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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: 407- The Killer Shrews (with short: ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’)

Short: (1949) Cowpoke and old-timer Billy Slater straightens out some wayward kids by making them put on a small-time rodeo.
Movie: (1959) A hunky skipper makes a delivery to a small island, and learns that the inhabitants include heavy-drinking scientists who are conducting genetic experiments.

First shown: 7/25/92
Opening: Joel gives out presents to the bots
Invention exchange: The Mads prepare to destroy Earth, but are stopped by Jim Henson’s Edgar Winter Babies
Host segment 1: Joel vapor-locks while trying to do Will Rogers
Host segment 2: While presenting the Killer Shrews board game, the bots snap
Host segment 3: J&TB concoct the Killer Shrew drink
End: The shrewbots attack scientist Joel, letter, Frank isn’t feeling good
Stinger: Festus swipes Roscoe’s drink.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (227 votes, average: 4.26 out of 5)


• This is one of those episodes where the movie is SO stupid and the print is SO bad that it takes a lot of really good riffing to overcome it — and that, for the most part, is what you get. You can tell the writing team struggled with the movie’s tediousness -– it comes out in one segment -– but overall I think they did a pretty good job. The host segments are lots of fun too. I’m not sure I’d recommend this one for a newbie, because the movie’s just so hard to see and hear, but the episode is plenty funny.
• This episode is featured on Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 7” and became notorious after fans noticed that the movie had been cut a little bit and that there were some mastering issues, causing Rhino to send corrected disks to any who complain.
• People always talk about the way Joel was a “dad” to the bots in a way that Mike never tried to be. The opening sketch is pretty much a pristine example of that dynamic. Who hasn’t been in poor Crow’s place at one time or another?
• This ep has another use of the “aaaaaaahh!” farewell by the mads, first used (I think) in episode 321- SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
• Servo is still wearing his hat in the theater during the short, but it’s gone by the time the movie starts.
• The whole “Jim Henson’s [fill in the blank] babies” concept, which was clearly a phrase being batted around the BBI writing room for past several weeks, reaches its peak with this episode: it was used three times, including the invention exchange.
• The riffs get very dark during the short — a taste of the way it’s going to be in plenty of shorts to come.
• Crow DID get some use out of those slacks: He is wearing them in segment 1.
• Segment 1 is an corollary to the “sabotaged sketch” — the “Joel vapor locks” sketch. Mike had a tendency to vapor-lock too.
• You have to be a certain age to get the “He’s the guy who taught LBJ how to hold dogs” riff. For those too young, President Johnson loved his beagles, but caused a kerfuffle among animal lovers when he was photographed lifting them by the ears. He insisted there was nothing wrong with doing so, but dog lovers howled.
• Some entirely understandable tears are shed by the bots during segment 2, as the bots seem to express the feelings of writers about the dull, actionless movie.
• Has anybody noticed that this movie has, in a general sort of way, the same plot as “Jurassic Park”?
• Two “Dune” references in this one: “It’s the Gom Jabbar” and “Tell me about your home world, Usul.”
• Segment two is a great example of what movie sign can be good for — giving the sketch an ending it otherwise doesn’t have.
• Joel and the Bots decide Hispanic Mario is Manuel from “Fawlty Towers.” It allows them to do foreigner jokes that they otherwise probably couldn’t get away with.
• I remember after this episode aired that a few people actually tried to follow the recipe for a killer shrew. Anybody ever taste one? If they did, they’re probably in a diabetic coma. This sketch also has a nice little visit to Deep 13, something that doesn’t happen that often in mid-movie.
• The sound is so bad in this movie that there are about a dozen riffs where they are essentially asking what the hell some character just said. Way more than usual.
• The killer shrew costumes, far from “not cutting it,” are a riot.
• Joel says “we will be-ack” and “MST3 viewers.” They keep going.
• Ipecacs reappear; they first reared their ugly head in episode 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN.
• Cast and crew roundup: The person to blame for this movie is Gordon McClendon, a Houston radio tycoon went through phase where he fancied himself a movie producer. The result was “Giant Gila Monster” and this. He also fancied himself an actor: he plays the Steve Allen-like scientist in this one and was the narrator in GGM. Both movies were made by many of the same crew members, including: co-producer Ken Curtis (yes, Festus of “Gunsmoke” fame), director Ray “knees up” Kellogg, screenplay/story guy Jay Simms, cinematographer Wilfred Cline, editor Aaron Stell (who also worked on “Beginning of the End”), makeup lady Corrine Daniel, production manger Ben Chapman (who was a stuntman in “The Mole People”), art director Louis Caldwell, set designer Louise Caldwell (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man”), sound guy Earl Snyder (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “The Crawling Hand”) and sound effects guy Milton Citron.
• CreditsWatch: Additional contributing writer: Steve Hollenhorst. Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “And the crowd goes wild — yay.” Honorable mention: “Oh no. This is wrong. I signed up for debaaaaate…”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Imagine in how much detail, senor?” Honorable mentions: “I’ve been going through the script and I think I’m in this scene.” “The…end…”

