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Episode guide: 1004- Future War

Movie: (1994) A man who was enslaved by aliens escapes to contemporary Los Angeles, where he is hunted by cyborgs using forced-perspective dinosaurs as trackers.

First shown: April 25, 1999
Opening: The bots calculate how many times a lady Gypsy is
Intro: Pearl conducts LSD experiments on the bots
Host segment 1: Tom makes a pair of legs so he can kickbox, but Gypsy has a leg up on him
Host segment 2: M&tB thank Pearl for not killing them, which puts a crimp in her plans
Host segment 3: Droppy the Water Droplet visits
End: Mike has a biiig chin; Pearl explodes Bobo and Brain Guy’s plans for going on the road
Stinger: The future warrior’s shirt is head-butted right off
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (278 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)


• We’re still in a stretch of good-not-great here, seems to me. A mixed bag of host segments, a movie that is simultaneously watchable and incomprehensible and riffing that kind of rises and falls with the movie.
• Mary Jo’s thoughts are here.
• This episode appeared on the MST3K 20th Anniversary Edition, aka Vol. XIII.
• The opening segment is almost a textbook example of an opening bit. It’s apropos of nothing, takes a silly idea and takes it just as far as they should but doesn’t belabor it. Witty, fun and it’s over.
• The intro segment isn’t a laugh-riot, but Brain Guy and Bobo are hilarious.
• Filmmaker Dave Eddy revealed that this is another movie that kind of collapsed halfway through production and got taken over by another director (him). The original director, Tony Doublin, was battling with the movie’s producer, who felt the fight and action scenes weren’t being done correctly. (He might have been right!) Ultimately Doublin quit and Eddy and his team (dubbed the “Damage Control Unit”) was hired to salvage the movie as best they could. This is the result.
• He also noted that, while they did so, he and some of the crew remarked that it would be great if some day their movie would show up on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”!
• Then-current reference: Kim Wilde. Yes, I know she was actually popular in the ’80s, but at least in ’98-’99 people still remembered who she was!
• The characters cuss a few times and Sci-Fi Channel felt it necessary to insert silences.
• What IS going on with the “car visor cam” effect in some of the shots? (A “gradiant filter” was kindly explained to me in comments.)
• Segment 1 just kind of lays there. I think they’ve attached all the body parts to Servo that are possible.
• The guy with the magazine in the park who gets eaten by a dinosaur is none other than writer, editor, agent and movie fan, the late Forrest J. Ackerman.
• Callbacks: “Warwoolf”; “Tusk!” (Werewolf) “Would you dopple me into that movie, Mike?” (Overdrawn at the Memory Bank)
• Particularly amusing movie moment: the TV cameraman who is clearly holding a cardboard box sloppily made to look a little like a camera.
• Last time I mentioned that the “Warren Moon impression” joke escaped me. I don’t follow the off-field antics of footballers. It was explained in the comments, as was the Mandy Patinkin reference.
• Segment 2 is a cute idea taken from the movie, but they belabor it a bit.
• On the other hand, segment 3, featuring a visit from Droppy the water droplet, is classic MST3K.
• This movie must have been extra-tough duty: The Brains had to come up with TWO sets of riffs for the same sequence–the one in which the rag-tag band infiltrates the dinosaurs’ lair — which is shown in its entirety TWICE.
• The subject of Joel comes up when Mike tries some forced perspective fun during the closing credits.
• Mike’s big chin is funny in the closer, but Pearl calmly blowing people up when they annoy her is not really a new concept.
• Cast and crew roundup: Robert Z’Dar was also in “Soultaker.” That’s it.
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike. Fred Street Post Audio get a special thanks in this and only this episode.
• Fave riff: “An actor prepares…to suck.” Honorable mention: “Z’dont!”

168 comments to Episode guide: 1004- Future War

  • 151
    jaybird3rd says:

    @ #150: True, but it depends on how you define “recent”. Do you mean strictly chronologically, or do you mean relative to the time the film was riffed by MST3K? If the latter, then the time that elapsed between the film’s release date and the MST3K air date was less for “The Dead Talk Back” than for “Future War”, which would make “The Dead Talk Back” more “recent”. I will admit, though, that this is a very unusual case given how long ago the film was made.

