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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: 910- The Final Sacrifice

Movie: (1990) Searching for his long-lost father, a teen runs afoul of a devil-worshiping cult, then teams up with a beer-guzzling drifter.

First shown: 7/25/98
Opening: With the power shut down, the bots go looting
Intro: Pearl decides to rule the world…one person at a time
Host segment 1: Servo’s song–a tribute to Canada–goes horribly wrong
Host segment 2: Everybody (but Mike) contracts Hockey Hair
Host segment 3: Mike comes down with a case of Grizzled Old Prospector Syndrome
End: The bots have formed a muffiny cult; Pearl has another victim
Stinger: “Rowsdower…?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (310 votes, average: 4.70 out of 5)


• This is one of the Sci-Fi era’s best. The riffing is rock solid, the movie is mindbogglingly dopey and most of the segments are good fun.
• This episode is included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVII.
• The Shout disk, by the way, has a fascinating interview with the guy who played Zap Rowsdower, in which he reveals that he had not seen this episode! I hope the Shout people gave him one!
• Mary Jo offers her thoughts on this episode here.
• That’s Peter Rudrud, in his only on-camera role, as Todd Gunderson
• Not a big fan of the opening or intro segments. Both ideas sort of peter out.
• Segment 1 became an instant classic. Hard on its heels came South Park’s “Blame Canada,” and there really was a (jokingly) anti-Canada vibe going on for a while there. I recall Canadian fans (who were getting episodes shipped to them by fans in the states, so the show never aired there) desperate for details of the song as discussions began online immediately after the show.
• Speaking of blaming Canada, M&tB found the phrase “Lemon Mine” amusing but it’s a thing, a Canadian thing.
• Segment 2 is another winner, a funny idea mined for just enough laughs, that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
• Crow and Tom still have hockey hair when they return to the theater.
• One of the things I love about this episode is the way the movie just keeps giving them stuff to work with. Just when you think they were running out of Rowsdower jokes, the grizzled old guy arrives. Oooh, it’s comedy gold, consarn it!
• Callback: “A worwilf!”
• Segment 3 extends the premise of segment 2 very nicely. Mike really seems to enjoy that beard.
• Another highlight of the episode: Tom sings the Rowsdower song during the credits, while Crow attempts to pitch “Final Sacrifice: The Series.” Clearly written by somebody who has suffered through meetings like this.
• I actually like the closing bit in the castle, especially Paul as willing — and hungry — thrall Carl. I especially like the way he very comfortably calls Pearl “my liege.”
• Cast and crew roundup: nobody.
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. Mary Jo returns to the writing room after her trip to the West Coast.
• Fave riff: “Dear Counselor Troi: I waited at Denny’s but you didn’t meet me!” Honorable mention: “I wonder if they have beer on the sun?”

234 comments to Episode guide: 910- The Final Sacrifice

  • 201
    MSTie says:

    This episode, one of my top five MST3Ks for sure, is comedy gold. I know some don’t like it, but eh. Or, as we Canadians say, “Eh?”

    Troy is so wimpy and lame. Rowsdower is so clueless and lame. Pipper is so Jim-Henson-Muppety and lame. I thought Pipper’s horse did an admirable job and should have had more screen time.

    My favorite riffs are any of the French ones or most of the Canada jokes:
    Mike: Zut alors! Je suis morte.
    Tom: Aww merd. Mon pied.
    I can see why Québec wants to be separate from all of this.

    And of course I love “The Canada Song.” By the way, Christian Malcolm (Troy) turned out rather handsome after he grew up, except maybe for those ears. Hmmm, looking at this picture I think there’s an argument for Sartoris being his real father.


  • 202
    pondoscp says:

    How could you not like this episode?


  • 203
    Depressing Aunt says:

    I reckon this is one of my two favorite Sci-Fi episodes. And definitely one of my favorites, period. I really love all the jokes about the characters, especially Troy. Up-thread someone mentioned the great timing of “Know him? He was delicious!” right before the commercial break. It happens also in the case of Tom’s decisive, “I’m gonna color it!” as Troy looks at the map. And I love that feral growl someone does later, when Troy looks up from the map all squinty and snaggle-toothed.

