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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode Guide: 421- Monster A-Go Go (with short: ‘Circus On Ice’)

Short: (1954) A look at the 40th annual carnival of the Toronto Skating Club.
Movie: (1965) Authorities launch a search for an irradiated astronaut they believe has returned to Earth as a giant mutant.

First shown: 1/9/93
Opening: The bots have opened a micro-cheesery.
Invention exchange: After making a wager on an action figure invention exchange, the Mads present Johnny Longtorso, and the bots present three non-violent action figures
Host segment 1: Gypsy “doesn’t get” Crow (or is it Tom?)
Host segment 2: Joel and Servo play keep-away from Crow
Host segment 3: Examining “The Pina Colada Song”
End: Joel knights Happy King Servo and Sir Giggles von Laffsalot Crow
Stinger: Monster on the go-go
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (260 votes, average: 4.55 out of 5)

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• This is a deservedly famous episode featuring a deservedly infamous short and movie. There’s plenty for them to work with here and they knock it out of the park. The riffing is top-notch, the segments are all terrific, just a really strong episode — if you can take the movie.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 8.”
References.
• Note that the title card only has a hyphen between “A” and the first “Go.” There is no hyphen between the first “Go” and the second “Go.”
• How could such a horrible movie have happened? “You know, four movies went into the making of this film,” Joel says at one point. He’s not far off. Bill Rebane made some of the movie, but ran out of money before it was completed. Meanwhile Herschell Gordon Lewis was looking for a co-feature with his recently completed movie “Moonshine Mountain,” and he needed it quickly. So he bought Rebane’s unfinished film, added some new scenes, and presto … a movie with no continuity and no sense.
• They mention the wonderful movie “Local Hero.” How come you never see that playing on any of the movie channels? It IS streaming, though. If you haven’t seen it, do.
• A hook falls off the peg board with a loud clang during the Mads’ invention exchange. They keep going. And there’s also a lovely crunch as Dr. F. steps toward the camera, right onto the blister packs on the floor.
• You can see Frank ALMOST crack up while singing the Johnny Longtorso theme song, as he actually does on the poopie reel.
• Frank does a nice little bit with the pitchpipe: he blows into several random pipes, making the whole thing pointless.
• Trace is hilarious as he introduces the movie, giving us Dr. F at perhaps his most maniacal. It’s an all-time favorite Trace moment for me.
• Terrific riffing in the short, and Joel doesn’t even try to keep them from getting too dark. The highlight is the great “pink girls” song.
• What does “with a filbert nut” mean? Joel sounds a little like Red Skelton when he says it. Is it a reference to him?
• Segment 1 is rightly famous. If you wanted to introduce the personalities of all three robots to newbie, this would do it very well in just a few minutes.
• Does ANYbody know what that song Crow is singing (“hum-did-a-hee-hee…”) is from? It’s one of the unsolved mysteries of this show. (Several different commenters are certain they know, but each thinks it comes from a different place.)
• Joel opens a can of “pop” (or as normal people call it, soda) in the theater! What a rebel!
• The workings of Tom’s hoverskirt are never explained in detail, but in segment two we see a new use demonstrated: sports!
• Is that a velcro ball Joel throws to Tom when they return to the theater? Still, it’s a pretty good toss.
• Then-topical riff: The now-forgotten Matthias Rust.
• J&tB do a little of the Richard Kiel voice they did a LOT in the last episode.
• When the movie ends up in what looks very much like Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive, they begin to rattle off some great Chicago references, including McCormick Place and the Arie Crown Theater.
• Both a callback and a call-forward in closing segment: Joel crowns Tom a “happy king,” recalling the “Mr. B. Natural” short and Crow is holding the stick with the tiny Crow on it, which we will see again in jestering segment next season.
• Cast and crew roundup: Tom is right, nobody involved with this movie went on to do anything else. The exception is Bill Rebane who later gave us “Giant Spider Invasion.” But I have to assume the writers were just guessing.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson.
• Fave riff from the short: “Vomit sprays out in a beautiful Technicolor dream.” Honorable mention: “Now a clown will deliver her eulogy.”
• Fave riff from the movie: Narrator: “There is one terrifying word in the world of nuclear physics.” Tom: “Oops.” Honorable mention: “He made her bark!”

