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Sampo & Erhardt

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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: 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 (289 votes, average: 4.51 out of 5)

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• 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.
References.
• 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.
• 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.”

221 Replies to “Episode guide: 908- The Touch of Satan”

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

    Wait, “Cow”? I thought Pearl thought Crow’s name was “Art.” IIRC the calls him “Art” at least once more, in the It Lives by Night episode. Oh well.

    Although “Cow” is admittedly closer to Crow’s actual name, I think that if given a choice between the two, Crow “”Golden Spider-Duck”?! How ’bout “Prancing Virile Stag”?!*” T. Robot would prefer to stick with “Art.” ;-)

    *exact quote not guaranteed

       1 likes

  2. Johnny Drama
    Ignored
    says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: With due respect to your lesbian friends…uh, no. No, it wasn’t.

    https://flavorwire.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/bledchel.png

    It’s all about interpretation and reading between the lines. Your milage may vary.

       1 likes

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

    Regrettably, I don’t remember the context for “I sure hope he said “peanuts.””

    I didn’t care for Steffi because she managed to treat Bobo and Brain Guy with EVEN LESS respect than Pearl does. Maybe Pearl did that on purpose because IMHO there’s really no other way that they’d be particularly glad that she’s coming back.

    Insect Man #47:
    This is one of my favorites, and the big reason is it was filmed in my Home Town of Santa Ynez, California.

    However, the film can’t be set in California because, well, no witch trials there. By the time dumpy white guys got to California, they were wearing Raccoon Lodge hats.

    I’m not a medium, I’m a petite:
    How the heck do you even spell Fromikidal ?

    Well, that’s the beauty of it, you can spell it however you want and no one can tell you you’re spelling it wrong. ;-)

    ck:
    Oh, and another point, since Joel made Tom Servo, why did he make two TS grandmas and apparently no TS grandpas?

    Joel made only Servo. Servo made the many, many Servo duplicates in “The Human Duplicators.” Presumably after the One True Servo departed the ship as pure energy, they colonized other sections of the Satellite and have been slowly drawn back to Servo one or a few at a time. See the upcoming “Quest of the Delta Knights” for more. ;-)

    Mark J. Hansen:
    I adore the This is where the fish lives, it’s one of those classic moments where all Mike and the bots have to do is laugh. I wonder what was going through Ms. Mellay’s head when she said it.

    A draft? No, that wasn’t nice of me…

    I’m not a medium, I’m a petite:
    Finally, I assume that there must be some elaborate cover story to explain why Melissa has been hanging around for the past century or so and hasn’t aged a day.

    Elaborate? You don’t know much about small towns, do you? ;-)

       1 likes

  4. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Johnny Drama: It’s all about interpretation and reading between the lines. Your milage may vary.

    Well, technically Touch’s correct, it was just one of those rare occasions when I didn’t want to be That Guy and point it out.
    Still, think we can agree on the general consensus of “It was just one freakin’ lesbian-pretentious college-newspaper comic strip, people, it wasn’t sanctioned by a UN Womens’ initiative!”

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    I thought Pearl thought Crow’s name was “Art.” IIRC the calls him “Art” at least once more, in the It Lives by Night episode. Oh well.

    It was the running joke in the SciFi series, cult-pimping the fan reference of the little-kid letter that thought “Art Crow!” was the character’s name because Joel said it in his Jackie Gleason parody at the end of “Jungle Goddess”. (MSTie References 101.)
    Pearl’s running joke was to keep quoting the ref and calling Crow Art, since all the longtime fans get it, hehehehehh. One of the jokes that sort of springs to mind for any That Guys who complain about S6-10 jamming Classic refs down fans’ throats for cult-marketing purposes….Not that I want to be one, of course.

       3 likes

  5. littleaimishboy
    Ignored
    says:

    Jason:
    Those walnuts are TEARIN’ through the hay.

    It’s the feral walnuts you really gotta look out for …

       3 likes

  6. Numanoid
    Ignored
    says:

    Like most of you, this is one of my favorite episodes. Love it every time I watch it.

    To anyone interested, the Brains cut out (or severely edited down, rather) the absolute best part of the original film; a hypnotic and fascinating scene of Molly and Luther cleaning up the police car mess while Melissa has a silent and subdued sort of freakout on the lawn. It’s quite beautifully shot, and interestingly composed, with the camera doing a 720-degree three-minute revolution around Melissa. Take a look:

    https://youtu.be/dPksj8SS8Ok?t=3049

    (Link should take you directly there, otherwise it begins at the 50:49 mark.)

