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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: 1010- IT Lives By Night

Movie: (1974) A scientist is bitten by, and then begins turning into, a bat.

First shown: July 18, 1999
Opening: Mike quizzes Crow and Tom on colors and the moods they cause
Intro: Pearl tries tactical misdirection so M&tB won’t notice that she’s spraying poison on them, causing mutations
Host segment 1: Mike and Tom can’t deny that they didn’t forget that Crow’s not Mary Tyler Moore
Host segment 2: Finding Mike unconscious and foaming at the mouth, Crow and Tom assume the worst
Host segment 3: Mike seeks Pearl’s opinion on his new moustache, but Crow’s larger ‘stache impresses her more. Tom takes the premise too far, however
End: Tom is dissatisfied by his franchisee kit from the Buddy Ebsen Hat Distressing Corp.; Pearl tortures Bobo and Brain Guy with slides from her many honeymoons
Stinger: Bat guy says “Well?” then convulses.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (285 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)


• This one’s another season 10 good-not-great outing for me. It’s a dumb enough movie, of course. Why on earth would being bitten by an animal turn you INTO that animal? I get the whole werewolf thing, but that’s some sort of supernatural curse. But I don’t think the movie is suggesting that anything supernatural is going on here. Just some sort of weird form of rabies or something? I don’t get it. Anyway, the riffing is fine, the sketches are pretty good, I laughed a lot, but there’s not too much that’s very memorable about this one.
• Kevin’s thoughts are here.
• This episode was included in The Mystery Science Theater 3000 collection, Vol. XXX.
• Lathrop’s (emblazoned on the bots’ hats in the opening) was apparently a local Benjamin Moore-owned chain in the Twin Cities, apparently absorbed by another retailer about a year after this was shot.
• I’m a big Talking Heads fan and Tom’s “Look at these hands!!!” cracked me up.
• Tom suggests he should be called “Bob Huge Hands.” Hmmmm… Is he related to Timmy?
• Apparently this movie was originally titled “Bat People.” This resulted in no end of confusion whenever it appeared on the schedule, as Sci-Fi Channel insisted on calling it “Bat People.” Our rule is that we call the episode whatever actually appears in the title card on the screen (which is why we use the title “Attack of the the Eye Creatures”). So, no “Bat People.”
• By the way, last time around I noticed that the “IT” in the title is capitalized on the title card. Information Technology? So that is now its official title.
• Then-current reference: Mary Slaney.
• There was almost a “Dale” in this one. Looking at our hero’s hands somebody says “…your hands!” and the riff is “So young looking!”
• Callback: “He’s turning into a damned wirwilf!”
• Segment 1 is classic insane Crow, driven even more insane by the Mike and Tom’s taunting.
• Of course, that’s the always-enjoyable Michael Pataki as Sheriff Menacing W. Pervert.
• Segment 2: Eh. Doesn’t do much for me.
• At one point, Crow admires himself in a mirror on a car in the movie.
• Tom briefly hums the “NBC Mystery Movie” theme, once verboten by Joel.
• LOTR reference: “It’s just a balrog.”
• Riffs that made you want to slap them: Mike’s “bat master’s son” joke.
• Segment 3 a little low-key, but Mike’s expressions save it. Note another instance where Pearl calls Crow “Art.”
• The Satellite of Love has a loading dock?
• Nice job from Mary Jo in the ending bit.
• Cast and crew roundup: director Jerry Jameson and cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti also worked together on “Superdome.” Photo effects guy Howard A. Anderson also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet,” “King Dinosaur,” “Twelve to the Moon” and “The Amazing Transparent Man.” Sound guy Rod Sutton also worked on “King Dinosaur” “Hangar 18” and “The Slime People.” In front of the camera, Michael Pataki was also in “Superdome” and “The Side Hackers.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. This is editor Bill Gibb’s last episode; he’d been brought on three episodes previous. The credits say that this was also interns Ed Dykhuizen’s and Sarah Lemanczyk’s last episode; they too started three episodes prior, however Ed himself has posted in the comments to say that this was a mistake and they both actually finished up the season.
• Fave riff: “Well, I do feel closer to you since you opened up to me about your stink.” Honorable mention: “Hunter Thompson, Texas Ranger.”

