Episode 806- The Undead

Movie Summary: This cinematic slop, directed by Roger "Gets Far More Respect than He Deserves" Corman, has a former student returning to his teacher at the "Institute Of Psychical Research" (yeah, right) to prove that he has surpassed this ex-mentor, who bears an unfortunate resemblance to Mel Cooley of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Apparently tutored by mystics in Nepal, this weird and disturbing younger psychicicical researcher endeavors to regress a streetwalker -- whose time he has quite appropriately paid for -- through her past lives. The point? Who knows. Ask Roger Corman.
Anyways, this woman-of-dubious-virtue from the 20th century soon regresses to medieval France, where she is now a young maiden falsely accused of witchcraft and scheduled to be beheaded the following dawn. From there ensues one of the most baffling narratives ever created by man, an unnecessarily complicated tale involving witches; imps (an imp, more specifically, played way over the top by small-person actor Billy Barty); an annoying gravedigger named Smolken who constantly sings lame songs about death, corpses, rats, etc.; an extraordinarily fey Satan in a Peter Pan hat; and all sorts of time travel nonsense and reincarnation bunko. In the end, the over-ambitious young 20th century pyschicicicicicical researcher gets trapped in this medieval kingdom, which is the size of an 10' by 15' movie studio. Oh yeah, and the 20th century prostitute attains virtue and wisdom because -- oh, frankly, I don't know. Again, I refer you to Mr. Corman. I wish I could provide his home number.

Prologue: Mike tries to sum up the adventures of himself and the 'Bots since being brought back to the SOL, but Crow and Servo insist that he supply more background information to put it all in context. Mike winds up regressing back to a temp job he once had, where some bad memory distracts him and makes him mumble frighteningly, in a bitter reverie.

Segment One: The Observers administer an intelligence test to Mike, the 'Bots, Pearl, and Bobo. No one scores very high at all except Servo, who does extraordinarily well. In fact, he scores higher than one of the three Observers did. Servo modestly insists that he just "tests well."

Segment Two: Servo is missing from the SOL. Turns out he's down on the Observers' planet, where he's been invited to become one of them. But he quickly proves that he doesn't belong there: he can't read any mind but his own, the "brain" he carries is actually an olive, and to boot, he steals of their silverware. After a hearty chase, the Observers return him to the SOL.

Segment Three: The sultry witch from The Undead visits the satellite, and finds that her shape-shifting talents are a bit rusty - out of control, in fact. She involuntarily metamorphoses at a furious rate, becoming a cat, a lizard, and a series of other animals and inanimate objects, really tiring her out. She's stuck in the guise of a bottle of Clorox bleach when Mike and 'Bots must return to the movie.

Segment Four: Mike finds an old album from his collection featuring Digger Smolken, the singing gravedigger from the movie. Smolken reinterprets modern and classic songs with his signature style, changing all the lyrics to sing about death, corpses, filth, rats, and all that other neat stuff.

Segment Five: Bobo, in his jammies, gets up for a midnight snack. He prepares himself a sandwich with loving attention to every detail, but mistakes the Observers' brain enrichment chamber for a fridge. And -- of course - proceeds to include one of the Observers' brains on his beautiful sandwich. He discovers his mistakes when each bite produces a scream, and he quickly tries to rectify his error, crudely taping the brain back together and scurrying back to his room with a jar of mayonnaise (mayo-NAISE!).

Reflections: This movie sat on all of our heads. The plot's logic defies any amount of painstaking analysis, even that involving elaborate flow charts and hired consultants from the most respected universities and think tanks in the country. Next time you have the notion to defend Roger Corman as a good director, watch this movie and repent.
The host segments were good fun, though the rather short segment involving Bridget as the shape-shifting witch from the movie took a long time to film, since by Best Brain standards the shape-shifting effect was mega-high-tech.
Most of us had loads of good clean fun singing many of our favorite songs a la Digger Smolken, with lyrics given his patented rat death-coffin-etc. reworking. A notable exception to this was poor Mary Jo, who found this avenue of humor extremely painful from the get-go. And yet this only encouraged us to continue it for countless weeks. Is it any wonder why she often talks longingly of becoming a novelist?
Lastly, most of the movies we do on the show provide us with at least one moment that especially sticks with us. These moments usually crystallize in an instant just how dopey the movie in question truly is -- they are often those inexplicable, just-what-the-hell-could-they-possibly-have-been-thinking moments which are dumb even by the standards of the movie itself. In
The Undead, there is a quick moment towards the end where the entire cast of characters is warning the young heroine to either go to her death, or not (to even try to explain it would require a page of calculus). Corman uses quick cuts from head to head, each character advising her, in effect, to go or not. There is one quick shot among these of the time-traveling psychicicicicicicicasl researcher who started this whole thing, yelling "STAY!" with such baffling vehemence, his face contorted in what looks like sick rage, all the while wearing a silly faux-chain mail knight's hood, which cracked us all up again and again. Even as I write this months after, people are still walking around the Best Brains office suddenly yelling "STAY!" at the top of their lungs with no warning. It's very funny -- I think. Maybe you had to be there. -- Bill Corbett


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