Support Us

Satellite News is not financially supported by Best Brains or any other entity. It is a labor of love, paid for out of our own pockets. If you value this site, we would be delighted if you showed it by making an occasional donation of any amount. Thanks.

Sampo & Erhardt

Discuss the show!

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.

Social Media

Visit these!

Visit, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

Get Darkstar Today!

Episode guide: 1003- Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

Movie: (1995) A grandfather tells his grandson a pair of stories featuring the legendary wizard Merlin.

First shown: September 12, 1999
Opening: M&tB are into 1920s-era college pranks
Intro: Pearl’s latest IMS assignment makes Servo a despotic ruler, briefly
Host segment 1: “Niche reviewers” Crow and Servo review each other
Host segment 2: Servo acquires a magical spell book, which turns Mike into an infant. Waah
Host segment 3: Mike shows off his collection of Ernest Borgnine childrens’ books
End: Bobo is disguised as an evil toy monkey
Stinger: Little kid sings: “Rock ‘n’ roll martian…”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (243 votes, average: 4.46 out of 5)


• I’m doing these in episode number order, but in fact this was the last new episode of MST3K ever shown. A rights problem developed with the movie, and the episode was put on the shelf for many months, and it was still on the shelf when the series finale aired in August of ’99. Finally, a few weeks later, it was finally cleared and shown. It WAS nice to get one more episode, but watching it was a little weird.
• But taken on its own, and leaving out the context, this one is pretty much in line with the “very good not outstanding” level of work we’d already gotten in the previous two episodes. The riffing is great, most of the segments are at least mildly amusing and this movie is very watchable.
• Mary Jo’s thoughts are here.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 5
• It’s certainly not the first time we got a movie that was in fact two shorter films slammed together (see “Monster A Go Go” or any number of combo TV episodes) but it’s happening here too. The second half, the one involving poor bedeviled David and the evil monkey, was originally a short film called “The Devil’s Gift.” More about it here. The movie the kid is watching is clips from “The Devils’ Gift.”
• Lots of then-current references in this one, including then-household names like Madaleine Albright, Larry “Bud” Melman, Kenneth Starr and Intellivision.
• Segment 1 is great fun. Very well written.
• Obscure reference: “Mona!” It’s a reference to this commercial.
• I’d forgotten about all the many John McEnroe jokes. The guy does look like him. “Grow some hair, son.”
• Segments two and three are low-key and fun but not hugely memorable.
• In joke: “They just got ‘Barb Wire’ at Blockbuster!” The Pam Anderson movie “Barb Wire” came out, produced by the same movie company, as MST3K: The Movie. The cast managed to find out that a shortage of funds meant that only one of the two movies was going to get a wide release and plenty of promotion. “Barb Wire” was the horse they backed.
• LOTR reference: Shadowfax
• It’s not like this movie has any shortage of stupid dialog, but the line “You look like a man who likes his trinkets” takes the prize.
• I wonder who’s running Servo in last bit. Probably Patrick.
• The end segment, with Pearl addressing the camera while Bill and Kevin upstage her with a parody of the vacuuming bit from the movie, is very funny.
• Cast and crew roundup: No crew and only one member of the cast: George Milan was also in “War of the Colossal Beast.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike.
• Fave riff: “Remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you.” Honorable mention: “Tonight on ‘Old Lady Gets Killed.’ “

162 comments to Episode guide: 1003- Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

  • 1
    robot rump! says:

    rock’n’roll martian!


  • 2
    robot rump! says:

    i could alsosay i know a few current world leaders who could use some fire ants down their pants…but i won’t


  • 3
    Graboidz says:

    This is a personal favorite of mine, the odd “Tales from the Darkside” like stories aren’t too bad actually, sure the execution leaves alot to be desired, but not bad. Forgot about the “Intellivision” riff….man I loved that gaming system!! Still one of the best.


  • 4
    I'm Evil says:

    A solid if not great episode. Initially I was kind of “meh” toward this one, but it has improved with multiple viewings.

    Watching this you can’t help but notice that the whole evil monkey of doom portion is from a movie made about decade before the rest of the movie. As Sampo points out, it’s actually footage from “The Devil’s Gift” made in 1984 and is by the same director. That and “Merlin” are his only credits (go figure). When they edit in Merlin collecting the monkey the hat changes sides and in general looks like a different monkey. Surprised there wasn’t more riffing on the patchwork nature of all this.

    A have to quibble a bit with Sampo–Intellivision was not a current reference in 1999.

    Seeing th E.T. poster and t-shirt as well as the Star Wars t-shirt I was reminded of the advice from “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank,” to paraphrase: don’t remind viewers of a better movie during your crappy movie.

    Oh, and the psychic gets my award for best overacting in a MSTed movie (though Borgnine’s grandson puts in a strong showing in that race). Not sure what the director told her, but it came off as anger and frustration. Servo’s riffs on that bit sum it up.

    The host segments don’t do too much for me in this one, with the exception of Crow and Servo reviewing one another. I also like Observer in the final bit: “I’m Endusting!”

    Mike shows off his Dr. Pepper in one host segment, quickly followed by a Dr. Pepper riff; was Dr. Pepper sponsoring the show or that segment?

    The anime the kid is watching is “Battle of the Planets” aka “G-Force” aka “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman,” aka a few other titles. I was all over that (and “Star Blazers”) in the early 80s. Sandy Frank, who licensed the Gamera films, “Mighty Jack,” “Time of the Apes,” etc. owned the license for this show and did the English-language adaptation.

    Some good riffs:

    “Honey, I’m busy being a jerk here.”

    “I bid you lick me.”

    “I’m benign.”

    “Well, rock and roll martian I guess.”

    Fav Riff: “It bores me.”


  • 5
    Tork_110 says:

    Every single gag where they reminded us that this was a story being told by Grandpa Borgnine was gold.

    That last sketch was great because I didn’t even notice what Brain Guy was doing in the background the first time I saw it.


  • 6
    Colossus Prime says:

    As I rewatch all of these episodes along with the weekly reviews I’m realizing more and more how awesome some host segments are and feel I have to control myself from fawning over how awesome they are. The same holds true here. Everything about the opening from the way Crow says “I’m cold and lonely,” to Mike’s expressions through out the whole thing, all just amazing. Then the follow up of Mike trying to swallow a large mouth bass, dropping it and thinking he swallowed it… awesome. And then how quickly Tom’s despotic reign came into being… ok I’m done fawning.

    On its own the movie is so insanely dark for a family movie. But in turn it provides for equally dark riffing that in turn mocks the movie for being inappropriately dark. Dark and of course, pretty darn incompetent. I know that at least the Monkey story was tacked on, but the integration is just insane. Why in the world would Merlin leave such a powerful thing in the main room of his shop instead of locked in a vault with other dangerous/evil items? Plus they show that Merlin is clearly aware that someone broke in, but he just slinks away and lets the thief wander around. And what would happen if someone came in, picked it up and asked to buy it? Are they just going to say, “Oh sorry, that’s not for sale. I just have it sitting out for no good reason”? By the way, run that line through your head in M&tBs exaggerated Merlin voice, it’s quite entertaining.

    And on its own the monkey story is just ridiculous, especially the scene where David is talking to his psychic friend who is just bizarrely mean. Plus I love the whole thing on how she can’t do anything because if she got close to the monkey, “all hell would break loose,” but didn’t she go over and observe it already and nothing happened?

    This movie also led to a rare phenomenon for me; calling riffs moments before M&tB. Normally I just sit back and enjoy, but for some reason my mind jumped at these two:

    Tom: Tito Puente!
    Crow: Are these two dating?

    In fact I sat down and watched this with a friend once and he also said that second one moments before Crow.

    Fav Riffs:
    Tom: The kid looks sort of like a mouse, I guess I can give it a shot. (this is 100% inflection use at its best)

    Tom: Meow, meow safe. Meow, meow very safe! (I have no idea how many times I saw this before I caught this as a Marathon Man reference)

    Tanta Borgnine: Uh oh.
    Mike: I farted.

    Mike: (after the monkey clangs his cymbals) I’m sorry, I thought you said, “[1812 Overture]”

    And a favorite line of dialogue –
    Bobo: I love bags!


  • 7
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Ironically the first time I watched this episode I was sorting cards for a party game called “Curses.”

    * This is one of those that I really didn’t like the first time I saw it. Not because of the riffs, but because of the content of the movie. Being an animal lover I was seriously p***ed off at the gruesome deaths of the cat and dog.
    * Question of the day: Does Johnathan retain his memories of adulthood after he’s turned into a baby?
    * I also have a Bethagram, it goes off whenever my sister-in-law (whose name is Beth) is around.
    * “My God, David!” makes for a great Windows error sound. Especially since that’s my real name as well.
    * Favorite riffs:
    “So… she just threatened him with sex?” – Mike
    “But Dad, I’m a ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MARTIAN!” – Crow
    “Look, my reviews have destroyed whole cities!” – Servo

    Host Segments:
    * I agree with Sampo in that they’re kind of “blah” in this one. There are chuckle moments but nothing really stands out.
    * Favorite line: “Would you just get in the bag. PLEASE!”

    Things I Learned From This Episode:
    * Merlin’s magic shop is just a little side job when he’s not busy up in the clouds with Santa.
    * Gifts that women give my children are inherently evil.
    * Merlin is out there… Somewhere… Watching… Waiting…


  • 8
    Gummo says:

    I’ll have to give this one another try. It’s always been among my least favorites of the SciFi era, right up there (or down there?) with snoozefest Hamlet.

    But I trust you folks too much to just dismiss it out of hand….


  • 9
    ck says:

    As the hyper psychic might say:

    Oh well, just picture David and (Susan?)engaging in muskrat lovin’.


  • 10
    Joseph Nebus says:

    The freaky cartoon the kid is watching is Ub Iwerks’s Balloonland, which you can find on every third public domain cartoon DVD ever. It’s a real Iwerksian nightmare piece in which life is playfully given to inanimate objects, in this case balloons, and then cruelly and repeatedly snuffed out.

    In the story the genial yet vague characters sing around a bit until the female lead is kidnapped by the villainous Pincushion, and the bland male lead leads an assault on the villain until he’s vanquished and we suppose it’s a happy ending, like two-thirds of all Betty Boop cartoons.

    I really like this episode particularly as a bizarrely “lost” episode. Going out on the promised continuity-thing of Pearl working for her mad scientist accreditation (and doesn’t that sound like a fanfic theme running through the old Web Site Number Nine days?) and insisting the movies will continue and will keep getting worse and worse feels like a promising staring-into-the-unknown-yet-hopeful-future scenario. If you didn’t know the show was over, it’d feel like a nice way to close still.