    Not that any of it matters, anyway …


  • 152
    thequietman says:

    I’m more partial to this era thanks to the late Sci-Fi reruns but I suppose if I had to, I’d say this is a solid middle-of-the-road episode for me. It does have one of those really well timed riffs like we were discussing a few days ago, as the cuteasaurus knocks aside one of the huge guys and there is a split second shot of him collapsing: “Save the meatloaf!”

    Also, besides the cheap sets and even cheaper props, no one has mentioned the number of cheap stock sound effects, from crashes, explosions, gunshots, to the ludicrously misused scream a female scientist makes when Z’dar gropes at her head through a door. It’s a stereotypical shriek like one would expect when a lady sees a mouse, not when a cyborg is trying to rip your head off.


  • 153
    JC says:

    “Unnnnhhhhhh, unnnnhhhhhh!”
    “Oh, you’re from Unnnnhhhhhh.”


  • 154
    edward says:

    This is one of the few movies that I have a visceral reaction to. It ticks me off.
    How do you expect to make a film with cyborgs, dinosaurs, and time travel on a budget of $14.38!?! It takes millions to make a decent movie with any one of those things. Did the director really think he could pull it off with a warehouse full of boxes and lots of flannel?
    I still laugh at the riffs but the movie itself just makes me mad.


  • 155
    jaybird3rd says:

    @ #154: I often wonder about that myself. Why do so many of these bad low-budget sci-fi movies get the green light in the first place? Small-time filmmakers like the ones behind “Future War” always seem to want to make the next “Star Wars” or “Terminator” or “Alien”, when they can’t possibly succeed on their relatively meager budgets. Why don’t they choose less ambitious projects that would be more appropriate for the resources that they have? I’m sure there are lots of good, character-driven stories that could be told without big stars or special effects or elaborate sets and makeup. They’d certainly have a much better chance of becoming good movies. I’m sure they’d be more satisfying to make, too: it can’t be fun going to work on a movie knowing ahead of time that it’s destined to become the filler in some distributor’s cheap movie package, something that nobody would watch on purpose unless they’re tricked into thinking that it’s just like someone else’s much better movie.


  • 156
    PT says:

    This is a favorite episode of mine, mostly because it does so many things wrong. Everyone involved is clearly trying to make SOMETHING out of this complete mess, but…yeah.

    All the fight scenes just kill me from laughter. The shootout at “police headquarters” especially slays me. (“Somebody shot the editor!” “Shot in the lounge of a college dormitory.”) The editing just makes NO SENSE. The woman who reaches for her pistol…then the sudden jump cut/flash where she apparently got whiplash. Then the shotgun guy shooting offscreen for no reason whatsoever! Later on, the doctor trying to escape from the cyborg and the shot of her legs hanging out and struggling to get in the vent. Why show that?

    It’s not one of the best episodes ever made, but it’s easy comfort food (and available on Netflix Instant!) if you just need background noise while working and/or doing something else!


  • 157
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    #156: Later on, the doctor trying to escape from the cyborg and the shot of her legs hanging out and struggling to get in the vent. Why show that?

    Well, from one perspective, you could consider it some sort of post-modern irony thing OSLT. I mean, think about it, lots of movies show average people adjusting to life-threatening crises easily, skillfully. On some levels, that’s no more realistic than being attacked by a cyborg in the first place.

    The doctor is afraid for her life and has, I’m guessing, never before climbed through a vent. How many people, if called upon to flee for their lives through a vent, are going to be any GOOD at it? Action heroes can do that kind of thing quickly, effectively, effortlessly. Normal everyday people, not so much.

    From a really realistic perspective, of course, when padding out a film to a certain length, every second of screentime helps. Wink


  • 158
    ToolAssist says:

    #148 “Future War is still the most recent movie (from release date to riff date) to be featured on MST3k.”