131 Replies to “Episode guide: 1010- IT Lives By Night”

  1. MiqelDotCom says:

    I can’t believe there was not a single callback to Sidehackers!!! Maybe they didn’t notice the Sheriff was J.C.l!

    A pretty lame horror film, it seems like they had little budget for special effects, so they tried to compensate with building dramatic tension, but it just doesn’t work. The characters are bland and there’s no chemistry between the lead couple. Not too scary, not very interesting, but good fodder for the show. Not a favorite episode, but quite watchable! 3 stars, maybe 3.5

    Crow – “Mary Tyler … less”
    then current music reference: “Mrs. Beck” – Mike: “You’re a loser, baby”
    Creepy opening theme song, Tom sings “take me out to the baaaaall gaaaa-me”
    Great one during the first chase scene where the guitar lick is a lot like J.C.Superstar & Tom starts singing.
    Cop driving around at night w/ megaphone on top of car: “attention bed wetters, get up and go now”


  2. swh1939 says:

    Back in my VHS days, this was right after Hamlet (all of my eps were in production order). As Hamlet was a favorite of mine I’d see this episode often as well, and yet it never did anything for me. Nothing dreadful, just … there.


  3. Fart Bargo says:

    This one is a solid ‘4’. The movie was very dumb and the characters were terrific riff targets. Dr Mustache Ride of the Slopes, Sheriff Cigarette Holder and Pink Glasses, Whiney, Boney Marital Unit and Bat Boy are all memorable in an Ortega way. Pearl’s obvious thigh sweats reaction to the porn star stache Mike was sporting is classic.


  4. GizmonicTemp says:

    Man, I don’t know. Last week I said I loved the “Alas, Poor Who” segment, and Kevin trashed it. I’m kind of afraid to say that I love the “Paint Colors” segment.

    Anyone ever see this movie uncut? There’s an extra where the sheriff kisses Cathy. It makes you hate him even more.


  5. GizmonicTemp says:

    MiqelDotCom #1…there’s no chemistry between the lead couple.

    That’s interesting because they are married in real life.

    That’s obsiously why there’s no chemistry. Poom! Thank you! Good night!


  6. Kenneth Morgan says:

    And yet another movie that Channel 9 in New York would run on Saturday mornings after Doctor Who.

    Actually, I thought this episode wasn’t too bad. A bit bland, perhaps. The theme song is pretty creepy; it’d make a good double-play with the “evil little kid” song from Squirm. And I liked the Stellaluna reference; good book.

    How many other companies and businesses have been mentioned on MST that no longer exist?


  7. Stefanie says:

    The “tactical misdirection” skit is HILARIOUS!! Pearl is SO much funnier than Dr. Forester.


  8. Dan in WI says:

    Bland is the word on this one. There is nothing wrong with it but the laugh out loud moments can be counted on both hands with a little change left over. When that happens it doesn’t make my personal favorites list.

    As for the toxic spraying bit. I’m mean come on now. A small prop planes flies from Castle Forrester which set in the mountain tops has plenty of flat land for landing strips flies through the vacuum of space into the SOL which must be much larger than we’ve ever realized and has the space to do the ariel manuvering required of crop dusting?!?!? Isn’t this stretching believability just a bit?

    Oh, it’s just a show? When then I suppose I should really just relax.

    Favorite riffs:
    The already mentioned “take me out to the ballgame”

    Dr 70’s causing the allergic reaction during that first rabbies treatment shouting panic orders trying to get it under control and they the riff “So do you have any drug allergies?”


  9. “Our rule is that we call the episode whatever actually appears in the title card on the screen as Joel/Mike and the bots are watching it”

    Thus why this movie is referred to as Auto Draft.


  10. Colossus Prime says:

    All in all a slightly above average episode. Funny riffs, funny host segments, but nothing gut busting.

