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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: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie


Movie: An atomic scientist is invited to collaborate on a mysterious project that has interplanetary consequences.

First shown: 4/19/96
Intro: Dr. F. explains the premise
Opening: Mike’s begins his day, but what’s that rhythmic pounding?
Host segment 1: After the film breaks, Crow and Tom goad Mike into piloting the SOL–with disastrous results!
Host segment 2: Mike and Crow check out the interociter in Tom’s room, but the Metalunan they contact is no help
End: Dr. F. is sure Mike’s will has been broken, but on the SOL its party time — with a “THIS ISLAND EARTH” theme. Dr. F.’s attempt to poop the party backfires. Aaaahhhh!
Stinger: No stinger, but Mike, Crow and Tom return to riff their own credits!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (253 votes, average: 4.36 out of 5)


• There is SO much to talk about when it comes to this all-too-brief attempt at mainstreaming an almost unmainstreamable product. I’ll try to hit as many of the high notes as possible.
• For a lot of background on the movie, read our FAQ (which needs a little updating, see below).
• There were a number of releases of the film, first on VHS, later on DVD, also on Laserdisk and Blu-ray. The DVD went out of print for a while (which was around the last time we updated the FAQ) and then came out in a bare-bones, movie-only edition. After that went out of print in 2013, Shout Factory finally got the rights and put together a features-laden DVD release, including the deleted scenes. And take note of the background music on the menu: it’s the almost-never-used Dave Alvin and the Blasters (actually on his Facebook page, he says it was he and a group called “The Guilty Men”) rendition of the theme song, which had been, in Alvin’s words, “in rights limbo” for more than a decade.
• In many ways, all their years of hard work were leading up to this and the movie is at the heart of so much that happened at (and to) Best Brains. One giant example: Joel has revealed that it was Jim’s insistence on directing this movie that was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” and led him to depart the series. How might the world, the show and Best Brains have been different if they never thought to try to make a movie? We’ll never know. The movie also caused them to put the regular series on the back burner, and that may have helped give Comedy Central the impression that BBI had no interest in continuing the show. I could probably come up with a dozen more examples, and who knows what sort of backstage stuff went on that we don’t know about?
• The movie proves one thing without a doubt: It IS possible to have closed captioning for MST3K. I forget now if the DVDs have captioning, but the VHS versions did — the dialog from the movie ran at the top of the screen and the riffs ran at the bottom. It worked reasonably well, and I really wish EVERY episode was closed captioned. I’m a bit of a militant on this issue, but I do think it can be done and I wish it would be done.
• I visited the set while they were filming (it was the day they shot Trace doing the opening bit) and everybody seemed pretty upbeat. Kevin was even speculating on the prospect of doing one of these a year for the foreseeable future (Joel told me something very similar more recently).
• Trace worked like a real trooper that day. They must have done 20 takes. Oh, and anybody who says making a movie is exciting has never actually been on the set when a movie was being made. It’s a little like a baseball game: lots of standing around and waiting, punctuated by a few seconds of excitement.
Take a look here if you want to read many of the reviews at the time, or at least excerpts.
• Many of the harshest reviews came from people who felt “This Island Earth” is “too good” to have been the subject of riffing. And as I read these reviews, I noticed something really strange: among the people who made this charge, the words “The Day the Earth Stood Still” were often part of the review. It really was a remarkable thing. “This Island Earth” is NOT “The Day the Earth Stood Still” but the mere PROXIMITY of “This Island Earth” to “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” in the minds of these critics, was enough to disqualify it for mockery.
• I told Kevin, during a break on the set, about the people who were saying TIE was “too good to riff.” His response was very simple: He threw his head back and laughed uproariously. Then he began to tick off the fundamental flaws in the movie. First of all, he said, Cal, our hero, goes on a mind-bending journey across the universe — and yet he returns utterly unchanged in any way. Secondly, Cal is supposed to be the hero, but his most heroic act is to yell, “Run, Ruth, run!” at one point. Third, it’s fairly clear that both Rex Reason and Jeff Morrow thought THEY were the hero of the movie, and that jumbles everything up. Fourth, the chemistry between Faith Domergue and Rex Reason was tepid at best, and on and on. He hadn’t even gotten to all the criticisms before he was called back to the set.
• On the other hand, it’s hard to fairly judge TIE based on the chopped-to-shreds version we get in MST3K:TM (as noted in the FAQ, the entire running time of MST3K:TM is less than the original running time of TIE). But I have seen the full thing (indeed I watched the full thing riffed by Mike, Kevin and Trace at the first convention in 1994) and I am here to tell you that it is NOT a good movie. Visually arresting, okay, I’ll grant you that. But a deeply flawed flick.
• In the opening, just watch the real estate Trace covers as he goes through his explanation of the premise. Now imagine doing that about 20 times under hot lights.
• After the little Dr. F intro, we go into an elaborate “2001” parody during the credits. If you’re watching it carefully, they give away the joke (i.e. that at first Mike looks as if he is jogging in a giant circular spaceship as in “2001,” but then we realize he is actually on a giant hamster wheel) pretty early, but I also suspect that a lot of casual viewers may well have been finding their seats etc., and might have only gotten the joke as the credits end.
• Note that a copy of the old Satellite News newsletter is the “wire service reports” Gypsy gives to Mike.
• Also during the early moments of this scene look past Servo and Mike to the wall behind them. The set is decorated with many pink flamingos. These were a gift from some fans (me among them) presented to the cast and crew at the end of the first convention.
