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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: K19- Hangar 18

Movie: (1980) Government officials try to cover up the crash of an alien spaceship, but two astronauts know the truth.

First shown: 5/14/89
Opening: Joel gives the name of the film, and immediately it’s movie sign!
Host segment 1: Crow, in 2-year-old mode, responds to every comment with “why?” and “so?” Joel is not amused
Host segment 2: Joel and Servo purge Crow’s memory. It’s mostly full of informercials
Host segment 3: Joel shows Crow his first memory, and explains how Crow got his name (but it’s just a practical joke)
End: Joel says the 1,000th fan club member will get a special prize
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (121 votes, average: 4.30 out of 5)


• Spring has definitely sprung. It was a balmy 76 degrees, then 75, then 73 as the sun set.
• I don’t really have much to say about the movie. It feels like very “Capricorn One”-ish (and that’s not a good thing). The IMDB notes that when it was shown on TV (the same year it came out in theaters!) it was titled “Invasion Force,” and had a different ending from the theatrical version. That new ending is the one we see in this episode. In the original ending, the news report says that everybody was killed when the plane crashes at the end of the movie. In our ending, the report indicates that the people inside the spacecraft were somehow shielded from the explosion and survived.
• In the first half hour, Servo derisively mocks one of Joel’s riffs. The comment is followed by an uncomfortable silence. It feels a little like the kind of thing that probably would be okay in the writing room, but it was a little awkward when he did it on TV.
• The opening is one the shortest host segments ever, right up there with “Waffles!”
• Segments 1 and 3 appear on the MST3K Scrapbook tape.
References. Local reference not explained there: River Place. Also, weatherman Barry ZeVan is mentioned again.
• In segment one, after driving Joel crazy with childish questions, Crow asks: “Daddy, what’s Vietnam?” This is a reference to a Time-Life commercial in the ’80s for its “History of the Vietnam War” book series. In the commercial, a man and his son stand before the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The son looks up, and asks “Daddy, what’s Vietnam?”. At which point, a voiceover somberly intones “A question a child might ask – but not a childish question.”
• Callback: City on Fire!
• Segment 2 seems to be a little case of biting the hand that feeds you: a subversive little dig at TV23’s apparent penchant for showing informercials. It should be noted that at this point, in the late spring of 1989, KTMA was already in a pretty deep financial trouble. The official bankruptcy filing happened in July, only a couple of months after this show aired. So they probably needed all the informercial revenue they could get.
• Does it feel to anybody else like a movie with this title should have been used in episode K18? Or am I just being OCD?
• It’s interesting that a demon dog pops up in the end segment, with no explanation of what a demon dog is or why it’s there. It appears in the opening theme, but you could be forgiven for never noticing it. Demon dogs would become a plot element in an episode in season one.
• Cast and crew roundup: special effects guy Harry Woolman also worked on “The Incredible Melting Man,” “Laserblast” and “Agent for H.A.R.M. 2nd unit director Henning Schellerup also worked on “Melting Man.” Sound guy Glen Glenn also worked on “The Corpse Vanishes” and “Master Ninjas I and II.” Sound mixer Rod Sutton also worked on “The Slime People,” “King Dinosaur” and “It Lives By Night.” Stunt coordinator Greg Brickman also appear on camera in “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” Stunts consultant Alan Gibbs was a performer in “Mitchell” (where a lot of stunt guys got small roles). Score composer John Cacavas also worked on “SST Death Flight” and “Superdome. In front of the camera, William Schallert also appeared in “Gunslinger” and “Invasion USA.” H.M. Wynant also appeared in “Stranded in Space.”
• CreditsWatch: As with K16, sound guy Todd Ziegler moved up to director and Alex Carr filled in at the audio board. This is the first episode where the “Camera: Kevin Murphy” credit is removed at “Cambot: Kevin Murphy” is added to the cast list.
• Fave riff: “Mine are more pouty.” Honorable mention: “I feel like I know more than I already do.”

76 Replies to “Episode guide: K19- Hangar 18”

  1. Server Monkey says:

    Craziness! I distinctly remember paying box office to see this thing!


