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Episode guide: 908- The Touch of Satan

Movie: (1971) An aimless young man encounters a rural family that seems to have some secrets.

First shown: 7/11/98
Opening: The bots seek wassail from Mike
Intro: Mike finds a wassail loophole; Steffi the babysitter is left in charge
Host segment 1: Mike learns that walnut ranching is hard work
Host segment 2: Crow tries a test to see if he’s a witch
Host segment 3: Grandma Servo attacks
End: Crow sells his soul to Stan; storytime with Steffi
Stinger: “This is where the fish lives.”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (253 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)


• This is a pretty unremarkable and meandering movie, and it’s one of those episode that I remembered as being kind of dreary and not terribly funny, but on rewatching it I found myself laughing quite a bit. The segments are mostly the usual random silliness, but of course they are livened by the appearance of the totally awesome (and deadly) Beez.
• Paul, who at this time was doing a lot of the writeups, offers his thoughts.
• This ep was included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 5
• The movie is directed by a guy named Don Henderson. The director and star of the movie “Billy Jack,” Tom Laughlin, occasionally used the pseudonym Don Henderson. Because that, a number of MSTies, including our own Daddy-O, became convinced that Laughlin was the director of this. I was never convinced, and more than a little uneasy about his claims, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Laughlin passed away a couple of weeks ago and I scoured the obituaries about him and found zero evidence to back up this belief. We have removed any reference to it in the page for this episode in Daddy-O’s Drive-in Dirt and we apologize that the falsehood appeared on our site for so long.
• On the Rhino DVD, Mike does a little introduction and calls it “A Touch of Satan,” and makes a little riff on that. But it’s THE Touch of Satan. Kinda ruins the joke.
• Beez’s stint as Steffi the babysitter had a huge reaction from fans, especially young male ones. There was much hopeful conversation about whether she would be a permanent cast member.
• You sometimes wonder what sparks a segment. How did “wassail” come up?
• In segment 2, Mike climbs a ladder and we can see that he is wearing some pretty fruity sandals, if you ask me.
• Several shots of flowery meadows sparks an attack of Tom’s hay fever. Kind of reminds me of when Josh sneezed in the theater back in season one.
• Callbacks: “Stay!” (The Undead) and “You been hittin’ the BOOZE again!” (Giant Spider Invasion).
• In segment 3, Mike, who last week was reading “Bleak House,” is this week reading Henry Kissinger’s “Years of Upheaval.” Where is he getting these books?
• That’s Paul as the voice of Stan Johnson.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects guy Steve Karkus also worked on “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” Makeup guy Joe Blasco also worked on “Parts: The Clonus Horror,” and did special effects for “Track of the Moon Beast.” In front of the camera, Robert Easton was also in “The Giant Spider Invasion” and did voices for “Invaders from the Deep.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. This was Dan Breyer’s and Scott Bowman’s last episode as interns, and Nick Prueher’s first.
• Fave riff: “Get off the road, mangoat!” Honorable mention: “I sure hope he said peanuts.”

164 comments to Episode guide: 908- The Touch of Satan

  • 151
    Wetzelcoatl says:

    I really love this episode. The movie is pretty standard stuff, but the horrible dialog leads to some great riffing, and this has probably my favorite opening credits scene riffs which were sometimes problematic for the writers.


  • 152

    I pretty much agree with what I said about The Touch of Satan last time around 3+ years ago up at post #97. My feelings haven’t changed.

    @ ghlbtsk #143: Well, I was gonna mention it, but you beat me to it. So let me expound: As said, the director of photography for the Touch of Satan is Jordan Cronenweth and he would go on to do an incredible job with Blade Runner. He also shot Stop Making Sense (one of the greatest concert films ever), Altered States, Rolling Thunder, and his first feature film (pre-Touch of Satan even!) was Robert Altman’s follow-up to M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, which is a very odd film that bombed big when released in 1970 (for the record, I dig it) and might account for why Cronenweth spent the rest of the 70s in the B-movie market..

    Also, his son Jeff Cronenweth is a cinematographer, shooting Fight Club, One Hour Photo, and The Social Network, amongst others.

    But enough about that,

    Here’s some

    Mike: “Robert the cat.”

    in regards to the title possibilities of The Touch of Satan,
    Crow: “I think it’s Tony Musante as a kind of hip Satan who solves crimes.” —I took note of this as Musante passed away just a few weeks ago.

    Servo: “Emby Mellay? That’s not a name, that’s a bad scrabble hand.” ———Also, she’s got a rather large forehead area; surprised M&tB’s didn’t riff on that.

    Crow: “Get off the road, man-goat!”

    Crow: “I sure hope he said peanuts.”

    Mike (in Don Knotts voice): “Well now Andy, I think there was a demon in the car.”

    Crow: “Talk quicker.”

    Crow: “Mike, what were you guys doing during the 70s. . .making witch movies. . .inhaling huge clouds of marijuana. . .big ugly flared pants on. . .?”
    Mike: “We had to do something.”

    The Touch of ZAAAA!

    I give it 3 out of 5 fishes living there.


  • 153
    littleaimishboy says:

    Another outstanding Season 9 episode.