188 Replies to “Episode Guide: 421- Monster A-Go Go (with short: ‘Circus On Ice’)”

  1. Bobo "BuckDat" Briggs says:

    I think the humming Crow does is hillarious and much more creepy NOT knowing where the hell it came from. Sort of like knowing the origin of Timmy. Crow seems crazier with the idea that he just sort of goes a little nuts and made it up to cope. Hua-Hua!

       3 likes

  2. Ang says:

    Obviously we have to talk about the phones in this one. Early on in the film we here a phone ring at someone’s home and it’s so loud is scares Joel and the bots (and me too!). Kind of reminds me of British phones :mrgreen:. Then of course the infamous scene where there should have been a phone ringing but instead we get someone off camera making a phone sound. Apparently they shot their phone ringing budget with the earlier scene :wink:

    Also my fave line from this one is ‘there’s a man out standing in his field’ :lol:

       6 likes

  3. eegah says:

    One of my favorite MST3K movie segments of all time is the scene where they inform Ruth and Jimmy that Frank is missing.

    “This coffee is warmer than Frank is.”
    “I don’t want to spend any more time on this than I have to.”
    “Frank’s dead!”
    “Make other plans, Jimmy.”
    “Let’s not make a bigger deal about this than it really is.”
    “Two words: closed casket.”

    and many more…

       11 likes

  4. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    All hail Sampo and “then topical”. As one of the original complainers about dating our references, I feel I need to pay the proper respect to these brave new words.

    hear hear !

       3 likes

  5. dmalcs says:

    I’m sorry, but for about half of the country “pop” is normal and soda sounds weird. Even worse- if you live in the south, it’s all “Coke”- i.e. “Give me a Coke.” “What kind?” “Sprite.”

       19 likes

  6. Kris says:

    Comparing this film to Season 8’s Giant Spider invasion, it is almost unbelievable how much Bill Rebane improved as a movie maker in ten years. (The fact that Giant Spider Invasion is still a bottomlessly terrible movie shouldn’t be held against him too much. :smile: )

       7 likes

  7. I assumed it was “With the Philbert Met” as in “Metropolitan Opera”. I can’t remember the original line that inspired that riff (it had something to do with music, I think), but it seemed to work.

    I also always liked Joel’s cranky “Oh, the joke’s on US!!” at the end of the film. Joel rarely gets pissy during the movie riffing, but it’s always funny when he does. And this movie definitely warranted that. Crow: “There was no dignity for anyone who worked on this film!”

       3 likes

  8. it is almost unbelievable how much Bill Rebane improved as a movie maker in ten years.

    Oh, yeah, that reminds me. Tom says at the end, “No one who worked on this stinkburger ever went on to do anything else!” How wrong he was, as he would find out later.

       1 likes

  9. happy says:

    Truly a great episode. This movie for me is a guilty pleasure. I just love this episode. I love that “phone ring” from the man off camera, truly an all time classic moment in cinema…
    It looks like Rebane did shoot the scenes with the monster – well there was no monster- but anyway Im guessing the additional scenes came after the first Doctor gets choked out in the field by the monster. Then we jump to the ‘tedium’ scenes with the other doctor…
    Rebane went on to other wonders like Giant Spider Invasion :shock:

       1 likes

  10. underwoc says:

    As many great things as there are in this episode, my favorite is host segment 3, where they rip apart Rupert Holmes. I just wish they had found a way to work Him into the bit, as well.

       1 likes

  11. Brandon says:

    “Douglas was pear-shaped, very short, and stood the whole way.”