112 Replies to “Episode Guide: 407- The Killer Shrews (with short: ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’)”

  1. dsman71 says:

    Another fun episode..yes I remember Volume 7 as another Rhino mess up and had to wait to get replacements.
    Good solid episode in my opinion. Loved the short, the film, which now you can get a great print of it as well as a colorized version from Legend films – its a double feature with the Giant Gila Monster – another MST3K episode.
    I own it. I like crappy movies
    Oh well
    Joels Hair
    Joels Knees
    Legend Films for films not really all that legendary
    Therapy with a Killer Shrew


  2. Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    #50: I forgot about that scene! The DVD I rented didn’t have it! “Whoa! Bad idea!”

    More from Junior Rodeo:

    Crow: Jim Henson’s Last Picture Show Babies!
    [locals look at poster] Crow: You call that art!?
    Crow: You know, some scars don’t heal…Well! Up is another young feller…
    Crow: Even George S. Kaufman won an award!


  3. Captn Ross Hagen says:

    The Killer Shrew drink always kills me. Joels feet in the air after he tastes the drink, and Franks out of control ( I want to dance with somebody ) in Foresters face with his hands is pure gold. When I watch this I play it over and over and it always makes me laugh.


  4. Cubby says:

    Sampo, I think we’re both right.

    Regarding the experiment, I think “Jim Henson’s Last Picture Show Babies” is about as perfect as can be. It was noted on another thread how eerily similar in front of the theater is to a shot in that movie. But I wonder if this had been the only Jim Henson’s _____ Babies reference, if it would just seem like a non sequitur.

    I’ll admit this experiment has never been a favorite of mine (despite loving Kellogg’s other film). I find myself staring at those greasy, ugly walls throughout.


  5. JBagels says:

    Mmmhmmmm that’s good killer shrew. Pretty great episode but a little hard to watch at times. They really seemed to be tiring of the whole invention exchange thing at this point. I’m surprised they kept it going through the rest of the Joel era and part of the Mike era.


  6. Dan in WI says:

    Cubby #54> Yeah, what is the deal with greasy ugly walls seen in so many films of this era? This film is a great example but it really seems to be quite common!

    And what about scarecrow’s brain?


  7. Insect Man #47 says:

    When I think of this ep (and I do often), two things come to mind – The hilarious short, and one line – “Fart and get some sleep”. I really love this episode!


  8. Cubby says:

    Dan, the only thing I can think is that they are really cheap stage flats that got dirty and the producers said, “Aw, what the heck.”

    Maybe they make more sense in color?


  9. Neptune Man says:

    I was more amused by the short than by the movie. For some reason I couldn’t concetrate on the riffing. Also, I don’t know why they considered the scene where the black guy was chased by the shrews as “racist”, I’m not American so maybe I missed something.


  10. Thomas K. Dye says:

    I happened to watch this the other day (by coincidence)… and man… the Junior Rodeo would inspire so many lawsuits these days. I look at the things that make J&tB go “OW!” and my reaction is the same. What were they trying to do, kill their kids? This is so ridiculously dangerous and irresponsible I can’t even imagine parents of the FIFTIES approving it.

    “Killer Shrews”… it’s too hard to get through, the sound is so bad and the visuals are so dark and ugly. I’d get more laughs out of the disguised dogs if I could only see them better. As it is, it’s a movie filled with adults from the “Peanuts” cartoons, and as such I just have to turn it off for a while.