  2. JeremyR says:

    I love this movie. I have it on DVD (and had it on tape before that). Okay, it probably helps that I love B-movies, UFOs, and Gary Collins, but still, I think it’s a pretty decent movie.

    Yes, it makes no sense plot wise, but the movie even acknowledges this. The general saying “Why don’t we just tell Gary Collins and what’s his name about it?” and Robert Vaughn saying “No, because otherwise there wouldn’t be a movie.”

    Anyway, it’s very much a movie of its time. Back then there were 3 really big things: The Space Shuttle (which did a tour across the country before one ever launched), the upcoming election, and UFOs. That they managed to come up with a story that ties all three together is really impressive. And they did a pretty decent job with UFO mythology* – Hangar 18, MIBs, alien abduction (the lady onboard), alien autopsies (which would crop up again in the 90s), a UFO crash in the desert, the whole Chariots of the Gods thing.

    Anyway, it’s sick, but my favorite riff is “He’s heading out to space”

    Also what I really find fascinating. That teen idol of today, Justin whatever basically has Gary Collins’s hair. 2010 = 1980 in terms of fashion. Soon I predict we will see Member’s Only jackets showing up everyone on teenagers. (Okay, probably not, but it wouldn’t surprise me…)

    * As did the Robert Vaughn movie, Starship Invasions, from a couple years earlier, which was heavily based on contactee lore. Sadly, I don’t have this one on DVD, only from Youtube…


  3. Chuck Y says:

    As a kid, the previews of this movie 30 years ago seemed to unnerve me (especially when the aliens whip around). How glad I am that “MST3K,” brought justice to this film, thus making it enjoyable.

    I agree with previous posters that there was lot in this movie to love for the time. I especially agree with those who said this could have been the “anti ‘Close Encounters,’” but it failed on so many levels.

    A lot of the stars of this film seemed to do OK. Tom Hallick got to be the original host on “Entertainment Tonight.”


  4. TheDON3k says:

    I’ve lately become sick of Gary Collins… I say this because I started watching the run of Night Gallery on Retro TV. Awful, BTW. Primarily because of syndication they took the 1 hr episodes and cut them to half-hour, but in doing so they took what was maybe a 15 mins segment, originally paired with a 45-min segment, and stretched the 15 mins to a full 30.

    But most awful, and how this relates to Gary Collins, is that at some point Night Gallery became a Gary Collins vehicle. The show should have been retitled. Basically someone decided that Gary Collins was a physic investigator-type and each episodes focused about this ‘Doctor’ that Gary played solving paranormal problems. I mean, after about the 7th episodes of Night Gallery that began with the credits Starring Gary Collins, I began to just mark them watched and delete them.

    Sorry, Gary, that spin-off ain’t comin’…..

    As for this MST3k experiment, I haven’t watched it in probably a year, but I seems to recall thinking it was okay. I never saw the movie outside of MST3k, but I do recall many times as a kid having friends mention the film.


  5. Alex says:

    Wow, I remember watching Hanger 18 on TV when I was a kid. All I remember is a UFO, something about slicing through butter, and some guy dies on the road… or something. Like a lot of things, I imagine it wasn’t as good as you remember it was.


  6. Smog Monster says:

    @ 52: “That teen idol of today, Justin whatever”

    Justin ‘Beiber’ is the name you’re looking for. I won’t hold it against you that you forgot his last name. I’m sure it happened to alot of celebrities at one point or another… John ‘Dwayne’?!?


  7. Kali says:

    This is actually one of the few KTMA’s I wish they did do with a full staff. A UFO conspiracy movie — without X-FILES riffs? Crime against nature.


    And if I remember right, Sunn Classics did this goofball – they also did “Chariots of the Gods?” That fact alone would have deserved Sandy Frank quality riffs.