    #201 Nice picture. I’m glad he grew out of his awkward stage.

    “I want to know what happened to you.”
    Mike: I died.

    Tom: Now, that is a darling maxi-skirt!

    5 beers! Oops, I meant stars.


  • 204
    Gobi says:

    One of my all time favorites. I’m surprised no one mentioned another great riff: “I made you some trail mix out of rat droppings and hair.”


  • 205
    MSTie says:

    Quelle dommage, I see I misspelled “merde” in my previous post. This is what happens when you copy & paste without being fully awake. Don’t let it happen to you, eh?


  • 206
    Hey Cabot! says:

    This movie feels like it was made as an excuse to show off the neat model city at the end but the real attraction here is Rowsdower, the drunken curmudgeon one can’t help but love. This mulleted, denim jacket-wearing redneck has no business being the action star of anything, yet here he is making awkward kicks and firing a rifle with choppy editing to indicate he hit his mark. I also have to make a mention of Pipper, who momentarily steals the movie with his raspy voice and lousy beard. I can’t omit Troy, who gets the meanest nerd jokes made at his expense. However, Troy can fire a rifle and beat a guy with a baseball bat, so he’s definitely tougher than say, Mikey from Teenage Strangler. Finally, Sartorus’ overblown lines really make for a fun villain, although my personal award for best bad villain still goes to Troxartis from Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell.

    The Final Sacrifice is a fun bad movie. It’s sleepy and slow moving but full of that low-budget charm unique to a film school project by an amateur would-be auteur. It adds up to a great episode that’s well-suited for beginners, particularly for Canadians with a sense of humor.


  • 207
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    >>>Servo’s “I was next on the list! Totally random! It’s WEEEEEEIRD!”

    Well, both of their names started with “TO” so it seems like it wasn’t TOTALLY random.

    Off-Topic: Re the “slasher film rules” discussed in the “Hobgoblins” thread, there won’t be another movie to which that concept applies until Season Ten: “Soultaker.” However, it occurred to me that the “rules” apply just as well to a very non-slasher film, “The Breakfast Club.”

    The Scholar: Brian (duh)
    The Athlete: Andrew (double-duh)
    The Fool: Bender (triple-duh)
    The Promiscuous One: Claire (although both girls are virgins, Claire’s the one who, without actually lying, tries to give the impression that she isn’t)
    The Virgin: Allison

    I wonder if “Cabin in the Woods” writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard modeled their cast after “Breakfast Club” on purpose. Not all slasher films even have exactly five protagonists, two girls and three boys.

    A perusal of slasher films gives me the impression that it’s THE most cookie-cutter film genre in existence. Seriously, sometimes it’s as if the directors filled in a page of Mad Libs OSLT. Also as if they have no concept of how teenagers actually behave. Seems like it’d be a really easy genre to be groundbreaking in.


  • 208
    Dirty D says:

    The time is 6-4…


  • 209
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    No matter how much criticism it gets, the makers of this movie get the last laugh; it was a FRESHMAN film school effort. How many other film school freshmen get their films ushered into immortality? It’s like how MST3K made Coleman Francis a “success” years after he died. If not for them, would he even rate a Wikipedia entry? Probably not.


  • 210
    Of no Account says:

    I came down with GOPS when I was younger. Started mining in my parents basement. Didn’t find any gold, but I did expand the basement another 5 feet.

    Truly a great episode! Just plain silly from start to finish!

    Wait… I haven’t read Tolkien in almost a week!


  • 211
    jaybird3rd says:

    A few random notes on “The Final Sacrifice”:

    I recently picked up a “Mr. Wizard’s World” DVD collection as a gift for my niece and nephew. The series was produced in Calgary in the early 80s, so most of Mr. Wizard’s on-screen assistants were Canadian child actors. I was surprised to see that one of them was a young Christian Malcolm, probably about age eleven or twelve! It isn’t listed on his IMDb page, but he was apparently the “Mr. Wizard Kid” in quite a number of these shows, as was his real-life sister Nicola.