       0 likes

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

    The Original EricJ: Well, technically Touch’s correct, it was just one of those rare occasions when I didn’t want to be That Guy and point it out.
    Still, think we can agree on the general consensus of “It was just one freakin’ lesbian-pretentious college-newspaper comic strip, people, it wasn’t sanctioned by a UN Womens’ initiative!”

    Wait, are you the one who described the other one to me or are you the other one? Or perhaps a third?Well, whatever.

    I’m not sure what your definition of “pretentious” might be, but I’m noticeably dubious that anything considered “pretentious” today would’ve been considered “pretentious” back in 1985. Shrug.

       2 likes

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

    Cornjob:
    My parents were both philosophy majors and my dad taught philosophy for 2 years at Fullerton. This background gives me a keen apreciation for absurd logic (anything I don’t believe exists doesn’t) and goofy theology

    I always was unclear what Gorgo even wanted from the bargain. “Recognize me”? What? In a line up? Diplomaticly?

    Recognize as in “acknowledge that he/she/they EXIST.” The exact parallel to Jodie’s credo. If whatever one doesn’t believe in doesn’t exist, then whatever one DOES believe in DOES exist.

    Thus, Melissa’s belief obviously trumped Jodie’s non-belief. And then Jodie had to believe because (1) he was seeing the evidence right there with Melissa aging and (2) if he didn’t believe, Melissa would die.

    “An *ssh*ole…is someone who doesn’t believe what he’s seeing.” — from Thinner, by Stephen King

       1 likes

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

    As some may be interested to know, Crow’s chosen method of being “tested” for witch-ness had precedence during the Salem Witch Trials (during which, incidentally, alleged “witches” weren’t burned at all but hanged), when it was used to kill only one accused “witch”/”warlock”, allegedly the only person in American history to be executed by such a method.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Corey

    (Further incidentally, the only accused “witches” who lived through the Salem Witch Trials were the ones who CONFESSED. Didja know that, huh, didja, didja?)

    Be warned, Wikipedia’s account of Giles Corey’s trial (during which he refused to plead guilty or not guilty, a factor in his unique treatment) makes from some grim reading yet paints quite a picture of a man of eighty-one (an age that I can but presume exceptionally few people lived to see during the 17th century) who literally remained defiant to the end.

    “More weight…More weight…”

       2 likes

  10. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    As some may be interested to know, Crow’s chosen method of being “tested” for witch-ness had precedence during the Salem Witch Trials (during which, incidentally, alleged “witches” weren’t burned at all but hanged), when it was used to kill only one accused “witch”/”warlock”, allegedly the only person in American history to be executed by such a method.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Corey
    “More weight…More weight…”

    And even then, the charge wasn’t witchcraft, it was for refusing to answer questions–Stone-pressing wasn’t a capital punishment in itself, it was used in 17th-cty. English law to pressure those who wouldn’t respond to subpoenas, which is where we get the expression “Being pressed for court duty”, no joke.
    The right history buffs got it.

       2 likes

  11. Sitting Duck
    Ignored
    says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    Regrettably, I don’t remember the context for “I sure hope he said “peanuts.”

    IIRC it was when Luther stated that he put peanuts in his homebrew cider.

       1 likes

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

    Sitting Duck: IIRC it was when Luther stated that he put peanuts in his homebrew cider.

    Okay, thanks. :-)

    I’m not a medium, I’m a petite:
    I think Melissa aged-up because she had given herself to Jodie in an act of true love, breaking her commitment to Satan. The old fairy tell bit of true love breaking the spell

    “By night one way, by day another
    Thus shall be the norm
    Till you receive true love’s kiss
    Then, take love’s true form.”

    (when you look at it typed out instead of recited by a cartoon ogre princess you see that doesn’t quite scan, does it?)

    Except this time True Love broke the spell that was doing someone some good, requiring evil to win to save Melissa’s life.

    Leslie:
    I’m a little confused as to why Mellisa turns old. I know the Devil tricked her, she says he cheated her (prompting Mike’s “Man, if you can’t trust the devil!…”)

    When you think about it (“So don’t think about it.”), in deal-with-the-devil situations as we know them, it must be presumed that the Devil ISN’T lying because otherwise the mortal has in effect been tricked into surrendering his immortal soul under false pretenses; he was prevented from making an informed decision and was thus denied full use of free will. Sure, the Devil can put in a bunch of loopholes and confusing language but the Devil can’t just be like “Oh, sure, you can make this deal without being damned to Hell, no problem.”