    I really like the intro and I’m not sure why. It’s long, drawn out and predictable. There’s something to Crow’s, “I’m sticking with the Stansfield bit” that always makes me laugh as does the way Mike holds up the eggshell sample to ward off the bots without looking down. The follow up is fun with the “subliminal” message. Then the mental image of Bobo flying a miniature airplane inside the SOL is priceless, and the light work used to aid the idea is excellent. And of course the idea of a poison agent being able to mutate robots is always entertaining.

    Mike and Tom immediately being on the same page as to how to drive Crow insane is awesome and Mike does a great Ted Baxter. The rabies shot bit is a very classic representation of Mike & the bots lives. And there’s just something enjoyable about the moustache bit.

    I really like the closing segment when Crow comes in seemingly entirely unaware of Tom’s recent trouble and enthusiastically exclaims that his kit is unbelievably complete.

    In the opening of the movie when Johnny wakes up from his nightmare, is the, “Yeah, only Raymond Burr was in it this time,” riff supposed to be a reference to something? It makes me laugh but it’s so off the wall that it seems like it’s a reference.

    Mary Tyler Less is quite pretty. Johnny is a complete tool. Sergeant Ward is disgusting as well as inept. And Doctor Mellow Ski Bum makes me question my sexuality. The movie on a whole falls just short of being salvageable by a tweaked script and better funding. There’s just something missing from it. Perhaps it’s the lack of any real suspense over what is or isn’t just happening in Johnny’s mind with the payoff being that he really is transforming into a Planet of the Apes ape.

    Fav Riffs –
    ALL of the Doctor Mellow Ski Bum jokes that emphasize how laid back he is.

    All the riffs where they treat bat like activities in a human as mundane.

    Crow: I guess by definition I’m in the Batmobile now.

    And I love the “bat master’s son” joke :)


  11. klisch says:

    This one I’ve seen about twice and I don’t have much desire to see it again anytime soon. It was an okay episode but at least it isn’t Hamlet.


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

    “The Satellite of Love has a loading dock?”

    Well, it has at least 14 docking bays (“There’s an escape pod in Docking Bay 14?!”). I’m not sure what the difference between a loading dock and a docking bay would be, from a practical perspective.


  13. Sampo says:

    LOL Mark: Header fixed. We just upgraded to the latest wordpress, and apparently this new version automatically throws “auto draft” into the header if it automatically saves the post during the writing process–and even if you give it a title for the header, it defaults to “auto draft” for some reason. Weird. Thanks for noticing.


  14. Trilaan says:

    Ahhh hahaha only Mike could fall asleep while eating a creme puff.

    I bet Pearl’s a big Sam Elliot fan.


  15. pablum says:

    This is the other bad episode of season 10 for me. Better than Hamlet for sure, but still not up to their standards.

    Its not funny to constantly repeat “squeak” over and over again. That was kept to a minimum in Deathstalker, but it seemed to be the only joke in this episode.

    I again blame Best Brains shell-shock from realizing their cushy jobs were almost over.


  16. Rich says:

    Not relevant to this episode, but since Sampo mentioned it above, would Adrianna Miles be a W.I.L.F.?


  17. Thomas K. Dye says:

    How many season ten episodes have the main protagonist turning into some sort of animal? Blood Waters of Dr. Z (fish), Track of the Moon Beast (lizard), IT Lives By Night (bat) and Horrors of Spider Island (sort of spidery thing). By this time the theme was getting tiresome, and despite the seventies cheese and some of the riffs, I was pretty well bored. I still can’t really watch it, though it’s a bit of a relief after “Hamlet.”


  18. Other Stephanie says:

    Since SciFi That Was repeated this one a lot, I’m very familiar with it. My OB/GYN was so laconic that he became known as Dr. Mellow Ski Bum. I still can’t remember his real name, and it’s been six years… I dunno, maybe I was worn down by its frequency, but I kinda like this one.


  19. Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    Ahh, the bats are playing the harp.

    As a house painter by profession, I have a minor nitpick: “eggshell” – while it may be a color, is more widely known as a finish, i.e. a type of paint, used for kitchens and baths due to its washability. Kinda wrecks the joke for me; though it is notoriously hard to apply properly, so I side with the Bots in their horror at its mention.