  11. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I gave this episode 4-stars, and after reading many of these comments, I’m not sure why. Junior Rodeo Daredevils (smothered in sauce, Texas-style!) has some truly inspired riffing, but I realized that I don’t usually watch the movie. The disc gets a lot of use, but mainly for the bonus shorts, especially Assignment: Venezuela! “Bag-o in car-o!”


  12. The Grim Spectre of Food says:

    What’s weird about this movie, as bad as it is, is that it’s one of the few sci-fi films that has a basic understanding about how genetic engineering works. The shrews aren’t turned into giant mutants via an injection or radiation exposure, as would happen in so many other killer-critter movies of the era. They are the latest generation in a long-running breeding program controlling for size. Add to that the clear ecological collapse with the food supply running out, and it’s apparent that one of the writers for this movie was paying attention in science class.

    Also, the deadly venom of the shrew has a real-world basis. Shrews are venomous, but it was a source of controversy at the time whether they made their own venom or sequestered it from the food they ate. Hence these shrews are venomous due to baits left out for them.

    On a conceptual level, I really like this film. In practice… not so much.

    And frankly, I’d compare it more to Night of the Living Dead than Jurassic Park. Siege situation, bickering survivors, one-scratch-and-you’re-dead monsters.


  13. Twiggins says:

    A little trivia about the movie, Baruch Lumet who played Dr. Marlowe Cragis, was a well-established Yiddish actor. He was also the father of director, producer and screenwriter Sidney Lumet, which was a gift to the world.

    I first saw this movie with my brothers at the Old Spanish Trail Theatre in Houston TX when it was first released. I can assure you, for the times, it was very effective as it scared the crap out of all of us.


  14. Matt D says:

    The pants of Crow make another appearance in The Dead Talk Back as Mike folds them while they all wait for Crow-y Garcia to finish his guitar solo.

    I’m with many others in that I love the short (in the top 5 of all MST shorts that I have seen for sure), but I just can’t get through the movie. As #34 Jessie says, this is a good episode to fall asleep to (but only after the short). And yes, I love the Rhino collection mostly for Assignment: Venezuela.


  15. Fred Burroughs says:

    I am amazed how many times “Ol’ timer Billy Slater” gets a mention in later episodes. Seems to go all the way through season 10, but I ain’t sure. I am also amazed at all the ‘social’ drinking as a cheap way to provide blocking/pad the plot. Which leads to one of my favorite riffs of all MST, “…the shrews are just trying to do an intervention!” Seriously, if they were really drinking in every scene, they would all be sprawled on the floor by midnight, giant shrews snacking on their torsos.


  16. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I don’t claim to be a James Best fanatic or aything, but #23 got me thinking, and I remember really liking James Best in Hooper, the Burt Reynolds stuntman movie from the late 70s. And if you want to see Mr. Best at his worst, watch him and his gang of thugs shove William Devane’s hand down a garbage disposal in Rolling Thunder. Great movie, if more than a bit dark.


  17. Mitchell Rowsdower Beardsley says:

    This IS a perfect episode for a newbie. So much so that when they issued replacement disks, I told friends and family what to write in their emails so they could get a free disk! Win win.


  18. EricJ says:

    @37 – “He rides that horse like he’s glued to the saddle”.
    Crow: “I a-a-m-m-m!” First time my wife and I saw that bit we had to stop the tape because we had a five minute laughing fit. That one line was like an unexpected punch to the funny bone and really caught us off guard.

    Similar fit-reaction for me, but for some reason, it was the shot where Wilford Brimley throws his hat to start the race, and Crow adds “….Mammy!”
    Completely out of nowhere, but the timing just got me. :D

    (And does anyone actually DO see something subliminal in this here rodeo poster?)


  19. Luther Strickland says:

    James Best’s best role … as the “red hot” guitar player in 2-3 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. Sadly, the recollection of his character’s name is as missing as all the teeth on the right side of Ol’ Timer Billy Slater’s mouth. Ken Curtis playing a cowardly drunk is actually a fairly watchable performance, maybe because his relatively sophisticated character is in such stark contrast to the Festus character of Gunsmoke fame. “The shoes are at the bar.” Makes me laugh every time.


  20. Turkey Volume Guessing Man says:

    So what exactly can’t automatic pilot play Dixieland jazz on like the guy can?