• One of the things that the publicity people for the movie pushed was that we would get our first glimpse of other parts of the SOL. But, in the end, we didn’t really get to see anything very memorable. I suspect they were thinking about the scenes that were eventually cut.
• As we get ready for movie sign, they make explicit the threat Dr. F has always sort of implied in the past. He pulls a lever and apparently cuts the oxygen in the SOL. Mike, of course, has the most reason to cooperate, but Crow and Tom comply as well, not wanting to be the cause of Mike’s demise.
• Look for Frank on one of the doors during the door sequence.
• The movie contains many riffs that loyal fans have heard before, sometimes on several occasions. Among them: “It’s a long par five to the nation’s capital,” “Football practice!” “Put your shoes on, we’re at grandma’s,” “I have tubes in my ears!” “I kind of live out of my [insert vehicle type]” and [you] “wake and bake every day.”
• One of the problems I do have with the movie is that, early on, when they should be establishing a riffing rhythm, there is an upsettingly long stretch of no riffs. It happens during the scene in which Cal holds an impromptu press conference as he prepares to climb into his jet. A long painful minute goes by with only a few paltry riffs, and it’s really the wrong place for a dead zone.
• Then current riffs: “John Sununu goes for a haircut,” “Look out President Clinton!”, a reference to pilots drinking rum and cokes and “The Kingdome!”
• In the live riffing, the “secret eggo project” scene went on much longer and established the “Cal always breaks things” running gag. The shortened version doesn’t really establish it, with the result that when Servo says “Cal, I don’t think there’s anything left to break!” we really don’t understand what he’s talking about.
• Take note of a few familiar faces: The “sort this, deliver that” delivery man is none other than Coleman Francis!! And, later, the Metalunan pilot who punches up the “Normal View” is none other than Richard Deacon, Mel Cooley from “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
• Another little in-joke for fans, you can hear a light musical riff on the “Manos” theme as Mike activates the manipulator arm, which is labeled “Manos.”
• It always cracks me up the way Crow nuzzles Mike while doing his George Takei impression.
• Servo mentions hamdingers under his breath as he looks for his interociter.
• One of the most surprising, and head-scratching moments of the movie came with the appearance of actor John Brady as a Metalunan taking a shower. Brady had never been involved with MST3K (in fact this was his first movie role) and many fans were baffled by the appearance of this complete stranger.
• Just a shout-out to Jef or whoever built that replica of the catalog in the movie. Looks perfect.
• The movie contains three “shits” in the dialog, expressly added so that would avoid the dreaded “G” rating. I’m sure this made sense at the time. but, in hindsight, doesn’t seem to have helped.
• Obscure riff (there were a few!): They enter a room on the ship that looks to have wooden tile floors. Crow, in his best Henry Fonda, says “Hey the floors look great!” Fonda was a longtime pitchman for GAF flooring.
• As they riff the closing credits, most of the names they pick out are folks who have been longtime BBI staffers.
• Cast and crew wrap-up: We’re going to do this one a little differently because basically the usual Universal crew worked on this thing, and many of them also worked, within a few years on “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Leech Woman,” “The Mole People,” “The Deadly Mantis” and “The Thing that Couldn’t Die.”
Those also working on “Revenge of the Creature ” were producer William Alland, the director of the Metaluna scenes Jack Arnold, assistant director Fred Frank, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, costumers Jack Kevan, Millicent Patrick, Robert Beau Hickman, Chris Mueller and John Kraus, hairdresser Joan St. Oegger, art director Alexander Golitzen, set dressers Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey and score composers Herman Stein and Henry Mancini. In front of the camera: Robert B. Williams.
Those also working on “The Leech Woman” were special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, art director Alexander Golitzen set dressers Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson (who served as producer).
Those also working on “The Mole People” were producer William Alland, editor Virgil Vogel, special effects guy Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, hairdresser Joan St. Oegger, art director Alexander Golitzen, set dresser Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson, score composers Herman Stein, Hans Salter and Henry Mancini. In front of the camera: Mark Hamilton, Regis Parton and Ed Parker.
Those also working on “The Deadly Mantis” were producer William Alland, special effects guy Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, art director Alexander Golitzen, special effects guy Fred Knoth, set dresser Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson and score composer Henry Mancini.
Those also working on “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” were cinematographer Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, set dresser Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson and score composer Henry Mancini.
In addition, producer William Alland also worked on “The Space Children.” Special effects guy Clifford Stine also worked on “The Creeping Terror.” Makeup guy Bud Westmore also worked on “San Francisco International. Hairdresser Joan St. Oegger also worked on “The Amazing Colossal Man.” Art director Alexander Golitzen also worked on “Kitten With A Whip,” as did musical director Joseph Gershenson. Set dresser Russell A. Gausman also worked on “The Brute Man,” as did score composer Hans J. Salter.
In front of the camera: Lance Fuller also appeared in “The She Creature.” Coleman Francis, well, you know. Ed Parker was also in “Bride of the Monster” and “Undersea Kingdom.” Russell Johnson was also in “The Space Children.”
• CreditsWatch: Regular crew members who also worked on the movie were Jeff Stonehouse, Bradley J. Keely, Michael Kienitz, Andrea Jackson DuCane, Jef Maynard, Wendell Jon Andersson, Patrick Brantseg, Crist Ballas, Tim Johnson, Barb Tebben and Julie Walker.
• Fave riff: “Hey, keep it on the road! We’re in the tubes back here!” Honorable mention: “Recognize me now, Ruth?”