  • 11
    Brian says:

    “The power’s out!”

    “Better eat all the ice cream! LOL


  • 12
    mataglap says:

    I don’t remember seeing this on tv more than once or twice, but according to your broadcast schedule archive it was shown periodically during the 4 years of re-runs after the show was canceled, although not as often as Prince of Space and some of the other classics. So I guess whatever rights problem they had wasn’t as bad as Gorgo, which was never shown again after its initial airing.

    Fav line is at the very beginning: “I wonder whose kid that is?”


  • 13
    Johnny Ryde says:

    I find this one good-but-not-great(tm). I almost never put this one into my viewing rotation, but not because of a dislike of the riffing. I’m terribly squeamish about that bit where the monkey is trying to kill the kid by having him run over by the distracted idiot driver. The deaths of the animals doesn’t help either.

    Also, the extreme episodic nature of the movie is a turn-off for me. I know we’ve had that before (and RIDING WITH DEATH is one of my all-time favorites), but here, not even the main characters cross over from one film to the other. Merlin is basically in a filmed cameo in the second film. The first segment doesn’t even have a monkey!

    What name does the fortune teller spell out on the ouija board at the beginning? The riffing blocks a few letters and then she just starts screaming…

    “I’m Bob Jackass.” — This guy has to be one of the best blatantly evil, over the top characters we’ve seen in a MST3k film.

    “This pitch is over, old man!”

    Chess Master 2000. Who else remembers those full page ads in computer magazines in the ’80s and ’90s?

    Moosehead drinker.

    The family in the second film are Dallas Cowboy fans. So, basically they do deserve it. Smile

    For me, the second segment is the film that reminds me of what the early ’80s was really like to live through. The clothes, the fashions, the cars, the decorating, the toys. No evil monkeys that I remember from my childhood though…

    It was sort of weird seeing this premiere after 1013 had already aired weeks before. And sort of sad too. Mary Jo Pehl’s line of “The movies are only going to get worse…” is sadly true. The movies are going to get worse… but for a while we had no MST3k or replacement to help us get through it.


  • 14
    GonzoRedux says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the monkey story originally ended with the entire family dying. Not to get too macabre, but I’d kind of wish that could have been the ending of the episode. The whole movie would begin looking as demoralizing as Manos and put it in an elite class of wretched movies…

    Not that there’s not enough here already. This was a great way to end the show–a great episode to get me over the blues I felt after August 8th…


  • 15
    Dark Grandma of Death says:

    A lot of disturbing factors of this “movie” – the horrible dickweed of a husband turning into a baby, the kid riding a Big Wheel into the street, roasted pets, a tacky, used toy monkey as a birthday gift, the over-the-top enraged psychic….it doesn’t get much more MSTiable.

    This episode has provided two not-uncommon phrases around our house: The odd “You’re welcome,” that Servo echoes several times, and (my favorite) Crow’s “I’ll give you a cookie if you shut up.”

    I’m pretty sure the stinger shows the Rock ‘n’ Roll Martian kid saying exactly what they think he’s saying.

    Wonderful host segments, great riffs, great episode!


  • 16
    Patrick says:

    Favorite riff – “And then there’s the pollups in my colon.”


  • 17
    RPG says:

    “You’re weeelcooome.”

    The trouble is, I think there are more douche-y ‘critics’ like the guy in this movie in this day and age. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all big babies too.


  • 18
    trickymutha says:

    One of my favorties- great family entertainment- the first time I watched this I had two teenage boys and an eight year old- we laughed out loud at how absurd the “plot” was- two lame films linked together. Merlin was rather a dickweed, but the cruel reviewer stole our hearts. For weeks after the first showing we were “reviewing” each other. Years later (last summer to be exact) I played this episode for my GF, she laughed so hard at it- well, to say the least, she and I snuggled up on the couch while the “plot” unfolded. She likes TCM, and couldn’t believe the star of “Marty” had become a beached whale terrorizing his grandson (while he wasn’t a shill on QVC)- Five ***** think I’ll watch it this weekend!


  • 19
    badger1970 says:

    This movie actually hurts (maybe because of the clothing of my youth). The riffing is good with the pointing out of too many convenient coincidences.


  • 20
    Bat Masterson says:

    I love this episode so much. My favorite joke:

    “Magic makes me hungry for grilled brats!”


  • 21
    Edge10 says:

    Hey Chatty Cathy were you gotta go?

    Your Welllllcome!


  • 22
    Roman Martel says:

    Wow, I love this one. It’s gotta be the last of the top notch episodes in my book. The weakest part of the episode is the opening segment and that is still funny.

    What I love about the movie is all the layers to it. The piecemeal aspects, the fact that grandpa Borgnine is telling these horrible stories to his grandson, the way Merlin is shoehorned in there, the conflicting decades. Its all great stuff.

    The extremely dark nature of the two main stories really makes me wonder what they were thinking about using Merlin as a framing device. Especially since Merlin was described as all magical and mystical and a generally nice guy (if a bit of a moron). I get the feeling that the director really wanted to make horror films and ended up trying to package this as a family film – for some unknown reason.

    Anyway this is easily five out of five rock and roll Martians in my book.

    I’m not sure that the anime is “Gatchaman”. The outfits don’t look quite right to me. I think it might be “Starblazers”, but I’m not as familiar with that show. It reminds me of a anime movie I rented as a kid in the 80’s called “Ultraman” that didn’t feature the giant robot Ultraman.

    Click on my name for a full review.


  • 23
    Sitting Duck says:

    Among my favorte riffs are when they speculate on Borgnine’s narration, typically during scenes which are either exceedingly mundane or exceedingly nightmare-ish.


  • 24


    Was it this film that was the most recently-made film they ever did? I can never keep that straight.


  • 25

    The Balloonland cartoon is a perfect example of one of my wife’s pet peeves about movie reality: in what world are cartoons like this regularly on TV, aside from Pee Wee’s Playhouse?
    The “You’re welcome” line got a lot of mileage with one of my roommates and I. And Rock and Roll Martian is one of my all-time favorite stingers. Along with This is where the fish lives and Mom, my nuts?


  • 26
    Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I’ve just got to get this out: I completely LOATHE the Rock-n-Roll Martian Kid. “Deeyad! Deeyad!” Of course, the other actors in this movie(s) are pretty unlikable, too. Except for Borgnine. Lord knows why he felt he needed to do this. One of the best movie heavies (no pun intended) of all time. From Here to Eternity, Bad Day at Black Rock, and Johnny Guitar are a few of my favorite performances. That being said, some of the best riffs are at his expense, with my favorite being Servo’s labored groans as Borgnine hoists himself up and down from the couch.


  • 27
    H says:

    I’d agree with good-not-great for this one. The movie’s good and so are the host segments but nothing really stands out to me. Still, nice to have a sort of bonus after the show ending. Very appropriate, considering episode 104 was produced last in Season 1 so a bit of a reversal there.


  • 28
    Brandon says:

    #24 Nope. This film was made in 1995.

    The two “most recent” films they had ever done were Robot Holocaust (made in 1986, riffed in 1989), and Future War (1997, 1999).

    If anyone’s wondering what caused the rights issues for this movie, I vaguely remember Hallmark running this film several times over the summer of 1999.

    Sampo, usually the riffs you pick as your favorite, are riffs that just sound completely mundane out of context. But here you’ve picked two very funny riffs, where you don’t need to know about what they’re responses to, in order to laugh. “Tonight on Old Lady Gets Killed”, just sounds humorous right off the bat.

    I’m a LT fan, so “Bugs Bunny must have taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque” gets me.

    Also, I know this is cruel, but “We’ll change the dog’s name to Crispy” floors me.

    Random observation: SEVERAL people on have whined about this being the darkest, and most horrifying film that was riffed on MST3K. I look at this film and think, “Um… I don’t have a problem with this film.” Nothing about it scares me in the least. Hell, “Incredibly Strange Creatures” was more unsettling to me than this film, or any other.


  • 29
    CG says:

    Wow, one of my top ten episodes and easily a 5 out of 5 for me. Great stuff!

    Random observations:

    -Did anyone else think that Mr. Cooper bears a strong resemblance to Senator John Kerry? (Before Cooper’s Satanic transformation, of course.) They even sound like each other!

    -Not only was the second movie once a completely different film, but it allegedly ripped off a Stephen King story, called “The Monkey,” which dealt with – you guessed it – a possessed toy monkey.

    And doesn’t the monkey on the cover of King’s book look a little familiar?

    – Here’s a link to the plot description of original movie with the monkey. As you can tell, the original was even darker than the MST3K version. Oh, and as mentioned above: In the end, the monkey kills everyone. Grandma, Dad, kid. You hear them screaming and it cuts to black. Thanks, Grandpa Borgnine!

    Someone uploaded the entire “Devil’s Gift” movie to youtube, which you can watch here:

    -I agree with the poster who loved all of the “Grandpa Borgnine” descriptions during the lulls in the movie. “By this time, Billy, a kid threw a chicken while an infertile couple browsed a store!”

    -One of my favorite moments is when Mr. Cooper finds a potion to a youth spell, and then says in that weird voice, “Well, we must remain young and vital!” The incredulous way Mike laughed at that was better than almost any riff they could have created.

    -I met Ernest Borgnine once. He’s really cool.

    -Nicholas is so cute!

    -The ending to the first movie is very similar to the ending of a famous Twilight Zone episode. Just like here, an older man is drinks a youth potion and accidentally turns into a baby for his wife to raise. (Love Servo’s line, “Based on a story by Sigmund Freud!”

    -I also agree that the animal abuse, particularly with the dog, was disturbing. Mike and the bots were somehow able to pull off some excellent riffing here, which looked tough to do. I have a feeling that if this were a Joel movie, they’d just be yelling in outrage at this part (which would also be funny.)

    -The riffing in the first half is absolutely spectacular: the Ouija board lady, the grandpa conversations, the stuff going on in the store. The second half is also hilarious. I always laugh at Uncle Pusher the flirtatious neighbor, among other things. So, a hearty “Rock ‘n roll Martian” to all!


  • 30
    Johnny Ryde says:

    @Brandon, #28:

    I think the reason this seems more terrifying/horrific to some (including me) is that the danger is more mundane and realistic. The threats in more fantastical settings or from more ridiculous sources don’t seem as frightening to me. To take the ISCWSLABMUZ route, a zombie created by a man fortune teller who throws acid on the faces of middle aged executives who spurn her is not something I ever realistically expect to encounter in everyday life. By contrast the thought of a kid on a Big Wheel hit by a car sends a shiver up my spine because I can imagine it happening in real-life (and I hope I never ever see or experience anything remotely like that in real-life).

