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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: 1001- Soultaker

Movie: (1990) After they are killed in a car wreck, the spirits of some teens try to elude the “soultaker” sent to collect them.

First shown: April 11, 1999
Opening: The bots are confused about why their “wet T-shirt contest” is so dull; commercial sign malfunctions
Intro: The malfunctions on the SOL get worse; nobody in Castle Forrester cares
Host segment 1: With Gypsy malfunctioning, Mike tries to take command, with the expected results
Host segment 2: Everything goes wrong on the SOL; in Castle Forrester a soultaker has appeared–and it’s TV’S FRANK!
Host segment 3: The mysterious visitor who saved the ship appears on the bridge–and it’s JOEL! He fills in the bots on what he’s been up to, and he and Mike share a tender moment
End: Joel’s completes repairs on the SOL, says hi to Frank, and departs with some uplifting words to M&tB; in Castle Forrester, Bobo and Frank hit it off
Stinger: Mom ogles her daughter (ew!).
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (320 votes, average: 4.71 out of 5)

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• Season 10 begins with a big episode, and it was especially big for Erhardt and me because, well, we were there. More on that in a minute. Personal stuff aside, I have to say this ep is a pretty good one. Legendary host segments, of course, but also a watchable but supremely dumb (and somewhat creepy — and not in a good way) movie and very strong riffing.
• The stretch between the end of season 9 and the beginning of season 10 was 197 days, the fourth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between seasons (not counting the time between season 10 and season 11).
• Paul offers his thoughts here.
• References are here. One small mistake is “Frank Booth cam!” which they mishear as “Frank Booth camp.”
• This episode was included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XIV.
• This season got a new set of theme song lyrics that incorporate the whole Castle Forrester premise.
• Okay, so here’s the story. BBI invited us to attend the taping and, despite that fact that I couldn’t afford it and couldn’t really take time away from work, I dropped everything and got on a plane. Brian was able to get there ahead of me and witnessed the Castle Forrester scenes being taped. I got there after the taping was over for that day. The next day we both got to watch (and then contribute to) the SOL scenes being taped (the theater scenes had also already been done).
• It was my first face-to-face meeting with Joel (we’d exchanged emails, but had never actually met) and he did not disappoint. Brian and I sat down with him in a conference room for a little while and began to pepper him with some really obscure MSTie-level questions about the show, stuff I knew only Joel could answer. I was a little worried he would find this stuff tedious, but he seemed delighted to delve into it. He then went off to read lines with Paul and, as he notes in his ACEG entry, immediately began rewriting his dialog. I never saw a script, so I don’t know what changed, but he later said he was just making the dialog more comfortable for him to say.
• They were getting ready to shoot the first scene, but there was some sort of delay. Apparently somebody hadn’t shown up. Brian and I were milling about on the set when Jeff Stonehouse turned around and looked at us and asked: “Hey would you want to help us out, here?” It was thus that we became “guest interns,” as you can see if you check out the credits at the end of the show. I was given the job of pulling open and pushing closed the right side door at the back of the set (through which Joel entered). Brian was given the job of controlling a studio light and, later, the left side door. I wrote my name on the back of the door (many others already had) and that little scrawl appears in “The Last Dance — Raw.”
• There seems to be more stuff sitting around in Castle Forrester. To send Mike the movie, Observer puts the movie can into what appears to be the same projector used by Dr. F in “MST3K: The Movie.” He never needed to do this before. And in segment two, Bobo dashes away from Frank, only to bonk his head on the same object Dr. F gets bonked with in “MST3K: The Movie.”
• As the first movie sign goes off, Mike heads straight through the doors and is run over by Cambot. My memory from being on the set is that this was not planned — it seemed to be ad-lib, though I suspect it was a little acknowledgment of Joel being there, since Joel did this in several episodes.
• Callbacks: The appearance of Joe Estevez prompts several callbacks to “Werewolf,” including the use of the word “yannaglachi.” Also: “Aren’t you due on the set of ‘Werewolf’?”
• At one point Mike takes Servo to task for reading in the theater. What was Servo reading?
• Here’s a rare opportunity: A chance to argue about which take they used. They did five or six or more takes of each sketch, and the performers made a point of varying their performances and doing their lines a little differently each time, hoping to get something special. Later on, of course, somebody had to choose which of the takes to use. While I agree with the choices for all the other host segments in this episode, I have to say that I would not have used the take of segment 1 they chose. I think they—specifically Mike—did it funnier in a different take. Just my opinion.
• Joel does a terrific job in his segments and seems completely at home, though he and Mike sort of have to crowd in on that little platform. I’ve stood there, and it’s really not a space for two sets of feet.
• Joel gives props to the band Man or Astroman, which have been playing the MST3K theme song as part of their set for a long time.
• A lot of fans (including me) wished this episode could have featured Joel in the theater. And it was talked about. But ultimately Joel wanted to be part of the writing process if he was going to do that, and he just didn’t have the time to devote to that. It’s too bad.
• When Joel said: “I…don’t really want to…” I was standing about 15 feet away in back of the set and his delivery was so perfect I wanted to bust out laughing. Instead I had to walk quickly away to the far end of the room and chortle into my hands as quietly as possible. It’s lucky I didn’t trip over something in the dark!
• Classic line: “Don’t compare yourself, man. It ain’t healthy.”
• Another St. Blaise mention.
• Movie comment: The laws of physics in this movie are really confusing. Even the riffers begin to notice toward the end. The ghost characters seem to be able to manipulate some things but not others. As Servo says, “A 7-iron knocks him cold but a gun does nothing.” Later they’re capable of pressing an elevator button. They also appear to be subject to some sort of gravity, but not enough to get hurt in a fall. It’s confusing.
• Remember gorditas? I was in a Taco Bell not long ago (don’t ask) and they still have them!
• At one point, a little dog appears and Servo says: “Humphrey!”
• Classic theater moment about midway through the show as Crow gets something in his eye just as the nudity appears about to break out. During that bit, Gypsy makes a comment to Crow, which we can hear in the theater. That’s something that’s never happened before.
• Yet another great “talking over the closing credits bit in which the bots take Mike to task for assuming that a rosy future lies ahead for our heroes.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects guy Jerry Kitz also worked on “Space Mutiny.” In front of the camera, Joe Estevez was also in “Werewolf” and Robert Z’Dar will be back in “Future War.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. After taking the last two eps of season 9 off, Mary Jo is back on the writing staff for the entire 10th season. Interns Erin F. Erskine and Josh Huschke begin their run of episodes.
• Fave riff: “I’ve just got to write mom out of this story.” Honorable mention: “The movie’s story arc.”