    They released it with a new (contradictory) ending, too. Special Edition riffs, anyone? :yes:


  8. “at some point Night Gallery became a Gary Collins vehicle”

    As I understand it, Collins had been in a series called The Sixth Sense – in which he played a paranormal investigator – and because there weren’t enough episodes for syndication the show was taken and edited down to fit into The Night Gallery. In the process, the hour-long episodes of The Sixth Sense were cut down to half an hour, losing any semblance of dramatic coherence… God, I love that phrase, “any semblance of dramatic coherence”. It’d be a good song lyric for a song by a progressive rock band, such as ELP or Van Der Graaf Generator. Probably the latter, because they were a bit more intellectual, more likely to use words like “semblance” and “coherence”. Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares was a song by Tangerine Dream, you rarely hear the word “semblance” in rock music outside the context of 70s prog rock. Early 80s New Romantic bands approached the same level of lyrical pretension but from a much more post-modern direction.

    But, yes, Hangar 18 eh? Never seen the MST3K treatment; remember watching the original film on the telly when I was a kid, but crucially can’t remember anything about the film except for (a) a UFO (b) a beheaded astronaut with a very fake beheaded head and (c) a car chase.


  9. While I’m in a musical mood, I’m struck by the backing track for the MST3K theme. It seems to be the only production bit that they kept for later episodes; in fact it sounds as if they kept the bass and drums and the odd bell sound and just added more instruments over the same recording later. The Mike episodes have a little drum fanfare at the very beginning and a guitar twang at the end but the instruments sound identical. This always seemed odd to me, but I would have thought they’d have bands queuing up to rework the theme in different styles, just like the Angry Video Game Nerd. Devo or the B-52s doing the MST3K them would have been a wonderful thing. It’s odd, because the song’s clearly supposed to be a kind of postmodern 50s rock-n-roll parody, but it has 80s-style synths. I wonder how they went about recording it?

    You know, I’m clicking to insert a smiley. I really am. But no smiley. It’s not fair. Everybody else has a smiley. I want one too.


  10. Cheapskate Crow says:

    My copy of this is from DAP, does anyone else have the problem that DAP copies are blindingly white, like the brightness is turned up way too high?

    As for the episode, this was pretty good for KTMA. I loved host segment 2 as I had to see many of those infomercials since I worked in television as a Master Control Operator at the time. Other episode observations:

    The ship really did look like Metallica’s stage for concerts at the time, at the time of this episode Metallica was still cool, hard to believe.

    No In Search Of or Leonard Nimoy jokes? this episode was crying out for them.

    Josh’s predicting the commercial coming up got really old. More than once is too much.

    Joel was the mean dad in the KTMA years as opposed to the nice fatherly figure we saw later on.

    Trace seemed to be channeling the McKenzie brothers sometimes for his lines, it never hit me before until watching this episode.


  11. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Not a terrible movie, but not a good movie, either. It simply was what it was. Sadly, I could easily see politicians choosing to sacrifice an alien spaceship, full of hyper-advanced technology, just to win an election. I would not however, see anybody in the military going along with that ridiculous idea…
    At one point in the movie, a scientist llllady is explaining how the alien must have had a parallel evolution to humanity. Joel says ‘He must have used his parallelogram’, then realized he either made a mistake or came up with the better line ‘Used his parallelogland’, but then Josh ran right over his line & you could just barely make it out.


  12. miltrath says:

    You mention Servo’s mocking of a riff, and how it might fly in the writing room but not on tape. I personally haven’t dug too deeply into the J. Elvis issue, as I came in during the frank era and didn’t care for either of his characters. His Servo sounds like a normal guy making a fat guy voice, and his Larry voice is a normal guy doing a nerd voice, both very derisive. Anywho…Was it all about that kind of thing showing his immaturity, or did he just directly piss everyone off?

    Makes me laugh when Joel introduces him during Cinematic Titanic though. “He’s a man now…”. Let it go, Joel.


  13. Happenstance says:

    Heh! I never knew the movie had official alternate endings; I figured the obvious “downbeat” ending (it reminds me so much of the ending of The Return of the Living Dead as everybody stops and listens to the inbound missile) just made test audiences cry and they quickly ginned up the voice-over to convince viewers that all those people standing around stock-still somehow scrambled into the saucer before everything blew up.

    I avoided most Sunn Classics films when I was a kid; I think the only ones I watched in theaters were Beyond and Back and Sasquatch. Now I hate myself for passing up all that great gravy.