    “The Final Sacrifice” was also marketed under the alternate title “Quest for the Lost City”. Anyone who’s interested should do a Google image search for the “Quest for the Lost City” home video cover, because it’s hilariously deceptive marketing. The writer/director is credited as “T. Jardus Greidanus”, and the actors shown on the cover look nothing like the actors in the film. The one on the right (I’m guessing he’s supposed to be “Troy”) looks more like Val Kilmer to me, and “Rowsdower” is a young muscular guy with a sleeveless shirt and a rifle, and without a mullet!


  • 212
    Cornjob says:

    When did MST start hating Rush? They liked Rush in the beginning. Maybe this is just another Joel/Mike thing.


  • 213
    1 adam 12 says:

    Of all the episodes I’ve only seen on DVD, this is by far my favorite. Hilarious from beginning to end. Fave line: “Dear Agent Scully: Did not appreciate your lawyer’s tone.”


  • 214
    1 adam 12 says:

    Oh, and my Honorable mention: “Know him? He was delicious!”


  • 215

    The best Season 9 episode, hands down.
    Quite possibly the best episode of the Sci-Fi years.
    One of the best episodes from any era of MST3k (personally, it’s at least in my top 12, maybe it cracks the Top 10…)

    The Final Sacrifice has its detractors (see the smattering of comments above) but what episode of MST doesn’t? Personally, the Larry Csonka riffs work for me, simply because that framed picture they show really does look like Csonka.

    The Rowsdower riffs work for me too, except for one: when Troy is walking through the woods and Servo is singing “Rowsdower, Rowsdower, Rizzity-Rowsdower…” Ugh. I think its Servo’s tone of voice, but something about that little riff just gets on my nerves and makes me frown. But then shortly thereafter Pipper shows up and puts this episode over the top.

    Pipper really is one of those characters who should’ve visited the SOL. He could’ve been the next Ortega or Krankor. He’s got a distinct look, sound, and catchphrases. They missed the boat there. Maybe no one on staff could pull of the look? I mean, based on Host Segment #3 we know they had a fake beard laying around…

    Oh yeah, the Host Segments. Let’s talk about those. They’re pretty good, in my opinion. I like the looting opening skit (Crow, about taking his TV: “I’ll never miss it”) and I have to say that Pearl’s scheme to take over the world one person at a time is given juuuuust enough screen time as to not overstay its welcome. Servo interacting with the Mads is a nice change of pace for character pairings (plus it’s funny) and when he returns to the Satellite, Mike and Crow are in the theater already and Crow yells out, “C’mon, dummy.” There’s just something about Bill’s delivery of the word “dummy” that slays me. Simple, funny.

    HS#1 with the Canada song is, of course, a classic. HS#2 with the hockey hair is pretty good too, and just like the opening bit with the Mads, it also doesn’t overextend its premise; also, it extends nicely into HS#3 and the Grizzled Old Prospector Syndrome. Oh, and Brain Guy with that white mane of hair! How fun!

    With the good, enjoyable Host Segments, solid riffing, and the goofy Canadian “action” movie in The Final Sacrifice (which if filled with memorable, riffable characters) we got ourselves here a CLASSIC episode of MST3k. Just ask Larry Csonka.


    Crow: “I think the movie’s going really well.”

    Mike: “You know, this has the bacony stink of Canada all over it.”

    Servo: “He’s working on his Bud Cort scrapbook.”

    guy smashes door,
    Crow: “Can I interest you in a replacement door?”

    Mike: “Can you imagine how many potato olé containers are on the floor of that car?”

    Crow: “So..Rowsdower. . .is that a stupid name…or. . ?”