Next week, we’ll start season seven.

237 Replies to “Episode guide: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie”

  1. Richard R. says:

    In April 1996, I was living in NYC and a few days before MST3K:TM opened, Jim, Mike, Trace, and Kevin did an ACEG signing at a bookstore near NYU (hmm…that’s an awful lot of acronyms for one sentence…). When I discovered that the first 100 people in line–of which I was one–got free passes to the opening of the movie, well, that was the MSTie equivalent of winning the lottery! (My signed ACEG and the movie poster they gave us when we used the passes are two of my most cherished possessions.)

    The theater–I can’t recall exactly where it was; a multiplex around Third Ave and 3rd St., I think–was about 3/4 full. It had been my first “communal” MST experience and was a lot of fun. (Crow’s George Takei impressions seemed to get the biggest laughs.) I was maybe a tiny bit disappointed in the movie having been a fan of the show since 1992 (but I suppose that’s inevitable when one has such high expectations), but over the years I’ve found that it has improved on re-watching. The riffing is a bit sparser than a typical TV episode, but I did read somewhere–probably on this site–that that was intentional so as to allow for audience laughter. Indeed, in a crowded theater, I remember still sometimes missing dialogue or, worse, the next riff.

    I thought riffing on their own credits was inspired, and me and a friend have long been unable to watch the copyright notice on any film or TV show without repeating “All rights are reserved, Callahan” “What about the rights of that little girl?”

    Good times…


  2. zeroninety says:

    *Mumbles* “Put you in the BITCH transformer!”


  3. FS says:

    The FAQ needs to be updated – it says the movie is out of print on DVD, but it was re-released and is currently available.


  4. schippers says:

    Mike does a pretty fair approximation of Rex Reason’s subwoofer vocal range.

    P.S., if you like Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason together (and why shouldn’t you, as they’re both great), then you owe it to yourself to watch The Creature Walks Among Us (second sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon). It’s too bad MST didn’t do that movie, as their treatment of Revenge of the Creature is great.


  5. Depressing Aunt says:

    When I was a little kid, I saw a black-and-white picture of TIE’s mutant in some publication or other, and its appearance gave me the shivers. Seeing it in this context, though? Shiver-free.

    I guess my favorite riffs are Mike’s deadpan “Yum” during the waffle experiment, and Tom’s incredulous “Why?!” when Exeter explains the policy of hiring mutants as guards.