    Slap-worthy Mike riff: I hate these new aluminum bats.

    Also (as Sampo mentioned): You know, my father was a master bat-hunter… guess that makes me Bat Masterson.

    I can’t help but compare this to 1007 – Track of the Moon Beast. From the opening credits alone, one can see this is the better made film. The acting is competent and the camera actually moves. This one has atmosphere and some creepy moments. I like how the slightly clueless ski-bum doctor allies himself with the couple while the late Klingon/J.C. Michael Pataki plays the antagonistic sheriff who suspects the awful truth about our “hero.” John Beck’s frequent spaz-attacks are hilarious on their own, but his cocky demeanor is convincing, as is his wife’s shrewish concern. Superficially, they remind me of the neurotic lead couple from The Screaming Skull, transplanted here via some alternate-universe Woody Allen movie. This film cleverly uses the “sex=death” horror movie trope by having the recently married couple get distracted by vampirism during their honeymoon. At the end, as in Werewolf (and Dr.Z?), the female joins her mate by becoming a monster herself. Very romantic.

    But despite these cinematic qualities, the episode is only so-so. Riffing is not as good as Moon Beast and other Season 10 triumphs. 3 stars.


  20. Son of Bobo says:

    For me, this is The Human Duplicators of the Sci-Fi era. A good episode to watch every other year, funny, but nothing special. The exception is the Mary Tyler Moore sketch, with Mike perfect as Ted Knight.
    I remember Stewart Moss occasionally appearing on Hogan’s Heroes as Olsen whenever they needed an extra P.O.W. to pull off some scheme. He was usually the one that distracted a pretty woman. He and his wife spent their careers doing guest spots on TV in the 1960’s through late 1980’s.
    Fave riff: “Wow, Batman has really let the place go.”
    I also remember that there were a few odd riffs, like they had some joke they had been saving, but with time running out they stretched the premise to include it.


  21. Graboidz says:

    #6…I love the themes to both this and “Squirm”, just sort of off-kilter and creepy.
    I give this a solid 4, I’m a big fan of the 70’s eps, and while this isn’t a particularly strong episode, it have plenty of chuckles sprinkled throughout.


  22. One the the few MST movies where the guy who turns into a monster is not named Paul.

    My favorite riff comes right at the end when the wife is joining her husband in the cave.
    Crow: “Wait a minute, how did she become a bat? The only contact she had with him was in the hotel room when they…oh…OH MY GOD!”
    Mike: “Oh yuck!”
    Tom: “I get the shower first!”


  23. Howard says:

    This ones a yawner, but whenever I watch it I find new things to like about it. This and MOON BEAST


  24. Howard says:

    Oops. This and MOON BEAST are an ideal MST double feature, this one being the “B” movie. The lead bat-character is poorly developed to say the least. It’s cool that he forms an instant alliance with Dr. Mellow Ski Bum because they’re both “men of science.” Turns out the doctor was right about rabies, too — that wasn’t the problem at all. Anyway, I gave this episode 3 stars.


  25. Yipe Striper says:

    well IT shouldn’t drink so much coffee…


  26. Roman Martel says:

    Not a bad episode, but one that seems to be missing that extra bit of energy to make it a great episode. But all the parts are in place. John is a complete idiot, and the way he reacts to his transformation is hilarious. Also, I think the timing of “Squeak!” and the various ways they’d say it was pretty damn funny. Of course I think saying “Rowsdower” a bunch of times is funny – so maybe I’m a little off.

    I was always puzzled by the fact that John sense the bats during the opening scene – before he is bitten. The first time I saw this, I thought that the transformation was all in his mind, and that the bite pushed him over the edge. Well that would have made it interesting I guess, so they chose not to go that route. But why is he in tune with the bats at the beginning? Cathy senses the bats too – but after she is bitten. Bad writing I tell you!

    I also love the use the gruff voice for the bats during the dream sequences. My wife always feels so sorry for those little guys. I wonder who got the job to hold those angry little guys while the director filmed them. “Just a little longer Joe, the lights not quite right. Well I’m sorry you got bit. We’ve got the shots on stand by so grow a pair and hold that little guy still!”

