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Episode guide: K11- Humanoid Woman

Movie: (1981) In the future, a clone is rescued from space, lives on Earth for a while, then leads her friends to her polluted and desperate home world.

First shown: 1/29/89
Opening: The Mads are furious to learn that last week’s ratings were higher, despite being opposite the Super Bowl
Host segment 1: J&TB enjoy a game of tag
Host segment 2: Servo hits on a blender
Host segment 3: J&TB demonstrate surrealism
End: Servo and Joel discuss the Village People and end with a “Dating Game”-style goodbye kiss
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (105 votes, average: 3.74 out of 5)


• Three of the host segments from this film were later reused in Season One shows, making this one of the most heavily-plundered KTMA episodes. Segment 1 was later re-shot in episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES. Segment 2 was later recycled, almost word-for-word, in episode 103- MAD MONSTER. A sketch somewhat similar to segment 3 appeared in episode 107- ROBOT MONSTER.
• It’s unclear why the Brains think the movie is Czech (maybe it said so in the Maltin guide). It’s Russian. But that doesn’t stop Servo from making a “corn Czechs” joke.
• In the opening segment, after movie sign is announced, the Bots chase Joel down the corridor leading into the movie theater. Both Joel and Mike have run down the corridor, but Crow, Tom and Gypsy following is unique.
• I’ve been noticing something in these episodes: Joel hasn’t really embraced the “the right people will get it” mentality yet. A lot of times Josh or Trace will make a reference and not explain it, and Joel will, almost reflexively, explain the joke. A good example in this episode is the “Kiki Dee” reference which Servo makes and Joel then explains.
• Not sure if this is my DVD or the way it actually happened, but there is no “movie sign” transition between segment 3 and the theater.
• Movie stuff: The movie was originally titled “Cherez Ternii K Zvedam” (in Russian) and was shown in two parts: “Iskusstvennyl Chelovek” and “Angely Kosmosa.” When exported to the west, it was initially titled with the Latin phrase “Per Aspera Ad Astra” then retitled with the rough English translation of that phrase: “To the Stars by Hard Ways.” Sheesh.
• According to the IMDB, the director’s son has reedited/restored the original, which purists insist is far more interesting than the Sandy Frank version. Sounds a lot like purists who swear by restored “Solaris” (which I found impenetrable, but others whose opinions I respect really enjoyed).
• It’s definitely another case, like all the other Russian films that were riffed over the years, that, whatever it’s flaws, it had a huge budget and it’s fascinating to look at, even if you don’t know what the Sam Hill is goin’ on.
• During the ending segment, Crow discusses what he plans to do in the upcoming week. This segment feels improvised, and it’s one of the few times in MST3K’s history in which Trace can’t think of anything funny to say. It’s almost painful to hear him bluff his way through. and Crew Round up: Sandy Frank is the only name this time.
• Fave riff: “Why did she crawl inside the espresso machine?” Honorable mention: “You better close your little ticket window, there.”

60 Replies to “Episode guide: K11- Humanoid Woman”

  1. Bruce Boxliker says:

    A decent episode with an interesting, if at times meandering, movie. I have but one question. The robot at the end that was vacuuming up the Sentient-Doom-Foam ™. Where was he vacuuming it to? Does he have a Bender-like interior compartment?


  2. snowdog says:

    To me, this one felt like a step backward in terms of riffing. The long gaps return for some reason, as if no one can think of anything to say. After last week’s final segment, I was thinking Joel might start carrying Servo into the theater, but nope, not yet.

    Fave riff:
    She’s got Sammy Davis eyes.


  3. pondoscp says:

    Ouch. It’s probably my horrible copy of this episode, but ouch. Let’s just say this one didn’t go down easy. Some fun goofiness, however, and it’s always interesting to see those early host segments.


  4. jjb3k says:

    I confess, I can’t hear ELO’s “Evil Woman” anymore without singing “Humanoid Woman” instead.

    I would have loved to see the Brains take this one on again in a later season. A movie this head-explodingly crazy is almost screaming for a redo with better riffing. Can you imagine the kind of comments we would have gotten on that ambulatory wedding cake robot that sucks a watermelon up its butt if they’d tackled this movie in, say, Season 4 or 5?

    Having seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture since the last time I watched this episode, I too notice Niya’s uncanny resemblance to the V’ger-controlled Ilia. Niya’s got a little more hair, but not much. I half expect her to mention her oath of celibacy at some point.

    This movie, with its trippy underwater sequences and its oddly facial-haired bad guys and its gooey foamy ending (not to mention the puke-green tinge of my fan copy), feels like a bad fever dream crossed with an acid trip. One of those movies where you keep having to stop and remind yourself that it really exists, even as you’re watching it. It’s the cinematic equivalent of an out-of-body experience.