  21. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    Not to quibble, but actually, Best’s best was the Twilight Zone ep where he wakes up during his own funeral.


  22. I hate to muddy the waters further, but re: “and the crowd goes wild” —

    I’ve seen this on the Rocky and Bullwinkle DVDs, done in the exact style that J&TB used. It sounds like the Jay Ward folks used the gag again later on George of the Jungle.


  23. dale says:

    I was wondering why my vol. 7 came with an extra disc.


  24. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Another classic episode, this one was in heavy rotation for me back in the day, mainly due to the hilarious short, which is one of my faves. This one benefits from a strong start; the opening is brilliant, the gag of Crow getting gifted dress slacks. . .genius. My friends and I still joke about dress slacks to this very day. I love how the awesomeness of Servo’s gift juxtaposes perfectly with the banality of Crow’s; you can’t help but empathize with the little gold guy.

    The strength of the opening continues with the Invention Exchange. The Mads seem to be doing an Omega Man thing, but Joel whips out the Jim Henson’s Edgar Winter Babies, which causes Dr. F to “call this one a draw.” The absurdness of all this really wins me over..

    Also, I really like all three Host Segments in this one, especially #2, which features a brilliant and complete breakdown by Crow, who just nails all the frustration that the viewers (and the writers too, I’m sure) are feeling by that point in the movie. Love it.


    -Junior Rodeo Daredevils
    Joel: “Smothered in gravy, Texas style!”

    Crow: “Jim Henson’s Misfit Babies.”

    movie: “Hey, that’s an idea.”
    Servo: “Not a very good one, but AN idea.” —-I quote this line all the time, always gets a laugh.

    Crow: “Jim Henson’s Last Picture Show Babies.”

    I don’t care where it comes from, what it’s a reference to, but I LOVE (and quote often) the
    Joel: “And the crowd goes wild.”
    The Bots (unenthusiastically): “Yaaaay.”
    -They say this riff 5 times total throughout the short-

    Crow: “Why can’t Johnny ride?”
    Servo/Joel do a jazz, cymbal beat

    Joel: “Fortunately Billy didn’t need his spine.” –all the spine jokes throughout the years crack me up!

    Joel (as a bull): “Take the rope off my groin!”

    Crow: “Now, it’s garbage.” —- Okay, I say this a lot, but this is so true, I QUOTE THIS ALL THE TIME! Anytime somebody drops something, or ruins something, I quote this, and it never fails to make ME smile. :-))

    The KILLER Shrews (just go with us on this)

    Joel: “He must be scouting locations for Dukes of Hazzard.”
    Crow: “Boss Hog will love this place!”

    in Host Segment #1, during his freak out, Joel says: “Baseball been berry berry good to me,” which Crow replies, “Now he’s Garret Morris.” It’s funny, I always associated that line with Sammy Sosa, and upon looking it up, I guess Sammy was quoting Morris when he said that (which would’ve been some years after this episode originally aired). Still, funny quote though.

    my fave of all the misunderstood lines from the movie,
    Joel: “Fleshy man’s drink?”

    Joel does a joint inhalation noise during the smoking scene.

    -lights go off,
    Crow: “Oh no! They got wire cutters!”

    Joel: “I don’t know everything. I don’t even know how fish work.” —-This one had me laughing out loud!

    Joel: “Honey. I think we got puppets down here.”
    Crow “Hand puppets?”
    Joel: “Yeah. They’re under the stairs so I don’t think they’re marionettes.”

    Crow: “Weasels rip my flesh!”
    Joel: “Rizzzzzzzzz”

    Joel: “Tonight: ALL Dogs go to Hell!”

    -comment on leading lady,
    Joel: “She is whisper thin.”


    Crow: “Hi-Keeba!”
    Joel: “Snag on him! Snickersnag on him!”

    during Host Segment #3, after Frank does his kooky and uncomfortable dancing,
    Dr. F: “New rule, Frank. Don’t ever touch me.”

    Overall, a stellar episode, another Season 4 classic,

    5 out of 5 Shrews agree

    5 STARS!


  25. Warren says:

    I watched this a few weeks ago and it’s still just average. There’s some good riffing but my attention wanders easily. The short holds up better than the movie. “It’s the Kids in the Stall!”
    #59-I think that’s a reference to Southern slave-hunters (before the 13th amendment in 1865) using dogs to hunt down escaped slaves, if the slave was surrounded by dogs then going up a tree might be the only option. It is sad that such things actually happened.


