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Episode guide: 106- The Crawling Hand

Movie: (1963) An astronaut’s capsule crashes in the ocean and his severed hand (controlled by an unknown alien force) washes up on a beach, where it is found by a moody teen. Soon both are on respective rampages.

First shown: 12/16/89 (unconfirmed)
Opening: Joel explains the premise
Invention exchange: Joel demonstrates his scary safety saw; the Mads demonstrate the limb lengthener
Host segment 1: J&tB bowl, then Crow and Tom don’t want to play any more games with Joel
Host segment 2: J&tB do Shatner with their own crawling hand
Host segment 3: The bots: Why is a dismembered hand scary?
End: Good thing/bad thing, letter, Larry’s limbs are still lengthy
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (137 votes, average: 3.91 out of 5)


• Not too much to say about this one: bad print of a talky black and white teen scifi thriller (with a notable cast); riffing is adequate but not outstanding; host segments are relatively weak, particularly segment three, where the arrival of Gypsy in a giant hand costume is a “WTF” ending to a labored bit.
• This episode was released by Rhino as a single.
• References.
• THIS episode, not episode 104, is the REAL first time for the opening segment. It’s the first time, following the theme song, that we pull out into the door sequence and arrive at the bridge of the SOL instead of cutting to Deep 13. This is the first episode (not counting episode 104, of course) in which, during the opening segment, Magic Voice announces “30 seconds to commercial sign,” “Commercial sign in 15 seconds” and “Commercial sign in 5-4-3-2-1…commercial sign now.” It’s also the first episode where we can see buttons on the table.
• Joel explains the show’s premise slowly, like he’s talking to kindergarteners. He makes a point of gesturing to the buttons when Deep 13 calls. However, there are still no Bots are on the set during the invention exchange.
• This show is the first time we see Joel pop a grape into his mouth after tapping the buttons. Joel would later explain that the point of the bit was that the Mads were doing a behavior modification thing by rewarding him with a treat for pushing the button.
• Joel starts to mention the “vacuflowers” during the invention exchange. Vacuflowers were mentioned, I am told, in the first few KTMA eps, unfortunately fan copies of those episode don’t exist.
• Segment 1 is a re-do from episode K14 – MIGHTY JACK.
• Crow’s arms work during segment 1 and even Joel is surprised to learn that he can smell.
• The theater seats are, again, green.
• The role of moody teen Paul Lawrence is played by moderately successful teen idol Rod Lauren. His real name was Roger Lawrence Strunk, and in later life he became known as “the O. J. Simpson of the Philippines.”
In 1964, Lauren went to the Philippines to make a movie, and met Nida Blanca, a then-rising Filipina film star. The two became a couple and he married her in 1979 and moved permanently to Manila. Blanca eventually became a huge star in her native land. She would appear in more than 100 comedy, drama, horror and action films and in more than a dozen television shows, and was a beloved show business personality.
On Nov. 6, 2001, Blanca’s body was found in a parking garage, stabbed to death. The crime stunned the nation, and sparked a media frenzy in the Philippines. Suspicion immediately fell on Strunk: Authorities believed he hired an assassin to kill his wife because she had threatened to divorce and disinherit him. Philippine justice dragged on for a year or two (the alleged assassin and his cohort at first admitted the crime, then recanted claiming the confessions had been extracted by force) and Strunk was about to be charged at last when word came that Strunk’s mother in California was terminally ill. In a move that stunned many, authorities allowed him to return to the U.S. to be with her. She died not long after he returned home, and, a little while later, to nobody’s surprise, he announced he would not return to the Philippines, where he’d been charged in absentia. Philippine officials mounted an extradition effort, but their presentation to a U.S. magistrate was a contradictory mess, and the judge denied it. He lived a low-profile life after that, but died July 11, 2007, from a fall from second-floor motel balcony (which many observers assumed was a suicide). He was 67.
• What’s “murder ball” in the context of bowling? Or did Joel want to play a completely different game?
• Crow’s apparently still sensitive about the whole “foreshortening” lecture Joel gave him several weeks ago, because he’s still harping on it.
• This episode also has the first appearance of a “I thought you were Dale!” joke, which would become a staple of season eight.
• This episode also gives us the deathless line: “Dames like her always keep beer around.”
• Trivia: Producer Joseph F. Robertson provided his own hand as the titular character.
• Stinger: Paul and the grumpy old man exchange awkward looks after Paul’s failed murder attempt.
• Cast and crew roundup: producer Joseph F. Robertson also produced “The Slime People” and “Agent for H.A.R.M. ” Associate producer Edward Finch Abrams also worked on “The Slime People,” as did associate producer Donald J. Hansen. Special effects guy Charles Duncan also worked on “The Slime People” and “The Phantom Planet.” Makeup guy Don Cash also worked on “Rocketship X-M.” Sound guy Earl Snyder also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man,” “The Giant Gila Monster” and “The Killer Shrews.” In front of the camera: Peter Breck will be seen again in “The Beatniks.” Tristram Coffin was in “The Corpse Vanishes” and will be seen again in “Radar Secret Service” and “The Brute Man.” Jock Putnam was also in “The Slime People.” Ross Elliott will appear again in “The Indestructible Man. Alan Hale Jr. will be seen again in “The Giant Spider Invasion” and “Angels Revenge.”
• We’ll meet Allison Hayes again in “The Unearthly,” “Gunslinger” and “The Undead.” Peter Breck will appear in “The Beatniks.”
• CreditsWatch: Melanie Hartley is still additional production assistant, and Jim Erickson is the entire additional production staff. Again, the post production audio was provided by Rich Cook of TeleEdit in Minneapolis.
• Fave riff: “Wow! Look! She really IS smart!” Honorable mention: “And then the tape ran out.”