    That riff’s a classic.

    BTW, Sampo, I’m not sure, but is this the first episode to contain a John Sununu reference?

       15 likes

  12. Sean says:

    The scene at the airport when they pick up the Gen. The car takes off and Joel and the bots do the loud Bass Speaker is priceless…the first time I saw it when it originally aired, I laughed for a good 10 minutes.
    The short is one of my all time favs. Hi pro-phase, hi ana-phase!

       3 likes

  13. GizmonicTemp says:

    I love how Joel tells Tom to stop singing the “pink ladies” song, yet Joel can’t stop laughing as he does so. Great! BTW, one of my favorite shorts.

    “Stinky, unshaven, and boozed up on Rumple Mints, the hunters spray bullets into the woods”

    “Shut up and watch the deer get slaughtered!”

       4 likes

  14. stevie says:

    Lovely reference to MASH in helicopter approach.

       6 likes

  15. Ryan says:

    GREAT GREAT short! One of their darkest.

    The movie is one of the most tedious they have ever done. Very funny, though.

    My favorite riff is near the end of the movie when two guards are talking near a large support pillar. “If you can’t out act the post…!” The frustration in (Tom’s?) voice as they are all so clearly fed up with this movie by this point, reflects my own frustration.

       4 likes

  16. Luke says:

    Herschell Gordon Lewis? Where have I heard that name… aha! He was referenced in the movie Juno(which I just got on DVD)! All roads lead to MST3K.

    This one of the great episodes of course. The movie is not just bad, but downright mind-blowingly so. It has some of the best host segements too.

       1 likes

  17. -RCFagnan says:

    I never saw this episode until it came out on dvd, and it instantly became one of my faves. Johnny Longtorso is one of the funniest inventions ever (and one in which I show my cynicism by being surprised that no toy company has actually done this yet).
    Fav. Riffs: Tom’s song for the “pink ladies”, the “Yeah, Douglas was pear-shaped, very short, and stood the whole way” and “There is one terrifying word in the world of nuclear physics. Ooops”.

       3 likes

  18. Bookworm says:

    This is my absolute, all-time, numero uno, favorite MST episode of all. (See my review of it here.

    One of my favorite moments is something I noticed in the film after seeing it a few times. Remember the two military guys by the oscilloscope toward the end of the film, who sound the warning that the “monster” is on the move? Well, during the interminable civil defense/military-gets-ready sequence, we see those same two guys from a different angle, and they’re apparently running through their big scene together (albeit without sound)–right down to the strange gestures they used.

    Yes, folks, they used practice takes as padding!

       4 likes

  19. AstroHarry says:

    There *is* a Jonny Longtorso doll – kinda. I was walking through the toy aisle looking for a brithday gift for one of my nieces when I saw a toy of some marvel character (perhaps Cyclops) with a big-*^$ wing behind him. It turns out that each of six toys has a piece of a seventh toy. Buy the whole set, and you get to build the last toy. Don’t buy the whole set and you have a physically challenged supervillian.

       4 likes

  20. EricD says:

    I always thought Crow’s humming was an imitation of the ambient sound that’s always in the background on the SOL. Anyone else, or am I totally alone on that?

       1 likes

  21. Skenderberg says:

    Ah, one of the worst films ever to provide fodder for Joel and the ‘Bots. Most of it makes no sense, and the few things that might are so badly recorded that you can barely understand them.

    Favorite riff: “Take the kazoo out of your mouth.”

       2 likes

  22. adoptadog says:

    As others have noted, the fury that J&tBs direct at this movie is especially funny (and well-deserved!). My fave has to be Crow’s constant yells of “Stop that!” in response to the background music during the “getting-in-the-car-and-driving-away” scenes. Haven’t seen the movie in a while, and can’t remember if it’s a bass note or what, but I do recall that it was extremely annoying, and Crow exactly expressed my irritation.

    A terrible, terrible movie. Great MST episode, though!