    Even if you discount “The Dead Talk Back” it’s still not. Master Ninja I and II came out in August 1991 and were riffed in January 1992.

    And if you’re going to say “the production difference from The Master (1984) and MST3K (1992) is too long” then Future War gets disqualified as well, since Werewolf was produced in 1995 and was riffed in 1998.


  • 159

    @158 ToolAssist:

    Not sure where you’re getting that Master Ninja I and II were released on video in 1991. The episodes of the TV series The Master were reedited and released on video in 1984 and 1985, basically not long after its brief run on television.


  • 160
    ToolAssist says:

    Are you sure? My VHS tape and the copyright date in the opening both say Aug 1991.


  • 161
    ToolAssist says:

    Pic for clarity:

    So yeah, either there are two editions of Master Ninja or the copyright date was increased by six years. Whatever Razz


  • 162
    Savvy says:

    This is also from the First DVD pack I ever got of MST3K, so I’ve seen it multiple times.

    – Mike has a REALLY short haircut going on.
    – I love Bobo and Brain Guy’s outfits! I wonder what made the Brains do the “LSD Tests” segment, but it did provide some neat opportunities, like roasting marshmallows over a burning guitar.
    – Crow: “Welcome to Pipe World. All we do is pipes, and we do them well.”
    – Tom: “Dino! No!”
    – Robert Z’Dar! Just add him to the list of big guys in this movie. It would’ve been interesting to see him more, though.
    – I think “Future War” contains the longest opening credits of all MiSTied movies.
    – Crow was on fire throughout the opening credits!
    – Tom: “Kindof an ineffective beer commercial.” Yes, very.
    – Mike: “Alan Jackson in a very special cameo!”
    – The fake-punching noises are quite amusing, just like the synth noises are amusing in “Hobgoblins”.
    – Tom: “He looks better without makeup.”
    Crow: “He’s so pretty, he really doesn’t need it.”
    – Gypsy is so cute in the kick-boxing host-segment.
    – “Hey! I got something here.”
    Tom: “I found part of a burger. I wanted to know if I could eat it?”
    – “You just did a month in the joint, you were suicidal and addicted.”
    Crow: “And you threw it all away!”
    – Crow: “The sad thing is they’re ALL former prostitutes.”
    – “Hi, my name is Max.”
    Mike: “Hi, I’m your toy. Pleased to meet you.”
    – The movie was an interesting idea, but it wasn’t executed correctly. It could’ve actually been decent.
    – “When I was younger I ran away, and I have a past that I’m not proud of.”
    Crow: “That’s why I kept this scrapbook!”
    – I think Kevin does a wonderful job with Bobo. You can really see how Bobo tries to understand things. Just look at how he watches the rocket!
    – “Sister Ann, that was then.”
    Tom: “This is then, too. It’s weird.”
    – Mike: “Am I a wild and crazy guy?” Gotta love Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin!
    – Oh, God. The reporter’s voice! Then that other guy’s voice! This movie is filled with random voices!
    – The editing of this movie SUCKS.
    – “They come in packs.”
    Crow: “Or cartons.”
    – Who the hell is Fred Burroughs?
    – Tom: “Ladies and gentlemen… Fred Burroughs!” Kills me.
    – “Willis?”
    Crow: “What you talkin’ ’bout?” That’s so perfect!
    – Mike’s facial expressions during host-segment three are great.
    – Tom: “What’s that light supposed to be? Is God outside?”
    – Mike: “According to the bells, it’s ninety-seven o’clock.”
    – Crow: “Introducing new, faster seconds!”
    – Tom: “Ain’t it funny how time slips away?”
    – Shirt just falls off there. Really! It did!
    – “Everything I wanted was everything he needed.”
    Crow: “So, neither of us really got anything.”
    – Mike is hilarious in the forced-perspective segment in the theater and with the big chin. I love his expressions!