84 comments to Episode guide: 106- The Crawling Hand

  • 1
    Fart Bargo says:

    Weird flick made much better by Allison Hayes. The Skipper was actually acting in this one. Breck can sure chain smoke with the best of them. I was gob smacked when they were doing the Oxygen depletion count down and everybody is smoking!? The am-boo-lance attendants stole this film; filching beer from the dead, loading the unconscience with the dead and opening “Do not Open” boxes. When Paul awoke and saw the body next to him, I thought his reaction a la Jim Carey!


  • 2
    Sharktopus says:

    Marta: “What does it mean that I am stacked?”
    Tom: “It means you’re really smart.”

    Thanks to Rhino’s VHS release, this was the only season 1 episode I – and presumably many of us -got to see for years. Now that I’m more familiar with the early days I’m glad it was The Crawling Hand that we got – you get the feeling that the Brains are really getting their sea legs, so to speak.

    Joel: “I dunno how Shatner does it each week.”
    Crow: “I dunno why he does it or who lets him keep doing it.”
    Tom: “Well I’m just glad he does it.”

    I’m still not sure what, exactly, they’re referring to there, but it always makes me laugh.


  • 3
    Alex says:

    This was also the first episode I saw from season 1. I was very confused on who Dr. Eardhart was, until I learned he was the original assistant of Dr. F a couple years later.

    I still wonder how Josh was possibly offended when he learned that Comedy Central referred to his character as a “Fake Frank”.


  • 4
    ck says:

    The goofy attendants opening the box at the end makes you wonder,
    were the producers actually planning a sequel? Well, okay,
    probably not. Wink

    And while the Skipper did make an effort at acting, his actual
    actions towards Paul were odd—on the one hand he wants to “not
    unduly give him a record” and on the other is totally convinced
    (without evidence) that he’s guilty. If only tthe Professor had
    escaped with the Skipper he could have easily made
    a crawling hand detector from coconuts to solve the case.


  • 5
    jjb3k says:

    “Tell him I’m smoking. Tell him I’m smoking. Tell him I’m smoking. Tell him I’m smoking. Tell him I’m smoking…” Thanks, Servo, we heard you the first time.

    I heard the song “Bird is the Word” before I saw this episode, so its inclusion here was a surprising little bit of “Hey, I recognize that”. (I’d also heard the similar “Surfin’ Bird” years before “Family Guy” beat it to death, but that’s neither here nor there.)


  • 6
    dafs says:

    Aside from the awful hand effects, I actually think this movie stands fairly well on its own. To me, the attempted murder of the owner of the club while Surfin’ Bird blares is pretty effective for a B movie.


  • 7
    Thomas K. Dye says:

    “Dear Skipper, why haven’t you sent help? Signed, the castaways.” is the only thing I remember. Apart from that, I agree with #5… WE GET IT.


  • 8
    klisch says:

    I haven’t seen this episode in a long, long time. I remember waiting and waiting for some suspense to happen but when it finally came it was just bland. This was my second episode behind “Robot Monster” that I was fortunate to see.


  • 9
    Kenneth Morgan says:

    Not too bad an episode. The overacting, posessed astronaut with the heavy eye shadow was a high point, as was the use of the original “Surfin’ Bird” by the Rivingtons.


  • 10
    Brandon says:

    It’s funny that Sampo dislikes Segment 3, but I think it’s the best one. I just liked those rare examples of skits where all they did was pick apart flaws from the film. They didn’t do it often, but it was interesting to see. Anyway, here’s my review from the discussion board:

    106- The Crawling Hand

    Plot: An astronaut blows himself up and his charred remains; an arm and a hand land on earth and catch the attention of a guy named Paul and his Swedish girlfriend Marta. For reasons not made clear in the film, Paul decides to take the crawling hand in his possession, but then later the hand takes control of Paul’s mind and starts making him kill people. Alan Hale from Gilligan’s Island co-stars in this film as the town sheriff and really doesn’t do crap at all.

    Host Segments:
    Opening: Joel explains the premise of the show.
    Invention Exchange: Joel’s Safety Saw; Dr. F’s Limb Lengthener.
    Segment #1: Joel wants to play some games with the ‘Bots, but they don’t want to, because they’ve been specifically designed to lose at all games (Crow: “Look at my hands! I have to pick scissors and you pick rock all the time!”)
    #2: J&TB try to emulate William Shatner with hand props.
    #3: Crow and Servo don’t get how a hand can go around killing people. Joel tries to explain that a crawling hand could be dangerous (Joel: “For example it can be coming along in your sleep, shove two fingers up your nose, you suffocate. Stone dead!”). Crow still doesn’t believe it and starts bragging about how he could take on a Crawling Hand. At that moment, a Crawling Hand actually appears on the set and attacks Crow.
    Closing: Good things and Bad things about the movie. Joel then reads a letter.

    Memorable riffs during movie:
    Servo: “No good, self-respecting scientist would have his shirt unbuttoned that far, I’m sorry.”

    Scientist: “There are only four people who can handle the lunar rocket.”
    Joel: “The Beatles?”

    (shot of the astronaut’s face)
    Servo: “Look, it’s Tammy Faye Baker!”

    Restauraunt Owner (upon seeing the girl’s pet rat): “Nope, no rat’s! Not allowed!”
    Servo: “Unless their on the menu.”

    Marta: “Paul, people have been calling me stacked. What does that mean?”
    Crow: “Uh, that means you’re really smart.”

    Crow: “Hey, why is she wearing a swimsuit with a codpiece?”
    Servo: “Oh, just for the halibut. Heh-heh, I’m sorry.”
    Crow: “Stop it, you’re giving me a hadick.”
    Servo: “Oh, you’re a pain in the bass!”
    Crow: “You have no soul!”

