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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: 624- Samson vs. The Vampire Women

Movie: (1961) Masked wrestler El Santo battles vampire women who believe a young woman destined to become their queen.

First shown: 3/25/95
Opening: A moment of silence
Intro: Frank enjoys some Chinese food, Dr. F not so much; on the SOL the food is confounding
Host segment 1: While playing Stratego, Crow gets a sign
Host segment 2: Torgo the White arrives to take Frank to Second Banana Heaven
Host segment 3: Song: “Who will I kill?”
End: The ‘Bots read their letters to Frank, who visits Dr. F. and pushes the button one last time
Stinger: “Chief, I saw two corpses in the garden.”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (211 votes, average: 4.52 out of 5)

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• And so we come to the end of another era of MST3K. This is the last episode of the fourth consecutive 24-episode season, and pretty much the end of four years of job security for everybody at Best Brains. And of course, it is our bittersweet goodbye to Frank, which in turn is a harbinger of Trace’s farewell to come. It was about this time, March of ’95, I began regularly checking in with Julie Walker with questions like “so, season seven starts in June, right? July?…August??” She didn’t know, and nobody was giving it much thought, because they were headed into movie making. “MST3K: The Movie” had been greenlighted, and it was taking up everybody’s time. It would only be later in the year that the ominous silence from Comedy Central began to be recognized.
• Overall, the episode itself is in the “good-not-great” area for me. The host segments are historic, and very funny. The movie is kind of a cross between “Aztec Mummy” and “Racket Girls,” for better or worse. Last time, I thought the riffing was only so-so, but I have to say that I laughed quite a bit this time so I think I need readjust my rating upwards.
• This episode appears in “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIV.”
The references.
• The “moment of silence” opening is appropriate and great fun. It’s one of those bits where the idea is simple, but the execution is what makes it work.
• I love when they cut to Deep 13 in the intro and Frank takes a breath to say something, but never gets to say it.
• Lo mein seems to have been on somebody’s mind–Auntie McFrank served it last episode.
• Dr. F’s fortune is very accurate.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers (which seem to have been freshly shot for this episode): Film canister, book, bulletin board.
• One of the most blatant LOTR references ever on this show is the appearance of Torgo (again played by Mike), but not Torgo as we knew him but Torgo “the White.” “Yes, that was the name,” he mutters.
• Callback: “…and a good friend.” (Rocketship XM)
• Trace does a terrific job with the song, but a little pitchy, dawg.
• While in general I love the song, I have to say that the imagery evoked in the line “No cute tummy to drill” is a little off-putting.
• Frank departs with the wonderful “Wave your freak flag high!” speech and a final “Eyukgaee!”–the strange guttural sound he popularized back in season two, but hadn’t really used in a few seasons.
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Luis Garcia DeLeon also worked on “Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.” American producer K. Gordon Murray also worked on “Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy” and “Santa Claus.” American director Manuel San Fernando also worked on “Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Additional contributing writers: Bill Corbett and Drew Jansen. Of course, the music for “Who Will I Kill?” was written by Mike, but I never noticed before: the lyrics were written by Bridget Jones!
There were also some farewells with this episode: The were shutting the show down for a while, and people were either departing or heading to the movie studio. It was Tim Paulson’s last show as editor. This was also the last show for post production coordinators Jann L. Johnson and Ellen McDonough Thomas, both of whom had been with the show for years. And finally, interns Wendell Andersson, Michael D. Parker and Sarah Swanson also worked on their last show.
• Fave riff: “Fiends are visiting from Europe.” Honorable mention: “He’s got a full acre of area!”

Next week we will do “MST3K: The Movie” and from there will go on to Season 7.

118 Replies to “Episode guide: 624- Samson vs. The Vampire Women”

  1. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Season 6 was more of a miss for me. I think it’s the weakest season since season 2. Only 9 of the 24 episodes cracked my personal top 100. The following are my favorite episodes from season 6, the first number being their rank in my top 100. Coleman Francis put in yeoman’s work, and the shorts bolstered many of these episodes.

