

    crowschmo:
    “Sheila Knieval.” – Crow

    “Shiva Knieval” would have been a closer rhyme and had the extra oddity of contrasting the Destroyer of Worlds with, you know, our absurd cast. Shrug

    crowschmo:
    “I mis-EM-phasize words.” – Mike

    No callback to “Racket Girls,” though.

    Nicolletta:
    * Who knew that up-and-coming celebrities will drop everything to go on a commando raid?

    Some celebrities will do anything. “Kicks,” y’know. “Kicks.”

    Sitting Duck:
    Perhaps my brain is playing tricks on me, but I recall a review of this episode which claimed that the protagonists go skinnydipping in the drug lord’s pool at the end of the uncut film.

    So it would’ve been kind of like the scenes in “Danger: Diabolik” and many other Eurospy films where the bad guy has a bevy of beauties lounging around his swimming pool, except without the bad guy. That would’ve verged on…something.

    However, such a scene would’ve had to follow Little Trish’s tour de grace, which would’ve been kind of anticlimactic.

    As someone born in 1969, I spent most of the first ten years of my life in the seventies with nothing else to compare it to. I grew up SURROUNDED by seventies clothes and as a child, I knew nothing about fads or changing styles or any such things. To me, that was just how the world dressed, that’s all. ;-)

    I think some seventies outfits (albeit not in this movie) still hold up pretty well and I still like the long smooth hair look that was prevalent among young women back then. So there’s that, anyway.

       3 likes

  14. Smirkboy says:

    Not reading 160+ comments. But did anyone noticed one of the little things on ‘Arron Spelling’s House’ was the end-cap to the Engineering hull of the scale model of the USS Enterprise? THAT off all that happened in this episode stays in my mind. . .I think it maybe WARD-E material.

       0 likes

  15. Cornjob says:

    One thing I never got is the whole water torture scene. The bad guys were apparently dunking the wet teacher with a rope tied to a weight, and simultaneously pulling her up with another rope. I’m not an expert on torture, but what they were doing looked inefficient at best.

       0 likes

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

    You know what I think they should’ve done? They should’ve come up with an entirely different motivational criminal enterprise that could in fact be effectively shut down, thereby actually accomplishing something. Yep, that’s what I think they should’ve done, all right. Oh well.

    That said, they were kind of ahead of the curve in focusing on drug dealing as The Ultimate Evil. That theme mostly kicked in during the eighties.

    Tom Carberry:
    There weren’t too many episodes in Season 6 that resonated with me, but Angels Revenge did.I am painfully aware that bills have to be paid, but what were Arthur Godfrey, Alan Hale, Jr., Jim Backus, and Pat Buttram thinking?Lawford is another story.

    “I’ve made some of the greatest films ever made…and a lot of crap, too.” — John Carradine

    It’s not just money. I think it’s fair to say that, in general, people don’t become actors just because they want to do it, they become actors because, for whatever reason, they HAVE to do it. Something inside them demands that they be actors. Whether in great films or in crap, an actor must…ACT.

    I could believe that Jim Backus took the role just for the fun of it, of having the chance to see that, incredibly, television had gotten EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS than it had been during his Gilligan’s Island period.

    big61al:
    A] MAN BASHING – the ladies threaten to cut off the man’s area. You would never seen a woman tied up and a man threatening to cut off her lady bits.

    No, you’d see the man cut them off without warning her ahead of time. Nowadays, anyway. :-|

    Incidentally, give to me SUCH a break (I mean, presuming you’re still here four years after making the comment). Dozens of MSTed films that feature women being degraded, reviled, mistreated, abused, et cetera, but let there be ONE FILM where women exert power over a man and it’s whine time. “The big bad women are treating men 1/10,000th times as badly as men treat them!” The double standard is that films where men have power over women are basically the norm while films where women have power over men are much rarer and, as noted, get whined about.

    Alex:
    HOw do you do a show that supposed to have 7 cast members in the 70s. That’s way to much

    Well, that’s kind of an advantage of using stereotype characters, I guess. We’ve met the sassy black chick, the kick-ass Asian, and so on a thousand times already.

    Besides, haven’t you heard that seven is the most powerful magic number? ;-)

    nekouken:
    It’s worth noting that even the creator of the test acknowledges up front that passing the test doesn’t make a movie feminist

    AFAIK she never claimed that it did. It just meant that, in such a film, women’s dialogue and behavior weren’t TOTALLY dictated by men, that the film might depict women conceivably act on their own instead of only RE-acting to men. OSLT.