    (landlord pours some liquor)
    Crow: “Hey, what’s that stuff?”
    Servo: “It’s the Nighttime-Coughing-Aching-Sneezing-Stuffy Head Fever so you’re being chased by a human hand Medicine!”

    (Paul finds Hodgkins’ dead body)
    Crow: “I’ll bet he’s going to be a choked up now that she’s dead.”

    (hand crawls across Paul’s mouth and then across Paul’s ear)
    Joel: “Did he just give him a wet wellie?”
    Servo: “I think he did. And with his own saliva.”

    Sheriff (referring to Paul): “Well, we can’t BUCK him.”
    J&TB: “What?!”
    (Servo whistles nervously)

    (scientists break into Paul’s house)
    Scientist 1: “Anybody here?”
    Joel: “Yeah, us!”
    Scientist 2: “Looks like we’re alone.”
    Crow: “At last!”

    (scientist steps on a rubber ball)
    Servo: “The crawling bladder!”

    Crow: “Who are they trying to fool with that studfinder?”
    Servo: “Hey, they haven’t found me yet!”

    (in the theater after segment 3)
    Crow: “Oh, Joel it was horrible! There’s this big hand chasing me!”
    Joel: “Oh, we were just teasing, that was just Gypsy in a giant hand costume.”
    Servo: “We skanked you!”
    Crow: “Oh…. uh…. I knew that.”

    Joel: “What is up with that hand anyway?”
    Crow: “He’s got a persona vendetta against anyone with a full body.”
    Servo: “Well, you got to hand it to him, though.”

    Joel: “You can tell it’s a low budget movie because they can’t wreck the cars!”

    Joel: “The Crawling Hand…. you will believe a hand can crawl.”
    Crow: “You will believe Alan Hale can act.”

    (group of alley cats start eating the hand)
    Servo: “They’re eating right out of his hand!”

    Scientist to Paul: “There’s not a trace. Not a solitary trace.”
    Joel: “It must be a talent meter.”

    (sheriff leaves hospital)
    Crow: “Well, I’m on my way for a three-hour tour!”

    Stuff I noticed:
    -This is the first episode to have an opening segment right after the themesong.

    -Joel’s Safety Saw is one of few inventions from MST that actually became a real invention in real life in the early 90s. These saws unfortunately didn’t last long because they didn’t ALWAYS work, and there really were idiots out there that stuck their fingers in the way of the saw to see if they’d stop sawing (they didn’t always). This is one of few Invention Exchanges where Dr. F’s invention works better than Joel’s, since Joel’s saw didn’t stop sawing after he put his own hand in the way (foreshadowing reality).

    -First episode where Joel eats a grape after hitting the buttons on the desk. Joel eats four (4) grapes in this episode.

    -This is the first of only a couple episodes where the shadowrama in the theater is colorized (an ugly shade of green). Mike explains in the ACEG book that Comedy Central were afraid viewers couldn’t distinguish the shadowrama from the actual black and white film (Uh-huh, yeah someone seriously needs to tell television executives that viewers aren’t idiots). Because of this, The Brains “colorized” the shadowrama, and that’s why in this episode (and at least two other episodes), the shadowrama is green instead of the normal black.

    -This episode contains the infamous moment in the theater, where Marta, the Swedish girl looks up at the camera, and Servo/Josh remarks, “Hi, I’m Tom Servo!”, and then the girl screams. It looks like she’s screaming at Servo, but actually she’s screaming at the charred hand on the beach.

    -Note that in the film when Ms. Hodgkins gets killed by the hand, Paul comes in and finds her dead body. But when they show her dead, the actress playing Hodgkins is STILL BREATHING! And it’s VERY obvious. WHOOPS!!!

    -Josh continues his awkward trend of predicting scenes that will happen in the movie, and then they happen. Josh mentions that “The Skipper” will appear now, and then he does!

    -Segment 2 contains the first “I thought you were Dale!” joke. A running joke on MST that would actually turn out to be one of MST’s biggest blunders on the show.

    -When Paul is on the phone and the crawling hand sneaks up behind him on the railing, you seriously have to watch Crow during this part. He just has this shocked reaction the whole time. One of many reasons why MSTies prefer Trace Beaulieu as the puppeteer for Crow than Bill Corbett. Trace always added those subtle human emotions into the Crow character, that Bill rarely put into.

    -In the movie, when they show Hodgkins’ dead corpse in the ambulance truck, the actress actually BLINKS HER EYES!!! She’s supposed to be dead! Wow, what a crappy actress! Can’t even play dead right. She’d never make it on CSI.

    -VERY DATED piece of dialogue in the movie. When Marta the swedish girl is being consulted by her friend, she is told, “You know they expect a lot more from foreign students.” This statement does not really hold true today.

    -The fan letter and drawings that Joel reads was clearly written, and sent in during the KTMA era. Note the way Gypsy is drawn. It’s the KTMA-era Gypsy. Also note, that the fan accidently refers to Gypsy as a “he.” Also, for the second time, Joel gets Crow and Servo’s names mixed up.

    -One last note. This episode is the earliest MST3K episode that has been released to home video and DVD by Rhino Home Video and MST’s Info Club.

    Fav. riff:
    (sheriff reads letter)
    Crow: “Dear, Skipper. Why haven’t you sent help? Signed, The Castaways.”

    Best Segment: Segment 3 always makes me chuckle. Seeing poor Crow get beat up by the obviously-fake crawling hand.
    Worst segment: Never really cared much for the Shatner/hand bit. It’s really not funny in any way.

