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BURBANK, CALIF– Anne Yarbrough Graves, for whom Hollywood appearances were only part of an incredibly full life, died quietly at a hospital “after a valiant but mercifully short battle with cancer.” She was 76.
MSTies will remember her performance (using the stage name Ann Graves) as Princess Laura in the movie in episode 411- THE MAGIC SWORD. She did another movie and four TV series appearances, before leaving acting for a fascinating life, detailed here. No really, you should read it.
Now that the new year is here and we’re well into the 21st century, you could say we’re now living “In the not too-distant future, next Sunday A.D.” So what do you think of the future as seen on MST3K? Most of the movies and shorts were made well before the year 2000, so it can be interesting looking at what the filmmakers thought might happen. What did they get right? What did they get wrong? What views were hopeful, depressing or just plain ridiculous? My favorite is “Century 21 Calling” because, unlike most of the movies and shorts, it actually got some things right. We really did get features on our phones like call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling. Of course, we didn’t access them with rotary phones, but it got pretty close. What do you think?
I think it’s interesting that, in episode 403- CITY LIMITS, the opening of the movie says that it takes place “15 years from now.” The movie was made in 1985, so “15 years from now” was 2000. Thankfully the world in 2000 looked very little like the one that movie predicts. (By the way, it’s been more than 15 years since this episode debuted, and it is 15 years [and counting] from “15 years from now.” Still no comic book-obsessed motorcycle gangs.)
Short: (1950) A pair of high schoolers are planning marriage, until a friendly counselor talks them down. Movie: (1951) A gym owner who manages lady rasslers uses his place as a front for illegal gambling.
First shown: 11/26/94 Opening: Lisa Loeb visits on the Hexfield Intro: As M&tB try to discourage Lisa Loeb, there are also security problems in Deep 13 Host segment 1: Crow wants to marry Tom, so they take a Cosmo quiz Host segment 2: Mike throws Crow a depressing bachelor party Host segment 3: The wedding starts well but ends in rasping End: M&tB think there’s been too much wrestling, they read letters, Lisa Loeb gets into Deep 13 Stinger: SNAP! “It’s gone!” “Where’d it go?” (191 votes, average: 4.34 out of 5)
• If you can put up with the endless rasslin’ footage, this episode is a lot of fun. The host segments are strange, but silly. The short is another classic. As for the movie, well, as Crow notes. “When Ed Wood saw this, it was like when Truffaut saw ‘Citizen Kane’.” The rasslin’ scenes are a bit like the refueling scenes in Starfighters: It’s amazing to see them do riff after riff after riff on scenes where the same thing happens over and over and over.
• This episode is included in Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XV.”
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Beaker, book, bulletin board, film canister.
• When this episode debuted, it was the third of three new episodes in the course of four days. It was Turkey Day heaven.
• That’s Bridget, of course, with a hilarious impression of Lisa Loeb. Loeb told me on Twitter that she loved that sketch.
• And of course that’s Paul, Patrick and Mary Jo as the strangers in Deep 13.
• The whole “boing” thing was a source of much amusement in the online forums following this show. I suspect “boing” is somehow related to being “squishy.”
• Mary Jo returns as Jan in the Pan, late-night style.
• Then-current reference: Short-lived TV show “Models Inc.”
• I really love the message of the movie: that you simply cannot corrupt a really clean sport like ladies wrestling, and attempting to do so will bring down forces on your head that will overwhelm you.
• During the wedding, Frank sings the last few bars of “The Wedding Song,” written by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.
• Dr. F. channels Prince while officiating at the wedding. Great stuff.
• Callbacks: “Shut up Iris.” (The Beatniks) “No Lupita!” (Santa Claus), “Have you been noticing any odd occurrences? Oh it’s true!” (The Dead Talk Back), “I’m dyin’ in a rush!” (Kitten with a Whip).
• The chase scene at the end, featuring the lovely Ukrainian national anthem, is a very funny few minutes.
• Frank’s “You brute! You brute! You brute” is from “Blazing Saddles.”
• Cast and crew roundup: cinematographer William C. Thompson also worked on “Project Moon Base,” “Bride of the Monster,” “The Violent Years” and “The Sinister Urge.” Makeup guy Harry Thomas worked on “The Mad Monster,” “Project Moon Base,” “The Unearthly,” “Bride Of The Monster,” “Invasion USA,” “High School Big Shot” and “Night Of The Blood Beast.” In front of the camera, Timothy Farrell was also in “The Violent Years.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace. This was Michael D. Parker’s first episode as an intern. It was also Julie Van Goethem’s last (after only three eps, maybe things didn’t work out.) Patrick’s first name is spelled wrong.
• Fave riff from short: “‘I want to marry a man!’ ‘Heh-heh. No, you don’t.’” Honorable mention: “Sometimes there’s a SHPLOINK!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “‘What are you thinking about?’ ‘Playdoh.’” Honorable mention: “There’s some heroin I’ve had my eye on.”
With the news of Carrie Fisher (not a MSTory person but we do send out our heartfelt sadness to her family) in the headlines, we present our annual “in memoriam” video.
One note: you may want to have your finger on the pause button. Some of the ID cards are, necessarily, a little long. Also, I am NOT real good at this and I openly admit it. Please cut me a little slack…
It’s the Steve the Talking Car Show, starring Frank, John Fugelsang, Trace, Carolina Hidalgo, Tiana Miller, Myka Fox, Karen Lloyd and Mike MacRae, with special guest stars Judy Gold and Catherine Popper. Written and directed by Frank.