  14. Cornjob says:

    #49 has my old comments which are pretty much exactly what I was thinking saying again recently. Why cover up the most spectacular scientific discovery since Einstein? And what the heck was Robert Vaughn’s job anyway?


  15. Johnny's nonchalance says:


    Government was like that in the 1970s?

    (The super-bad 70s?)

    Hmmm, just shows how history is cyclical.

    Here we are now.

    I feel stupid, and contagious…


  16. jjb3k says:

    This episode was responsible for another one of those super-awkward moments where I made myself look like an idiot for enjoying MST3K.

    I was watching this one as part of my occasional “every episode in order” marathons, and my mom and a friend of hers came into the living room just as it was starting. “What are you watching?” “Mystery Science Theater. It’s one of my favorite shows.” And of course, the first thing you see in this episode is the primitive door sequence out of the theater, two seconds of Joel saying “The movie’s called Hangar 18 – MOVIE SIGN!”, the primitive door sequence right back into the theater, and then the dull opening credits of a movie so dark you can’t even see the shadowrama. My mom’s friend surely must have thought I was insane.


  17. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #60: Joel could be mean in the CC years as well. Remember the opening host segment from The Beatniks? Though I’ll admit that his behavior in that instance was more akin to a cruel older sibling.


  18. Cheapskate Crow says:

    @62: I think the reason Joel introduces Josh like that is because Josh was only 19 or so when he left MST and it is reasonable to assume that CT viewers haven’t heard anything about him or seen him since then. I don’t think it is meant to be derogatory, Joel is too nice a guy for that.


  19. Cornjob says:

    Around the time of this episode Megadeth released Rust in Peace which featured a song called “Hanger 18”. Coincidence? Yes. Good song too.


  20. Last time around, up at comment #42, I mentioned how I recently purchased a Hangar 18 movie poster. Well, since then (almost 4 years ago) I also bought the paperback novelization of Hangar 18, which makes now for two Hangar 18 pieces in my collection of things. That seems like two too many to me, but I tell you this: if I ever find a cheap used DVD or BluRay (yes, Olive Films released the movie on Blu) I would totally buy it. :yes: 8-)


  21. Bruce Boxliker says:

    @69 – Welcome to my fortress tall. I’ll take some time to show you around.


  22. Cornjob says:

    “Impossible to break these walls for you see the steel is much too strong”

    And that’s how they all survived at the end.


  23. Monster Machine says:

    Terrible movie, decent MST3k episode, best Megadeth song.

    All props to Messrs. Cornjob and Bruce Boxliker for beating me to the punch.


  24. Cornjob says:

    And don’t forget the follow up “Return to Hanger 18” on The World Needs a Hero. Not as good as the first but interesting still.


  25. Mnenoch says:

    Fun episode for me. The riffing is pretty good, the skits are good for KTMA. Overall an enjoyable episode.

    My mom grew up in Big Springs, Texas where Hanger 18 was filmed. My Dad and Mom both know people who either had acting jobs or set jobs on Hanger 18 so it’s kind of special. This is the first time I’ve watched the KTMA version. I think the movie itself isn’t too terrible. As far as the original ending even in the KTMA version here you can see that the UFO survived the impact and they the voice over mentions just the few people that were inside the UFO when the learjet crashed.

    The mst3k guys are in a pretty good groove here. Although I could see that viewers might be a little burned out because it’s been late 70’s early 80’s movies for a while.


  26. Graboidz says:

    I remember seeing the ads for this film when it came out and I really wanted to see it, I was a sci-fi nut and the preview made this movie look like a big episode of “In Search Of….”.

    The movie is a bit slow, but I actually really liked it. I could watch this one un-riffed and still enjoy it. This is a fun episode, but I have to ask, what is with that “mid morning stimulation” line Joel drops in during the 3rd host segment???? Yikes!! One thing I’ve noticed on this run-through of the KTMA episodes is amount of “naughty” riffs in these shows. They drop a lot of risqué humor in these public access shows, much more than you find in your standard Comedy Central/Sci-Fi shows. I have to do a double take every now and again like in “Phase IV” with Joel’s “You can’t beat “off” in the woods!” I’m not sure they would’ve gone there once they went national.


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