    Overall: This was the first season 1 episode I ever saw, and I actually was quite pleased by it. I had always heard how the season 1 episodes sucked, but I ended up enjoying myself back when I first viewed this (which was probably back in like 2002 or so). The episode has some very strong riffing, and some well-written host segments. This is surely one of the best season 1 episodes ever produced. At long last, the show that MSTies know and love seems to have finally come together.
    Rating: ***


  • 11
    Dan in WI says:

    As someone who discovered the show during its fourth season, this episode was my first exposure to the first season. I suspect this is the case for a good number of people. After all this was the first season one episode which was available to purchase and I only began buying other unreleased episodes from Cheepnis a little over a year ago. So to give it a bit of context season one was this big unknown to me as its reruns weren’t aired at the time. Back then I still didn’t know about the existence of the KTMA season nor did I know the reason season one shows weren’t rerun. I just knew there was something I hadn’t seen and I wanted to. Of course since I didn’t know the context or why I was big time disappointed when I did see this. It just didn’t measure up to what I was used to at the time. There was so much I needed to learn back then.

    Was this our first (national episode) use of the word “dickweed?” Either way this is our first appearance of the Skipper. Oh and how did Alan Hale ever get the role of the skipper since we MiSTies all know he was typecast as a sheriff?

    I really loved the Shatner host segment.

    I’ve always loved those gags where Joel plays the other voice over the phone/intercom/etc… This one was again stellar.

    The final segment in Deep 13 just goes to show that Dr. Erhardt is more of an equal than TV’s Frank was. Look at him gain his revenge here.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Crow: “Oh and I suppose next you’ll tell me there’s rings around Uranius.”

    Joel: “It’s a good thing he brought that freezer wrap along.”
    Tom: “I don’t think that’s freezer wrap, I think it’s a handbag.”

    Tom: “Skipper… Where’s the little body little buddy?”


  • 12
    M "Tell Him I'm Smoking" Sipher says:

    Personally, I dig that running gag. Because man, did they SMOKE back then. Seriously, watch some of the commercials from the B&W era. “More doctors smoke CAMELS than any other brand!”

    The grape thing is something I really would have liked the show itself to explain at one point. Like the invention exchange. Why do they do it? I know we got out-of-show explanations later, but still.

    “Murderball” has nothing to do with bowling, no. But on that note, that skit does contain one of those little elements of season 1 I treasure: “Smell? I didn’t know you guys could smell!” Season 1 seemed to play more with the “science” part of the title. Again, I’m wondering if that’s Josh’s influence in the writing.

    Tom’s Roland Gift impression cracks me up every time. Speaking of cracking up, listen close when Paul is in his room talking into the tape recorder, and Crow quips “I would now like to sing ‘Cathy’s Clown’.” Joel stifles a laugh there. I’ve always enjoyed it when you got genuine laughs from the other riffers. Feels so much more natural.


  • 13
    Spector says:

    This one’s one of my favorites from Season One. Yes, it’s a crappy B/W Sci-fi “thriller” with one of the dumbest premises ever (A crawling hand that goes around killing people and turns our teenage hero into an bumbling homicidal maniac? Just goes to show studio execs were dumb over fifty years ago) and most of the host sequences weren’t that great but nevertheless I thought the riffing was well done in this one, and I loved the host segment mocking William Shatner’s acting. Brandon in post #10 covered all the best scenes of the show quite nicely so I can’t add anything further, other than to say you can see in this one the riffing continues to improve as this seasons goes on. 3/5 stars out of five.


  • 14
    JimmyBruce says:

    As a fan, I wish MST would have done this one again as the last episode instead of “Danger! Diabolik”. Or am I thinking of “The Crawling Eye”?


  • 15
    H says:

    I enjoy this one. The movie’s good, one of the better rogue body parts movies as far as I’m concerned. The host segments are good too. Segment 3 is a classic. Here’s a bit of trivia- I believe the giant hand (which is supposed to be Gypsy in a hand costume) was used in Legend of the Dinosaurs from KTMA.


  • 16
    Bat Masterson says:

    For reasons I’ve never understood, my favorite joke from this one is: “Hey, it’s a beach thermometer!”


  • 17
    Brandon says:

    #14- That would have been interesting if they had re-riffed The Crawling Eye for the final episode. We had discussed this in one of the Weekend threads.

    #16- Heh, that is a funny riff. Probably the reason you like it is because it’s a visual riff really. They’re commenting on something that looks wildly out of place (why on Earth would there be a thermometer on the beach?). I know it’s not really a thermometer, but it sure looks like one.


  • 18
    Matt Sandwich says:

    @5 (and I guess 12). I hadn’t thought about it, but this could be seen as the precursor to a Scifi-era trademark–also with Servo as the perp– that I find excruciating. (Jed, anyone?) Once I can live with, and here it is. But the endless repetition of gags that were only passable the first time has left me literally unable to revisit Leech Woman, Thing That Couldn’t Die*, and Touch of Satan. You won’t find a bigger fan of ‘so unfunny it’s funny again’ than me, but this just feels lazy and obnoxious. I guess you could call it foreshadowing… by six or seven years.

    *This makes me sad, because I saw part of this movie as a 2nd or 3rd grader, and it absolutely terrified me. Never knew what it was until I saw this ep, and it just happens to be one that I find pretty much unwatchable. A shame, since the incredible ridiculousness of it seen as an adult added a real layer of fun to the proceedings.


  • 19
    anti spring extremist says:

    Allison Hayes = Wicked Hot!


  • 20
    ck says:


    I don’t know about that, but she’s really smart.


  • 21
    M "STAAAAAAAAAAY!" Sipher says:

    I’ll take “Tell him I’m smoking”, “JEEEEEED”, or any other one-episode running gag over any iteration of “Jim Henson’s ______ Babies” any day of the week.


  • 22
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    While it’s not the funniest episode, it’s still one of my favorites in this season since I find it pretty watchable even without the riffing. Being an Alan Hale fan it’s also really nice seeing him in a serious role that involves no comic relief, too. While not a show stealer, he still had a good presence that wasn’t degrading (to him or us).


  • 23
    Seth L says:

    I’ve got to give this one another shot. Ordered it here years ago, and only watched it once.

