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Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Visit mst3k.com, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about rifftrax.com, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

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This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1894: Warren Newcombe, who did the special effects in the movie in episode 510- THE PAINTED HILLS.
1898: Joseph Justman, executive producer of the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1903: Millard McGowan, who played a chamber guard in the season four serial UNDERSEA KINGDOM.
1908: John C. Higgins, screenwriter for the movie in episode 112- UNTAMED YOUTH.
1910: Rudy Robles, who played Nugara in the movie in episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS.**
1912: Marjorie Corso, costumer for the movies in episodes 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN, 414- TORMENTED, 607- BLOODLUST and 808- THE SHE-CREATURE.
1928: Lidia Alfonsi, who played The Sybil in the movie in episode 502- HERCULES.*
1929: Joachim Hasler, cinematographer for the movie in episode 211- FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS.**
1941: Ann-Margret, who played Jody Dvorak in the movie in episode 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP.*
1950: Jay Leno, who was parodied by Crow in a host segment in episode 510- THE PAINTED HILLS.*
1960: Enid Williams, member of the band Girlschool, which had two songs featured in the movie in episode 604- ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE.*

DIED TODAY
1978: Russell Metty (age 71), cinematographer for the movie in episode 805- THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE.
1978: Arch Hall Sr. (age 69) a.k.a. Nicholas Merriwether a.k.a. William Watters, producer/director and original story writer of the movie in episode 506- EEGAH, in which he also played Robert I. Miller.
1991: Steve Broidy (age 85), associate producer of the movie in episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK U.S.A.
1997: Steve Conte (age 77), who appeared in the movie in episode 515- THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN.
2002: John Wilkinson, (age 83), sound re-recording mixer for the movie in episode 405- BEING FROM ANOTHER PLANET.


This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2015 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.

RIP Jayne Meadows (and a non-MSTory obit)

MeadowsENCINO, Calif. — Jayne Meadows, a Broadway, film and TV actress who was probably best known for her 46-year role as Steve Allen’s wife, business partner and frequent co-star, died at her home here April 26. She was 95.

MSTies will recall she was mentioned during the host segment in which Joel presented his invention, the Steve-O-Meter, in episode 408- HERCULES UNCHAINTED.

The New York Times has an obit.

A little personal story about my brush with this great lady: In a previous incarnation I used to write, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, that little write-up next to the TV grid that tells you what’s worth watching on TV that night. In one column, I said something nice about a performance by Steve Allen’s wife, Jayne Meadows. A few weeks later I was stunned to receive a hand-written letter from Ms. Meadows herself, thanking me for my kind words. I wrote back thanking HER for being so nice, and in the letter I mentioned MST3K, briefly explained the premise of the Steve-O-Meter and ended my letter with something to the effect of “now I know something else Steve thought of, marrying a class act.” A week or so later I was even MORE stunned to receive ANOTHER letter, informing me that Steve (now ailing) thought the Steve-O-Meter bit sounded funny and asking where they could get their hands on a tape of that show. I duped off a copy and sent it to them, and later got a short note saying Steve thought the sketch was very funny.

Farewell, Ms Meadows.
————————————————
Also…
Not an official MSTory item, but…

Time Magazine movie critic Richard Corliss passed away April 23. He was 71. Corliss was a died-in-the-wool MSTie and was not apologetic about it.

He also liked our site, once calling it “fun, fair and authoritive.” We were very grateful for that.

The New York Times has an obit.

Kevin Murphy has an appreciation on his Tumblr blog.

Podcast Interviews with the RiffTrax Guys

Matt Delhauer at nerdist.com interviews them.

CineSnob.net’s Jerrod Kingery chats with them, too.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Your MSTie Funeral

Alert regular Timmy writes:

As i was watching The Gunslinger when Joel and the Bots talked about what they wanted their funerals would be like. I was thinking, what would you want your MSTie funeral to be like. Mine, I would have the Girls in Gold Boots Dance and the bands from Catalina Caper play my favorite songs.

Me, I want the Angels’ Revenge Peter Lawford end: Float me face down in the pool with a glass of bourbon in my hand.

What would your request be?

Now Available from RiffTrax…

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I guess Miley wasn’t enough for him to be ashamed of. Stream or download it here.

Episode guide: 301- Cave Dwellers

Movie: (1984) An evil overlord imprisons a wise man in order to learn the whereabouts of a powerful weapon. Ator the barbarian and his pals are determined to rescue him.