These days, riffing is everywhere. From tweets, to podcasts, and many other medium, riffing has become a cultural phenomenon. Which movie, TV show, etc., is the most like MST3K without actually being MST3K? I vote for the 90’s movie Wayne’s World, because the style of humor is much like our favorite show.
What do you think, sirs?
I have a column in my TweetDeck that just lists every tweet that uses the phrase “MST3K.” You might (or if you are a reader of this site, you might not) be amazed at the THOUSANDS of tweets a day that include that word. And a surprising number of them are talking about somebody who commented, or should comment. on something “just like MST3K.”
So in what unusual or something place or setting have you encountered people suddenly bringing up our favorite cowtown puppet show?
Movie: (1959) Pitch the devil attempts to hinder Santa on Christmas Eve.
First shown: 12/24/93 Opening: A caroling attempt ends in disaster Intro: Inappropriate gifts are exchanged Host segment 1: On the SOL, the rock band Santa Klaws performs Host segment 2: The bots arrange a Nelson family reunion Host segment 3: An all-inclusive politically correct holiday song: “Merry Christmas…If That’s Okay” End: On the SOL, it’s a snow day! In Deep 13, Pitch and Santa fight it out Stinger: Laughing mechanical reindeer (235 votes, average: 4.79 out of 5)
• This one, of course, is a perennial favorite, and now that it is on DVD, it can truly be a holiday regular. It’s one of those episodes I’ve seen so many times I can practically recite it, but it’s still entertains me every time. The movie is SO odd (it is a very weird reflection on Mexican culture), the riffing is very strong and the segments are generally pretty good. It doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve seen it.
• This one can be found on Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVI.”
• The gift exchange segment may seem a bit dry, even baffling, to our eyes today, but remember that Mike had joined the SOL crew less than ten episodes previous. The point of the segment is that they still barely know each other, so their attempts to give gifts are forced and uncomfortable. But if you didn’t know the context, you could hardly be blamed for not getting the joke.
• The first 15 or so minutes of the movie, when we get a slew of ethnic/national jokes, as Santa’s international cadre of “helpers” are introduced, are great fun. Every four years, when I watch the parade of nations at the Olympic opening ceremonies, I reuse those riffs.
• Does anybody else feel that if Crow had used that “Carmen Miranda rights” joke with Joel, Joel would have ripped at least one arm out?
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to beaker; closeup on film canister; pan down to notebook.
• I’ve never been a big fan of the “Whispering Christmas Warrior” segment. It feels a little too restrained. I would have like to see them go more Ozzie Osbourne on the thing. I do like the reaction shots of Frank and Dr. F., though.
• One memorable set of riffs comes when each of them gives notable literary opening line. “I was born in the house my father built” is from Richard Nixon’s then-current autobiography, “The minute Yosarian…” is from “Catch-22.” “Call me Ishmael” is, of course, from “Moby Dick.”
• That’s Pat Brantseg, Mary Jo and Tim Scott as “Mike’s family.”
• One of my favorite moments from this episode is when Santa is preparing to leave his castle to deliver the presents, and as he makes his little benediction, he looks up for no particular reason and M&tB respond by looking confusedly around, as if to see what he might be looking at. It cracks me up every time.
• The Brains seem to think the name “Kringle” is funny. They use it a lot.
• As Santa is putting out presents, Crow has him mumbling: “CableAce award…no, that’s no good…” A little bitterness there.
• On the other hand, the “Merry Christmas…If That’s Okay” song is a holiday classic, right up there with “Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Commenting on PC attitudes about Christmas was not a particularly original comedic idea, but they gave it an original spin.
• Then-current reference: “At home with Carl Rowan.” Rowan was a nationally syndicated columnist and prominent supporter of gun control who became a national punchline in 1988 when he shot a teenage intruder with his unregistered .22. He passed away in 2000. Honorable mention: “A scud!” Scuds are no longer the fearsome terror weapon they were considered back then.
• RiffTrax did an entire re-riff of this movie, with all new jokes and an astonishingly bright and clean print of this movie.
• Memorable host segment line: “More pie, man-goat?” They really did a great job on Paul’s costume/make up. And of course that’s Kevin as Santa, though the credits don’t say so.
• Cast and crew roundup: producer Guillermo Calderon also worked on “The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.” Importer K. Gordon Murray also brought “Robot Vs. the Aztec Mummy” and “Samson Vs. the Vampire Women to American audiences. Score composer Anthony Diaz Conde also worked on “The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff: “Suddenly Santa corkscrews into Ypsilanti, Michigan!” Honorable mention: “Well, that’s not strictly true either…”
Next week we will return to regular order with episode 616- RACKET GIRLS.
Ostia, Italy–Italian actor and stuntman Osiride Pevarell died at his home here on Dec. 15. He was 96. Pevarello appeared in dozens of films, mostly westerns. MSTies will remember his role as Sandur (where he used the stage name Herschel Curtis) in the movie in episode 301- CAVE DWELLERS.
The movie in that episode was originally titled “Ator 2: L’invincibile Orion” and came to America as “The Blade Master” before being reedited and retitled by Film Ventures International.
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