    Now I have a greater enjoyment of season 1 eps.

    Segment 2 is the real clunker for me.


  • 24
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Joel: “The Crawling Hand. You will believe a hand will crawl.”

    Unlike most folks, this was the LAST Season 1 episode that I saw. Back in the tape trading days, probably about 1998, I got Season 1 and 2 from a guy on the internet, MINUS the eps that were released on Rhino Video back at the time. He wouldn’t dub those, so since this one was the only Season 1 released by Rhino at the time, it was the only one missing from my set. Years later, 2003 maybe?, I found The Crawling Hand on VHS at my local large video store (now closed) and made myself a dub and completed my run. Of course, those videos are sitting in my closet now that I got them all downloaded from DAP Central.

    Anyway. . .The Crawling Hand shows more upswing for Season 1. The riffing in this one flows and one can tell the writing and scripting is paying off. Trace’s timing, both as Forrester and Crow, is getting sharper, and in general, all the pieces are coming together nicely. I agree, the host segments are only so-so, but I liked this experiment overall.


    Crow: “Hey it’s Tammy Fay Baker!”
    Joel: “Looks more like Robert Smith from the Cure.”

    Crow: “Push that button and he’s an Astro-NOT!”

    Crow: “Hey look, it’s Ed Begley, Senior!” —(my girlfriend met Ed Begley, Jr. while working a booth at the Portland Saturday Market. Real nice guy, very chatty.)—-

    Joel says “Doctor Spock” and Servo corrects him and says, “you mean Mister?” Then they go for a round of puns, Servo says “Mr. Mister?” and Joel replies with “Mr. Misty-meanor” which is a callback to “Land of DQ” series of riffs in KTMA10-Cosmic Princess.

    Joel: “Every time I get a boyfriend he crushes my windpipe. I don’t get it!”



  • 25
    MikeK says:

    I’ve grown to like this episode over the years, despite it being and awkward, Season 1 episode. I think the riffing is good, but there is a lot less of it compared to Season 2 and beyond. The host segments are a little weak, but it was still Season 1, which is more KTMA than what the show would become.

    3 stars.


  • 26
    MikeK says:

    One more thing:

    I really like the two scientists in this movie, Peter Breck and that old guy. I think they are the coolest scientist characters in any of these old sci-fi/horror movies.


  • 27
    Joseph Nebus says:

    I liked the “tell him I’m smoking” riffs, not so much for their forced-running-gag nature but because they fit so nicely in the milieu of the riff where the Brains assign the highest priority of the character to be something he’s obviously paying little attention to. If it weren’t built up so far beyond what the character was actually doing, there wouldn’t be the disparity between actual and interpreted behavior that makes the joke.

    Although for the overstressed-minor-behavior kind of joke I better liked “Hey … Scientists shouldn’t litter!” You can almost hear the Disembodied Fifties Voice instructing pale white teens-who-can’t-act thusly.


  • 28
    PondosCP says:

    Here’s the vacuflowers segment from the early KTMA episodes:


  • 29
    Stupid Repulsive Anteater says:

    “Eat, drink, and be merry. Tomorrow you die.”

    Does anybody know if Dave Matthews directly lifted that from Syd Saylor’s line?


  • 30
    Jose chung says:

    Personally I think this is the 2nd worst episode of the season (robot Vs. The aztec being the worst). The movie really doesn’t go anywhere and Joel and the Bots refuse to point out how stupid the films plot is. An easily accessable button that destroys the billion dollar spaceship, deliverymen who moonlight as morticians but are too busy raiding the fridges of the dead for beer, the sheriff not taking the only suspect of the murder in for questoining and letting him stay at the site of the murder. So many oppurtunities and plotholes missed. And the riffs a very lackluster, save for the roland gift stuff.


  • 31
    BeefStumpKnob says:

    first riff I ever heard was “i recognize him–he used to play for Def Leppard”! I sat up on the couch and LMAO!! My kids were about 5, channel surfing(i’m so proud!) and stopped at this show because of the robots.Been hooked ever since!


  • 32
    MiqelDotCom says:

    Looks like the invention exchange is more recycled stuff form Joel’s stand-up act, nothing wrong with that, but i do like the more bizarre ones that come later in the series.

    During opening credits: “That’s the Helvetica constellation over there”
    — where else but MST3K would you hear comedic references to fonts? They are starting to ramp up their uniquely well-informed randomness.

    Character is gesturing exaggeratedly:
    Tom: “Sure wish i had that command of my arms … look at that fluid motion”

    During the letter reading, the boy mentions wanting to ‘see’ Crow someday. The way Trace says “Take a look, kid” is priceless. One of the moments i remember from the original airing. I was a little surprised at how blunt or aloof they were with the letters from kids.

    Overall, watchable and not bad for a season 1 ep, but nothing too exciting.
    2 stars


  • 33
    ck says:

    “One of the moments i remember from the original airing. I was a little surprised at how blunt or aloof they were with the letters from kids.”

    Another was when (Joel?) showed a drawing with a letter and Crow replied
    “It’s not very good.” ala an art critic. Smile


  • 34
    pablum says:

    Satellite News just taught me about “the O. J. Simpson of the Philippines”, Rod Lauren. Always interesting to find out who is infamous.


  • 35
    Kouban says:

    I remember back in the late 80s or early 90s there was a local insurance company (or something) in the Seattle area that used the “couple gets attacked while making out” scene from this in one of their ads. The dialogue was replaced, and the last line of the ad was along the lines of “Other companies’ customer service is like being attacked by a severed hand!”


  • 36
    trickymutha says:

    “murder murder murder- murders the word”



  • 37
    finniasjones says:

    Joel: How do you say “moon” in Swedish?
    Servo: Hubba-hubba.
    Marta: What does it mean, I’m “stacked?”

