Alert reader Ken notes:
I was thinking about how the narrators in the movies tend to inspire great riffing (“The Creeping Terror: and “The Dead Talk Back” immediately spring to mind), so how about favorite narrator-inspired riffs? One of my favorites occurs when the narrator of “The Dead Talk Back” performs a running commentary on how many minutes the murder victim has to live (“she had 23 minutes to live”), and at one point Crow responds, “I wonder if I could get a pizza in that much time?” I love it!
I think a lot of these are going to be from shorts. Such as mine, from “A Day at the Fair,”
Narrator: First prize goes to a girl!
Crow: The cows are furious!
BORN ON THIS DATE
1903: George Coulouris, who played Max Greene in the movie in episode 305- STRANDED IN SPACE.
1903: Frederick West, cinematographer for the movies in episodes 311- IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, 503- SWAMP DIAMONDS, 511– GUNSLINGER and 808- THE SHE-CREATURE.
1907: Barbara Morrison, who played Polly Prattles in the movie in episode 109- PROJECT MOON BASE.
1914: Marvin Gay Sr., mentioned in a host segment in episode 616- RACKET GIRLS.
1916: Robert Busch, dialogue coach for the movie in episode 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP.
1923: Jack Beaulieu, Trace’s dad, who played Old Forrester in a host segment in episode 706- LASERBLAST.
1924: Jimmy Carter, American president, mentioned in a host segment in episode 604- ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE and 619- RED ZONE CUBA.*
1926: Fred A. Chulack, editor of the movie in episode 512- MITCHELL.
1935: Teruyoshi Nakano, director of special of effects for the movie in episode 212- GODZILLA VS. MEGALON and assistant director of special effects for the movie in the movie in episode 213- GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER.*
1938: Zale Kessler, who played Dr. Nelson in the movie in episode 811- PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR.
1938: Tony Epper, who played the “terminating hood” in the movie in episode 516- ALIEN FROM L.A.
DIED ON THIS DATE
2003: Joy N. Houck Jr. (age 61), associate producer of the movie in episode 1006- BOGGY CREEK II.
2006: Alan Lyle-Smythe (age 91), screenwriter (using the name Alan Caillou) for the movie in episode 523- VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS.
2008: David Hooks (age 88), who played Richard “Rich” Patrick Knight in the movie in episode 811- PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR.
EPISODE PREMIERE ON THIS DATE
1994: Episode 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD (with the short A DAY AT THE FAIR) first shown.
EVENTS ON THIS DATE
1996: MCA/Universal Home video releases MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE on VHS for rental.
1996: Rhino Home Video releases episodes 303- POD PEOPLE and 513- THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE on VHS.
This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce This Date in MSTory items in any form without express written permission from the authors.
* = According to the IMBD this person is alive. If you can supply evidence that he or she has died, and when, please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a birthday, the IMDB indicates that the person has died, but the IMDB does not have a full death date (probably just a month and year or just the year he or she died). If you can give us the exact date (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a death date, the IMDB does not have this person’s full birthday. If you can provide it (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.
Movie: (1986) A voodoo queen resurrects a dead teen, who then seeks revenge on his killers.
First shown: 11/24/94
Opening: Crow and Tom are Secret Service agents protecting Mike
Intro: The Mads are into voodoo, so they send a voodoo kit to the SOL
Host segment 1: Crow is reading when Tom runs him down!
Host segment 2: Mike, Crow and Tom enjoy a hot tub
Host segment 3: Crow abandoned his “Batman” screenplay, but neglected to tell Tom and Mike
End: Letters for Adam West, Frank has turned Dr. F. into a zombie
Stinger: Incantation and screaming
• It’s hard not to like this episode. The movie is big and bold and insane, the riffing is fantastic and the segments have a goofy, happy-go-lucky quality that I like.
• This episode appears on Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XV.
• This episode was held from TV while it made the rounds of many college campuses, during the fall of ’94, as part of Comedy Central’s “Fresh Cheese” tour. It was finally shown on Turkey Day ’94.
• I saw it in the University of Pennsylvania’s cavernous Irvine Auditorium. The sound was terrible and the place was about half full. One of the school’s modern and luxurious (at least at that time) screening rooms might have been a better venue. Anybody else see the college tour?
• This ep marks the change from green to the solid blue jumpsuit we saw Mike wear for much of this season.