    My two cents, anyway…


  • 31
    Colossus Prime says:

    Also, why doesn’t David try breaking the monkey’s arms off or just sticking a small pillow between the cymbols? Both seem like incredibly simple solutions compared to pretending to accidentally knock it into a bag and put it in the trash (“Why couldn’t the monkey orchestrate this from inside the garbage?”) or trying to burry it.


  • 32
    Ator In Flight says:

    5 stars for me. The riffing is great and the host segments are all at good except for the opening and the intro. I never thought I would see Mike in a diaper,um not that I wanted to. The movie gives them alot to work with,but if this is suppose to be a kids movie? It’s kind of dark. They kill off a dog and cat by burning them plus the goldfish. Also Johnathan is a giant a-hole.

    Favorite riffs
    “Taste the rainbow of fruit pain.” I still love saying that.
    “Okay let’s predict some crap.”
    “Excuse my juicy belches.”
    “Uh oh,we better eat all the ice cream.”
    “What did that quack have to say? He blamed your wiener.”
    “Yeah I got a crack this guy can crawl out of.”
    “I’m stiff and dry and I have a big lumpy butt.”

    Sometimes the lines in the movie are just funny on their own.
    “Ah yes we must stay young and vital.”
    “You’re welllcome!”


  • 33
    Smoothie of Great Power says:


    Werewolf was also made in 1995 so Future War, that and this are most likely the most “modern three” on the show.


  • 34
    Ator In Flight says:

    Yes another post. I wanted to write “the host segments are all good” no at in there. Ooops.

    Anyway I thought “Rock n Roll Martain” was kind of catchy.


  • 35
    Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    ‘Brought to you by LSD’


  • 36
    Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I fogot this episode has one of my favorite animal cruelty riffs:



  • 37
    Apollonia James (yeah, right) says:

    One of my favorite riffs ever:

    “Ride, Shadowfax, riiiide!” LOL


  • 38
    afrgarga says:

    The anime clip in it is from “The Ultraman” the animated Ultraman series. “The Ultraman” does have a normal giant Ultraman, btw. At one point Our Hero is confined in a small chamber, so he transforms into Ultraman and destroys the space ship in the process.


  • 39

    As was noted in #32, Werewolf was from 1995 as well, and according to Daddy-O’s Drive-in Dirt, Future War was originally released in 1994, not 1997. I’m not sure about the exact timing, but I’m under the impression that Merlin here was technically later than Werewolf, which would indeed make it the youngest. I still want to confirm that . . .


  • 40
    Roman Martel says:

    Thank you Afrgarga! I ended up looking Ultraman up on Wiki and it described the anime. I thought I remembered it pretty well. I blew me away back in the early 80’s. So when I saw it in this movie, I was pretty sure it was “The Ultraman”.
    Wiki mentions that it was released in two parts on VHS, so I wonder if I only ever saw one part, and that part didn’t have robot.
    Thanks again. Smile


  • 41
    JCC says:

    Seems like a pretty dour review of the episode, but I love it, one of my faves. And that includes the sketches as well.

    “Which chin should I put my hand on?”


  • 42
    Tim S. Turner says:

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This is one of the funniest episodes of season 10. It’s waaaaaaay funnier than “Diabolik”.
    “I’m being a jerk, honey!”


  • 43
    Brandon says:

    “I can’t seem to find my monkey.” “Have you checked under your robe?”

    “Is that you, Beany Boy?!”


  • 44
    Spector says:

    I realize this one’s a favorite for a lot of you but for me this is amongst my least favorite episodes. The host segments are great but I don’t find the riffing in this one particularly good. I agree it’s waaaaaay funnier than Diabolik, but for me the riffing just lacks the usual snap. I got the feeling they were going through the motions with this one. Probably just me but after repeated viewings I still can’t get any real enjoyment out of this one. This ranks with the Fugitive Alien series and most of the Gamera movies amongst my least favorite episodes. Happily there would be better ones than this to come in Season Ten. Two stars out of five.


  • 45
    Creeping Terror says:

    Two of my favorite riffs that haven’t been mentioned both remind you that Ernest Borgnine’s telling the story to his grandson:
    “So then an infertile woman picked up a stone and a kid threw a chicken.”
    “No, Grandpa Borgnine! Leave light and hope for me in the world!”

    I also love “He’s going around town dressed in a robe asking people if they’ve seen his monkey.”

    Not much more to say about the movie besides what’s been mentioned. I just can’t figure out who it was marketed to, though. It’s obviously not a kids’ film, but what teenager or adult would be interested in this “horror” film in a post-Nightmare on Elm Street/Exorcist/Halloween era?

    We’re obviously missing earlier scenes from the psychic, possibly where she visits the house and investigates the monkey. I’ve never seen the uncut “The Devil’s Gift,” so I can’t be sure. If she had earlier scenes where she was scared or overcome by the monkey’s evil influence, it could explain her OVER THE TOP acting in the scene.

    As for how dark/scary this movie is, I don’t see it. The “tension” of a toy monkey crashing toy cymbals isn’t there for me. The jerk reviewer getting his just desserts (sort of) isn’t scary so much as it is bizarre. (The pedantic writing setting up the obvious plot points for the story doesn’t help with the suspense.)

    All in all, I think that this episode is a great introduction to MST3K. I’ve initiated a few people into our little cult with it, and it seems to go over well. The riffing is really accessible and the host segments do a good job at introducing who the characters are if you’ve never seen the show. (Mike being a lunkhead by thinking he’s swallowed a large mouth bass. Pearl being a mad scientist with her fire ants experiment. Bobo beings Bobo. The list goes on.)


  • 46
    Spalanzani says:

    I used to not be overly fond of this one, but it’s grown on me.

    I love how Merlin saves the day at the end simply by using his hand to stop the monkey’s cymbals from clashing. Why couldn’t David have done that? Apparently he’s just too stupid.

    I also love Mike and the bots’ incredulity during the scene where Merlin just happens to run into the guy who sold the monkey to the kids grandma, who luckily and improbably has her address. guy: “It’s the damnedest thing!” Crow: “It sure is…”


  • 47
    afrgarga says:

    @Roman Martel
    I’m pretty sure it was in the “ADVENTURE OF ULTRAMAN” dubbed bit found in the raw set of the series. There’s a torrent of the whole set on tokyotosho if you don’t mind being evil and would download a car.


  • 48
    Normal View82 says:

    Crow: “See the problem is he’s walking the streets in a robe asking people if they’ve seen his monkey”

    The patchwork nature of this film along with the completely accurate time warp that is the “Hello, 70’s house” makes this one of my favorites. Borgnine’s jaded grandson is a hoot, Merlin is creepy as hell and the cameo by the goblin puppets from the criminally-never-riffed movie Troll is awesome (anybody else notice them?).

    I do have one question though, “Why is she wearing a doggy bed on her head?”


  • 49
    kismetgirl88 says:

    @ 44 “We’re obviously missing earlier scenes from the psychic, possibly where she visits the house and investigates the monkey. I’ve never seen the uncut “The Devil’s Gift,” so I can’t be sure. If she had earlier scenes where she was scared or overcome by the monkey’s evil influence, it could explain her OVER THE TOP acting in the scene.”

    I just I like the idea the psychic was mean and thought David was idiot which he was. “My God, David!”

    Other fav riff “So she has raise her husband”
    “Well that what most wives think that what they do”


  • 50
    Jeyl says:

    It’s a pity the Rhino release of this movie was plagued by having the picture be so dark. Usually you could see Mike and the Bots when there was nothing but black on the screen, in here you can’t.


  • 51
    MSTJon says:

    ***** one of my faves. Love any riff reminding us that this is essentially a bedtime story. Think it would have made more sense to have Grandpa tell the first story, the kid isn’t asleep so he tells the second story. The idea that the old man has shoehorned Merlin into two independent stories wouldn’t even fool this kid. Personally I think the decent print and sound would help make this a great introductory ep.


  • 52
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    I can only go 3 stars on this one. The subject film is just not very engaging for me. They riff hard and well, the hosts are pretty good, but not that re-watchable for me.

    I don’t mind the Borgnine jokes, cuz they are funny. But I do kinda like Ernest Borgnine. Won an Oscar for Marty, he had a lot of fun with McHales Navy, and I am one of the 15 people in America that saw Gattaca in the theater.

    Has anyone commented about the parrallel between Pearl raising Dr F from a baby again ( story told early in Season 8 ), and the woman here having to raise her husband up from a baby ?


  • 53
    John Paradox says:

    FYI, re: The Devil’s Gift.
    A quick google finds the original 1980’s version available (in segments) on YouTube, for your viewing ‘pleasure’.



  • 54

    I’ll support those saying this is a strong episode. Not in my top ten, but good stuff all around. Except . . .

    “All in all, I think that this episode is a great introduction to MST3K.”

    So would I, except that I’ve had multiple people get seriously turned off by the dog dying. None of them ever really cared about the cat, but apparently a lot of dog lovers are so sentimental that they can’t look past that one part of the movie. I actually had one person refuse to watch *any* other MST3k episodes because of that one scene.

    Yes, this person was so irrational about their love for a fictional dog that they apparently could not conceive of how other episodes could *not* show equally horrible things. Or maybe blamed them for being willing to televise that at all. I guess. Why blame the show for the movie? I can’t stand Manos, but even if it were the first I saw I can think logically of how other episodes would vary by fodder. And in both her actual case and my example, we enjoyed/would enjoy the actual riffing element. Why then would you not see value in testing other episodes? Man.


  • 55
    M "Tell The Other Monkey Percussionists I Love Them" Sipher says:

    This is another one of my favorites. I’m not sure about top-ten, but not far from it at least. The Brains diffuse the “dark” with sheer ridiculousness, and their adding on to the angry psychic is priceless. And for no good reason, Crow singing “Guy With A Toy Monkey On The Run” gets me every time.

    I’ll agree that the “mundane” nature of most of the evil monkey’s threats gives the film a lot darker edge than most, if not all of the past movies. Which makes the end where it’s causing earthquakes and crap even more ridiculous. For those who’ve seen the original… where did the monkey come from? Are we to assume Aggressively Pleasant Mom is really Satan?

    And… yeah. Uh… Intellivision is a “current” ref for the mid-90s? I It wasn’t even really a “current” ref for the mid-80s. Early 80’s maybe. It was an Atari competitor.


  • 56
    MonkeyPatrol:InColor says:

    As I said in the weekend discussion thread, in the first 20 minutes of this episode every single riff hits hard. I’ve watched this one so many times, and the first “story” in the movie never fails to bring me to tears of laughter. The rest of the movie goes on pretty steadily, but boy, that first third is a gold nugget of riff-tastic genius. One of my favorite scenes is when the monkey dad visits the inappropriately pissed-off psychic. Brilliant.


