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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 (140 votes, average: 3.94 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

  • 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.