    • Speaking of “Moon” I barely recognized Peter Breck as a scientist in this film. He gained some weight… and gravitas, for this film.
    • Joel eats a pellet/grape after each push of the button. How long did this last?
    • Opening titles are not Helvetica: more like Clarendon (fellow font-geeks will appreciate this…)
    • (@ around 14:40) Joel: “Sounds like my old Phy. Ed teacher. Push it, push it.”
    We called it Phys. Ed ( “fizz” ) on the East Coast.
    And how did they miss the obvious Salt-N-Pepa reference?

    Overall, a funny episode, good entry point for noobs like me, thanks to Rhino. 3 stars.

    Joel (to the ‘Bots): I get it…Thanks Joel, thanks for emptying my load pan…


  • 38
    finniasjones says:

    There’s a post on the Amazon page for the Rhino DVD from an “a burke” who was in the 1968 Grape-Nuts TV commercial that the “Mrs. Burke, I thought you were Dale!” line originated from.
    Here’s the ad:


  • 39
    Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    Oddly, if you watch this on Youtube, the seats are NOT green.
    I had the Rhino VHS tape (Columbia Record Club), but I don’t recall if they shifted the seats back to black.

    An OK movie, more like an extended Outer Limits episode than a theatrical release. For some reason I can remember several stories that feature disembodied hands going around and killing people. It seemed to be a popular idea at one time.

    I loved the first scene in the malt shop when we learn why they hired a Swedish actress to play in this movie. She waits patiently to say her lines. Why, sometimes she will wait 5-10 seconds for the other actors to remember their cues. THAT is talent.

    The invention exchange was OK, but why didn’t Dr. F explain WHY he needed to wear oversized orange gloves? They were a bit too obvious not to give at least a passing explanation (radioactivity, heat from expansion, something like that).

    Anyone else think they were a little too quick to “push the button” at the beginning of the film? I mean, the astronaut was supposed to be out of oxygen, thus delirious. He says, “Push the button” and Space Operations just says, “hey, if you say so.” BOOM.
    Seems a little accommodating to me.

    If you don’t want dancing in your malt shop, why have a juke box?

    After the first murder we meet Alan Hale Jr. and he asks his assistant to “Call my wife.”
    Servo then says, “I’ll call his wife. I’ll tell her she is married to a two-bit character actor.” Bit of a slam on character actors. They can make or break a movie. I have seen movies saved by character actors. They also have a longer career life than most movie stars.

    Alan – “Did you hear anything else, like the door closing or somebody running?”
    Crow – “Or the sound of one hand clapping?”

    – Best lie in the show.

    Anyone else notice how much Peter Breck sounds like Darren McGavin?
    Particularly in the Washington scene after the ambulance escape of our teen hero.
    It sounds like McGavin did a voice over.

    Was “Great Caesar’s ghost” a poplar saying at any time in the 50s or 60s?
    Perry White said it of course in “Superman,” and Hale says it here.

    Why is the victim of the entity always named “Paul”? Here, Werewolf, if you name you kid Paul you are just asking for evil possession.

    “You can tell it’s a low budget movie because they can’t wreck the cars”
    Rule # 22 in the movie makers guide.


  • 40
    finniasjones says:

    Breck’s partner Dr. Max Weitzberg is played by Kent Taylor.
    Geez, I knew I recognized him from somewhere.
    He starred in two movies that became Cinematic Titanic titles:
    Brain of Blood (The Oozing Skull) & Brides of Blood (Danger On Tiki Island).
    And seeing how he finished his career making horror & biker movies with Al Adamson I won’t be surprised if he shows up again.


  • 41
    bad wolf says:

    I’m almost sure Joel is saying “Vacuum Flowers”, a reference to a then-current sci-fi novel.

    Wikipedia: “Vacuum Flowers is a science fiction novel by Michael Swanwick, published in 1987. It could be described as cyberpunk, and features one of the earliest uses of the concept wetware….[The protagonist]’s adventures take her throughout the widely-colonised solar system. She initially lives in canister worlds orbiting the Sun in a trojan orbit, where she sometimes works removing bioengineered weeds (vacuum flowers, the space-tolerant flora of the title) from the canisters’ exterior ports. …”


  • 42
    Sharktopus says:

    @#40: I’m pretty sure Kent Taylor doesn’t show up in any more MST experiments, but here’s another fun fact – John Ashley of Brain Of Blood and Brides Of Blood was in Attack Of The The Eye Creatures. (It drove me crazy trying to figure out why he seemed so familiar when I first saw “Danger On Tiki Island.”) The world of cheezy movies is a small world, indeed.

    Ashley also performed the opening narration for The A-Team: “In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit…”


  • 43
    Rachel says:

    I remember being so excited when I heard this was coming out from Rhino. Turns out I mistook it for ‘The Crawling Eye’. Oh well.
    This is one of those okay ones for me – it’s still MST3K, which means I’ll watch it, but there are lots of other episodes I’d rather see.


  • 44
    crowschmo says:

    Are all those involved in the space program named Steve?

    Still kind of slow-moving at this point, dull movie, riffs not quite there yet, clever yet still somehow plodding host sequences. It’s getting there, it’s getting there.

    I wondered, too, why a sheriff would suspect some kid of murder and just leave him free to roam where he so chooses.

    So, this hand can knock people to the ground and choke them, but gets done in by cats? Lame.

    Some lines I liked:

    “Steve, did you ever think about getting your hair frosted?” – Joel

    “Oh, and I suppose next you’ll tell me there’s rings around Uranus.” – Crow

    “‘Stacked’ means you’re really smart.” – Crow

    “Where’s the little body, little buddy?” – (I think Servo says this, it’s right after he says, “Skip-perrr!”, but maybe it was Joel who cut in with that, sounds like Servo).