  • 57
    Tom says:

    This has always been one of my favorite episodes. To me, it’s one of those where the movie is goofy enough on it’s own, that the riffing makes a perfect compliment.


  • 58
    CG says:

    (Quick note: I already sent out a comment, but it was held up in the moderation queue because it contained links. So if a similar comment shows up after this one, it’s not my evil twin or anything like that.)

    I LOVE this episode; five stars. It’s definitely a top ten for me.

    Random things:

    -As mentioned above, “The Devil’s Gift” is available on Youtube. There’s a plot summary on Wikipedia as well – and if you read it, you’ll find that the movie is MUCH darker than the Merlin edit. Also, if you watch the end of the movie on Youtube, you’ll learn that the monkey kills the family, with their screams echoing through the house as the movie cuts to black. Thanks, Grandpa Borgnine!

    -LOVED all the Grandpa Borgnine riffs, both in the segments with grandson and during the boring parts of the movie. (“By this point, Billy, a kid threw a chicken while an infertile couple browsed a store!”)

    -I agree with #55 – every riff in the first 20 minutes is brilliant. I won’t list them all here, but, yeah, they rock.

    -Did anyone else think that Mr. Cooper bears a strong resemblance to Senator John Kerry? They even sound like each other!

    -I absolutely love the part where Mr. Cooper finds the youth spell and says in that weird voice, “Well, we must remain young and vital!” The way Mike laughs in response to that is better than almost any riff.

    -Loved the Midnight Cowboy/Nilsson reference (“I’m goin where the sun keeps shinin, through the pourin rain”)

    -I loved the character of Pete, aka Uncle Pusher. Why did they make him so flamboyant?

    -I kinda liked Zurella and her over-the-top performance. She seemed to grasp that this was supposed to be a movie for kids (unlike, say, the writer).

    -The end to Movie #1 bears a strong resemblance to the end of a famous Twilight Zone episode, “A Short Drink From A Certain Fountain.” In that episode, an older man drinks youth potion and turns into a baby for his wife to raise.

    -The “animal abuse” (particularly the dog) is definitely disturbing, as mentioned above. That said, Mike and the bots got some brilliant dark riffs out of it, which seemed to be VERY difficult to do. A thought: If this movie was riffed in Joel’s era, I could see them all screaming at the movie and getting angry as opposed to riffing. Which would be funny too.

    -TOO MANY great riffs to mention, but I’ll randomly throw out “Now I’ll have to send you to Hell!”, “No, Grandpa Borgnine, not another subplot!”, “The sky took his life, as lovers often do,” “Seventies house, can I help you?”, and “It’s the monkey.” Oh, and Rock ‘n roll Martian!


  • 59
    Torgo's Pizza's on my speed dial says:

    What a cruel and unpleasant mash-up of a movie – it deserved the MST treatment. I’m actually glad that Merlin (“That’s right lady, look at the monkey.”) showed up at the end to re-direct the nihilism into something resembling a happy conclusion…such as it was.

    “No, Grandpa Borgnine, leave me hope and joy!”


  • 60

    Not outstanding? I think this one beats the hell out of the previous 2. 5 Stars!


  • 61
    Trilaan says:

    Yet another in a long list of episodes that makes one ask the question….”Okay, which one of the long-time MST3K cast member is the infantilist?” Finally, after years of references to film characters wearing diapers, we finally get a cast member wearing one.

    Favorite part, when the psychick gets increasingly ticked off at our heroic father, pardon me, our father who really looks like he could go for a hero sandwich.

    Once again a bit of a slam on witchcraft during the film and 2nd host segment. Totally justified, though, since in popular myth Merlin WAS the son of Satan, so you’d expect his book of spells would have a darker tint to them that your more life-affirming modern witch’s Book of Shadows. At least the movie writers seemed to have some idea of the Rule of Three since the evil our critic planned to do was indeed revisited upon him. I’m rambling now, aren’t I? Sorry.

    Anyway, great episode, bizarre and creepy film (what kid wouldn’t want a creepy, smiling, dead-eyed cymbal clapping monkey, blech) I’d love a copy of Ernest Borgnine’s children’s books. Except for Dr. Blood’s Orgy of Gore, that one’s just too awful.


  • 62
    DamonD says:

    “Remember that kitten, Billy? That was nothing compared to this!”

    I loved their twisted narration for Borgnine, the increasingly furious medium and the bizarrely fey Merlin.


  • 63
    Cornjob says:

    “You just don’t believe in Merlin and his holy demons!”

    That riff sums up the theological confusion of this movie quite well. Not as inconsistant as Soultaker’s metaphysics, but even weirder than Pumaman’s doctrine.


  • 64
    Big McLargeHuge says:

    Anyone else think it strange that the kid was so happy to get creepy monkey doll as a birthday gift? Yeah, when I was that age, I would have thought a monkey doll was just as awesome as an Imperial AT-AT Walker. Then again, they did name their dog “Sparkle,” which sounds more like the name of a dance team competing on Star Search, so I guess there’s no accounting for taste.


  • 65
    fry1laurie says:

    The family in the second part of the film had the worst taste I’ve ever encountered. Both the wife and the man’s mother buy a horrid little cymbal-playing monkey? What next, a Buddah figure with a clock inside the belly?


  • 66
    Brandon says:

    BTW, why does the dad have “portraits” or people, instead of photos?

    “I really need to get pictures my own family.”

    Also, I always thought the anime being show was Battle of the Planets. I was wrong!


  • 67
    Flying Saucers Over Oz says:

    Not one of my favorites, but a bizarre, deranged little episode. It’s oddly amusing how NOTHING in this movie fits together. Ernest Borgnine’s telling the plots of his failed movie submissions to his bored grandson, who’s just finished watching an old lady burn to death on TV. What?

    “So that’s how you got rid of Grandma, eh?”


  • 68

    “Merlin was a thieving crackhead who fenced VCRs to feed his habit.”

    I can agree that some of the host segments are a little weak, but overall, this has to be one of the top 3 episodes of season 10. It’s a personal favorite, and with the exception of Space Mutiny, probably the episode I’ve seen the most. So much of the movie riffing is absolute gold; I can’t think of a single dead spot, which is rare even for an excellent episode. Agree completely with all the posters who love the riffs reminding us that this is Grandpa Borgnine’s story: “He puttered around in the kitchen for a while and got himself a cold drink.” “See, what I’m trying to say, Billy, is that man dies with a whimper, staring into the face of ultimate darkness.” I really have to wonder what has to be in an episode to get out of “good but not great” status if this doesn’t escape that.

    There are two gems in the host segments, which kind of balance out some of the weaker stuff: Servo’s rapidly-quashed dictator (“I’ve come down with a sudden junta” is one of my favorite lines by anyone, anywhere) and the bots’ reviews of each other (“The verdict is in, and the world was not awaiting a chubby pompous eunuch!”).


  • 69
    losingmydignity says:

    This one is a lot of fun…a solid ep but not outstanding. Though it does have one memorable line that became quite an in joke between me and some others: “Have you seen my little monkey?”

    Well, have you?



  • 70
    incrediblehorriblemrlimpet says:


    *The old lady at the beginning makes an odd, smoker’s-raspy, very-low-to-moderately-high moan (sounding like a door creaking) which is perfectly matched by Mike reversing the same moan from moderately high to very low.
    *Zurella slowly turning around to face the camera, given voice by Servo with an equally slo-mo sounding monster growl.
    *Crow, as Zurella whispers into Merlin’s ear, “Button your robe”.
    *Merlin: “Mark my words”. Mike: “Munch my shorts”.
    *Mike wondering about Ernest Borgnine, “Is that a sea turtle under his sweater vest?”
    *”I’m Ritz!!”


  • 71
    MiqelDotCom says:

    Was that a sideways callback to “Fugitive Alien” drunk captain? (You’re stuck here!)
    Jonathan “As they say, knock my socks off”
    Zurella – Cackling laugh that stops suddenly
    Mike “You Have No Socks!”

    The riffs about the infertility subplot really cracked me up when i first saw this.
    Jonathan: “it’s nothing more than a rock”
    Mike “like your womb”

    I love how in addition to the riffs they often just laugh at the jerk columnist and how over-acted his character is. The continuity in this ‘film’ is a total mess, especially the parts where Merlin is edited into the monkey-toy film. The older film has that saturated, darker look, clearly a different film stock than Merlin’s scenes.

    I agree with the ‘good but not great’ rating. A solid episode, funny but not stellar.


  • 72
    Keith Palmer says:

    I think the “Devil’s Gift” part of the movie is my personal favourite part of this episode (although the rest of it certainly isn’t bad!)… which may be for no more complicated a reason than that its “1983-ish” setting is something I was a kid for myself. (I do kind of like the subtlety of the “riffs” on it.) Still, learning at last that “everybody dies” instead of “an amiable wizard wanders in at the last moment and gently chides the monkey” is sort of depressing…


  • 73
    HotDrawnButter says:

    one of my absolute favorites! “twinkle”


  • 74
    fathermushroom says:

    “Oh, come on, Grandpa Borgnine, no wonder you never sold this turkey!”


  • 75
    Edge10 says:

    I said ‘Your Welllllcome!’

    Someday I will learn the difference between your and you’re.

    I hang my head in shame. Oops!


  • 76
    mikek says:

    I’m still watching this episode. Right now there are two things in this episode that stay with me. It’s those subtle things that Mike and ‘Bots do in addition to the normal riffing.

    1. Borgnine’s crotch is right in front of Crow. Seeing this, Crow leans to his right, trying to get out of the way of Borgnine’s “area.” Mike notices this too and is equally repelled.

    2. When Madeline is seeing what is going on in the garage, Crow says of her, “That protrudes my neck cords!” Right after that, Servo quietly says, “I’ll say,” as he observes her neck.


  • 77
    Evan K says:

    Larry “Bud” Mellman was a household name in 1999? 1989, maybe.


  • 78
    Wampa Joe says:

    One of my all-time favorites. It’s one of those rare instances where the movie is a total mess, yet it’s not bleak, drab, or dreary. I agree with those who said it’s the perfect introduction to MST3K. I’ve got a few of my friends hooked with this episode.

    It definitely shows how we all have our own view of what MST3K should be. So many of you are saying it’s an average episode, while others say it’s everything an MST3K episode can and should be.