    So for “the Prince of Lies” to get mortals to knowingly reject God and serve him instead, he must tell the truth. Really makes you think, don’t it? Or not. Not works too.

    Wampa Joe:
    As I understand it, the Stricklands are the grandchildren of Jodi or an unseen sibling of Jodi.

    I’m pretty sure it’s “Melissa” that’s meant there… ;-)

    Although Jodie IS, of course, a name that works as both male and female. Maybe there could be a remake with a female Jodie. ;-)

    This Guy:
    When Jodie is looking at the bookshelf, Servo says “there’s a copy of the NecroMONicon,” mispronouncing NecroNOMicon. It isn’t a real book anyway, but still. Ah, well.

    Well, maybe they’re two entirely separate not-real books. One’s NOM the other’s MON and that’s how people tell them apart. :-)

    MonkeyPatrol:InColor:
    And what happened to Emby Mellay? She obviously didn’t have a lick of acting skill

    What’s that have to do with anything? ;-)

    Finnias Jones:
    Another question I have about the deal-with-the-devil is why was Lucinda killing people?

    What?! It’s fun!
    ;-)

    FWIW in the pre-credit sequence, Luther and Melissa said something to the effect that Lucinda has been killing people on and off for however many years. Like so much else, that information was a mobius strip of a lead, it came from nowhere and went nowhere.

    Insect Man #47:
    Kevin – No one I knew ever bought anything there because the mark up was something like 50 percent higher than the supermarket in Solvang. The little store in the movie was actually run by two Native American Lesbians, believe it or not.

    Oh, so that’s why Ann Heche was in there. Returning something, no doubt…

    Lucas D.:
    Trilaan: If you want understanding

    IF.

       3 likes

  13. littleaimishboy
    Ignored
    says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:

    FWIW in the pre-credit sequence, Luther and Melissa said something to the effect that Lucinda has been killing people on and off for however many years. Like so much else, that information was a mobius strip of a lead, it came from nowhere and went nowhere.

    Melissa says something along the lines of “I can’t take this any more!” And Luther replies to the effect that there’s no way to stop it.

    And then Melissa says, in a very determined voice, “No. There’s a way.” Cut to Joe Dumbass cruising along the highway and then (of his own free will (??????)) deciding to check out the side road to Luther & Molly’s Walnut Ranch and Fish Habitat …

    I’m guessing that one term of the deal was that Melissa was allowed to know how to end it but was not supposed to actually do anything herself to make it end — had to wait for it to happen fortuitously, however long that might take. That’s why she lies to Luther (Melissa’s “parents” being actually Minions of Evil supervising her to make sure she abides by the deal) when he asks if she brought Dopeyguy there.

       1 likes

  14. GareChicago
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ:
    It was the running joke in the SciFi series, cult-pimping the fan reference of the little-kid letter that thought “Art Crow!” was the character’s name …

    “Cult-pimping”.. what the actual fu…

    Just.. delete your account.

       8 likes

  15. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    GareChicago: “Cult-pimping”.. what the actual fu…

    The Original EricJ: Pearl’s running joke was to keep quoting the ref and calling Crow Art, since all the longtime fans get it, hehehehehh. One of the jokes that sort of springs to mind for any That Guys who complain about S6-10 jamming Classic refs down fans’ throats for cult-marketing purposes….

    (A little additional reading always helps clear up context for the harder words.) :)

       1 likes

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

    Warren:
    If I ever get a cat and a dog, and name them Robert and Andrew respectively, blame this movie. The way Mike says ‘Robert the cat’ just kills me.

    The inherent humor in declaring the “Robert” that the farmer was calling to be a cat eludes me. Oh well. ;-)

    Smoothie of Great Power:
    * This is one I never got the chance to show my friends on college.I went to a fairly religious school and who knows what would have happened if word got out that I was showing devil movies.

    Goths of the gender to which you’re drawn would’ve flocked to your dorm room? ;-)

    The Castle Monster:
    Wow! The IMDB says that Robert Easton was a “quiz kid” back in the 1940’s and that he’s an expert in dialects and trains other actors how to speak with foreign accents. I knew that I’d heard him speaking with an English accent is some movies. And he was born in Wisconsin but I guess he mostly grew up in Texas.

    I keep thinkin’ that guy is Bill Rebane himself. Maybe because the Brains never identified Easton by name in their riffs.

    The Elusive Robert Denby:
    “I’m not going back, Jim!”

    That’s not a line from the actual episode, btw. Just like no one ever actually said “Beam me up, Scotty” on the show. ;-)

    The Elusive Robert Denby:
    “I bet you have nine boyfriends”

    Well, it WAS the seventies. Free love hadn’t yet died out and Reaganite “morality” had yet to arrive.