    My wife and I are split on this one. I have a higher tolerance for dreary 70’s movies than she does (but she does admit that this one has more forward momentum than “The Touch of Satan” or “Dr. Z”). I think that helps it in my book. But she finds it less funny. I end up splitting the difference and giving it three annoyed bats out of five.

    Click on my name for a full review.


  27. Apollonia James (yeah, right) says:

    “The best thing we can do is just wait.”
    “…yeah, taking action is for EFFECTIVE people.”

    Not a bad episode, though there certainly are better ones. I recognized Stewart Moss on an episode of Star Trek a few months ago; he played a native inhabitant of some planet the Enterprise visited. He was actually in two episodes, IMDB just informed me. That was a fun little connection between some of my favorite shows; a few other MST movie actors were on Star Trek, too. The chick from Agent for HARM is one…

    “I know you’re undressing me with your sonar!”


  28. badger1970 says:

    THe riffing’s OK. The end with the kamikaze bats is a little gross. Dumb movie, ok segments, not a very memorible episode except of Dr. ‘stach.


  29. MiqelDotCom says:

    @GizmonicTemp #5
    That is hilarious! I would never have guessed :shock:


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


    I’m sure there are professional bat handlers (batmasters?) whom Hollywood employs for such films. It’s the same with most forms of animal life. I think I read somewhere that there are professional ROACH handlers…


  31. Dan in WI says:

    Speaking of Mike as Ted Baxter, while Mike nailed the voice quite well, I thought the custome/makeup had him looking like Jay Leno.


  32. swh1939 says:

    #31 – Dan in WI

    You just invoked a “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” flashback moment.


  33. Not Merritt Stone says:

    I have seen pictures of my mother from the time period when this movie was shot, and she looks almost EXACTLY like the blonde woman who was on the longest cave tour ever. I’ve shown her that scene and she swears it’s not her, but I’m sure she just doesn’t want to admit she was in this crappy movie.


  34. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    This episode SHOULD have been great. It has that wonderful 70’s patina, much like Track of the Moon Beast, with a cast of frankly unlikable characters (especially the smug, condescending husband). The jokes just don’t quite hit the mark for me, though. Still a pretty good outing, I just wish it was a little better.

    Fave riff:

    When the sleazy sheriff is lurking about outside the hotel room wearing his sunglasses, cowboy hat and cigarette holder: “All he needs is a feather boa!”


  35. Creepygirl says:

    Because this episode was played to DEATH! I stayed away from it. I have to admit it is prety good. I realy enjoyed the riffing and the movie in general is sooooo dumb. I have to give a high five to the brians for the’re many 70s jokes. It was truly the only reason I got through this movie


  36. Ator In Flight says:

    I agree,good not great episode. I do like the opening bit. “The can needs it,can really needs it.”


  37. ck says:

    Given Crow’s personality, I think he should have
    gone for Sue Ann Nivens rather then Mary Tyler Moore.
    Hey, he could then have gotten a guest role in
    Hot In Cleveland.


  38. fry1laurie says:

    The Sheriff was less a perv than the hotel owner. “If you need anything at all (drool, pant, lust), just call.” Just barge right in, thank you very much!


  39. Lucas D. says:

    This is sort of a weird episode for me. I remember laughing throughout the whole thing, but beyond the bats somehow squishing like tomatoes on the Sheriff’s windshield (BATS AREN’T BUGS!!), the movie itself made no real impression on me. Sort of like Hamlet; I laughed, but if I weren’t already familiar with Shakespeare’s play, I wouldn’t recall much of that one either.


  40. Zeroninety says:

    I love the shots of some offscreen bat wrangler stretching a bat’s wings apart, leading Mike to rain body blows on it.

    “The exact moment they knew their marriage was over.”

    “He was gonna hit him anyway!”


  41. I like every episode of MST3K, but I’ve seen this one ten times, and I couldn’t tell you a thing about it except that I really liked the MTM host segment. Can’t wait till we circle around to the early episodes in a few weeks.