  • 163
    SOLDaria says:

    @128 If I may interject, (Who geek bowtie on) Doctor Who’s dinosaurs were worse, but the story better. Impressed by how a new FX team handled the f/x on a previous serial, the producer asked if they could pull off dinosaurs. They said they could, and thus an old script that had been shelved for budget reasons was dusted off. By the time it became clear this team had bitten off more than they could chew, all the production could do was minimize the damage by showing the dinosaurs at a bare minimum and focusing on the much better conspiracy story behind their invasion. (Who geek bowtie off) For the Who casual not recommended (even as riff fodder), but it’s a favorite among the hardcore.


  • 164
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    I can’t believe I forgot to comment on this one twice.

    * This is perhaps the only episode that was ever specifically requested for one of my MST3K nights in college. A few of my dorm peers wanted to find out for themselves how bad the movie is. That found out all right.
    * I’m actually surprised that there aren’t a lot more no-budget movies that rely on the rooms full of empty cardboard boxes to full up space and act as debris during actions scenes.
    * I saw this before Soultaker but the Robert Z’dar jokes weren’t lost as a result.
    * I agree with Servo: Who the heck is Mel Novak?
    * Anyone ever figure out what happened to Captain Polaris?

    Host Segments:
    * They really do go up and down on this one, but the only really annoying thing is the music Crow uses in Segment 3.
    * Favorite line: Bill’s perfectly-delivered, “Hello,” when he begins to reprogram the satellite killer missile.

    Favorite riffs-
    Mike: “By the number of bells it’s 97-o’clock.”
    Crow: “The van must be having emissions problems. It’s blackened the lower atmosphere.”
    Servo: “My God, I’ve found the beginning of the movie!”

    Things I Learned From This Movie:
    * Dinosaurs only ever looked big because of forced perspective.
    * Dinosaurs can be killed by stabbing them with pencils.
    * Dinosaurs are great soccer players.
    * All you need in life is to live in Maui and read monster magazines.
    * Gangsters love plaid.
    * Dinosaurs gather near water.


  • 165
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    It’s mentioned several times in the previous round’s comments, but what the heck: Fred Burroughs is one of the guys from the halfway house. Max the Kid (who IIRC turned up alive and well at the end, so technically Tool and Sister Anne DIDN’T simply leave him to be killed by the dinosaur) referred to him as “Uncle Fred” (an honorary “big brother”-esque title, one presumes).

    Anyone know what, exactly, was the deal with all the guys at the halfway house being, well, HUGE? There were three of them, right? One, it’s just a character who happens to be huge. Two, well, that could still be random, I suppose. But THREE? If there are NO non-huge guys at the halfway house, that implies an attempt at meaningfulness of some kind, however half-baked.

    Then again, maybe I’m misremembering and there WERE only two. The IMDB doesn’t help much, although it would if I remembered who Romero, Otis, Chadwick, and Cameron were. Meh.

    On another note, I don’t remember it all registering on me that the doctor was Asian-American — we don’t see many of those in MST3K movies (except in the Japanese films, of course) — but “Dr. Margaret Tanaka”, as played by “Joanne Takahashi”, doesn’t leave much doubt. Like I said, my attention tended to wander during this one.

    On ANOTHER another note, this is the only film credit for an “actor” with the memorable name of “Ax’nt”; he or she played one of the gang members. Wonder what his or her deal was.

    And I still think the movie needed more Borg jokes. C’mon, those guys are obvious Borg knockoffs.


  • 166
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:


    What many filmmakers fail to realize is that it is very rare to PURPOSELY make a “significant” film. I doubt that anyone involved in “Star Wars,” “Terminator,” or “Alien” seriously anticipated that they’d become the ginormous franchises that they became. You either strike gold or you don’t.


  • 167
    Nate says:

    #165 Well, just because the kid turns up alive at the end doesn’t mean that they didn’t leave him behind while they saved themselves. On the other hand, kids love dinosaurs!

    There were only the two men at the halfway house, but it’s certainly still…odd

    Also, in addition to the doctor, the head nun (Mother Superior?) was Asian-American as well.


  • 168
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    #140: Narration really is the last refuge of the desperate, isn’t it? Especially so when you have scenes of people talking and you’re narrating OVER the talking.

    Even Coleman Francis knew better than that…