  6. NanooNanoo600 says:

    I know its not an actual episode..but its still one of the funniest MST-3000’s ever!! made me a big fan:) some of the best riffs ever!


  7. Toyland Chairman says:

    @ “Many of the harshest reviews came from people who felt “This Island Earth” is “too good” to have been the subject of riffing.”

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it annoys the hell out of me when people bad mouth MST3K simply over the film they’re riffing. No film is immune to a riffing, though some have material better fit than others. Same can be said for Rifftrax. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is a classic, but also has one of my favorite Rifftrax commentaries.


  8. Farmland says:

    Saw this at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland, OR with my (then) brother-in-law. We were running a few minutes late and didn’t actually get there until Forrester was making Mike and the Bots kneel. It was an afternoon matinee with a decent-ish crowd; everybody seemed to enjoy it.

    As for the movie itself, it’s a watered down version of the show and the host segments are pretty ho-hum, but it’s still plenty watchable and I usually get a good chuckle when I replay it. Three stars.

    And I’m guessing that the PG-13 was for more the innuendos than the “sh**s” (“Oh, there are two Woodys in this scene!”)


  9. Gorn Captain says:

    I feel very fortunate to have seen this in a theater with a friend back in the day. Found my ticket stub I had thought was forever lost a couple years back, and framed it. Over the years, I’ve gotten a copy of the movie on every video format it was released in. Even found a Laserdisc released in Hong Kong with Cantonese subtitles!

    I’ve noticed TIE turns up in a lot of old movies and tv shows. (Mostly Universal stuff of course.) There’s a surreal scene in a Galactica 1980 episode, where those pesky space scouts boo at Scrotor’s demise in a movie theater! ;)

    With Shout Factory licensing a lot of Universal product these days, would it be a good time to start asking nicely for a fully loaded special edition DVD and Blu Ray? Even if the cut footage can’t be restored to the film proper, there has to be a workprint stashed away somewhere. A commentary track from cast and crew would also be great, even if the lawyers won’t let them talk about Gramercy Pictures shenanigans…


  10. trickymutha says:

    The movie is the gift that keeps on giving. We busted it out last Saturday night. It fits in great with any MST marathon- and, my goodness, my girlfriend loved seeing Tom Servo’s underwear collection.


  11. Matty'O says:

    My biggest issue with the movie was how it so massively interfered with the ongoing series. I recall them saying they had to use the same budget they had allotted for the regular show, resulting in some cannibalization; hence why the season we got only had six or so episodes. it’s a shame they could get better financial backers for the movie alone and leave their normal budget intact so we could get a better Misty-fix that year.


  12. Wetzelcoatl says:

    I absolutely love the movie, but boy do I wish they hadn’t cut TIE down so much.

    I used to watch my vhs of the movie pretty much every night when I was in junior high.


  13. MSTJon says:

    Gorn Captain,

    FWIW, I’ve been writing to Rhino and now Shout! twice a year, saying that even if they couldn’t come up with the rights to do release a fully loaded version of this movie, I would happily give up a slot in an upcoming box set for just the supplemental features. There are the deleted scenes, I assume someone had to record the ConventioCon 2 panel on the flick, the full movie theme with vocals and probably some promotional appearances exist too. I’m still waiting to see every ep on DVD, but when the pickings get slim, this would be an awesome way to round out a set.

    Still never got much back that wasn’t a standard form letter.

    And I’m not sure how the rights would work out, but is there reason the guys couldn’t get the old live script together and release it through I’d be willing to pay substantially more for that riff so all of the Brains who contributed could get a piece of that action.

    Or just throw all of that on a super deluxe blu ray. I’m good either way.


  14. gonzoisking says:

    I was lucky enough to see this twice in the theaters at a theater that no longer exists. It was set to be released on my birthday April 20th. I was so excited and was planning to go on my birthday. I was really disappointed when it wasn’t playing anywhere in the area. I stalked the papers for the next month until it finally showed up at a little out of the way independent theater. I was only 14 years old and already a huge fan of the show. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to even see the film in the theater until years later.


  15. I was sixteen years old when MST:TM was released and since I grew up in nowheresville, (southern) Illinois there wasn’t a theater within 2 hours of us that would’ve showed it. My first experience with it was renting it on VHS a few months later. Thought it was okay (as others have stated on this thread) but over time I’ve come to appreciate it more. Compared to the series, it’s only an “okay, good-not-great” episode.