  • 79
    crowJschmo says:

    Well, I guess I’m in the minority again. I thought this episode was pretty dull. Host segments were blah, riffing was okay in spots, but not great. When they did Borgnine’s assumed narration it was pretty good, and the only time I really laughed was the scene with the “clairvoyant” yelling at the dad.

    Um…Crow has a nephew?


  • 80
    Brandon says:

    Okay, this’ll sound like weird question, but when Borgnine sits down on the couch, just as Servo makes the fart joke, and Bornine says, “Young man…”, I swear it looks like a spark or something comes out of Borgnine’s ass! Does anyone else see that?


  • 81
    Thomas K. Dye says:

    To me, this is the best Season Ten. It’s like riffing on an “Amazing Stories” episode. In fact, I’ve said before that I suspect the first half of the movie is an unsold TV pilot that Berton decided to salvage into a movie by stitching on bits of his earlier film. He also managed to scrounge up enough money to get Borgnine for what must have been a NIGHT’S WORTH OF SHOOTING at MOST, and somehow — voila — a movie.

    In that way I admire the guy’s resourcefulness, but it’s painful how he did stitch it together. As Sampo noted, that scene with Merlin and the guy on the bench towards the end of the film is truly execrable. Tom and Crow rightly groan throughout the guy’s “You know, it’s the darndest thing” speech.

    But because the pilot was about Merlin and full of whimsy (even in Cooper’s transformation) and “The Devil’s Gift” is a bland horror movie, the two don’t mesh at all. To me the whole endeavour puts Berton on the level of Wood when it comes to bad footage recycling, and that’s why I find it fascinating and amusing. I feel for the director, but honestly, he had no talent. Just a cynical view of what made money.


  • 82
    This Guy says:

    There’s no doubt in my mind that The Devil’s Gift rips off “The Monkey.” Some have tried to point out that Skeleton Crew came out in 1985, after the movie, but “The Monkey” was first published in a magazine in 1980.

    I actually think the angry psychic’s attitude is pretty well justified–I mean, who the hell would be dumb enough to think an object so obviously evil would be an appropriate gift for a child’s birthday? She’s right to berate the dad for his idiocy.


  • 83
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    One of the worst movies ever done on the show from a standpoint of pure incompetence, but it’s mostly the good kind of bad that is fascinating and fun to watch it’s so bizarre and unintentionally funny. MST3K certainly did a good job with it. Good jokes and sketches during this one. Another strong effort from the show’s final season.

    For all the jokes about him, Ernest Borgnine really is a fine actor. I know older actors have trouble getting good parts in Hollywood these days and it was a chance to get in front of a camera again, but it still seems wierd seeing an actor so good in such a bad movie.


  • 84
    zelxi says:

    What I liked most about this episode was the stinger.

    At first when you see the kid playing with the monkey singing ‘Rock N’ Roll Martian’; you wonder why that’s funny.

    Then they explained it’s the way the kid said it; it didn’t sound like ‘Rock N’ Roll Martian’; it sounded to them like ‘F**kin’ Old Martian.’

    I still laugh every time I think of that particular stinger.


  • 85
    Truck Farmer says:

    I give the first movie, um, the first half of the episode 4 stars, and the second movie, um, second half of the episode 3 stars. I agree with Sampo on the favorite riff and that would have to be one of my favorite riffs all time. Speaking of which, has there been a weekend discusion of favorite riffs? If not may I suggest that for one weekend.


  • 86
    Warren says:

    I prefer Airwolf if I have to see Borgnine, but this mashup of a movie is prime riffing material. Shortly after it aired I showed this to a friend who hadn’t seen it (even though he started watching the show before I did). We both lost it over Tom’s repeats of “you’re welcome”. This isn’t well-known, but there’s a ‘mystery kid’ in this movie. Look at the far right side of the screen at the :59 second mark in the linked video. It looks like a kid wanders on-screen then just as quickly walks back out.


  • 87
    Mighty Jack says:

    I love the host segs. Mike as a baby slays me. Riffing is rock solid, and at times as dark as the movie…

    “We’re gonna change the dog’s name to Crispy” – Servo

    “It’s nothing more than a rock” – “Like your womb” – Jonathan/Crow


  • 88
    I'm Evil says:

    Yes as Roman and Afrgarga noted, the anime is “Ultraman” not “Gatchman.” I had just read about “Gatchaman” and Sandy frank last week, so I must have had it on the brain.

    I hang my head in shame. I hope no one publishes a career ending review of me now.


  • 89
    Dan in WI says:

    I have to concure that this was a very weak episode. For me the simplest test is how often did I laugh out loud? This this case it simply wasn’t very often. Obviously that is a matter of taste and as it is been said many times one man’s Manos is another man’s season 1 episode.
    Now I wish I could figure out why episodes like this don’t make me laugh because I can’t even explain it to myself.

    Now here’s a possible discussion thread: MST3K: Do you laugh as hard watching an episode solo as you do with a group? After all laughter is contagious. I will point out I’ve only ever seen this episode solo.


  • 90
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ “it didn’t sound like ‘Rock N’ Roll Martian”
    Yes it did, to me anyway. I had no trouble understanding what the kid was saying even the first time I saw this. I thought the “song” was funny because it’s bizarre, completely random and seems to have no relation to anything going on at the time in the story such as it is. If the writers thought it sounded like something else it must have been because they were mind-numbed from having to watch the movie for work. Seriously, the actual line is so bizarre it’s plenty funny without having to imagine it sounds like something else.


  • 91
    trickymutha says:

    @54- it’s their loss- “it’s only a show…so really just relax.” If they want to take issue with the film, don’t take issue with M&TB; some people are sooooo uptight.


  • 92
    Fart Bargo says:

    @54-None o my biz but since you posted it;

    Do these folks you are referring to realize that the dog didn’t die as it was a movie, a bad one at that? Films n games are fine n fun but they are not real. Seems like more and more folks are confusing real and fantasy.


  • 93
    trennerdios says:

    @54 – I totally understand your frustration. Obviously I don’t know them personally, but I would be super annoyed by that kind of unnecessary, irrational behavior.

    I love this episode a lot. It’s worth it for the riffing alone which I consider to be top-notch. There are countless brilliant lines. I’m glad somebody else finally mentioned the “He puttered around the kitchen for awhile, then got himself a cold drink”. That line never fails to crack me up, along with “I very quickly sold Sparkle to a farm, where he’ll be happier.” There are so many amazing riffs I have to stop myself. I know there is always someone who could say this for nearly any episode, but I definitely have a hard time fathoming how people could consider this anything below “great”. Obviously it’s a matter of taste, but still….it’s not even just the riffs, it’s M&TBs’ inflections that get me rolling on the floor half the time. For awhile I actually ended my voice mail with “and remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you”. My mom didn’t like that at all….


  • 94
    Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    “I very quickly sold Sparkle to a farm where he’ll be happier!” I love my dog too, but that’s pretty funny. AND it’s just a movie. Whoops! Gotta go. Old Yeller is on. Followed by Where the Red Fern Grows. Followed by Plague Dogs. It’s gonna be a good day!


  • 95

    “so servo left my sight, so i guess that means he doesn’t exist anymore. ‘waaa’ i suppose”


  • 96
    Fart Bargo says:

    A solid ‘4’. To place it on a ‘chart’ is hard for me. I essentially have a top 10 (this changes all the time) and a bottom 10 (ditto) with the rest in the middle some where. This is upper middle right now.

    Like many, I thought the Devil’s Gift has a lot of potential to be so much better. I vaguely remember a very simular story in an old Hitchcock or TLZ? If not, they certainly should have.


  • 97
    Rich says:

    I’m one of your Johnny-come-lately MST3k fans, and this is one I find myself watching over and over again. One bit that tickled me so much I found myself winding it back and watching it over and over again was the sound one of those smart-alecks made when Grandpa Borgnine got up out of the chair- sort of a strained-pained-really determined groaning-growling sound. It sounded like Corbett. Can anyone verify that? And Pearl’s description of it as a family movie. Her big-blue-eyed lunacy always tickles me.


  • 98
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    TLZ – Twi Light Zone ?


  • 99
    Creeping Terror says:

    I concur with 92, 94, and others. What’s the problem with the dog and cat each getting roasted? Nothing graphic is shown, and it’s blindingly obvious that no real animals were hurt. Besides, the cat was possessed by a demon–as most cats are. Wink


  • 100
    Lucas D. says:

    I don’t know why, but the line “Hit the pavement, you Celtic fairy!” always cracks me up.


  • 101
    mikek says:

    Here are my favorite riffs from the second part of the movie.

    Crow, regarding the bearded neighbor: “It’s uncle pusher from next door.”

    Servo, as the bearded guy removes the party hat, “Ugh, too many Seagram’s Golden Coolers.”

    Mike, when the dad’s girlfriend comes home, “I’ve got Tang and Bugles.”

    Man in Ringo hat: “You look like a man who likes trinkets.” Mike: “ADULT trinkets.”


  • 102
    Johnny Ryde says:

    Just looked up Devil’s Gift on Youtube to see the real ending… While doing that I noticed that the Larry ‘Bud’ Melman fortune teller footage from MERLIN is *also* from Devil’s Gift (I had sort of assumed it was footage from some uncompleted third movie). It’s the opening scene and then it goes into the John McEnroe guy taking his kid to the local fair…

    So, presumably, Borgnine had seen Devil’s Gift previously, and then when the power went out, told the rest of the story (after detouring into Merlin-land) and took credit for it.

    Oh, and I still can’t figure out what Larry ‘Bud’ Melman is spelling out in the beginning. It starts with ‘A’ and then she just starts moaning AAAAA GOOOOOOO OWL DOWN TOWEL.


  • 103
    Johnny Ryde says:

    Oh, and in Devil’s Gift, the monkey begins the movie by killing the fortune teller (for no real reason that I can tell). But when it gets to the family, it starts by killing plants, then flies, then a dog and finally people. I kind of like the way it builds up like that, like it was just learning to harness whatever evil power it possesses. But that’s totally lost in this version since it can explode houses and fortune tellers right from the start.


  • 104
    This Guy says:

    I don’t know where people get this “cats are mean” business. How many newspaper headlines have you seen that read “Small child viciously mauled to death by house cat”? And why the hell did I have to read 12,000 books about frakkin’ dead dogs when I was in school? (That’s probably hyperbolic, but that’s how many it felt like I was forced to read.) They’re all the same anyway. Jack London certainly had a pretty sweet scam going there, repeatedly publishing the same book under different titles and with different character names. In Hollywood, a saying goes that if you kill a dog, you’ve lost the audience. Kill a cat, on the other hand, and most people won’t bat an eye.