207 Replies to “Episode guide: 1001- Soultaker”

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

    “Hi! I had your baby, remember?” THAT was a unique approach to a moment…

    Jason:
    A top ten episode for me. A shame that Shout! was unable to renew the license. To the rights holders of Soultaker: Can’t we just rock?

    Really, I mean, how much money is Soultaker going to earn them on its own?

    I’m not sure if anyone’s said anything yet about the absurdity of shutting down life support on a patient LESS THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS after she was rendered comatose. Medical professionals don’t give up THAT quickly. And neither should Natalie’s parents have done so, unless they were just DESPERATE for any chance to be rid of her and there was no indication of that.

       2 likes

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

    OFF TOPIC

    Anyone know anything about when/if the remainder of Cinematic Titanic’s riffed films – The Doll Squad, The Astral Factor, Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World – will be available on DVD or in any format at all?

    Anyone? Anyone?

    Thanks. :-)

       1 likes

  3. bartcow
    Ignored
    says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    OFF TOPIC

    Anyone know anything about when/if the remainder of Cinematic Titanic’s riffed films – The Doll Squad, The Astral Factor, Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World – will be available on DVD or in any format at all?

    Anyone? Anyone?

    Thanks. :-)

    I asked Trace in person at a Mads Are Back show in 2016, and he said The Doll Squad and Astral Factor were never filmed, so they’ll never be available. Didn’t ask about Samson, but I would assume that’s in the same boat. There are some fan-made videos out there on YouTube that take the audio from the shows and sync it up with the movies. It’s not great, but about as good as you’re going to get.

    Of those 3, I saw them do The Doll Squad, and the riffing was fantastic. But what a weird, depressing little movie. It’s like Lars Von Trier directed Angel’s Revenge.

       1 likes

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

    bartcow: I asked Trace in person at a Mads Are Back show in 2016, and he said The Doll Squad and Astral Factor were never filmed, so they’ll never be available. Didn’t ask about Samson, but I would assume that’s in the same boat.

    Well, that was IDIOTIC of them, but thanks for the info. :-|

       2 likes

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

    Nothing else to say about Soultaker at the moment, so I will again proceed from Soultaker –> Robert Z’Dar –> Samurai Cop. ;-)

    Odd co-ink-a-dink note: Like Tony “Werewolf” Zarindast, the director of Samurai Cop, Amir Shervan, was originally from Iran. He clearly adapted to the USA’s cheesiness standards at least well as Zarindast did.

       1 likes

  6. Cornjob
    Ignored
    says:

    “The Doll Squad and Astral Factor were never filmed, so they’ll never be available.”

    That really tightens my pants.

       1 likes

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

    “You still don’t get it, do you?”

    Well, at least death allowed Brad to finally have a moment of feeling like he was the smartest guy in the room…

       1 likes

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