  26. lancecorbain says:

    74-I think that the unenthuesiatic (sp?) yays might have been a reference to Monty Python’s Holy Grail, wherein Robin and his Minstrels are found, and then eaten. The line there was “And there was much rejoicing.”. “And the crowd goes wild.” was probably from any random sports event from the 70’s or 80’s, but Joel’s reading of it maybe suggests some specific broadcast? I dunno.

    I unabashedly love this movie. It’s so silly, but trying to be serious every step of the way without ever giving in. James Best has been a favorite actor of mine ever since I saw him do anything outside of Dukes Of Hazzard, so this movie, MST version or not, is always a treat. And bad print or not, I still can’t tell what the boat captain says at the beginning-Blah blah blah can’t play Dixieland Jazz like I can. Any linguists on here to explain this one?

    As far as the episode goes, a ca-lassic, as Dale from King Of The Hill would say. I grew up in rural Kansas in the mid-to-late 70’s, and rodeo was still(and still is!) very, very big, and so the short is always like going home. Of course, I was a “town-dwellin book reader”, but I knew those people, and many of them were nice folks. My mother was a rural mail route driver, and many of the farmers would leave her cookies or homemade candy at Christmastime, and I definitely miss that. I’ve never ate any dessert or candy factory-made that could compare with those cookies or popcorn balls.

    As for the movie-well, they were pointing out the very real problem of overpopulation, and presenting it in a dumbed-down version so everybody could understand, but failed horribly in dressing dogs up in bathroom mats as Killer Shrews. A little bit of puppetry or (dare


  27. lancecorbain says:

    I say it) CGI might’ve helped. Wow, is this like twitter now, where long posts get split in two? How do the other guys get away with it? Anyhoo, the jokes were good, host segments were good, overall a great episode. I gotta get off before this becomes post number 3.


  28. lancecorbain says:

    Cabbage Patch Elvis-Nice to see another Best fan. I definitely know the Twilight Zone episode, and probably watched the made-for-TV movies, but wow, so long ago. Thank god for IMDB.


  29. lancecorbain says:

    Crap, that was Bob and Ray. Sorry everybody!


  30. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Killer Shrews is killer funny! The board game sketch based on the movie is reason enough to watch this episode, but the other sketches related to the film like the killer shrew drink sketch and the ‘Bots in killer shrew costumes are equally hilarious. The movie is dull with lots of standing around and drinking, the “synchronized drinking” riff during one scene stands out in my mind. The murkiness of the sound and picture during the movie is turned to good comedic effect and generates some great jokes. The great “just go with us on this one” comment right at the beginning of the movie during the opening narration sets the tone for the whole experience. And the riffs during the 1940s era Junior Rodeo short complete with references to The Ox-Bow Incident are terrific warm-up before the movie. This episode is a “classic” example of MST3K at its best.


  31. Tom Carberry says:

    Shot in and around the Lake Dallas, Texas area, Gordon McLendon’s The Killer Shrews is the second in a package of films created to fill the need for his chain of drive-in movie theaters. While we didn’t get to see Gordon’s acting talent in The Giant Gila Monster (just his wife, Gay, playing Don Sullivan’s mother), he has a nifty little part in this film. He plays Dr. Radford Baines and watching his performance, I’m reminded of the old line “don’t quit your day job”.

    Junior Rodeo Daredevils (1949) favorite lines:

    “…and it never would ‘ve happened without that old timer, Billy Slater.” Yeah, he’s doing a nickel [5 years] at Attica.
    [kid puts his hand in a coffee can] It’s the Gom Jabbar. [Note: The gom jabbar is a fictional weapon from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. It is a poison needle tipped with “meta-cyanide” that is used by Bene Gesserit Proctors in their death-alternative test of human awareness. This “humanity test” is carried out with a box that produces pain by “nerve induction”, causing intense and severe pain without inflicting any physical damage.]
    Rodeo is wasted on the young.
    Ah, when you come right down to it, this old rodeo is just another excuse to crawl inside a whiskey bottle.
    I think rodeos are the opiates of the masses.
    “And then it came prize giving time.” First prize, bronze cow chips.
    “…and nobody is happier than old timer, Billy slater.” It’s sad really.