    Mike’s riff about “Japanimation” reminds me of the time some members of my former college anime club were in Tennessee and were told by some people there that the whole medium consisted of “Japanese devil porn.” Fortunately, Tom’s follow-up riff about “this is the anime version of Peter Rabbit” uses a term actually used by people in the 21st century and is pretty fair, really. Several years later, we would see the debut of Soukou no Strain, an anime about giant mecha that is, and I am not making this up, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess.


  • 105
    Jamie says:

    I love the Steve Martin-The Jerk reference. “I’m taking the flashlight, the basket and the (something). Thats all I need.”
    I also love the sounds that Mike and Crow make when Borgnine gets up and sits down: The big fart sound as well as the grunts. very funny.


  • 106
    Son of Bobo says:

    Better the second time around for me. I am surprised that no one has mentioned Mike in diapers. For a cow town puppet show on its way out, I gotta give it to Mike for committing to the bit. I just assumed the diaper, what with his being shirtless and all, but he does reveal it. You are a bigger man than me, Mike Nelson.


  • 107
    Trilaan says:

    As I said in my post, there’s always been an odd slant towards adult baby or adults in diapers community. References to characters wearing “saggy or shaggy” diapers that leak(From riffs from Catalina Caper and, I think, The Skydivers, plus others.), Frank’s giant baby growth formula from Time of the Apes, Mike’s transformation from Merlin’s Shop, and several others I know of. Plus, Trace’s Here Come the Big People comic, being similar. There’s even a sort of reference in the Avatar rifftrack.


  • 108
    Wampa Joe says:

    Commenting on another point people have made, I agree that sometimes the best “riffs” of this era were when Mike and the others would simply laugh incredulously at the goings-on. The Mike Sci-Fi era was the closest the show came to replicating the feeling of a bunch of friends just sitting around and riffing together, and it’s these little touches that made the show feel less scripted and more relaxed (while ironically at it’s most polished and tightly written).

    Mike’s giggle at “YES! We must remain YOUNG and VITAL!” gets me every time.


  • 109
    Joe Raygor says:

    @Jamie: That type was riff was used on “I Accuse My Parents”, except Crow used “Peanut Butter” and “underwear”. It was hilarious.

    Nice to know where the origin was.


  • 110
    Krepta says:

    Trilaan: Having a fetish means that what you want to see always stands out in sharp relief. Thusly, if a TV show or something keeps hitting your button, eventually you think they might be doing it on purpose. I’m pretty sure I share a fetish with the guy who draws the comic strip Jump Start, for example, but it’s probably just my own coincidental overlap with a not-unusual plot thread. The diaper thing is likely the same– you don’t have to think wearing diapers is hot to think an adult wearing diapers is intrinsically funny, after all.

    Anyway, back on topic: “Oh, it’s the Wallace method of coming down to breakfast!” Mike’s Wallace voice cracks me up every time, especially his overly British pronunciation of ‘down’.


  • 111
    Sitting Duck says:

    Regarding the furor over Raptorial Talon’s friends mentioned in post #54, a lot of people do get upset when animals get killed in films. In fact, Douglas Adams was addressing this phenominon in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the bit with the whale (“Ground! That’s it! I wonder if it will be friends with me?”).


  • 112
    mikek says:

    What’s really stupid about the over-reaction to the dog’s death is that the dog is barely in the movie.


  • 113

    Yeah, when I heard there were some horses hurt in the Crimean War it ruined war movies for me forever.


  • 114
    Trilaan says:

    @Krepta (110) “Oh no, they’re onto me!” Grin

    Naw, my somewhat rabid fandom for the show(through who knows how many repeat viewings of episodes over the last 20 years) has resulted in my having noticed repeat jokes and although I know of it now, thanks to the wonders of the Information Superhighway(“Let me on the Information Superhighway! I want on the Information Superhighway!”) I had no clue there was such a fetish until after the show ended.

    And you’re thinking “Sure.”
    I’m thinking “Yes.”
    And you’re thinkin “Uh huh.”
    I’m thinking “Go away, you’re upsetting me. Waah.”
    And you’re thinking “Thought so.”


  • 115
    Fart Bargo says:

    @98 Ah, er Yes, that’s right. I can’t hand el malt I sill a bull woids.


  • 116
    Rex Dart says:

    “Good not great” Sampo strikes again. Razz

    Definitely one of the very best of season 10 for me. I almost fell out of my chair laughing just remembering some of these lines.


  • 117
    Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    4 stars.
    I’m generally a fan of horror/supernatural/fantasy genres anyway, so I was predisposed to like this episode.
    I’ll go on a limb and suggest the reason this one works so well is that the source movie is actually enjoyable. Held up against the average “Tales from the Crypt” episode or Amicus anthology-style film, the two stories are decent and the attempt to connect them, through the device of Merlin, works pretty well. Seems like a proposed TV pilot or a demo reel for the director (Thomas @ #81 said something similar). Part one is very Full Moon/Charles Band-ian in its production design and overly “whimsical” score. The second Part (F**kin’ Old Martian!) is different in period/look/detail but has a charming quality to it, mixing suburban bliss with sinister goings-on, similar to Spielberg/Hooper’s Poltergeist

    The riffing is fine, but not exceptional overall. Some bits involve M&tB just chuckling at the onscreen goings-on. Love how they are sympathetic to the kid hearing the tales, usually laughing along with him instead of critiquing his statements.

    • Pearl kind of channels Dr F. in intro. She never really struck me as a “mad scientist,” more of a “megalomaniac.”
    • Servo: “Tito Puente!” then the more accurate “Cal Tjader?” who did in fact play vibraphone.
    • Personal note: Ernest Borgnine reminds me of my grandmother. Perhaps not a compliment to her, but explains why I find him so endearing.
    • Vaguely dirty riffs @ the 11 minute mark – After “Shaft. John Shaft”:
    Magical things – ahh, crystal balls – hmm, enchanted stones – eww, wondrous objects – haha.
    • Crow (as Merlin): I have my own private fertility clinic in back, baby.
    • Servo: She’s Julie Hagerty-an.
    • The first story gets its fertility issue continually brought to the forefront thanks the riffers. Joel might have called this “going too dark” but it all pays off at the conclusion when Jonathan becomes a baby. Servo: Based on a story by Sigmund Freud.
    • Obscure Arthurian reference to “Nimue,” mythical lover/protege of Merlin.
    • Multiple Captain & Tennille jokes/quotes work for me as they were one of my first pop music loves. I owned a few of their LPs and watched their short-lived variety show on TV in the late 70’s. Obviously Kevin and the Brains remembered them too.
    • Mike: You know, Frampton really did Come Alive… (Another good music reference, highlighting that The Devil’s Gift seems like it was made in the 70’s rather than the early 80’s)
    • Mike: Does he have a sea turtle under his sweater vest?
    • Crow: Satan subcontracts with God to arrange a storm.
    • Crow: Doesn’t he know it’s “Dig a pony” and “Shock the monkey”?
    • Pearl in closing: Schumacher/Eszterhas cinematic pain differential & Wood/Gordon tedium inventory.


  • 118
    mikek says:

    There’s a Dr. Phillip Zimbardo reference at the start of the episode, when Pearl describes her experiment of granting power to Servo. As seen on his own PBS program, Discovering Psychology, Dr. Zimbardo himself conducted an experiment in which one group of people was granted power over others in a prison setting.

    Another thing about the movie, I think this one is the best of the “pieced together” movies that have been used on MST3K.


  • 119
    John Seavey says:

    Yes, I had to be corrected by my roommate when I insisted that there couldn’t be a real “Doctor Zimbardo”. In my defense…come on, his name is “Doctor Zimbardo”! Smile The actual accounts of the experiment are interesting; it was terminated early, because Zimbardo’s then-girlfriend (later wife) argued that it had become nothing more than an exercise in sadism. Zimbardo started to argue that he was getting good data, then realized that he himself had fallen victim to the phenomenon he was documenting; he was enjoying his power over both the “guards” and the “prisoners” in the same way the former was lording it over the latter. Fascinating, chilling stuff.

    Best line for me was, “I’m going to break things off with Nimue. It’s not fair to Zurella.” Perfect gag that highlights the total lack of knowledge about Arthurian lore in a production about Merlin.

    And speaking personally, the first time I heard it, I thought the kid was saying, “F***in’ robot s***.” So yes, it can be misheard. Smile

    Five out of five.


  • 120
    Alex says:

    Ernest Borgnine, isn’t he an academy award winner? I guess that’s what you get from that prestigious prize.


  • 121
    mikek says:

    Another thing I forgot to mention was the riff on the title.

    Mike: “Try the Merlin Chop. Half a pound of Merlin served with steak fries, ve-ge-table of the day and quick dessert.”


  • 122
    Scott says:

    Watch the kids’ lips the second time he says it. Looks like he’s forming an “F” to me.


  • 123
    Rich says:

    Not to be a know-it-all- but I loved Mike’s line too- and I took it as “Try the Merlin Chop. Half a pound of Merlin served with steak fries, ve-ge-table of the day and ha-whipped(whipped)dessert.”


  • 124
    rcfagnan says:

    Today’s special, the Merlin’s Chop, 2.95 a pound! (or something like that…) My college roomate (or one of his drunk frineds) taped over my copy of this episode, so I was floored when it came out on dvd. When I went overseas for a few years I took my MST boxsets with me, so I’ve seen this one a number of times now. I LOVE Host Segment three (I think Monty Python did a similar sketch about children’s stories that take a dark/inappropriate turn), my favorite riff has got to be “So now she has to raise her horrible husband?” “That’s what most wives think they do anyway!” I think we should put fire ants down the pants of ALL the world’s leaders. You know, in the name of Science. Taste the rainbow of fruit pain!


  • 125
    Richard the Lion footed says:

    Another “movie” I actually saw on HBO before it was riffed.
    Always got the impression it was a patch job from some Canadian T.V. series or something.

    So, where did the first segment come from? If the second was an actual made-for-theater movie
    (no wonder Canadians are flooding across our borders entering the U.S. illegally. Crappy movies!)
    was the first segment made for THIS film????

    This is the type of movie that the crew of the SOL did best.
    Modern attempts at either cheap horror or childhood innocence.

    These are hard movies to get right. If you don’t, you get what you deserve from Mike and the bots.


  • 126
    The Toblerone Effect says:

    This one was a four-star for me, pretty good but somewhat short of being a classic. I missed it during its brief time on Sci-Fi, but was thrilled when it arrived on Volume 5. At times its tough to see the silouettes on the screen – does any one else have this problem? – and there are a couple of scenes that are too creepy for kids imo, but its goofy and the kid Ernest Borgnine is reading to is actually funny, so it is overall watchable. The riffing and host segments are above average but again, not up there with the greats.