    18 601- GIRLS TOWN
    27 604- ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE
    35 619- RED ZONE CUBA with short: SPEECH
    62 609- THE SKY DIVERS with short: WHY STUDY THE INDUSTRIAL ARTS?
    75 618- HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT with short: OUT OF THIS WORLD
    76 603- THE DEAD TALK BACK with short: THE SELLING WIZARD
    77 602- INVASION U.S.A. with short: A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY
    78 621- THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS with shorts: MONEY TALKS! and PROGRESS ISLAND, U.S.A.
    93 612- THE STARFIGHTERS

       1 likes

  2. Ned Raggett says:

    Bombastic Biscuit Boy:

    Anyone think the vampire guys look like The Misfits?

    “I got something to say!
    I’m now in MST3K!”

       3 likes

  3. Into The Void says:

    “Wave your freak flag high!”

    Indeed :-D

       2 likes

  4. Johnny Drama says:

    pondoscp:
    Yep, a lot of others have already expressed the same sentiment as me, that this is the end. Frank leaving really ended the show for me. Something is definitely missing in the writing of the riffs from here out. A few semi-interesting episodes would follow over the next few seasons, but for me, the ship sails with this one.
    I also feel this episode is all about the host segments. The movie just drags. An average, yet important, episode from the golden CC era.

    Four years later, and I’m of the same opinion. Now let’s see if Season 11 changes my mind!

       0 likes

  5. EricJ says:

    Bombastic Biscuit Boy: Anyone think the vampire guys look like The Misfits?

    You mean the iconic punk band, or the nasty girl punk band that chased Jem & the Holograms around?

       0 likes

  6. Brock Lee Rubberband says:

    How funny is it when Samson first appears in the Professor’s office in his snazzy outfit? Mike and the Bots burst out laughing. It puts an immediate smile on my face. That is the first thing I think about this episode. That and the weird scene were Samps torches the women. Also the horrible dubbing.

       5 likes

  7. Atorgo says:

    I know it’s comparing apples to oranges, but the wrestling action in this one is light years beyond whatever the heck was going on in Racket Girls. Shame that RG had so much more of it.

    I love Season Six.

       5 likes

  8. Ray Dunakin says:

    I really love this episode. The host segments are mostly great, the movie is incredibly silly, and the riffs are top-notch.

    One of my favorite scenes is when Sampson/Santo first shows up. The way the guys bust out giggling is more effective than any spoken riff would have been.

    I always enjoyed “TV’s Frank”, as well as Frank’s contributions as a writer. On top of all that, the world owes him a debt of gratitude for getting “Manos: The Hands of Fate” onto the show and into history.

    :)

    Oh, also got a kick out of seeing Mike teaching the bots to play Stratego, even if incorrectly. That was my favorite board game. I played it for many, many hours with my brothers, and later with my son.

       3 likes

  9. Cornjob says:

    My comments at #52 still hold. The scene where Samson strides in to the professor’s study dressed like an executioner that joined Cirque de Soleil is hysterical even without any riffing. How hard was it for the actor playing the professor to film that scene with a straight face?

    I played Straaa-Teee-Gooooo as a child. Once as a teenager me and a kid named Scott played Straa-Tee-Gooo after getting good and drunk at a party. Talk about unconventional warfare.

       4 likes

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

    As it happens, of el Santo’s fifty-plus films, this is considered one of his BEST. Roll that around in your head for a while…
    ;-)

    jjb3k:
    I can’t overlook Professor Orlof

    Yes, the Orlof brother no one talks about…

    http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0027338/?ref_=fn_ch_ch_1

    Zee:
    Dr. F: Let’s see, “You will die, alone and afraid, knowing that not a single human being ever loved you, lucky numbers 3, 18, 80- Funny, I keep getting the same one.

    How is anyone supposed to win a lottery with only THREE numbers?

    Brian:
    I believe its Mike who gives the best line of all, “Sir, do you have any wrestling that needs to be done?”

    As noted by others, Samson/Santo’s also a super-hero. Even better, he’s a super-hero who can be contacted by something more direct than a giant insignia projected into the sky.

    crowschmo:
    (Oh – always meant to ask:anyone know what’s in the door sequence after door #4 when they’re going in the theater?Is that a little Dr. Bunsen Honeydew doll I see there?)

    I wonder why that little skittering thing that crosses from one side of the corridor to the other is. It might have been a nice touch in the first episode of Season Eight for Mike to have some line to the effect of “I can’t believe that thing’s still alive after all these years!” OSLT.