    Killer Shrews favorite lines:

    [title: The Killer Shrews] Starring Joan Collins and Jackie Collins.
    [of James Best] Oh, he must be scouting locations for Dukes of Hazzard. Boss Hogg will love this place.
    [of Baruch Lumet, Sidney Lumet’s father] This guy makes Al Lewis look handsome. [Note: Al Lewis is best remembered as playing Grandpa Munster.]
    [Ingrid Goude shrieks] Honey, switch to decaf.
    Now, Miss Kitty…
    “Time for dinner.” We’re having tobacco salad with a light gin dressing.
    This is another one of those scenes that’s so offensive on so many levels.
    (Buzzer sound) Pick another category please, it’s still your turn.
    Everyone, quick light your martinis.
    Tell me about your home world, Usul.
    Booze, glorious booze. Yes, say yes, to Martini & Rossi.
    Booze is for healing. Synchronized drinking.
    “…extremely high poison content in the shrew’s saliva.” But it’s smooth over nice.
    Just for that you can’t drink for an hour.
    Enjoy in moderation my ass.
    Ok, I think this movie just broke the goofy meter.

    Final Note: This is another example of why I think Season 4 was their best work.


  32. Rich says:

    Okay- I checked my disk and it has the intro with the narrator describing the shrew as “the wildest and most vicious of all animals”. So my disk is complete? If that’s the case, can I email Rhino and ask for a copy of the broken one? Because Rhino should have anticipated that were they to offer a complete episode to supplement the broken one people like me with complete ones would want a broken one for sake of completeness.


  33. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Regarding the forlorn manner in which Crow says, “Thanks for the pants.” in the gifts for the robots sketch, that has become a catch-phrase around my house for humorously expressing disappointment, real or feigned. What a terrific sketch.


  34. NHCrypto says:

    Anyone else out there aware that they are making a sequel called “Return of the Killer Shrews”? James Best is back as the same character along with John Schneider and Bruce Davison. Check out the website here.


  35. Matthew Shine says:

    I hope they use the same shrew costumes and get Samuel L. Jackson to play Rook.


  36. Andrew says:

    Two other interesting Gordon McLendon facts:

    1) He ran The Liberty Network, which daily broadcast major league baseball games on the radio across the country, in the 1950s. McLendon was, in factm behind the microphone doing play-by-play of the New York Giants/Brooklyn Dodgers playoff game in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit his “shot heard ’round the world” home run. Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges made the famous “The Giants win the pennant!” call (referenced in ep 604: ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE), but he was a local guy. More Americans heard McLendon’s call of that moment than Hodges’. He’s the last of the three announcers on this clip:

    2) McLendon also owned radio stations in Texas in the 1950s and 1960s. On the afternoon of November 22, 1963 he was at the Dallas Trade Mart ready to cover President Kennedy’s luncheon address for KLIF in Dallas when he received word of the motorcade shooting. McLendon quickly returned to the KLIF studios and was anchoring their live coverage when JFK’s death was announced. There’s a whole bunch of audio of KLIF from that day at this site:

    Two of the more dramatic, unexpected live moments in broadcasting history, and McLendon happened to be on the air for both.


  37. Cheapskate Crow says:

    5 stars all the way. this episode was in my heavy rotation back in the day. Any kid who got socks for Christmas can sympathize with Crow’s predicament and my yahoo name to this very day comes from the gift giving opening. I too always thought the “and the crowd goes wild” bit was from Monty Python. Sampo, do you have inside information telling you it was definitely from GOTJ?


  38. Sitting Duck says:

    Page 272 of The Moose That Roared by Kieth Scott (which chronicles Jay Ward Productions) specifically mentions the “And the crowd gopes wild!” being used in Tom Slick.


  39. NoOneOfConsequence says:

    Okay, why have Episode Guide entries suddenly stopped showing up in my RSS feed? Every other article on the site still does. Sampo, did you change something in the last month or so that might cause this, by chance?


  40. Mrs. Dick Courrier says:

    Not one of my fave movies, but one of my fave shorts

    And the crowd goes wild…yaay

    Funny how Ray Kellog enjoys using beauty queens. First Ingrid Goude, Miss Sweeden. And Lisa Simone, Miss France. And in the Green Berets Irene Tsu was a beauty contest winner, can’t remember which one without looking it up.