First shown: 6/1/91
Opening: J&tB consider new names
Invention exchange: The renaming thing gets out of hand, while in Deep 13, Dr. F loses patience with Frank’s “Mike Douglas Show” recreation; Joel’s invention is a smoking jacket, while the Mads demonstrate robotic arm wrestling
Host segment 1: J&tB reenact the half-screen slo-mo credit sequence
Host segment 2: Joel explains how giving extraordinary names to ordinary things can dress them up a bit
Host segment 3: Joel gives a foley demonstration
End: J&tB rail against the movie, which pleases the Mads
Stinger: “Thong! The fish is ready!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (182 votes, average: 4.68 out of 5)
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• This one takes a little while to get going (it doesn’t help that a big chunk of the first part of the movie is flashbacks to the movie this is a sequel of), but once it does, the riffing gets up to speed and it really is hilarious. The host segments are mostly in the more-clever-than-funny variety, but we’re so comfortable with these characters by now, clever is usually enough. The movie, as Joel and the bots note in the ending segment, is a bit of a hard ride, but it’s perfect for our experiments.
• One of the first things Joel says is: “Looks like we’re back on, everybody!” implying that there’s been some sort of break in communication. And, well, there had been, but not that long: The stretch between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 was 119 days, the ninth-longest (or second-shortest, depending on how you look at it) amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2.”
References.
• It was with this episode that the real heyday of the series began. In the ACEG, Kevin notes it was the first of SEVENTY-TWO contracted episodes (in fact, they’d do at total of 96 episodes from this point before Comedy Central grew weary of them). It was an almost unheard-of situation in the TV business, and you can almost feel them settle in for the long haul.
• That massive contract is perhaps the best evidence of how much CC officials considered this the network’s “signature series.” More evidence: June 1 was the day CC officially went on the air (after two months as “CTV” ): this episode was one of the shows that ran that day.
• Many of the catchphrases that we’d hear again and again are heard for the first time in this episode, including “…later…later…,” “bite me, it’s fun!” “It’s not a comic book, it’s a graphic novel!” “they’re kinda dumb and easy to kill” and “Go to bed, old man!”
• Dr. F. gives the whole “stranded in space” premise a boost by asking Joel, “How did you fare going through the asteroid belt?” (Apparently not well. Jeepers, ow.)
• Tom is wearing a fez.
• The whole “Mike Douglas Show” bit (a decade before “Seinfeld” would explore similar terrain) establishes the “Man in My Little Girl’s Life” as a piece of mental furniture for this show.
• In the invention exchange, Dr. F. is wearing his baseball cap backwards in a homage to the movie “Over the Top.”
• Before, FVI got hold of it, this movie was called “Ator The Invincible.” On video it was titled “The Blade Master.” It was a sequel to “Ator the Fighting Eagle” (1983) and the prequel to “the Iron Warrior” (1986).
• One of the commenters identified the movie that the clips used during the opening credits came from. It’s a sword-and-sandal flick called “Taur: the Mighty.”
• Oddest non sequitur: Joel says, “and…bring me the head of Gallagher!” apropos of nothing on the screen.
• Segment one just kind of establishes the premise then kills time. The credits are moderately amusing, though.
• Segment two feels very season two-ish: very wordy but funny.
• Segment three also feels like something out of early season two, akin to Joel’s zero-gravity or gobos lectures.
• At the end of segment three, Trace does the voice of TV’s Madam, but gets mixed up and makes Crow’s mouth move for a moment. Oops! They keep going.
• Callbacks: “The driver is either missing or he’s dead!” (Phantom Creeps); “Pyuma?!” (Ring of Terror) “I say it’s foggy!” (The Crawling Eye) “It’s the Aztec mummy!” “What’s Your Dream?” (Rocketship X-M)
• Obscure riff: As the cave man eats human heart: “I wanna Barney Clark bar!” In 1983, Clark was the first person to receive a permanent, implanted artificial heart; he lived 112 days.
• Vaguely dirty riff: “It’s the speedy delivery guy and has he got a package!”
• Great wordplay: “I think it’s the Kurds.” “And whey?” “Yes, way!”
• Tom’s little “Ator’s kite” song is great, and Joel’s little harmony at the end really makes it charming.
• I just love that face Joel pulls at the beginning of that final host segment.
• How much Keeffe does this movie have? Miles O’Keeffe, perhaps best known for 1981’s “Tarzan the Ape Man” with Bo Derek, apparently doesn’t take his acting ability too seriously. He reportedly contacted BBI after seeing this episode and told them he loved it.
• Cast and Crew roundup: Art director Massimo Lentini also served that role on the “Escape 2000″ and Casiomeister Karl Michael Demer is back doing the credits music as mentioned previously.
• CreditsWatch: Several changes have taken place in the credits. For one, former production assistant Jann Johnson is now production coordinator (while Alex Carr remained production manager–wonder how that worked). That’s intern Christopher Wurst as the moleman Gerry, refereeing the robot arm wrestling. Wurst must have put his foot down during the making of this episode about how hot it was inside the mask: Gerry and Sylvia would never be seen again. Trace and Frank are no longer “Special Guest ‘Villians’ (misspelled)” as they were throughout season two. The lines “Special Effects and Other Fancy Stuff: Trace Beaulieu” have been removed, as has “Additional Visual Effects: Industrial Plumbing and Heating,” which I suspect was just a joke anyway. New to the credits are technical supervisor Timothy Scott and manager of business affairs Heide LeClerc. And in the thank yous: Randy Herget has been removed and Bill W. has been added (probably at the urging of Frank Conniff). The interns were Thomas Alphonso, Cyn Eells, Tom Henderson and Christopher Wurst. Wurst also got a “Contributing writers” credit, along with Briget. Also, the music during segment 1, which he titled “Jupiter,” were written and arranged by Mike. I tweeted him about what “Jupiter” means and he replied, “that may have simply been the name of the tone on the keyboard.”
• Fave riff: “Gomez! I’ve invented the wheel!!” Honorable mention: “I say: You could drive a Mack truck through your cues! Tempo! Tempo!”