    “I’ve got a couple of hammocks – and a sailor’s hat I’d like you to wear.” – Crow

    (Boredly) “This is ACTION. PACKED.” – Servo

    “You spend a hard day loading bodies and you got one more than you bargained for – it’s Miller time.” – Joel

    “Every time I get a boyfriend, he crushes my wind pipe, I don’t get it.” – Joel

    Still not stellar, but, the best is yet to come.


  • 45
    crowschmo says:

    Oh, and – no dancing, no dancing – not allowed.


  • 46
    Rachel says:

    Tell him I’m smoking. Gets me every time heheh.


  • 47
    Creeping Terror says:

    I’ve only seen the Season 1 episodes that are on DVD, but I think this one’s the best. It is even better than many Season 2 eps… It wasn’t until season 3 where the episodes were consistently better.

    @21: AMEN!!!

    @29: The phrase, “eat, drink, and be merry,” is biblical. The phrase itself never appears in the Bible, but it is a combination of two different, similarly worded phrases (from Ecclesiastes 8:15 and Isaiah 12:13). Dave Matthews could have gotten it from there, from Rosetti, or any other number of cultural sources.


  • 48
    Sharktopus says:

    I believe the “for tomorrow we (may) die” that gets appended to “eat, drink, and be merry” goes back to ancient Roman, or possibly earlier times. Early Christians under Roman rule probably substituted the similar phrase from Ecclesiastes in place of “carpe diem.”

    Romanes eunt domus!


  • 49
    M "He's Smoking!" Sipher says:

    #47: “I’ve only seen the Season 1 episodes that are on DVD, but I think this one’s the best. It is even better than many Season 2 eps… It wasn’t until season 3 where the episodes were consistently better.

    On the one hand… I totally agree with you on the Season 2 thing, though I’m iffy on Season 3. Maybe it was the movie choices that make me generally skip that era.

    On the other… We’ve got some REALLY strong Season 1 episodes yet to come. I do believe next up is a classic, Robot Monster, plus one of my all-time faves, Robot Holocaust. Untamed Youth is a ton of fun too, and not just for Mamie Van Hooter. DOREN. Mamie Van Doren.


  • 50
    Sharktopus says:

    I’d say the biggest factor in your enjoyment of season 3 hinges on whether you enjoy the wackiness of the Sandy Frankified Japanese flicks or if the giant rubber monsters and/or inscrutable plots turn you off. I love ’em myself, but I can understand why some MSTies don’t mind the big whole in their DVD collections that is season 3.

    As for season 2, I don’t find it to be particularly superior to the latter episodes of season 1 in terms of pure enjoyment. Sure, the production values get noticably better, and – though I quite like Josh’s Servo – Frank’s a much better sidekick than Dr Erhardt, but the riffing meat and potatoes is about on par with mid to late season 1. For me, the first 5 star, firing on all cylinders episode is probably Godzilla Vs Megalon. Your mileage, of course, may vary.


  • 51
    finniasjones says:

    From #42:

    @#40: I’m pretty sure Kent Taylor doesn’t show up in any more MST experiments, but here’s another fun fact – John Ashley of Brain Of Blood and Brides Of Blood was in Attack Of The The Eye Creatures. (It drove me crazy trying to figure out why he seemed so familiar when I first saw “Danger On Tiki Island.”) The world of cheezy movies is a small world, indeed.

    Yeah, what I meant was, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up again in a future Cinematic Titanic effort.”
    It would be a great boon to this site if Daddy-O would update his “Drive-In Dirt” pages to include CT and RT titles. Not to mention links to cast/crew members’ IMDB pages.


  • 52
    Sharktopus says:

    Ah, I see. Perhaps Al Adamson’s Blood Of Ghastly Horror, also featuring John Carradine and Tommy Kirk.


  • 53
    big61al says:

    I like this episode….have to watch this again soon!


  • 54
    saherrin says:

    @ #47 and #49
    I would throw in Women of the Prehistoric Planet as my fave from Season 1, giving us the long running “HIkeebah!!!” This was one of the better Season One eps.

    Tom: Hi. I’m Tom Servo (right before Marta sees the hand on the beach.)

    Tom: No acting not allowed!!!


  • 55
    Johnny Ryde says:

    For the purposes of this discussion thread I rewatched this for the first time since June 2002.

    I wish I had something interesting to say about it, but I think this movie and this episode are the reason why words like “Meh” were invented…


  • 56
    MikeK says:

    At least this movie isn’t paired with a Commando Cody short.


  • 57
    Steve Laughery says:

    I think the lovely Allison Hayes represented Washington, D. C. in the Miss America Pageant, not Washington State.


  • 58
    Cornjob says:

    I had some comments to make, but I’m too busy smoking.


  • 59
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    Not a bad early effort. The movie, especially the beginning of the movie with the return space trip, is just weird enough to be interesting even if overall the movie is a bit dull. The riffing is good for me and I like the host segment where they make fun of Shatner and throw in references to a bunch of other pop culture, really funny stuff on a very clearly limited budget at the time.


  • 60
    trickymutha says:



  • 61
    Bruce Boxliker says:

    No comments, not allowed!


  • 62
    Bruce Boxliker says:

    BTW- Sampo, in your episode rundown, you’ve got ‘Joel’s arms work during segment 1…’. I’m pretty sure Joel’s arms have always worked. Grin


  • 63
    Sitting Duck says:

    The Crawling Hand fails the Bechdel Test. Both conversations between Betsy and Marta center around Paul.

    For the stinger, I’d go with Mrs. Hotchkiss getting strangled.

    @ #10: I disagree with you, as the concerns the CC suits had were quite legitimate. In some of the darker scenes of the early episodes, the Shadowrama would blend in. It’s just that their proposed solution ended up looking terrible.

    Favorite riffs

    New Oxygen Lite!