    The riffing is sparse on occasion and they go for a lot of “easy” jokes, but it is still pretty funny overall. The Host Segments aren’t very good and Dr. F seems lost without a sidekick. The shorter running time of The Movie might actually help, if it went on much longer I might of started tuning out or dozing off. This Island Earth is a pretty okay choice, it colorful and science-fictiony, but I personally would’ve chosen something else, maybe something by Corman (Attack of the Crab Monsters) or one of those Harryhasusen flicks, like Beast from 20,000 Fathoms or It Came from Beneath the Sea.

    Those movies I just mentioned I actually enjoy way more than This Island Earth, which is NOT A GOOD MOVIE as some keep trying to claim. The movie has pretty good special effects, I’ll can give it that much. Everything else though, crap crap crap crap. Cal is a terrible hero and the villains suck; the story, the plot, the pacing are all terrible as well. I’ve yet to hear a credible defense of this turkey other than the “special effects are cool!” —->(Admittedly, I’ve used that same line of defense for some movies, but TIE just doesn’t do it for me).

    I taped MST:TM off of Cinemax back when it premiered (in like, ’97 or something) and I had that tape for a long time. Just last year I bought the DVD at a local resale shop for $6, and at a different place I found a copy of The Movie in laserdisc form, which was pretty cool, for only $3 (not that I own or have ever seen a laserdisc player). Back in ’99, I bought the theatrical movie poster at a little comic shop in Indiana for, like, $7, and it was hung up in my room until I moved out of my parents house and then it was on the walls of the next 5 apartments and houses I live in while I went to college (I moved a lot in college…every year actually…is that normal?) and since then I’ve had it rolled up in a tube with a bunch of other movie posters that I haven’t hung up in years now….. I’m past the age where paper tacked to a wall makes for suitable home decorum, so I have a single (very nice and large) poster frame that I swap posters out of semi-frequently; thinking about it now, I might have to throw the MST:TM poster in sometime soon…


    (shot of Universal/International logo)
    Mike: “Doesn’t the fact that it’s universal, make it international? —–I think this every time I see the Universal/International logo.

    Crow: “Those decals are really hard to put on without ripping.” ——Anyone who played with GI-Joe’s growing up can attest to this..

    Crow: “Hey, you can see the Cubs losing.”

    Servo: “Early LSD tests in the AirForce.”

    Mike: “Eat at Joe’s. Eat at Joe’s. Eat at Joe’s.” ——CALLBACK to Being From Another Planet (#405)

    Crow: “Industry! Science and technology!”

    Mike: “We’re hickory curing them.”

    crotch shot of Cal,
    Servo: “Recognize me now, Ruth?”

    Crow: “Must feel like they’re inside a giant bong.”
    ALL: “Woooo!”

    Servo: “Hey they’re landing in Tommy Chong’s backyard.”

    the mutant gets it’s soft head beat on,
    Crow: “Ah! I’m very vulnerable there! Ah! There goes the piano lessons! Ah! I can’t remember my dad!” ———Any time I hit my head or fall down, I quote this, especially the dad part.

    Servo: “Cal and Exeter wake and bake everyday.”
    ALL: “Woooo!”

    One of my favorite things about MST: The Movie is the tagline: Every year Hollywood releases hundreds of movies. This is one of them.



  16. Sitting Duck says:

    For the record, Crow altered the lyrics to It’s a Long Way to Tipperary somewhat. The segment he sang originally went like this:

    It’s a long way to Tipperary
    To the sweetest girl I know!
    Goodbye, Piccadilly,
    Farewell, Leicester Square!


  17. jay says:

    I had been aware of the show, but it was The Movie that really got me into enjoying it. Even renting it and playing it for my parents (who aren’t into this kind of thing) had them laughing.

    I’ve owned both DVDs, and am very grateful for the captioning on the newer DVD. I wish Shout! would either do captions or remix the audio to make the dialog easier to hear.

    I’m also a fan of the uncut TIE. It’s not high-brow science fiction, but it’s one of the few movies from the series that I can watch and enjoy without the riffs.


  18. ToolAssist says:

    I saw this movie in theaters and I remember the crowd, despite there only being around 16 people, were roaring with laughter throughout. Me? I think the movie is funny, but flawed. I own it on iTunes, and I’ve only seen it about three times, but I can’t really remember being that enthralled with it.

    But I still think the fact that I got to see it in theaters is amazing. I still feel extremely lucky to this day that I got to see MST3K on the big screen. 8-)


  19. ToolAssist says:

    Oh, and the sh*ts have nothing to do with the PG-13 rating. The MPAA rating is PG-13 for “some sexual humor” so in hindsight, the sbombs are really unnecessary.