    Miqel dot com:
    For me, there is something distinctly Un-Superhero-ish about the car Samson / El Santo drives. It’s just funny!

    Maybe it’s full of special equipment and capabilities but nevertheless has a normal exterior? When you think about it (“So don’t think about it.”), the Batmobile would probably be every bit as functional without the bat motif everywhere.

    Which reminds, in the 1960s Batman TV series, I presume Batman and Robin had to walk through the front door of the police station and past the receptionist and the desk cops before finally reaching Commissioner Gordon’s office, and then exit the same way, so that’s like a dozen people who watched two guys in super-hero outfits walk past them nearly every day and eventually came to think nothing of it. Some people can get used to anything.

    Miqel dot com:
    … I can’t help but picture him rushing to the vampire castle and having to change a flat tire or his radiator overheating and having to flag down a ride in his wrestling costume.

    To be nitpicky, Samson/Santo isn’t wearing a wrestler costume because he isn’t *pretending* to be a wrestler (or a super-hero), he *IS* a wrestler (and a super-hero). He’s wearing his wrestler/super-hero OUTFIT.
    ;-)

    Miqel dot com:
    Oh yeah… and what is the PHYSICS of the crazy TV connection the professor has with Samson? Does Samson have a micro-camera mounted on the hood of the car and a microphone on the dashboard? Or does the professor have some even more exotic technology that allows him to view & interact with events happening anywhere???

    Physics shmysics, it’s basically comic book science. It just *works*, that’s all.

    And how does a vampire in bat form hover? It’s MAGIC, that’s how.

       3 likes

  11. JeremyR says:

    This is one of my favorites. I wish they had done more of these goofy wrestling movies

       2 likes

  12. Htom Sirveaux says:

    I haven’t seen this one too often but I do remember it being TV’s Frank’s last episode as well as a wonderfully weird movie. And the Vampire women were easy on the eyes as well IIRC.

       1 likes

  13. littleaimishboy says:

    Santo’s, sorry I mean Samson’s, super power is that he can set people on fire by applying a flaming torch to their clothing, is that correct?

       4 likes

  14. Ray Dunakin says:

    BTW, apparently the filmmaker’s understanding of karate was limited to “awkwardly hitting someone with the edge of your hand”.

       2 likes

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

    Santo’s “super-power” is that he’s an exceptionally well-trained fighter and athlete. Just like Daredevil without his super-senses or Batman without his tech.

    Back in the golden age of comic books, that was pretty much all you needed to be a super-hero — sure, plenty of golden age super-heroes had super-powers, but plenty of others got by on nothing but a can-do attitude and a codename — and apparently it was much the same in Mexico during the 1960s.

    I’m sure there are many martial arts techniques that allow one to kill with one blow, especially fictional martial arts techniques.

    Really, I’ve said it too many times already, but some of the stuff people around her balk at…

    Of no account:
    I mean, would it violate vampire pride to take a folding chair, or even a crowbar to Samson?

    Did they even HAVE folding chairs 200 years ago? Would the vampires have known one when they saw it?

    But never mind that. Santo is accustomed to fighting multiple opponents. The vampires weren’t accustomed to FIGHTING at all. They demonstrated a classic downside to having super-powers: If not careful, one can forget how to get by when forced to not totally RELY upon them (the history of any major super-hero is full of incidents in which the hero defeated much more powerful villains)…which can be a big disadvantage if those powers can be nullified. If Superman temporarily lost his powers, there IS NO WAY he’d win a fistfight with Batman. Batman is a master of several martial arts and I’m pretty sure Superman (the current version, anyway) isn’t a master of even one.

       1 likes

  16. JohnJ says:

    If nobody’s already mentioned it, I just have to throw in one of Mike’s lines from the scene of the guys being strapped down and bled, “This is what Baptists think Catholic masses are like.” (I paraphrase from memory, you understand.) I don’t think they riffed about any sort of religious stuff very often, but this one makes me laugh out loud.

       0 likes

  17. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #116: I commented on that riff in post #62.

       0 likes

  18. Dihgdfj says:

    Htom Sirveaux:
    I haven’t seen this one too often but I do remember it being TV’s Frank’s last episode as well as a wonderfully weird movie.And the Vampire women were easy on the eyes as well IIRC.

    You might want to check out “El Vampiro y El Sexo”, the skinemax-grade Santo movie.

       0 likes

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