    “Go to the Astra! Go to the Astra! Go to the Astra!” Thank you, Turanchoks, we heard you the first time…

    I’m tickled by Joel and the bots’ “Dating Game”-style sendoff at the end, considering Joel is the only one who can physically blow a kiss at the audience. Another one of those KTMA “we didn’t think this through” moments.


  5. ern2150 says:

    Jjb3k: “ambulatory wedding cake robot that sucks a watermelon up its butt”


  6. ern2150 says:

    Sessions presents!
    Sounds of KTMA!

    Huuu manoid Woman (Servo beepboop)
    Bahn Bahn Bahn der Autobahn
    In the Land of Dairy Queen

    and many many more!


  7. Cornjob says:

    “I’ve mentioned before how indescribably disturbing the Humanoid Woman from the same named episode is. If she won’t ditch the upsetting shock-white micro-thin afro, or share the drugs she’s obviously stoned out of her mind on, I wish she’d lower her eyelids a titch. Maybe then her face wouldn’t look like a lidless skull her eyeballs are desperately trying to eject themselves from in search of another host.

    My most recent watch yeilded that the observation that her hair looked like mildew, making her head look like a moldy skull. No wonder the eyes want to escape.

    Remember Mike’s experiment in color affecting mood? Well the color palette in this movie makes me feel existentially sad and nauseous. Maybe it’s because it was a deteriorated master on a deteriorated tape transferred to DVD (Cheepnis’ copy). Maybe it’s Soviet chromatic warfare. Whatever it is, I’ve only been able to stand watching this one 3 times. It hurts me. Riffing’s alright I think. The haze of pain and incomprehensible plot make it hard to recall.”

    Sorry to reprint all of my post from 4 years ago, but it really sums up my initial response to this movie very well. I’ve never had a visceral response against the color palette of a film like I do this one. As for the title character, “Less eye, more hair”, sums her appearance up quite well. Over the last four years I’ve gotten accustomed enough to the look of the movie to actually watch it.

    A big shout out to Philip R. Frey aka “Rhindle The Red” for the plot analysis. Did you get that watching the MST version or another? You cleared up a lot of my own questions. Odd film that reminds me a little of Last Spaceship on Venus and makes me wonder if this is another Stanislaus Lem adaptation.

    And I guess Nea’s telepathy/control explains the irritating mosquito choking on a kazoo sound and her stoned look. For the life of me I don’t know how she manages to look bulging bug eyed and sleepy at the same time. I wish she wouldn’t Bogart that telepathy. It looks like it’s great stuff.


  8. jaybird3rd says:

    I don’t have much to add about this one; again, my copy is somewhat muffled and hard to hear, and of course, the typical KTMA video quality makes an already dark and muddy film even harder to look at. I’m mostly intrigued by the movie itself; I’d be curious to see the uncut, un-Sandy-Franked version someday. The dubbing isn’t as bad as that of most Sandy Frank films, but the actors do have the bad habit of pronouncing “Sergei” as “Sir Gay”, prompting a few “I am not!!!” and “Don’t call me that!!!” jokes from Servo.

    This is the kind of movie that provides plenty of riffing opportunities, but few that can easily be mined in the off-the-cuff manner of the KTMA shows. I wish they had returned to this movie later, perhaps early in Season 8: it would have fit perfectly into the “sci-fi only” mandate that the show was operating under at that time, and in the midst all the changes during that season, a return to Sandy Frank territory would have been a welcome touch of familiarity … not to mention a nice break in the tiresome stretch of black-and-white films!

    A belated thank-you to #49 for the interesting plot analysis, confirming there’s more to this movie than meets the eye, and also to #54 for the perfect description of the “ambulatory wedding cake robot that sucks a watermelon up its butt”. I’ll never be able to look at the movie in the same way again! Someone also described Niyya as a hybrid of Christopher Walken and Ilia from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, which I also thought was very apt. I’d be surprised if the character of Niyya was not modeled after Persis Khambatta to some extent.


  9. Philip R. Frey aka "Rhindle the Red" says:

    Just caught up with the fact that this episode came ’round again.

    @Cornjob: I have a copy of the Sandy Frank version of the film un-riffed, but as was common in the KTMA era, there’s not very much in the un-riffed version that isn’t in the MST3K episode. It just makes it easier to follow the plot not having three wise-acres talking over it. ;)

    I also did a lot of research on the film when I was putting together my own KTMA episode guide (linked above) and learned just how much was cut from what was essentially two movies to make this version.

    I stand by my original observation: a decent movie and a solid episode. My second favorite KTMA (behind my favorite episode of all, “Cosmic Princess”).


  10. Mnenoch says:

    Well the first half of Humanoid Woman is deadly dull. The last half concerning Dessa isn’t nearly as bad. I think the guys did a pretty good job of riffing on it. My favorite riff in this film is when they are taking the chalice from the palace bit from The Court Jester.


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