       3 likes

  23. Nick says:

    I love reading what H.G. Lewis had to say about this flick. Like the fact that Dr. Logan (or whatever his name was) was supposed to be one character, but because he had a toupee in some scenes and not in others he decided to make him his own brother. Or that he poked fun at the movie in the taglines: “You’ve Never Seen a Motion Picture Like This — Thank Goodness!” I really need to see the un-MSTed version, but man, I’m afraid to. :mrgreen:

       4 likes

  24. Nick says:

    Herschell Gordon Lewis? Where have I heard that name… aha! He was referenced in the movie Juno(which I just got on DVD)! All roads lead to MST3K.

    Even though I’ve never seen Juno, I’m willing to bet the reference had more to do with his splatter flicks like Blood Feast and The Gore-Gore Girls than with MAG-G. Still, you got a point there: All roads lead to MST3K. :cool:

    BTW: Sorry for the double post. Is there any way to edit our previous comments?

       1 likes

  25. R.A. Roth says:

    I think Crow is humming a few bars from an overused slice of “Gilligan’s Island” background music. Considering that he’s building a ship at the time, it does sort of fit thematically.

    MAGG only wishes it possessed such a rich example of thematic integrity as this.

    Randy

       1 likes

  26. Joseph Nebus says:

    Isn’t “Johnny Longtorso” itself sort of a callback to an earlier riff? I remember being startled by a reference to it in … ah … I want to say one of the later season two movies, when I ran across it.

       1 likes

  27. derm says:

    Pop: Its a Midwest Thing.

       4 likes

  28. insidemyhead says:

    I’m almost positive that the song Crow is humming comes from a something in a previous episode, though at the moment I can’t remember which episode…

    Actually, now that I think of it, isn’t it music from early in Monster A Go Go? *urgh* Can’t remember!

       0 likes

  29. Seth Anders says:

    A little more on H. G. Lewis:

    Yes, we have him to thank for gore films. Working in collaboration with David F. Friedman, “Blood Feast” was the first gore film ever made, as Nick already stated. Films that followed included “2000 Manics” and “The Wizard of Gore”. He later went on to a very successful career in advertising (go figure), where he literally wrote the book on the subject, which I believe is still being used today. A few years ago he released the highly anticipated “Blood Feast 2”

       0 likes

  30. Seth Anders says:

    On a personal note, I believe that Segment 3’s deconstruction of “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” is a microcosm for the entire series. You can almost boil down Best Brains comedic sensibility into this one bit. If asked to pick one piece to represent the entire show, this would be it.

       5 likes

  31. Jason says:

    Being originally from the south I have to defend the “Coke” phenomenon. The south is about boiling things down to a common denominator. “Coke” is more universally recognizable that “pop”.

    Hell, I just made that up, but it sounded good, right? Right…?

    So, on the to topic at hand: 421 – Monster a-Go-Go. Maybe the worst movie ever featured on the show, along with Manos & TISCWSLABMUZ (both favorites of mine) this one has that special edge of absolute nothingness going on, though. As has been mentioned many times, this is a great example of the writers turning nothing into something. I also tend to believe this is the last in a GREAT ‘trilogy’ of episodes. 419-421 are all 5 star episodes, IMO.

    I’ve often wondered at what point did Joel decide that he would not go any further than 512 because it always felt to me like there’s a certain specialness to pretty much every episode after 419, all the way thru 512.

    This episode, as has been noted, has excellent Host Segments and a great IE. Frank almost losing it during “Johnny Longtorso” always makes me chuckle. Yet again (at least to my eyes) shoes feature a prominent roll in either the riffing or the IE. I think Joel was a sneaker pimp. “Are those Skylon Air Max, I thought so” (from 324). But, I digress.

    The short is a classic:

    “Based on the actual case files of the Toronto Skating Club”
    “She has a sheeps butt”
    (‘It all adds up to split-second artistry’)
    “At the Civic Center, but not here”.