    It’s made a little better for me because I know there’s a “romantic comedy” from the early sixties called “That Touch of Mink”, which I haven’t actually seen but like to imagine various scenarios where it melds with this …

    It’s a movie so goofy it could stand up to repeated riff versions, way more so that SCCTM.

    Walnut ranching … sigh … you think herding CATS is tough …


  • 154
    Sampo says:

    Thomas K. Dye–I did mention it in my comments and that he was in no way connected with this movie.


  • 155
    ServoTron3000 says:

    Good episode made great by Beez!


  • 156
    BIG61AL says:

    Beez…she’s good in everything, just like Gene Hackman…


  • 157
    Cornjob says:

    Is it irony that we’re discussing a devil movie Christmas week? Not that I mind, since I’m the sort of person that likes eating Life cereal while listening to death metal.


  • 158
    Sitting Duck says:

    Since one of the movies featured on the show was a Christmas movie that had the Devil in it, probably not.


  • 159
    bad wolf says:

    This still feels like a made-for-TV movie to me, although perhaps some real gore got edited out. That’s the budget, at least, which is low but not the “got my friends to do it” budget last week. While its theology is a bit confused it does seem to me to be a better written movie than most; Jodie and Melissa have real character arcs, Lucinda is saved from burning then burned in the end, etc.

    Beez is a blessing, and i can once again only wonder at the Brains’ giving Mary Jo the regular character, while Beez, Bridget and Paul all get a guest shot once or twice a season. Perhaps if the Sci-Fi channel had starting giving more notes like “make more use of the funny, attractive people…”

    I really enjoy it but perhaps this is influenced by having it on DVD for a long time–if it came out from Shout today, would i still give it as many watchings? Dunno.


  • 160
    70's run on car says:

    Steffi opened me up to the erotic possibilities of being threatened with a tick bath.


  • 161
    Cornjob says:

    I usually don’t find mean girls attractive, but there is something strangely alluring about Steffi.

    The Bechdel test results may be ambiguous for this film, but it does feature a strong female lead with a genuine grievance driving the plot.

    I could relate a bit to Melissa and her sister. I was never a satanist, but I was a suicidally depressed heavy metal fan in high school, and halfway through my sophomore year Geraldo did a special about Satanism that convinced about half of my classmates that I was some kind of baby-eating devil-worshiping warlock that killed people in their dreams like Freddy Krueger. I’m glad they never lynched me now, though it was a disappointment at the time. After that every day at school at least one person looked away from me to avoid eye contact. I’ve had a little glimpse of the kind of crazy and stupid that leads to witch crazes and satanic panics. When those 3 Goth kids got blamed for a murder because they wore Metallica T-shirts my heart went out to them. Merry Christmas all.


  • 162
    JC says:

    “Well, you’ve met Mrs. Wilma Failed Genetic Experiment, right?”

    “Oh, and there’s a huge insane scabby gorilla wandering around too.”


  • 163
    Creepygirl says:

    “This is where the fish lives” is a classic.


  • 164
    Savvy says:

    Man, I forgot to comment on “Werewolf”! Oh, well.

    Movie Notes!

    -Beez is absolutely adorable as Steffi. “Which one of you is Servo, and which one of you is Cow?”
    -Jody really does look sort of like a young David Spade. An early SNL days’ David Spade, of course.
    -That’s Mike, of course, channeling his inner Geddy Lee in Rush’s “The Trees”. A nice attempt, I must say.
    -Dig that ’70’s horror film music!
    -I think Mr. Strickland looks like what every dad looks like after a hard-day’s work.
    -Crow: “Mike, could you back off? You smell like canned tamales.”
    -“This is where the fish lives.” What a strange line for a movie. Crazy writing team, I guess.
    -Tom: “Stop it!”
    -Tom: “Say, nice door! I’d like to see it crumpled up next to my bed- Oh, wait.”
    -How would you feel if Grandma Dried-Apple-Head came into your room at night? Food for thought.
    -Crow: “Tell you what. I’ll flip on her left turn signal and she’ll go right back to sleep!”
    -Mike: “A WRINKLE!”
    -If “This is where the fish lives” wasn’t the stinger, “ZAH!” would be great!
    -I’ve always wondered: Did the director want long pauses between Jody and Melissa simply to pad out the film? The world may never know.
    -Y’know, If I knew Lucinda “Killer Grandma” Strickland was a serial killer, I would’ve gotten rid of her a lot quicker than them!
    -“Pay attention to the word of God.”
    Tom: “For He loves you and He may KILL you if you don’t.”
    Crow: “Team!”
    -Kevin Murphy is brilliant with Tom’s Grandma’s mumbling.
    -Mike: “Caleb, what kind of charcoal did you use?”
    -Crow: “If you could just hang on a sec, I’m about to say something…”
    -So, I guess when Melissa became possessed by the devil, Lucinda somehow became possessed, as well. Either that, or she’s just EXTREMELY bitter about her whole “Burn the Witch” incident. And who are Mr. and Mrs. Strickland if they aren’t REALLY Melissa’s parents?
    -Mike: “May the dark one hold your soul in his clutches- I mean, safe trip!”
    -“Don’t let her die, I love her!”
    Tom: “Whoa, boy! No I don’t! Hoo!”
    -Steffi hitting Bobo with a rolled-up newspaper was a very solid ending.