    And everybody mentions James Best Dukes role. But I’ll never forget that episode of the Twilight Zone where he wakes up at his own funeral. Certain episodes of this show stick in my head, and this is one of them.


  41. Stressfactor says:

    I wish the sound wasn’t so muddy on this because the movie itself has that kind of quality that I actually like; where on the one hand it’s just bad — trite script, predictable plot, and ridiculous monster (I mean shrews?! Yeah, I’ve heard they can be annoying little pests but… they’re essentially small, cute, fuzzy things. It would be like trying to make chipmunks scary…. DON’T get any ideas!) — but on the other hand there’s a kind of low budget filmmaking to this that I actually admire a little bit.

    It’s one of the reasons why I don’t think bad CGI can compare to bad practical effects. A bad CGI monster is just a bad CGI monster. It takes a kind of level of drunken ‘what the heckery’ to decide that the best way to depict giant killer shrews is to fasten bits of shag carpeting to dogs. There’s just an insane ingenuity to that solution where, even though it doesn’t work (not in the slightest) I have to toast them for giving it the old ‘college try’.

    The riffing on this, just as with “Teenagers from Outer Space” is just icing on the cake as the movie itself is hilarious. Heck, it always has me giggling right from the very title — Giant. Killer. Shrews.


  42. Tom Carberry says:

    “And the crowd goes wild!” “Yeah!”
    I remember this being a continuing theme in an old program from the early 60’s called…wait for it…Fractured Flickers. But that could have been a line they took from something earlier (and popular at the time–a program in the 50’s).

    Just a thought.


  43. dad1153 says:

    ^^^ It could also be narration from a ‘March of Time’-type newsreel. You know, they show a baseball slugger/golfer/football player hitting a homerun/sinking a Birdie/throwing the touchdown that sends the team to the championship game/wins the tournament. The voice-over announcer says ‘and the crowd goes crazy’ followed by audio of the people on the stands/galleries clapping enthusiastically (like the one’s we see in the short with the kids/parents clapping). The beauty of the Brains’ humorous twist is in making the ‘Yay!’ as dull and unenthusiastic as those people must have felt at the time on the inside, but outwardly they have to show enthusiasm because they’re on camera. It’s one of my favorite running gags in the entire history of the show, one that never fails to make me laugh no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

    I confess that I’ve mostly seen the bonus shorts on the Rhino DVD (have both the original/flawed and fixed Rhino discs on the same case) and rarely watch the experiment itself. Now, with “Giant Gila Monster” fresh in my mind and the excuse of the site’s recaps, I actually enjoyed “Killer Shrews” more this last time I saw it than in any previous viewing. This despite that deathly-boring middle portion in which (a) nothing happens, (b) characters just stand around drinking/talking and (c) we get a REALLY good look at just how dingy and filthy the walls of the movie sets look (and this with a low-quality B&W print). The ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’ short has a crazy momentum/life of its own outside the experiment (on YouTube and numerous VHS/DVD releases). The way kids are tossed off the animals looks more and more hurtful and dangerous as the short progresses (good for us!), to the point J&TB’s stop making fun of them and just show concern for the kids. The jabs at ol’ timer Billy Slater are hilarious and wouldn’t stop for pretty much the remainder of the show (though they died down during the Sci-Fi era). The ‘Last Picture Show’ riff is so perfect you’d think everyone at Best Brains is a cinephile. The ‘and the crowd goes wild/crazy’ remark followed by an unenthusiastic ‘Yay!’ response became part of my everyday vernacular because of this short (the same way Joel’s ‘now that’s funny’ boss-like remark in “Attack of the Giant Leeches” became a regular catchphrase).

    You know you’re watching a bad movie when James freakin’ Best (for whom the Brains show no restrain whatsoever in piling on “Dukes of Hazzard” jokes) gives the best performance by far, but the actual escape plan he comes up in the end isn’t a bad one considering one scratch by the shrews and you’re history. It’s just all the standing around drinking, talking and (literally) killing time that makes “Killer Shrews” a tough slog. Good host segments (love the jingle J&TB’s come up with, and that board game schtick would be perfected in Season 6’s “Bloodlust” but the one for “KS” is pretty nifty and accurate) and decent constant riffing (‘two people per scene, please’) but the movie is the type of self-inflicted festering cinematic wound that will separate the MisTie men from the boys (figuratively speaking of course! :silly: ).