    Something that I have always loved about the feature is that to with the incomprehensible story (which makes for great riffing), the sound is attrocious. The conversation in the lab early in the movie often cracks me up as I anticipate “trying to find a microphone!” And the Ernie Kovacs lookalike..I remember when I first saw this ep, I was thinking hey it’s and then Crow busts out with “I’m Percy Dovetonsils”. Too much.

    I love MST3K, this is a Top Ten all timer, IMO.

       3 likes

  32. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    Oh, yeah. This one hurts. Before I’d seen the MSTied version, I actually bought an uncut copy of Monster a Go Go from Something Weird Video after a friend recommended it to me. Turns out he was kidding. It’s hard to trust. Good title though. My fave riff has got to be the ‘Yes, I made that phony phone noise’ line. It always seems to catch me by surprise and I just giggle on and on. Circus on Ice has such a dreary look about it, and the riffs just bring it down to a sweaty, back-alley level of depression. This way to the kill floor!

       3 likes

  33. M "Here's My Card. Johnny Longtorso" Sipher says:

    Yep, “Johnny Longtorso” is a callback to “Women of the Prehistroric Planet”. That name sounds great coming from Josh-Tom.

    Regarding Joel cracking up at Tom’s “pink girls” song… it’s moments like this that made MST really work for me. There was a time in the show where the riffing felt really forced and overscripted… yeah, just because the gags are carefully timed and scripted, it doesn’t have to feel like that in the performance. You get three funny guys together to riff at each other, they’re gonna laugh at each other.

    They really seemed to relax more towards the end of season four and through season five, more and more to the end. And having people laugh while trying to not laugh too loud… funny. Joel’s snorts at Crow’s “bedsprings” noises in “Tormented”, Kevin chortling at Bill’s “Then again, we eat paste” from the “Lunchroom Manners” Rifftrax…

    And Mike totally losing it over the crusty old grocer in “The Brute Man” is easily one of my all-time favorite MST moments… and Mike doesn’t even say a word. He’s just shaking, clearly trying not to bust out loud. It’s wonderful.

       8 likes

  34. MPSh says:

    In New England, we used to say “tonic” until “soda” took over. We still say “watuh bubblah” though.

    Anyhow, I love how the assistant scientist lady freaks out when the investigator starts thumbing through her lab notebooks.

    Manos or Monster-a-Go-Go for Worst Film Ever? The debate continues. (Let’s not forget The Creeping Terror, or Hobgoblins, either…)

       0 likes

  35. Nutcase says:

    These girls are quite a pair!
    They come from your worst nightmare!
    They will haunt your sould forever!
    And now when you see pink, you’re gonna think YOUR DOOMED!
    These girls are agents of Satan-

    Joel: *laughs* Stop it, Tom!

    LOL, that had to be one of few moments where Joel’s performance seemed real (please note that I’m not dissing Joel in any way, I love the guy as much as the next person). I wonder if the laugh was real considering how ridiculous Tom’s song was?

       3 likes

  36. Opus says:

    “What’s that? Face like spinach dip? Horribly mangled? NO dental records.”
    “Well, apparently they found him in a state of sin.”

    RE: Pop vs. soda vs. Coke. This East Coast kid says soda… there was a great skit where Mike programmed with the bots with different regional speech patterns:

    – So, before we go to the show, do you want to have a Coke?
    – Sure, I’ll have a root beer.
    – I said ‘Coke’!
    – I know, I’ll have a root beer!

       2 likes

  37. Bob says:

    This one is a serious favorite at my house. Circus On Ice is killer stuff. Too many great jokes in that one, like:
    “Two bad things that go worse together.”
    “Nothing worse than a gut-shot fawn.”
    “Threat? The poor thing was grazing!”
    “Shut-up and watch the deer get slaughtered.”
    “She skates over her own intestines.”
    And of course, Tom Servo’s imitation of film running roughly through an old projector at the end of the short is terrific and funny.