  42. Lucas D. says:

    Mike in Portland: God, I know, right? It’s like meeting a guy with a bag over his head and then trying to describe him later.


  43. trickymutha says:

    The movie and riffing here are top notch. If anything, the crew’s jokes and delivery improved during the series’ final days. “Bitch slapped by a bat.” Brilliant. Funny. I have for years put episodes on in the next room, turning it up just loud enough for the person (usually one of my kids or GF) in the next room could hear. The aforementioned riff is a perfect 4 for 4. Bat people, or whatever they call it, is a typical TV movie, not starring anyone- and very 70’s. The Mary Tyler Moore riffs still work today, but maybe not as well to younger folks. This episode makes me laugh every time, and Michael Patiki, one of my all time favorites (sad, he appeared with another oft mentioned in riffs, but never in a MST movie Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider)is excellent as the sociopath sheriff. Now both are gone, mere Celluloid Heroes. ****


  44. Jamie says:

    …”I have a lot of not eating to do!”


  45. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    Sampo: “I don’t get the sense that the movie makers are trying to suggest anything supernatural here. Just some sort of weird form of rabies or something?”

    What about how the bats attack and kill the sheriff (maybe or maybe not at the wife’s command)? These are obviously not ordinary bats.


    Apollonia James (yeah, right) (#27): “I recognized Stewart Moss on an episode of Star Trek a few months ago”

    The top three male characters in this movie were all played by Trek alums: Stewart Moss (Bat-Guy), played the suicidal Tormolen in “The Naked Time” and an alien from Andromeda in “By Any Other Name”; Paul Carr (Dr. Mellow Ski-Bum) was the ill-fated helmsman Lt. Kelso in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”; and Michael Pataki (Sheriff Menacing W. Pervert) played the Scotty-baiting Klingon Korax in “The Trouble with Tribbles” (and later dictator Karnas in the Next Gen episode “Too Short a Season”).


    This is a pretty mediocre episode, with only a couple gags that made me laugh out loud. One was Mike’s comment about the music, “Wow! There’s a whale farting outside!”

    The “squeak” jokes start out weak, and rapidly get annoying.

    I’m almost surprised no one made a joke when the prominent sign for “Mitchell Caverns” appeared. I thought this movie might be the second of the season shot in New Mexico, but no. I Googled Mitchell Caverns, and it’s in the Mojave Desert in California. (The police station is actually the tour center for the caverns.) So it’s more Coleman Francis territory than Moon Beast.


  46. Craig J. Clark says:

    Strangely enough, this movie (in its unMSTed form) was released by MGM as part of a “Midnight Movies” double feature with The Beast Within. :twisted: The disc’s out of print now, but they have it on the shelf at my local video store in their “were-beasts” section, so I’ve occasionally been tempted to rent it. I have, after all, seen the unMSTed versions of Horrors of Spider Island and Track of the Moon Beast. This would complete the triumvirate.


  47. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    trickymutha#43 – Nice tribute. I’m gonna go dig out some Kinks records now.


  48. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    trickymutha (#43): “Bat people, or whatever they call it, is a typical TV movie”

    It was a theatrical film, yet another American International Pictures B-movie.


  49. trickymutha says:

    Cabbage Patch Elvis- Good work. For some reason, I got very excited when “Livin on a thin line” was on the Sopranos. “Back in the day” I saw the Kinks seven times in the Detroit area. Always a good show. Ray would always do Celluloid Heroes late in the set- I still like the studio version, however, the best. Though it has marginal video accompaniment, the song is wonderful. I’m trying to make this a regular with my favorite Trobairitz.

    The only MST episode I know of with a Kinks/Ray Davies is the Final Sacrifice- Servo shouts- “Ray Davies” during a Satoris glamor shot. :lol:


  50. Flying Saucers Over Oz says:

    Doctor Mellow Ski-Bum makes me question my sexuality as well. I’m Gay and not attracted to him at all.

    If this movie were any more 70’s it would explode. And the lead is THIS CLOSE to being Richard Benjamin…


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