    (Servo making monster/vampire noises when Troy is looking around flashing those pointy teeth)

    Rowsdower gets hit by piece of wood,
    Mike: “Firewood for sale.”

    movie: “Dad..”
    Crow: “That’s my favorite Jack Lemon movie.”

    Pipper pulls from his pipe,
    Crow: “Mmmm, good dope.”

    Crow: “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun.”

    Crow: “You pusses make me laugh.”

    Crow: “My drinking arm’s healed!”

    C’mon mom,
    just one more sacrifice!
    but this is
    The Final Sacrifice.

    Classic MST3k,
    I give it 5 out of 5 beers on the sun.

    :beer: :sun: :beer: :sun: :beer:


  • 216
    Sitting Duck says:

    @ #212: More of a Frank thing. IIRC Frank once commented here on how the other Brains would mock him over his fondness for prog rock.

    Watch-out-for-Snakes #215: The Final Sacrifice has its detractors (see the smattering of comments above) but what episode of MST doesn’t?

    I Accuse My Parents.


  • 217
    jaybird3rd says:

    I also love how Mike gives the “jack-booted thugs” effete French names as Rowsdower picks them off:

    “Gilles, no!”
    “No, not Étienne!”


  • 218
    Cornjob says:

    Thanks for the input Sitting Duck re: Rush. I always thought it was puzzling how the reverent Rush references that lasted at least through season 5 gave way to the near Gallagher levels of dislike found in the Sci-Fi era. I think there’s a list of Rush references somewhere in Ward E if anyone wants to check my observations. Now off to get some FOOOD!


  • 219
    thequietman says:

    I must join the ranks of the majority here and say this is one of my favorites too. I don’t really know who Larry Csonka is, but to me the Brains set it up with that one riff “MVP Super Bowl VIII, For Miami” and everything else that came after I took as ‘oh, they’re talking about classic football’ so it didn’t bother me as it seems to bother others.

    Anyway, here’s one of my fave riffs no one has mentioned yet:
    [As Rowsdower swigs from his flask]
    Servo: Better check this oil here… yep, 10W-30!

    For years I couldn’t quite make out Carl’s last words as he’s being tied up (right before Bobo says “Gimme back my food!”), but once I got the DVD I finally figured out that he said “Unhand me or you’ll have to answer to the Traveler’s Group!” What is the Traveler’s Group anyway? Were they an insurance outfit of some kind?


  • 220
    Depressing Aunt says:

    I got ketchup on my hand!

    That, and “Your s’more fell in” just put me over the edge. Poor Rowsdower. Even when they mock his torturous branding it makes me laugh.


  • 221

    @ Sitting Duck #216: I went back to check the comment thread for I Accuse My Parents. You’re right; it’s overwhelmingly positive, I think only one “negative” comment in the bunch, and that person was still like, “I like it, but don’t love it,” or whatever. Personally I think it’s a great episode, but maybe just a couple hairs short of a classic 5/5 experiment (I gave it a 4/5), which means that, yeah, I like The Final Sacrifice better (which I only mention to bring it back around to the focus episode of this comment thread).


  • 222

    @ thequietman #219: Yes, The Travelers Group is an insurance company, one of the countries largest personal and property insurance companies. They are incorporated in Minnesota, with headquarters in NYC, field offices in every state, and they have a significant operations in St. Paul, Minnesota and Hartford, Connecticut, not to mention offices all over the world. The Minnesota connection is undoubtedly why they’re mentioned on MST3k.


  • 223
    Tim S. Turner says:

    “Canada is for lovers.”


  • 224
    Shrike says:

    The first time I watched this the riff “mmm, good dope” may have made me laugh more than any other thing in my life.


  • 225
    JJ Johanson says:

    “OK, bring the brats out!”


  • 226
    little winged potato says:

    Other than the bottles in his truck and the bad guy calling him a drunk, what evidence of Rowsdower’s non-stop inebriation have we? Were there scenes cut from the MST episode that show him totally sh*!faced?