• Do you think that “Head!” thing was planned? After so many accidental beheadings of Tom, it nice to think they did this one on purpose.
• This week it’s the “umbilicus.”
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: bulletin board, beaker, book
• Segment 1 is related to the movie — he runs Crow over just like the kids just ran over the guy. But it’s also the beginning of a running gag for season six, in which Tom repeatedly — and cheerfully — smashes Crow in various ways. Unfortunately, this episode, where the running gag begins, wasn’t shown in order, so some of the humor of the running gag was a drained away.
• Tom imitates a Jamaican guy attempting to lure tourists to his jet ski/parasail business. I understand that the cast vacationed together in Jamaica at least once. Maybe that’s where this came from.
• The song Tom is singing at the beginning of segment 2 is “Walkin’ in Memphis,” by Marc Cohn.
• Callbacks: “I’d never touch you, Terry. You’re dirt!” (Teenage Crime Wave)
• Second “Governor and JJ” reference in a few weeks.
• The original film was MUCH gorier. Tia Carrera’s character’s death, to give one example, is far more gruesome than we see here.
• Also, the attempted rape of the Twist N Creme waitress by Jimbo is much more explicit and brutal in the original (the original is on YouTube). There is a huge edit, shades of “Sidehackers,” from the point where Jimbo grabs her and the next scene, where she is wrapped in a blanket telling the cops what happened. That scene also includes the gruesome, explicit and completely deserved onscreen impalement death of that jerk Jimbo. The edit kind of robs us of that cinematic justice.
• I exchanged emails with a representative for Jon Mikl Thor, and he revealed three interesting bits of info.
1. The soundtrack list includes bands called The Things and Knighthawk. They are just Thor in disguise (dull surprise!). 2. A band called Battalion does a song called “Out For The Kill.” That New York City-based band did exist, and even had their own comic book. (Thor co-produced their first album.) Sadly, Thor told us the guitar player of Battalion committed suicide by leaping off a 35-story building in New York City just before their album was to be released, and they were to embark on a U.S. tour. This turn of events ended the band, the release of the album and the tour. 3. A band called Deathmask, reportedly one of the first speed-metal bands, did a song called “I’m Dangerous.” Thor invested a lot of time, money and effort into the band. He helped get them a record deal and then co-produced the record. But, for reasons that are not remembered, the band refused to tour (which is sort of required to back up an album). Without the effort from the band to get out there to promote and tour, Deathmask then faded into obscurity.
• No cast and crew roundup this time: Nobody involved with this worked on any other MSTed movies.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. This is the final episode for the credit: Video Provided by: Fournelle Video Production Services, St. Paul, MN. The second of two episodes where Sarah E. Wisner helped out with Post Production Coordination with Ellen McDonough Thomas,
• Fave riff: “C’mon, turn the tape over!!” Honorable mention: “They’re missing the forest for the trees with this whole sleazy chicks thing.”
Horror icon Herschell Gordon Lewis, who directed more than 34 movies between 1961 and 1972 and was affectionately known as the “godfather of gore,” has died. He was 87 years old.
A representative for the filmmaker, who rose to prominence after directing such titles as “Two Thousand Maniacs” and “Blood Feast,” said Lewis “passed away peacefully in his sleep” on in the evening of Sept. 25. Lewis’ rep also confirmed the director had been suffering from congestive heart failure prior to his death.
MSTies will recall that he was the producer, director and screenwriter for the movie in episode 421- MONSTER A GO-GO.
Entertainment Weekly has the story.
Thanks to Paul and Timmy for the heads up.
Alert reader “Johnny Drama” suggests:
With the recent #threefictionalcharacters thing going around, I thought it might be interesting to do #threeMST3Kcharacters (from the movies) that best describe you. I’ll have to give it some thought myself.
Krasker, Dad from “A Date with your Family” and Ator. Figure that one out.
Short: (1954) An industrial number showcasing the attributes of grocery store refrigeration units, with the help of shapely model.
Movie: (1957) A paranormal researcher claims he has invented a device that will permit communication with the dead. Oh, it’s true.
First shown: 7/30/94
Opening: Gypsy calls a fire drill
Intro: Dr. F. tries pin-point cigarette marketing on Mike
Host segment 1: Crow’s radio talk show: “The Dead Talk Back”
Host segment 2: M&tB are “The Dead”
Host segment 3: Dr. F. tries his hand at interrogation and Frank quickly cracks; meanwhile, the guitar solo continues
End: Crow is still playing, Tom is acting up, Gypsy starts another fire drill, Mike reads a letter, Dr. F. practices his crossbow skills
Stinger: Woman screams after seeing dead body
• This is a weird episode, featuring an odd short and even odder movie. It’s fun, but not a favorite of mine.