    The movie is well, it’s almost a movie. Really, really funny! The fake phone ring, the joke about the astronaut being “short, pear-shaped and stood the whole way” when the tiny prop capsule is shown, “get the cat off the piano”, “they’re tip-toeing past Robert Fripp’s room”, “if you can’t out-act the post” and many, many more!

    One of my favorite parts of this episode is the comedy bit at the beginning of Monster A-Go Go where Joel and the ‘Bots converse as if they don’t know what’s coming and Joel and Tom state that they think the movie will be extremely bad while Crow resists feeling pessimistic about it. Crow’s attempt at staying positive is so short-lived and is followed by his near immediately caving in with the line “this is gonna suck”. That made me laugh so very hard the first time I saw it and it still cracks me up after dozens of viewings. It’s an example of really great sketch comedy done right during and at the expense of the film, which fully deserved it.

    One of the best episodes, ever!

       5 likes

  38. Kenneth Morgan says:

    My own favorite riff is near the end…

    NARRATOR: “The line between science fiction and science fact…”
    CROW: “And science CRAP!”

    Perfect description of the movie!

       0 likes

  39. Rhys says:

    Every one seems to do the whole “hum, didi hee hee! hooa hooa!” song, it’s been in a few eps I’ve watched, and thanks to it being so catchy, I even sing it to myself. :lol:

       2 likes

  40. Fred P says:

    I’ll have a “Pop”, being from Michigan that’s what it’s called, but having lived in the South for the last 25 years it’s “Coke” for every soda which is really confusing so I still ask for a “Pop”. Sampo you struck a nerve I think.

       1 likes

  41. erasmus hall says:

    This was their finest hour
    and a half

       0 likes

  42. Doctorb says:

    Huh. Well, in Scotland, which is where I’m from, people use “juice” to mean soda. It can mean anything from OJ to Sprite.

       0 likes

  43. Shenny says:

    Born, raised, and still living in Louisiana, we don’t ALL say “Coke”. Working at a pharmacy where different sodas are on sale each week, I get plenty of customers coming in asking about the “sodas on sale,” even when said sodas are Coke.

    I admit, I did refer to them as “Cokes” at one point in my life, but it didn’t really matter to me one way or another because I’ve never liked carbonated drinks.

       0 likes

  44. Mike says:

    To Brandon (Post No. 11)
    John Sununu was referenced in the Snow Thrills short of Episode #311, It Conquored The World.

    (I didn’t remember it, I just happened to watch it yesterday.)

       3 likes

  45. The movie itself is one of the great “cop-outs” in cinema history.

    Here are all these people chasing after a half-human mutant (or whatever the thing called Douglas is supposed to be) in the tunnels in Chicago, then everything grinds to a halt. “There was no giant, no monster, no thing called Douglas to be found.”

    J&TB singing choruses of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” during the Chicago chase scenes is a classic.

       1 likes

  46. Brandon says:

    Oh and who could forget…

    “*GASP* His face is gone!”

    also later…

    “Boss, do you ever worry that you don’t have a face?”

       4 likes

  47. rhr says:

    My favourite riff ever, in reference to the foghorn-like “music” in a scene in the woods –

    “Aw, here comes that boat again…”

       1 likes

  48. Bix Dugan says:

    There is nothing as chilling, as fearful, than the way Frank says, very simply:
    “Monster A Go-Go, Joel”
    with that tiny smirk on his face…

       7 likes

  49. Shenny says:

    One thing I love is when the monster comes upon the women sunbathing and they scream in terror and flee. Joel says, “No one’s going to tell you you NEED Clearasil.” This is funnily appropriate because the monster’s warty face could, in a twisted way, be conceived as super bad acne.

       2 likes

  50. Bookworm says:

    By the way, there should be another feature to these reviews–most local riff:

    A young Ghermezian brother scouts locations!

       0 likes

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