    The Elusive Robert Denby:
    and only gets better the closer you listen to Crow’s phone order as part of Mike “severe financial penalties” (what does he need a porcelain cat for?)

    No one NEEDS porcelain cats, Robert not the cat. Some people WANT them, that’s all. ;-)

    losingmydignity:
    And…even if that were “peanuts” in Luther’s liquor…I mean, peanut liquor? I’ve had homemade vodka made with walnuts before (I’m not kidding) and it’s really quite good though I prefer one I had made from pine. But peanuts?

    Better’n pig liquor.

    mikek:
    It’s not peanut liquor.It’s hard apple cider and Luther put some peanuts in the liquor.Maybe they add something to the flavor of the cider or do something for acidity?

    “If it’s clear and yella’, you’ve got juice there, fella. If it’s tangy and brown, you’re in cider town.” — Ned Flanders

    Dan in WI:
    Tom as Jodie “Nice door. I’d like to see it crumpled up next to my bed… oh wait.”

    I’d often read about or heard people mention pick-up lines (such as the one that the above line is an obvious re-working of) before it occurred to me wonder: “Uh, wait, they’re not serious about using these lines, are they?”

    Does there walk the earth even one woman who’d find the image of her clothes crumpled up next to some random guy’s bed to be thought-provoking?

    MSTie:
    I think the movie needed more than just a touch of Satan.Maybe “A Fistful of Satan” would have been better.

    And A Hatful of Pain.

    Sitting Duck:

    The witchburners seemed to be rather apathetic in their chanting.

    Well, there was no need for them to be obnoxious about it…

    herbal ecstacy:
    Hi, we found this here when i did a fast yahoo search. Fine post you got here! Keep it up!

    Huh. Wonder what he wanted.

       2 likes

  17. Yeti of Great Danger
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ:
    Still, think we can agree on the general consensus ….

    Why are you constantly saying what we can all agree on or not? You don’t speak for me nor for anyone else here.

    Sampo, for Christmas, can all us good lil’ MSTies have an Ignore button that works? I’ll contribute to a Kickstarter if necessary.

       8 likes

  18. GareChicago
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ:
    (A little additional reading always helps clear up context for the harder words.) :)

    Yes, because your words are *so* hard to decipher.

    No, I assure you, it’s not an issue with interpretation. It’s an issue with your constant Mike-bashing and general trolling here.

    Just delete your account.

       8 likes

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

    Denver Brown also spoke with an entirely unwarranted sense of privilege, arrogantly ordering whoever he imagined himself to be addressing to “get that junk out of here” as though taking it for granted that he will be obeyed in his every whim. Which, again, IMHO kind of puts him in the vicinity of the category of “right-winger.” As well as perhaps the category of “sociopath.” But whatever.

    Ray Dunakin:
    I wonder if Robert the cat and Chris the dog (“Revenge of the Creature”) ever hang out together?

    No. Because they’re dead. Really, really dead. :-|

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

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

    That sounds like it has the potential to be a much better movie than Touch of Satan. As well as to be a much worse one. :-)

    Also sounds kind of reminiscent of “The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters.” And of “The Atomic Brain” which had a living-dead woman and a man-animal just sort of wandering around the edges of the plot.

    Savvy:
    -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!

    Well, some people put a higher premium on family than others, I suppose.
    ;-)

    Sitting Duck: Try being a nuthand

    Do you realize what you just said…?

       1 likes

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

    Incidentally…

    Colossus Prime:
    Mike: Now we just have to watch out for my other grandma, she’s really crazy.

    Melissa claimed that Lucinda was her great-grandmother. She’d have three more of those, Mike.

       1 likes

  21. Endoplasmic Reticulum
    Ignored
    says:

    At the beginning, when Jody first shows up in his Maverick, someone (Crow?) says something to the effect of “I would have guessed that the Prince of Darkness would drive a Mustang.” As we watch the movie proceed, we find out that Jody wasn’t the Prince of Darkness after all, but at the time it shows it was a great joke.

    I found this memorable because it’s a good example of riffing as though it’s the first time they’ve seen the movie, While we were watching the movie it was reasonable to conclude that the guy who was the focus of the opening would be the title character, so making a riff about him being a lame Prince of Darkness makes sense. A more rational analysis would reject that joke because, in the context of the entire move it didn’t make sense.

    It shows how well the gang was he on their game at this time. Something they should keep in mind while working on Season 12.

       0 likes

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