• This episode was included on Rhino’s Vol. 8.
• Though clearly made in the ’50s, the movie was never released until it was discovered and purchased by a low-budget video company in the 1990s.
• I wonder if the fire drill segment led to the later fire safety PSA that they did.
• It’s the “umbilicon” again in this episode.
• The short is a bit of departure. This is what is known as an “industrial,” quite a different animal from the mental hygiene shorts they’d mostly done up until now. I’m not sure it always works for MST3K, as in this case. This may be my least favorite short MST3K ever did.
• Callback: “Plenty of lip and tongue action” (from the speech short). Frank says “I killed that fat barkeep” (The Beatniks)
• Spaghetti ball bumpers: beaker, film canister, book.
• Then-current reference: “James Farentino visits Tina Sinatra.” Farentino was charged with stalking his former girlfriend, Tina Sinatra, in 1993.
• “Oh, its true!” became a frequent callback in many future episodes.
• Segment 1 features the voice of Trace, one of the few times he ever did a “guest spot” on the show.
• Say what you want, Churchill was right about the Bills.
• The Rhino release of this episode had some encoding problems and was reissued.
• I was never much of a deadhead. I liked ’em, but a little guitar jamming goes a long way for me. Gypsy seems pretty natural as one, though.
• The closeup on Crow’s guitar gives us a close look at the stick that controls Gypsy’s jaw.
• Later in segment 2, Mike is folding Crow’s sensible slacks. He really DID get a lot of wear out of them!
• I had a nice Twitter DM back and forth with Andy LaCasse, who performed the “cheesy guitar solo.”
LaCasse said: “The director [that would have been Jim, he directed the host segments for that episode] kept laughing out loud and asking me if I could make it more grating and irritating. I said I could, and I did!”
He also recalls: “I brought my 1-year-old daughter, Kayla, with me to the studio. The writers whisked her away for a while. Later, the video guys [that would have been Brad and Tim] let her play with the controls on the video editing machine. The scene had already been shot, so I followed Crow’s hands as he played.”
On the technical side, he notes: “I played a cheap copy of a Fender Stratocaster with EMG pickups through a Big Jam Spit Wah pedal straight into the MST3K video editor.”
“My daughter had a great time and the writers adored her,” he concluded. “I had a blast! Definitely a career highlight for me. It’s still on my résumé.”
• Crow is still wearing his Grateful Dead costume when he reenters the theater. Mike removes it.
• No cast and crew roundup this week. Similar to “Teenage Strangler,” this appears to have been a cast that largely never did anything else.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Sarah Wisner does Post Production Coordination with Ellen McDonough for two episodes, instead of Jann Johnson. This is the last of three episodes where Tim Scott gets an audio mixing credit. This is the first of five episodes where Brad Keely gets a lighting credit. This is the last time we see Director of Operations Jeffrey P. Young in the credits. (He lasted all of three episodes and I would LOVE to heard THAT backstage story.) “Cosmic Freight Train” written and arranged by: Michael J. Nelson, Paul Chaplin and David Sussman.
• Fave riff from the short: “But don’t put your tongue on it!” Honorable mention: “Wow, that was close. She was mad!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Well! I’m going home for lunch.” Honorable mention: “…than springtime are you, sir.”
The Alamo Drafthouse in Lubbock, Texas, will present MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE Monday, Sept. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $3.
Rob Weiner, co-editor of “In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000: Essays on Film, Fandom, Technology, and the Culture of Riffing,” will be on hand to discuss the film.
More info here.
Alert reader Troy suggests:
What do you think happened to MSTied movie characters as soon as the film was over?
So, in Cave Dwellers, after Ator left, I think Dong (Thong?) and the crazy old man opened up a successful business installing safety railings and personal workout rooms in neighboring medieval castles, and after The Killer Shrews, the surviving shrews somehow made their way to Australia, where nobody even noticed another incredibly toxic voracious predator on the loose.
Following the end of “Beginning of the End,” several grasshopper meat-based restaurants opened in Chicago.
You got one?
“Is this the chin you’re using?”
Stream or download it here.