    Just curious. The Rowsdower drunk jokes kind of reminded me of the song at Joe Don’s expense in the closing credits of Final Justice. Funny, sure, but mostly poetic license.


  • 227
    Hey Cabot! says:

    #226: Rowsdower took a nip from his boot flask before pouring some in his truck’s engine, threw a crate full of beer bottles from the back of his truck to slow down pursuing cultists, drank beer at a campfire in an ensuing scene, was called a “drunken fool” by Satoris and took a nip from his boot flask before pouring some on his scarred shoulder.


  • 228
    JeremyR says:

    @212: The latest Rifftrax VOD, Treasures of the Amazon, actually has a Rush reference


  • 229
    Cornjob says:

    Well, I guess I’m going to have to see it now. I’m just glad that Geddy Lee didn’t run over Mike’s dog or anything. Personally I like Rush.


  • 230
    Creeping-Death says:

    @227: Rowsdower was also shown drinking a beer while watching the sunset, “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun?”.
    Love this episode. Five stars. After having watched this episode perhaps a dozen times or more, I was surprised when I noticed the cult symbol in the cavern where the map originated from. You can see the “X marks the spot” symbol from the shadows.

    Rowsdower: Alright!
    Crow: My drinkin’ arm’s healed!

    The growling noise that Servo makes when Troy is baring his teeth at the camera.

    The song they sing to the music as Rowsdower is getting branded.

    Troy: Rowsdower?
    Servo: Could you put my head out?

    Crow(as Troy is driving off in Rowsdower’s truck): Hey! I got 89 cents worth of cans back there!


  • 231
    little winged potatoes says:

    Ah, forgot about the flask. That is actually the most damning.

    A beer in front of a campfire is pretty standard. Heck, even bottles in the back of the truck might just mean he’s into recycling or wants to get money (89 cents!) for them. He doesn’t seem to have any other source of income, apart from the possible clowning gig. But tipping back a bit of hooch from the boot before you get behind the wheel is pretty incriminating. Or maybe just pretty Canadian.

    He sure is functional, though. And from what I remember about the DVD interview, the actor was a really good sport about his MST treatment.


  • 232
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    BTW, speaking of slasher films (as I, you know, was), some might be intrigued by this slasher film list I came across some time ago.

    Enough fodder to keep a riffing show rolling in hamdingers indefinitely. Yeah, that’s not nearly as good a metaphor as it could’ve been, is it? :-) I particularly like the singling out of which films have MASKED slashers. I dug up images of a few in some spare minutes some time ago — fencing mask, gas mask, Mardi Gras mask, wrestling mask (El Santo would NOT be pleased), canvas mask, Cupid mask, Nixon mask, Reagan mask, jester costume, bear costume, rabbit costume — quite an eclectic bunch.

    Although I’ve actually *watched* very few slasher films, I’ve read plenty of reviews and IMDB entries, and the way some of them s-t-r-e-t-c-h circumstances to get the horny teens trapped inside a building is, well, if any friend of yours ever suggests that it’d be cool to party inside an abandoned prison or insane asylum or some such site, maybe you need more friends.

    And I’ll stop now.


  • 233
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    I didn’t quite get how Pipper was supposed to have been hiding from the cult for seven years…in his cabin. I can believe that he hunted his own food and made his own soap and otherwise got by without buying anything, that he entirely cut himself off from civilization the way some survivalists manage to do, but his cabin is RIGHT THERE. What’d he do, hide under the sink every time the cultists searched the place?

    Plot holes like this (and the part about the cult finally getting the bright idea to search the MacGregor home mere hours after Troy found the map) become a bit more understandable when the film’s status as a freshman film school effort* is taken into account — #84’s comment about a teenager with a camcorder isn’t TOO far off — but only a bit. Still, one can probably find larger plot holes in plenty of “professionally” made films.