  20. pondoscp says:

    I enjoy the Movie. It’s breezy and fun, very lighthearted. Getting to see more of the ship was cool. I like that the Movie fills up my widescreen set! Kind of lets you know what MST3K would look like if if were still on, full HD and widescreen, yet the prints are still bad! I can’t wait for the US BluRay, and I hope with the recent Universal developments, maybe it’ll have the awesome deleted host segment and alternate ending.

    And if you haven’t seen the deleted host segment and alternate ending, please seek it out. It’s on youtube, or it was the last time I looked. All MST fans deserve to see Dr. F tempt Tom Servo to go to the dark side! Man, they should have left that in!


  21. KidFlash25 says:

    I’d love to say the film made it to Rochester, NY in the spring of ’96, but it didn’t. (I haven’t doublechecked, but if it did, it played the local arthouse and that was it. I do recall seeing the Kids in the Hall movie in a theatre Easter week, as that got the same sort of platform release MST3k did. Had a local theatre picked up both, my brother and I would have insisted on a double feature.) I can’t remember where I heard about the film first, but I have a NY Times ad in a scrapbook somewhere.

    In any case, only just saw the film for the first time last year. Don’t have a DVD, but would happily spring for a release with all the trimmings, Blu or otherwise.


  22. zxvc says:

    on the subject of the CC thing, I’m pretty sure that could be done with one of the easy to code subtitle formats, like .ass or .srt
    seems like it would just be tedious work you would want to crowdsource and would need a lot of extra eyes over it to make sure you didn’t bork jokes


  23. Cornjob says:

    “Hmmm. Breach hull. All die. Even had it underlined.”


  24. Cornjob says:

    Was Brack a fan of Norwegian Brack Metal?


  25. Sitting Duck says:

    Some of you may have heard of the Bechdel Test. What it does is measure feminine presence in a movie by determining if two female characters talk about something other than a male. A while back, I applied this test to the movies in the MST3K episodes I had at the time (I’ll get around to updating it eventually), and the results were a bit unexpected. Even more interesting are the ratios when you break it down by decade, as the earlier ones as a group do better than the more recent ones.

    So how well did This Island Earth do? It passed, but it was a squeaker. The critical moment comes when Ruth and Dr. Pritchner exchange greetings.


  26. My high school yearbook senior quote was “I calculated the odds of this succeeding verses the odds that I was doing something incredibly stupid . . . and I went ahead anyways.” While my classmates look back and lament their Semisonic lyrics with shame (as well they SHOULD) I am proud to say I STILL live by that motto.


  27. Kali says:

    So, when Coleman Francis, playing the delivery man, says (thanks to Mike) “Sort this, sort that, I’ll make them all pay!” I guess he did – after all, the fans love MST’s trashing of the Francis oeuvre than many do This Island Earth.

    Now if we could only convince Universal to get the special edition Blu-Ray of the Movie. After all, it’s probably the only MST program that could conceivably work on Blu-Ray.

    Still, The Movie is not all bad, though the uncut version would have provided a lot of riffs. Take the cat (please!). He’s called Neutron, remember, “because he’s so positive,” says Ruth in the uncut version. Um, Ruth, I know you’re a skyintist and all, but neutrons are neutral. That’s why they’re called neutrons. POSITRONS are positive. The Brains would have had a field day.

    Actually, neither Ruth nor Cal come across as particularly effective scientists, although Cal isn’t quite as obtuse as the Brains play him.

    The movie itself is a missed opportunity. We don’t even get to meet the Zahgons – we aren’t even allowed to take sides. Maybe the Metalunans were monstrous killers (they did destroy the earth complex when the Monitor ordered Exeter home). The Zahgons may have wanted to destroy the evil socialists of Metaluna. Or free the Mew-Tants. Who knows? We’re not even allowed to ask the question.

    Maybe This Island Earth was justifiably riffed after all – but, dang, Universal, you own the rights to the movie. You should have let the Brains riff the whole thing. You would have gained thousands of new fans wondering why the special edition of This Island Earth with commentary still hasn’t been released…

    If Grammercy only had enough money (and faith) to release the Boob Fest instead of MST The Movie, you have to wonder about the thought processes of its executives. No, never mind, I really don’t want to know…


  28. Kali says:

    SERVO: “Okay, let’s see, Shatner, Shatner, looks like he’s not in this one – we’re safe!”