    No acting, not allowed.

    I’ll sit where the rat was.

    Is this From Here to Eternity?
    No, it just seems like an eternity.

    Hey come on, one shot. I’ll just wing you. It won’t hurt that much.

    Don’t take that off. Your chin will explode.

    Where’s the little body, little buddy?

    You spend a hard day loading bodies, and you got one more than you bargained for. It’s Miller Time.

    No strangling. Not allowed.

    Next time use Federal Express. Or maybe hand delivery.


  • 64
    little winged potato says:

    Hale: You’re all filthy dirty.
    Servo: And you’re all stocky tubby.

    In honor of Turkey Day, may we all be a little tubbier!


  • 65
    Goshzilla says:

    Bruce Boxliker:
    BTW- Sampo, in your episode rundown, you’ve got ‘Joel’s arms work during segment 1…’. I’m pretty sure Joel’s arms have always worked.

    Yeah, Joel uses his arms quite often. Maybe not very gracefully, but they’ve always worked.


  • 66
    Sampo says:

    LOL! Thanks Bruce!


  • 67
    Kenneth Morgan says:

    I’d say the obvious choice for the stinger would be the scene of the possessed astronaut at the beginning. (“PUSH THE RED!! PUSH THE RED!!”) But I’d go along with when Marta asks what “stacked” means.


  • 68
    GornCaptain says:

    Sometimes, I’m better off not knowing the sordid history of actors in old movies. Shock


  • 69
    Warren says:

    Sampo’s synopsis mentions a stinger, but there weren’t stingers until Rocket Attack USA. Is that bit what you think the stinger should’ve/would’ve been? As for the episode, it starts out slow, but picks up enough to be an okay episode. I especially like the string of fish puns.


  • 70
    pondoscp says:

    Fun, goofy, carefree early days of MST3K. You can really see the gears starting to flow here.


  • 71
    Cornjob says:

    No comments! I’m smoking!


  • 72
    Sitting Duck says:

    @ #69: The weekend discussion from right after Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy proposed speculating on the best stinger candidates for stingerless episodes at a rate of one a week.


  • 73
    Cornjob says:

    I’m still smoking.


  • 74
    Troxartes says:

    Sitting Duck In some of the darker scenes of the earlier episodes, the Shadowrama would blend in. It’s just that their proposed solution ended up looking terrible.

    Is this why a lot of the Joel B&W movies have this unfortunate blue tint? I suppose this was their compromise solution; although IMO it’s just as bad as the green seats. It looks like they stopped doing it by season 4; Monster A-Go-Go and Teenagers from Outer Space are good old-fashioned monochromatic B&W, but the Unearthly has the blue tints. It’s very distracting and washes out the images of the actual movie, and if I were less lazy, I’d desaturate my monitor when I watch them. I kind of wish they would correct the tinting and the theater seats when they released the episodes for video; it can’t be hard to do.

    I thought the “Tell him I’m smoking” thing was really overused. I do like the “I’m Tom Servo” thing, even if it’s cheating. They still did similar things in later seasons, making riffs that could only have happened if they watched the movie more than once. The riffs about Joe Estevez “not even being in the movie” in Werewolf come to mind. They don’t make any sense until you get to end and realize that his character had just disappeared from the movie after the beginning. I don’t mind it; you should really just relax.


  • 75
    Cornjob says:

    When I first got a hold of some season 1 episodes I was a bit disappointed with the slow pace. But like season K I’ve been enjoying watching it more this time around than previous times.

    Personally I like jokes like “Hi I’m Tom Servo” which make it seem like the movie is responding to the riffers. My favorite is when Joel tells a heavy lidded character in Daddy-O to wake up and the characters eyes immediately pop open like he had been startled to attention.

    I can’t believe anyone would think the “Tell them I’m smoking” bit was over used. I’d say more but I have to get back to my smoking.


  • 76
    Cornjob says:

    The Crawling Eye and the Crawling Hand dated for a little while until the Eye told the Hand he was going to have to stop seeing her. Or was it the other way around?


  • 77
    littleaimishboy says:

    Joe Estevez was hardly even in the movie even when he was in the movie.


  • 78
    Cornjob says:

    Yes, he wasn’t really in the movie. And he wasn’t smoking either.

    That hippie in Laserblast though, you could tell that he’d been smoking. Even if it wasn’t onscreen.


  • 79
    bad wolf says:

    Well, i see i already (#41) threw out my theory that Joel was talking about “Vacuum Flowers” as a reference to Michael Swanwick’s 1987 SF book. Since i missed the clips someone posted of the KTMA skits featuring them (#28) it’s just supposition on my part.


  • 80
    Cornjob says:

    I’d say more but I’m smoking. And Mike’s tripping…


  • 81
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    After attacking the malt shop guy, I’m pretty sure that Paul has some dialogue to the effect that said guy was one of the people who meant the most to him OSLT. I don’t think that the movie’s action (such as it was) actually conveyed that, though.

    “No exposition! Not allowed!”


  • 82
    Cornjob says:

    I think Clive Barker’s The Body Politic is the best “body parts run amok” story I’ve come across. The premise is utterly stupid, but the storytelling is impressively compelling.

    That’s all. I’m still smoking. Good thing we have medical cannabis laws in this state.


  • 83
    Cornjob says:

    A fellow from Northern Iraq completely dominated the most recent international surf competition in Hawaii. What? You haven’t heard about him? I was sure that everybody’s heard about the Kurd. Kurd, Kurd, Kurd well Kurd is the word. Yeah Kurd, Kurd, Kurd, yeah Kurd is the word…

    Gotta get back to my smoking.


  • 84
    Mnenoch says:

    Really droll movie. The skits and the riffing help make up for it and the hand provides plenty of laughs. Love the skit with the bots and Joel making fun of it.