    Fave riff: As the two women in the first story are talking, Crow turns to Mike and whispers, “Are we watching the Lifetime Channel?”


  • 127
    Melanie Long says:

    Fertility Clinics really helped a lot in getting my wife to conceive a child. Just make sure you get a reliable one..;`


  • 128
    Sitting Duck says:

    Merlin passes the Bechdel Test. Madeline and Zurella talk about the wishing stone.

    I have a hard time believing that Bob Jackass could do that for a living at the time the movie was made. Nowadays of course he would probably have his own Youtube channel.

    Why would anyone see nothing wrong with such a blatantly evil toy monkey?

    The kid is clearly saying, “rock and roll Martian” (why is another matter). Those claiming it was something else are just indulging in wishful thinking.

    @ #104: I’ve seen that one, though it had more lesbian hijinks in it than I recall being in A Little Princess. However, let’s not forget about Gankutsuuo (the anime version of The Count of Monte Cristo) or Romeo X Juliet (the anime version of… well, you know).

    Favorite riffs

    The Fudge Stripe factory’s been hit!

    Merlin was a thieving crackhead who fenced VCRs to feed his habit.

    I’m here for the dwarf job.

    My reviews have destroyed whole cities.

    But I should probably get around to destroying Koslax Hardware.

    It’s time for a strongly worded review of my cat Miffy.

    Come out or I’ll review you.

    Magic makes me hungry for grilled brats.

    And the devil cat grabbed his throat and pulled out bloody strips of sinew and flesh.

    I got old and roasted the cat with my breath, but I’m fine.

    Satan could have blended the edges of his bald wig better.

    I’m going home to mother. Oh wait, she’s a demon, too.

    Hi, I’m Satan Approved.

    Every time a bell ring, a devil gets his horns.

    He puttered around the kitchen for a while and got himself a cold drink.

    This is the Evil Toy Monkey for Polident.

    And then the guy with the receding hair drove a blue car, carefully signaling his turn and pulling into a suburban driveway.

    See, here’s his problem. He’s going around dressed like that, asking women, “Have you seen my little monkey?”

    My point is, Billy, man dies with a whimper, looking into the face of ultimate darkness.

    You do this and I will call the Legion of Beanie Babies down on you.

    So evil wins, Grandpa Borgnine?
    That’s right. Even your tiny soul is doomed, Billy.

    No, Grandpa Borgnine! Leave hope and light for me, please!
    Get out from behind that cushion, Billy. It gets worse.

    I keep a full dossier on evil monkey buyers.

    Remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you.

    I just feel all mystically magical, Mike. I’m gonna go rip someone’s guts out!


  • 129
    goalieboy82 says:

    what was the rights issue that come up.


  • 130
    Dan in WI says:

    Anybody else a fan of the Saturday Night Live Sketch “What Up With That?” Back in 2010 Ernest Borgnine had a walk on as one of the guests who never gets to talk. DeAndre Cole introduced him as “93 year old sex machine: Ernest Borgnine.” I haven’t been able to look at him the same ever since.

    So dare I ask if any goldfish were harmed by Mike in the making of the opening?

    It always amazed me that Tom Servo didn’t seize absolute control of the SOL in a junta seasons ago. He is good at it so long as he isn’t faced with fire ants.

    I’m really coming to like the labeled film canister prop during the introduction of the movie. For my part they could have done that years ago.

    So is Borgnine telling the stories to the grandson supposed to be some sort of answer to Peter Falk in the Princess Bride?

    Missed Riff Opportunity: When the kid throws the chicken in Merlin’s shop some sort of Alice Cooper reference should have been made.

    I have to go with it does sound like the kid is swearing the second time singing Rock ‘n Roll Martian in the stinger. I only get that just that once. Any other time it sounds the way it should.

    That was a real good interview with Mike and Kevin as a rare quality bonus from the Rhino era. The history they talk about is old hat to us now but I suspect I was hearing some of this for the first time when initially watching this interview. Again I’m struck how Kevin can just sit back and tell a story. He was the storyteller that this episode wanted Borgnine to be. It was interesting re-watching this as they talk about their future projects. I guess when this was recorded sometime in 2003 neither Rifftrax nor even the Film Crew was on the radar yet. But the thing that struck me the most was Kevin commenting on the low budget charm of the show. At one point he gives a nod to local horror hosts like Svengoolie (and I’d like to give a shout out to my own local host Ned the Dead) and then describes the appeal of the watching the show late night and thinking I can’t believe this is even on TV.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Kid “Where’s Sparkle?” Mike “I quickly sold Sparkle to a farm where he’ll be happier.”

    Mike about Borgnine: “Does he have a sea turtle under his sweater vest?”

    David gets in the car hurriedly right after the car almost hits his kid. Tom “I gotta go. They just got Barbwire at Blockbuster.” [Nice slam on Gramercy.]

    The ground swallows up David. Mike “Bugs Bunny must have taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque.”


  • 131
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    “A grandfather tells his grandson several stories featuring the legendary wizard Merlin”

    Two isn’t “several.” Wink

    #25 (no idea if Mark J. Hansen still hangs around here, but just in case): Local TV stations often used to compile their own cartoon “shows” to fill blank time slots, using whatever public domain material was available (often with some guy dressed as a clown or a spaceman or whatever as “host”, with some puppets if the station could spring for them), under the (pretty much accurate) presumption that kids will watch *anything*. I’m sure any number of cartoons even weirder than “Balloonland” hit the air under such circumstances. MST3K’s very own Aldo “Henry Krasker” Farnese from “The Dead Talk Back” used to host such shows:

    (Oh, it’s TRUE.)

    And if TV station eventually sold its inventory material, including a cobbled-together kids show of the type just described, to another station, said show could easily make its way from station to station and be aired again and again, because the bottom line was: Fill The Time Slot. Anything Is Better Than Dead Air. Give ‘Em SOMETHING To Watch.

    Admittedly, I don’t know if local TV stations were still using such tactics as late as the 1990s, but still.


  • 132
    MSTie says:

    Agree with some who say this is a solid ep but not a classic. Not one I reach for when I need a ton of laughs.


  • 133
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    “Movie: (1995) A grandfather tells his grandson a pair of stories featuring the legendary wizard Merlin.”

    And can you really say “featuring” Merlin when all he does, especially in the second, is pop up on camera now and then to have interaction with characters that have nothing to do with the plot? Maybe “a pair of stories that have something vague about the legendary wizard Merlin.”

    Look at what we’ve become! Now we’re riffing even on Sampo’s movie summaries!


  • 134
    schippers says:

    The second “film” in this patch job, “The Devil’s Gift,” is so blatant a copy of that Stephen King story “The Monkey,” but I’ve never done the research to find out when the respective “originals” were published/filmed. So, while I presume that the filmmakers were ripping off King’s story for their cruddy movie, it COULD be some sort of bizarre coincidence. Anyone know for sure?


  • 135
    Of no Account says:

    If this episode has taught me anything, it’s that psychics are filled with inexplicable rage. That scene cracks me up every time.

    As someone who works at a library, I can safely say that a lot of our kids books are FAR more disturbing than this movie.

    Merlin’s objective was to reawaken people’s belief in magic. He said nothing about that being a good thing or not. You can bet that family now believes firmly in magic! Believes & utterly despises! Mission Accomplished!

    Oh, and… You’re welcome.


  • 136
    JCC says:

    Dan In WI – If that freaked you out about Borgnine (Star Trek character?), don’t search for “Ernest Borgnine Secret to old age”…


  • 137
    Of no Account says:

    @126 – The Toblerone Effect – I have that problem too. Actually, I think the picture quality on the Rhino DVD for this episode is really bad overall. A lot of the Rhino DVDs aren’t fantastic, but this is definitely one of the worst. I think my VHS copy off TV looked better…


  • 138
    Dan in WI says:

    JCC #136> Borgnine played himself in the Saturday Night Live sketch I’m referring to. I didn’t say I was freaked out. I just haven’t looked at him (or other 93 year olds) the same since. Now, must… resist… urge to search Secret to old age…


  • 139
    Tarantulas says:

    No one (except me) ever seems to talk about how TERRIBLE the quality is on the Rhino DVD. It’s much darker than any other release they’ve ever done, and it’s aliased horribly.

    Here’s hoping that Shout! does a remaster/reissue some day.


  • 140
    Joseph Nebus says:

    Hey, I got to play Intellivision this past weekend! Or, well, one of those game console things that includes a bundle of a couple dozen Intellivision games in a joystick you plug into the TV. It’s … well … hum …

    You know, of all the video games out there, Frog Bog is one of them.

    And my Dearly Beloved was delighted, laughing with no exaggeration to the point of acute physical pain, at me trying to play the Intellivision baseball, at which I lost 33-0. That may be a terrible score, but in my defense and in all honesty, it took me four and a half innings to figure out whether I was controlling the pitcher or the batter.


  • 141
    jaybird3rd says:

    One shouldn’t judge the Intellivision by the quality of the games in those plug-and-play TV game units; they’re rather poor knockoffs of the original games. I own a sizable collection of vintage video games and computers, including several Intellivisions, and I can tell you first-hand that the real thing is much better.


  • 142
    jaybird3rd says:

    … but more on-topic, anyone reading this should take a moment to check out the interview that Ernest Borgnine gave to the Archive of American Television:

    A fascinating life and career.


  • 143
    pondoscp says:

    I noticed the incredibly dark transfer on the Rhino copy this time I watched it. Everything disappears when the screen goes black. I like this episode more each time I see it. This “movie” is so bad it gives “The Room” a run for it’s money!

    And for me, that kid is saying “Rock And Roll Machine!” The scary memories of the eighties are alive in well in the second half of this movie. That’s really starting to feel like a long time ago. (in a galaxy far far away) I spotted an Imperial Transport! I think they took that and the AT-AT right out of the box, and didn’t assemble them or put the decals on. Yes, I’m an old-school Kenner Star Wars toy geek. I can’t help it, I grew up on that stuff Smile

    And seeing the bad haircuts of the 90s merge with the bad haircuts of the 80s was also a surreal moment in this movie for me. How far we’ve come!


  • 144
    Bat Masterson says:

    I talk to myself a lot. Long monologues… complete with sarcasm!


  • 145
    Manny Sanguillen says:

    “Felix I’m Gonna Kill You!”
    (excellent Jack Klugman imitation by the evil monkey and the riffers)


  • 146
    This Guy says:

    I STILL don’t get what this movie is trying to say about Merlin. What it IS saying, of course, is that he’s basically the worst. A guy is kind of a dick to Merlin? Well, death to him and his pets! A demonic toy gets out into the world and nearly murders a whole family? Oh, you scamp, it’s back to the unsecured store shelf for you! No attempt to banish the monkey to the Phantom Zone or whatever the hell. He could just ditch the whole magic bit and leave big jars of nitroglycerin out on rickety pedestals, get the whole thing done faster.