    So, THREE-AND-A-HALF STARS (out of five) for “The Killer Shrews.” If it didn’t have the ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’ short up front it would drop down to a three-star rating. FAVORITE RIFF: ‘does anyone know the plot yet?’ :struggle:


  44. No One Can Defeat The Quad Laser says:

    Killer Shrews is a movie that (for me) gets better with repeated viewings. This time around, I picked up on Tom’s cries of, “You’re going to die from shrew bites! Shrew bites! Shrew bites!” as Festus and Sea Captain Roscoe P. Coltrane hoofed it down to the dock. For some reason that chant really resonated with me. Now I find myself saying that softly to my cats as I go about my day.


  45. The Grim Spectre of Food says:

    #68: I’ve seen “Junior Rodeo Daredevils” a lot, and I can’t quite figure out the subliminal either. Maybe the cowboy hat is supposed to look like a condom?

    #92: Fractured Flickers was a Jay Ward production, so that’d fit with the Rocky and Bullwinkle/Tom Slick origin proposed elsewhere in this thread.


  46. Richard Ellis says:

    I’m just curious. Why wasn’t the title screen capture of ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’ included on this review (as you have done with the other shorts for the past year or so).


  47. Green Switch says:

    I’ll admit, I had trouble getting into this one the first time around. If you stick with it, it improves on later viewings. The short’s a breeze, but the feature can be tough.

    Now I enjoy it, and not just because of Ken ‘Festus’ Curtis being in it. Joel’s Dixieland Jazz riffs were fun as well as the bots getting annoyed with him.


  48. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Even though I can barely understand any of the dialogue in the movie, for some reason I like this one.
    I noticed while Joel is giving Crow his new pants, he seems to be on the verge of laughing. I wonder how many takes that took?
    Any thoughts on adding the ‘Assignment:Venezuela’ short to this one, since it comes on the DVD?

    Thomas K. Dye: the Junior Rodeo would inspire so many lawsuits these days. I look at the things that make J&tB go “OW!” and my reaction is the same. What were they trying to do, kill their kids? This is so ridiculously dangerous and irresponsible I can’t even imagine parents of the FIFTIES approving it.

    And yet they still go on today. There’s even a national Junior Rodeo association. Rodeo’s pretty big business in some parts of the country, the community college in my town even has a Rodeo program (I laughed at that at first, but those people really take it seriously).


  49. maclen says:

    The movie is just so-so for me. The short is a favorite of mine. What always stands out for me during the short is when the kid takes a sudden and mangled jerk off the calf and the girl then falls right on top of her head, both are telegraphed by Tom.


  50. Sitting Duck says:

    The Killer Shrews fails the Bechdel Test. Ann is the only female character.

    Wonder if those slacks came out of the Wish Squisher.

    Like post #62, I suspect that this is an alcohol-soaked rough draft of Night of the Living Dead?

    He insisted there was nothing wrong with doing so, but dog lovers howled.

    For that, you must die.

    Favorite riffs

    Rodeo’s wasted on the young.

    You know, the ironic thing is Sam’s a vegetarian. But there’s nothing exciting about roping an okra patty.

    “This angus bull is no hobby horse.”
    Now it’s garbage.

    Next week, Geriatric Rodeo.

    “I’m not trying to rush you, but…”

    Hi there, I’m Kurt Gowdy. We’re hunting with George Kirby for big Texas shrew, and it’s really not going that well.

    We’re having tobacco salad, with a light gin dressing.

    I think I just heard Griswald explode.

    “Light all the candles you can find.”
    And curse the darkness.

    Did you just say Frau Blucher?

    I’ve gone through the script, and I think I’m in this scene.

    “you know what I’ve been thinking about, Mario?”
    Socks. I don’t know why.

    It’s the Booze Brothers to the rescue.

    Tonight, All Dogs Go to Hell.

    You know, the big twist in this movie is that the shrews are good and they’re just trying to do an intervention on the humans.

    How deadly is that doggie in the window?

    If I die, it’d be a boon to the movie.

    Bad news, folks. I left the keys on the bar.


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