    “Captain’s Log. A bunch of our ship fell off and nobody likes me…”

    “Do you want me to talk any more like George Takei, Mike? As you wish, Captain, as you wish!” (yeah, I know, but the Trekkie in me loved that one…)

    When Steve (Russell Johnson) approaches:
    MIKE: “What’s this ‘And the Rest’ crap?”

    “Recognize me now, Ruth?”

    “I’m your pilot, Claude Rains, your co-pilot, Harvey the Rabbit.”

    “I’m not an alien!!”

    “The Secret Government Eggo Project.”

    CAL: “There’s three thousand four hundred eighty six parts in here.”
    CROW: [CRACK] Four eighty five, sir…”

    Oh, and guys, no “Dr. Ruth” gags? And you managed to the “Woody” joke in there? For shame, for shame… :-)


  29. Happenstance says:

    The running time of the movie is shorter than an episode even with the commercials cut out. That’s my only beef with it. (Well, that and the dragged-out weakness of the end seg.)

    “This Island Earth” is NOT a good movie. It pretends to be “deep” (and I suppose being even vaguely anti-war was dangerous back then) but it features a clumsy giant bug with unwieldy claws that wears buttoned slacks, and that’s the end of the discussion because I don’t want to imagine a dent-headed female being forced to dress (or change) him every morning.

    As is not uncommon for MST3K, a lot more of the riffs are reacting to events within the movie than commenting on the movie itself, and the riffs actually dinging the movie’s quality are all fully justified. So shut up, fanboys.

    I’d love to see the movie’s Deleted Scenes (hopefully they’re still on YouTube) in DVD quality someday. They are hilarious.


  30. Rich says:

    I missed Frank early and often. I’m sure a person new to the show wouldn’t notice or care. It might have been useful to attract new fans, but as others have said it seemed way too short, and on balance strikes me as a mediocre MST3k with an amazing budget.


  31. matt says:

    I love that because its the movie not “just a show” Gypsy informs Mike about the oxygen levels on the ship and the lamb roast in the oven. now we know how he eats and breathes!


  32. schippers says:

    You know, I just thought of a question that has long questioned me. Just as TIE begins and we’re still seeing the Universal globe spinning on its axis, Mike says, “Notice how big Japan is?” which the robots seem to find amusing.

    Can someone explain the joke there? Is it a reference to something? Or is Japan unrealistically large or small on the globe?


  33. Fred Burroughs says:

    BTW, speaking of knowing the German dialogue: when Servo speaks German he is saying ‘we want to rent a car,’ another line lifted from Fawlty Towers, probably the Germans episode. Unless I’m in wrong MST episode.

    About TIE, I know the film is chopped up, but I dont get the whole sub-plot about Ruth and Cal having a past. He seems sure, she demurely brushes him off, he keeps hammering her about it, she seems to accept it later. WHY! 1st: Did they really have a fling? 2nd: Why did Ruth pretend to not remember,did she know she was being monitored? 3rd: What difference does it make to the plot anyway, just a cheap way of providing a romance for the leading man, without showing any of it? IN the end , I find myself not caring (Ruth is cute though).

    And Exeter was great in “The Robe” as the tough centurion who tries to track down Richard Burton. I’m pretty sure it won Best Picture that year.


  34. TheDON3k says:

    Come in, Dr Meacham. Sit down. You’re being kidnapped by the Lite-FM

    Put me on intermittent, Joe


  35. schippers says:

    Fred Burroughs: The unedited cut of the movie makes SLIGHTLY MORE sense as to why Ruth is playing coy with Meacham. Yes, they really did have a fling. Now, my memory is a little hazy, but I seem to recall that she wanted to avoid seeming, uh, emotional around Meacham so as to make the aliens think she was either (1) one of them, since the edited print vastly plays down the fact that the aliens have been mind-scrubbing almost all of the scientists working at the compound, although I don’t understand how she could fool the aliens, since wouldn’t they have kept records of who they had mind scrubbed?; , or (2) make them think she was reliable or something? I dunno, I guess I don’t geddit after all.

    But to answer your main question, #3, it really doesn’t make much of a diff to the plot, that I can say for sure. They could just as well have never met, plot wise.

    And yes, Ruth is cute.


  36. Ian L. says:

    “Well, there you have it.” “A letter opener.”


  37. Jason says:

    Since the last cycle on this one, we finally got our features-laden DVD release, including the deleted scenes and the scrapped Dave Alvin and the Blasters rendition of the theme song.