    @128: Ah, yes. Of course, Gankutsuou is pretty damned awesome, in my opinion. I didn’t see Romeo x Juliet, or (for that matter) Soukou no Strain.


  • 147
    Of No Account says:

    @128 & 146 – Don’t forget the classic anime series Tosho Daimos. That’s Romeo & Juliet with an alien invasion (winged people!), giant robots, and karate. It’s one of my favorites.


  • 148
    Cornjob says:

    The riff about Merlin and his holy demons sums up the confusion about Merlin’s portrayal in this film nicely. His mission to bring wonder into the world has more collateral damage than Vicki Lawrence’ visit to bee psycho island. Was he going to start passing out copies of the Necronomicon to disgruntled postal workers? And Merlin clearly needed the maid from Horror at Party Beach to tell him to get off his keister and find that death monkey. After she got that shiftless white boy to make more phone calls and find that Sodium.

    “My reviews have destroyed entire cities!”


  • 149
    ck says:

    Ernest Borgnine’s Secret to Old Age…

    Oh, the horror!…now Kim Cattrall, she rings my bell, I think
    she’s swell. Kim Kim Kim Kim Kim Cattrall. She was in Mannequin
    and that was a really good movie, You’ve never made a bad film.
    Oh, what the hell, Let’s go to the Dells, Our relationship will gel.
    I like your smell, You’re really swell,

    Anyway, it apparently doesn’t work past age 92.


  • 150

    I have never heard anything other than “Rock and Roll Martian” come out of that little kids mouth. To find that other people are hearing swear words is. . .interesting. I can’t really judge though… as I mishear things all the time, such as with MST3k’s 3rd (and 4th) version(s) of the theme song (eps 513-624[-706]) in which during Robot Roll Call I still (after all these years) hear Crow respond to his name with the phrase “catch a porno.” Can’t help it, it’s just what I hear.

    Anyway, let’s take a visit to MERLIN’S SHOP OF MYSTICAL WONDERS!

    This is a fun episode. As Sampo noted, this episode aired after the series had ended, making this the final “new” episode of MST to air on television. It was nice to get one more ep after the series finale, but (as already said) it was kind of weird.

    Personally I find this to be a fairly great episode, the hodgepodge nature of the movie makes it that much more enjoyable, like we’re getting a couple shorts smashed together with the presence of Grandpa Borgnine all around to tie everything together. I love me some Borgnine (Cabbie in Escape from New York is one of my fave characters of his) and even though you can tell he was hired for a single days worth of work, you can also tell he’s not phoning it in (as any problems with his line delivery has to be attributed to the fact that he was only on set for this movie for one day, and as such, he most likely only saw the script on that day).

    I used to think I liked the front half of this movie better (“my reviews have crushed whole cities!”) but now I think I might like the Devil Monkey back section a little bit more. The cheesy horror nature of it beats out the cheesy Amazing Stories nature of the first half, in my opinion at least.

    The Devil Monkey segment also gives us glimpses of E.T., Star Wars (in the form of AT-ATs and the kid’s Jedi shirt), and some anime (after reading all the comments above, I’m still a little confused. Is it Ultraman? I don’t watch anime, so I really don’t have a clue), all things which are very 80s and remind me of my childhood. It also reminds me of the heavy toy product placement in Poltergeist. . . so could the presence of these things in the Devil Monkey movie be a reference/criticism of the earlier (and very successful) film from Hooper and Spielberg? Maybe. . . .but probably not.

    And for the record, I know that the movie isn’t called Devil Monkey, but that’s what I refer to it as, so there.

    Back to the MST episode…
    The opening with the college pranks is okay, but I wonder how many times we’ve now seen ridiculously tall objects on the bridge of the SOL and how many times we’ve seen Crow fall from said tall object. I’d say four or five for the former and at least two of the later, by my count.
    The Intro with despotic Servo is funny.
    Host Segment #1 with the Bots reviewing each other, very funny.
    HS#2 with baby Mike, not so much funny as it is disturbing. (“That upsets me. Waa.”)
    HS#3 with the Borgnine children’s lit, also funny.
    The Outro with Bobo as the Devil Monkey is an obvious bit of comedy, but they pull it off. Brain Guy trying to knock him off the table into the bag is funny, but the bit goes on just a little too long….


    Mike: “I forsee I’m going to get hammered.”

    Crow: “Look at all these gordita wrappers. What have I been doing..?”

    guy gets blown over in his chair,
    Servo: “AH, a derecho!” —–this is funny to me now that I know what a derecho is. When I still lived in Southern Illinois, 5 years ago there was a powerful derecho (best described as an inland hurricane) that moved through the area. It was messed up. The town was in shambles, trees and powerlines down, I didn’t have electricity at my house for a week. Had running water though, so that was okay.. Yup. Good times…

    Mike: “Satan could of at least blended the edges of his bald wig a little better.”

    Crow: “It’s Uncle Pusher from next door.”

    Servo: “We’re gonna change the dog’s name to Crispy..”

    Crow: “Remember to believe in magic. . . or I’ll kill you.”

    A few times during this episode, Mike and the Bots are just kind of watching the movie and chuckling to themselves,
    most notably during Jonathan’s scenes of him rambling to himself and in all of Ernest Borgnine’s scenes.
    In this instance, this works, because the weirdness of this movie speaks for itself.
    I like this one,
    I give it 4 out of 5 devil monkeys.
    Monkey Monkey Monkey Monkey


  • 151
    Rose from NJ says:

    #150 – for the longest time, I thought Crow was saying “Bat Guano”!


  • 152
    Depressing Aunt says:

    #151 That’s funny, I used to hear it that way, too. I also used to think Crow and Tom were doing “mixed” reviews–because they had mixed feelings for each other–instead of niche reviews.

    This is another comfort episode for me; I’ve watched it too many times. (Last night, in fact–when I finally realized the kid’s dead fish was at the bottom of the bowl, not floating. That monkey really WAS evil!) The “movie” is engaging and bizarre, Ernest Borgnine gave a better performance than thing deserved. The host segments are fun, and I love Pearl’s big lipstick pout at the end while her minions are inexplicably reenacting the vacuum scene.

    I’m almost certain the plot was stolen from King’s story by the way. And someone really ought to make a movie about a Rock and Roll Martian.


  • 153
    Alex says:

    Speaking of Barb Wire. I always found it strange Dark Horse comics (which is a smaller company than DC or Marvel) had about seven movies out in the 90s (The Mask, Timecop, Barb Wire, Virus, etc) based on their books and Marvel comics only had Blade. Weird. I guess it was because Dark Horse had a close relationship to the movie people because of all the adaptions they did.

    Dr. Giggles was an adaption, too. I remember it being mentioned on the Manos episode at the end of the ‘Hired!’ part.

    I love the part where they have the kid arguing about how the guy obviously died getting rid of the doll and Ernest Borgnine had to explain why he wasn’t dead.


  • 154
    Sitting Duck says:

    @ #146 and #147: For that matter, Demonbane once had the anime version of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth told as a Beach Episode. Let that sink in.


  • 155
    JC says:

    Dum dee dum dee dum, just taking my monkeyless garbage out to the curb… dum dee dum, I can’t wait to get back inside to my monkey…


  • 156
    Jimmy Doorlocks says:

    Merlin’s “you’re welcome” has seen a lot of use between me and my girlfriend. It still cracks her up every time.


  • 157
    Humberto says:

    Hey there, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

    my blog – how to sing – Humberto


  • 158
    Cornjob says:

    Weekend topic: World leaders, current or past, that could use Fire Ants in their underwear. I nominate we start with Pinochet. Nobody wants to sit next to him anyway.


  • 159
    seventies run on car says:

    “excuse my juicy belches” and “Is there any vodka cheaper than Popov’s” make for good interjections at family gatherings or job interviews.


  • 160
    Pointrel says:

    I love this episode, and it’s a shame that the Rhino DVD was so badly botched. The dark transfer is clearly a massive technical mistake. I transferred my original S-VHS recording to DVD-R and am much happier watching that. It would be great if Shout revisited this episode in a future set.


  • 161

    Not only did Rhino botch the transfer of Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders for their DVD release (part of Vol. 5), but they also messed up the info for the movie on the back cover. Instead of info for Merlin, there is instead a re-print of the info (episode number, cast list, B/W) for Hamlet (from the previous set, Vol. 4). Rolls Eyes

    Rhino seemed to have a lot of production problems with the MST dvds. Doesn’t keep me from wanting the ones I don’t have, though. Big Smile


  • 162
    Savvy says:

    I’ve seen this movie twice now, and it’s a real creep-fest! It’s hard to see what they were going for, but it looks like a creepy, disturbing version of “Hocus Pocus”.

    – The goldfish Mike eats looks like a Swedish Fish candy to me. The whole “college prank” segment was an interestingly strange idea, but it’s funny how Crow takes forever to fall. It was probably extremely effective when it was shown on the SciFi Channel with half a dozen commercials in-between.
    – Besides this movie and “The Poseidon Adventure”, what else was Ernest Borgnine in?
    – Crow: “Um, I just came in to buy some shampoo.”
    – Tom: “You’re welcome!”
    – Typically in Latin.”
    Crow: “Dumb-a$$ language!”
    – Mike: “I utterly loathe you. Do you want to have a baby?”
    – Mike: “You know, I don’t like the way they’re portraying the devil. It’s so biased.”
    – “Now Chicken in a Biskit would be perfect with this!” Boy, what I wouldn’t do for a box of Chicken in a Biskit right now!
    – Mike and Tom trying to levitate an egg reminds me of the “Crow is Jack Elam” segment from “The Girl in Lovers’ Lane” where Joel and Tom try to create a vacuum with a bottle and an egg.
    – According to my dad, the mom’s hairstyle was popular in 1977. Unfortunately, this movie is NOT from the ’70’s.
    – I hope these parents rot in Hell. The dog died, dang it! The mother doesn’t smell the smoke and is out of it, and the dad is an idiot.
    – Crow: “I really should get my own pictures for these frames.”
    – Mike: “I think they’d better mow their gravel.”
    – Mike is right. This movie has the devil written all over it.
    – You know, you’d think Merlin would just be able to summon the monkey back.
    – So, what happened to the mom?
    – Brain Guy tries to knock Bobo off the table into a bag with a vacuum cleaner. “I love bags!”