    Originally, it was just dialogue in one of Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” strip (although a heterosexual male, I get to say that word on this occasion because it’s genuinely part of the title). It only became, like, y’know, significant much later.

    Rebochan:
    This is an old favorite of mine.The ridiculous Charlie’s Angels rip-off action, the disgusted reactions of M&TB at the alleged comedy

    Bad comedies are often considered the hardest kind of films to enjoy. One can riff bad dramas, bad action films, bad romances, and so on, watch material intended to be taken seriously and make funny remarks about them, thereby letting us laugh at the bad movies. But what makes a bad comedy bad in the first place is that you CAN’T laugh at it; if you could laugh at it, it would be, well, not necessarily good but at least EFFECTIVE comedy.

    Sitting Duck:
    @ #29: IIRC California has some of the stricter gun laws in the nation. Stealing them from a bunch of incompetent militants likely ran less risk of legal entanglements.

    Plus, after all the set-up material, it finally allowed them something approximating an action sequence.

    Sitting Duck:
    These survivalists couldn’t survive a grape embargo.

    Which I’d imagine was entirely the point. The filmmakers wanted them to be not just bad guys — throughout much of film history, it’s been considered “okay” for characters to steal as long as they steal only from bad guys (or even just basically unpleasant people) — but PATHETIC bad guys whom The Seven couldn’t possibly fail to defeat.

    thequietman:
    A schoolteacher scoping out a drug processing plant enough to make an, *ahem*, detailed map of it before she seeks out help?

    It’s called “procrastination.”

    It also raises some odd questions about her personal life…

    Ray Dunakin:
    1. The fact that somebody thought a T&A jiggle fest needed to include an underage teen girl.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I understand your objection. It’s not like she was ogled or groped. She was just…THERE along with the other characters.

    I’m guessing the script called for a teenager so there’d be a character who’d be shut out of the action but would pry her way into it, anyway, which would come across as kind of odd for a seventh adult but makes sense from a kid sister. As is so often the case, a young person sees only the excitement and not the danger.

    Ray Dunakin:
    2. The teen girl getting so excited and gleeful during the sword mutilation scene.

    Well, she probably never gets to do stuff like that in her day-to-day life, so of course she found it exciting. Plus, y’know, innocent-looking girl, love of mayhem, irony and stuff. People hadn’t yet recognized the wisdom in being afraid of teenage girls.

    Sitting Duck: Shouldn’t
    Seeing as how it’s a Charlie’s Angels-fied version of Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, it may be worth noting that Trish is essentially their equivalent of Chico

    Maybe that’s why she didn’t get discouraged.

       1 likes

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

    Cornjob:
    One thing I never got is the whole water torture scene. The bad guys were apparently dunking the wet teacher with a rope tied to a weight, and simultaneously pulling her up with another rope. I’m not an expert on torture, but what they were doing looked inefficient at best.

    Well, the bad guys themselves seemed inefficient at best — I mean, in real-life organized crime, the damage that The Seven did would probably barely rise to the level of negligible — so it works out. ;-)

    Besides, back then, the depiction of torture on film was still in its early childhood if not infancy (yet another film review website I’ve come across specializes in films in which women are raped, tortured, et cetera (I don’t recall what I was looking for when I found it but I want to clarify that it DEFINITELY was NOT films in which women are raped, tortured, et cetera), and the reviewers frequently “complain” about how phony the torture scenes in some such films look).

    What with “torture porn” and all, it’s much different nowadays, of course.

    ===

    ADDENDUM re The fact that somebody thought a T&A jiggle fest needed to include an underage teen girl:

    Furthermore, it used to not be quite as big a deal for adults (of either gender) to be “permitted” to find teenagers (of either gender) attractive. Nowadays, of course, it’s only one or two steps above being a pedophile.

    As at least some people here know, it’s legal for an adult to marry a minor *IF* the minor’s parents give consent, yet it’s considered distasteful for an adult to find a minor *attractive*. Is that irony or is it something else that I’m confusing with irony?

       2 likes

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

    touches no one's life, then leaves:Juxtaposing the subject of porn with the subject of Japanese names…ohhh, “what the hell is the deal with Japan,” indeed.

    I see that no one has “risen to the bait” on this. In hindsight, that’s for the best. No “probably” about it, just for the best. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I made the comment. :-|

       1 likes

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