    “My hash!”


  38. Thanks to the Blu-ray release, this is the first episode available in HD (and the only one until Season 11).


  39. EricJ says:

    You know, I just thought of a question that has long questioned me. Just as TIE begins and we’re still seeing the Universal globe spinning on its axis, Mike says, “Notice how big Japan is?” which the robots seem to find amusing.

    Can someone explain the joke there? Is it a reference to something? Or is Japan unrealistically large or small on the globe?

    We were just coming out of the late-80’s/early-90’s, back when we still thought Japan corporations were going to take over the world (and so did they). Probably before your time.


  40. Hey whatever happened to that “fan edit” that was gonna be done, taking the film, lopping off the end segment, and putting in the deleted scenes and theater segments?


  41. Jason says:

    I think a fan edit would make more sense if the deleted footage existed in something better than VHS quality. It’s clear by how they look on Shout!’s release that the film elements were lost.


  42. Sitting Duck says:

    Shout Factory having given the movie a proper release on DVD was a delight. As well as the excellent Ballyhoo features we’ve come to expect, we finally get to see the cut scenes. One that I approached with some trepidation was the alternate ending. The general descriptions I heard of it made it sound terrible. But as with the Charlie McCarthy hearings from Rocket Attack U.S.A. and the Orville Redenbacher sketch from Godzilla Vs. Megalon, my worries proved to be unfounded. I particularly liked the bit where Dr. F. details his path to becoming a mad scientist.


  43. Sampo says:

    EricJ: We were just coming out of the late-80’s/early-90’s, back when we still thought Japan corporations were going to take over the world (and so did they).Probably before your time.

    That, and Matsu****a did have a big stake in Universal from 1990 to around the time this movie was being made.


  44. Sampo says:

    Since the last cycle on this one, we finally got our features-laden DVD release, including the deleted scenes and the scrapped Dave Alvin and the Blasters rendition of the theme song.

    “My hash!”

    Well, jeez, shoulda mentioned that. I will now steal your comment wholesale. And you can’t stop me!!


  45. John Seavey says:

    My biggest issue with the movie was how it so massively interfered with the ongoing series. I recall them saying they had to use the same budget they had allotted for the regular show, resulting in some cannibalization; hence why the season we got only had six or so episodes. it’s a shame they could get better financial backers for the movie alone and leave their normal budget intact so we could get a better Misty-fix that year.

    Not sure where you heard that from, but it may have been garbled a bit in the repetitions–the episode order was set by Comedy Central, not by Best Brains. CC said they only wanted six episodes for the schedule, which everyone rightly took as writing on the wall that they weren’t that interested in the series anymore; a larger budget would have made those episodes look nicer, but it wouldn’t have resulted in more than six.


  46. schippers says:

    Oh I see EricJ thinks I’m much younger than I am. No sir, I have quite vivid memories of the time period in which the film was made – I just don’t think the joke lands. I don’t think Japan is inordinately large or small in the Universal globe.

    But maybe your eyes are too old to parse this response…


  47. majorjoe23 says:

    I’ve always assumed the Japan joke was because the globe was likely made in Japan (“That’s where all the best stuff is made!”) and they might have bulked up the Island’s size, because who could stop them?


  48. majorjoe23 says:

    PS, I interviewed Kevin Murphy yesterday and as a follow-up to “How often do people say ‘You should riff _____'” I pitched a re-riff of This Island Earth, using the uncut version and upping the riff quotient.

    He seemed intrigued by the ideas, but said rights could be an issue.


  49. Lisa H. says:

    Sitting Duck: Sitting Duck says:
    April 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Some of you may have heard of the Bechdel Test.

    Really? Do tell, Sitting Duck!
    (Kidding; I’ve enjoyed your brief Bechdel analyses in the years since that post.)

    I remember being actually mildly shocked to hear the word “s**t” come out of little Tommy’s mouth, since it contrasted so much with the show.

    “Puppet wranglers? There weren’t any puppets in this movie!”


  50. Thad says:

    Sampo: That, and Matsu****a did have a big stake in Universal from 1990 to around the time this movie was being made.

    I think this is a pretty good illustration of why swear filters really don’t work. (And by the way, the word it thinks it’s caught appears in the article, free of asterisks.)

    Unless that wasn’t done by a swear filter and you’re slyly expressing your opinion of Panasonic.

    On-topic: So I take it that the 25th anniversary DVD is a better choice to buy than the Blu-Ray?


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