    Plus, of course, the cultists DID give up on searching the cabin for Troy and Rowsdower themselves pretty quickly, not unlike how, at the end, they gave up on the cult itself almost immediately, so obviously, their hearts were just never in it. Maybe they were supposed to be mesmerized zombie-types who couldn’t think for themselves until after Sartoris’s death?

    S: “Are you guys SURE you didn’t find anything, anything at all, at the MacGregor house?”
    c: “Huh…? The…where?”
    S: “D’OH!”


    S: “You searched the cabin from top to bottom, right?”
    c: “Well…searched…this one…room…”
    S: “Gyaaaaaaaaah!”

    A little exposition can go a long way. ;-)


    *maybe that’s why Sartoris’s voice was out of sync, he was younger than he looks and they needed to dub in his lines because his voice hadn’t quite finished changing yet; how seriously could anyone take a villain who sounded like Peter Brady? ;-)


  • 234
    Savvy says:

    Haha! I love this movie!

    -I have this feeling that Zatoris was a creepy loser freak in high school that hung around with other smelly creepy loser freaks like him.
    -Seven years later…
    -Mike: “You know, people are just dying to get in-”
    Tom: “NO!”
    Mike: “Sorry.”
    -Mike: “Some men can really pull-off LEGGINGS.”
    -That guy in the picture really does look like Larry Csonka!
    -“To Mike Pipper.”
    Mike: “Oh, he’s a Pipper. Wouldn’t you like to be a-”
    Tom and Crow: “NO!”
    -Crow: “Mrs. Costanza!”
    -Mike: “Seven years later.”
    -How’d you like those weird hooded-thugs showing up at your house?
    -There’s a box that just says “Candy” in the basement.
    -Crow: “Can I interest you in a replacement door?!”
    -Zatoris is such a freak. Just listen to his voice!
    -Mike: “Seven years later.”
    -If Rowsdower tuned-up his vehicle once in a while, maybe it would start!
    -Crow: “His menace is undercut by the ‘Baby on Board’ sign on his truck.”
    -Tom: “Hi! I’m Billy the Building!”
    -Tom: “Let me check this oil, here… Yep, uh, 10W-30.”
    -“Canadian ‘MANNIX!'”
    -Mike: “So, uh, you wanna hit the breaks there, or not?”
    -I love how Troy doesn’t know what his dad was like when his dad only died seven years ago. You’d think he’d have some clue.
    -Tom: “Rowsdower? Could you put out my head?”
    -Mike: “He trespassed on Charleton Hesston’s place.”
    -Where’s that stream water in the cave coming from?
    -Now when somebody pisses me off, I want to say, “Go to hell! Or at least Edmonton!”
    -Tom: “Ha! I’ve escaped! Wh-AHH!”
    -Crow: “Cripes, he rolled out of bounds!”
    -Crow: “This is just like when they bury me every week at school! And give me ‘pink belly,’ and hang me from the goal-post, and shave my head, and magic-marker my weenie, and stuff me in my locker!”
    -You know, Troy kind of looks like a monkey.
    -Tom’s impression of Rowsdower’s gasping is hysterical!
    Crow: “Yeah, no beer though.”
    Tom: “More ‘FOOD!'”
    “What the hell are you doing here?!”
    Crow: “We were eating your ‘FOOD!'”
    -Whoa! Check out the water damage on Grandma’s hunting shack!
    -Tom: “Whoa! I’m exhausted! I gotta go take a nap after I’m done sleeping!”
    -Crow: “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Alan Jackson!”
    -Mike: “Uh, hello? Have you seen the other hooded-thugs?”
    -“Cut yourself loose.”
    Mike: “I dropped it!” … “Which is the sharp side?” … “Um, I cut both my wrists.” … “Um, I somehow swallowed the knife!”
    -Crow: “Hey, I’m in a snowmobile club with that one guy!”
    -I like how Tom calls Mike a “Non-musical mook” when Mike happens to compose all the music for the show.
    -Looks like Best Brains took a trip to Pier 1 Imports for all those candles in the cult segment.
    -Cute ending. The episode’s, not the movie’s. Haha.