Weekend Discussion Thread: Most Questionable Fashion Choice

Alert reader Dan writes:

Have you done a thread about the most questionable fashion choices in riffed movies?
I’ve been watching the Fugitive Alien films so I’d have to go with the helmet/wig combo worn by the Star Wolves. Can anyone explain the point of them? Is Halkon(?) so touchy about being bald he makes everybody else wear a rug?

My pick: Batwoman’s outfit. I think they were going for slinky and instead they got “trailer park Halloween party.”

What’s your pick?

New Short from RiffTrax…

AllStarsPoster

Stream or download it here.

Episode guide: 213- Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster

Movie: (1966): Searching for his brother who was lost at sea, a guy and his pals wash up on an island, guarded by crab-shrimp monster Ebirah, where some sort of evil paramilitary group has built an installation, unaware that Godzilla is asleep in a cave nearby. The brother turns out to be on an island nearby worshiping Mothra. Got all that?

First shown: 2/2/91
Opening: Joel reads “The Velveteen Rabbit” and does all the voices
Invention exchange: Joel shows off his mind-controlled guitar, while the mads have doggie chew toy guitars.
Host segment 1: J&tB sing “The Godzilla Genealogy Bop”
Host segment 2: Joel succumbs to space madness and begins building very bad models
Host segment 3: Despite Joel’s warning, Crow and Tom spoof the Mothra twins, only to meet Mothra on the Hexfield!
End: J&tB discuss famous sayings actors didn’t actually say and look through some “Cool Thing contest ” entries; the Mads consider a corporate re-think
Stinger: Everyone bows down before Mothra
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (126 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)
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• There’s no avoiding comparing this week’s episode to last week’s, since they’re both Godzilla movies. This one isn’t quite the classic last week’s outing was, but it’s still lots of fun. The plot is a little more confusing, but I chalk that up to the editing by Film Ventures International. All the host segments are worth at least a few laughs, and the riffing is solid throughout.
• This episode is not yet commercially available (and seems unlikely to ever be).
• What’s the name if this movie? It was “Gojira — Ebira — Mosura: Nankai No Dai Ketto,” in the original Japanese (translation: “Godzilla — Ebirah — Mothra: The Great South Seas Duel”). But it had other names in various incarnations, including “Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep” (also “Ebirah, Terror Of The Deep” ) when it was released in England, “Big Duel In The North” (also “Big Duel In The North Sea”), “Ritorno Di Godzilla” (“The Return Of Godzilla”) when it was released in Italy and, for some reason, “Frankenstein Und Dis Ungehauer Aus Dem Meer” (“Frankenstein and the Monsters from the Sea”) when it was released in Germany. Frankenstein?
• For the first time since Joel admonished Crow a few episodes back, he again goes for the Lloyd Bridges “By this time my lungs were aching for air” riff.
• For some reason J&tB wait for the FVI credits to be over before entering the theater. Was this something contractual, I wonder?
• This is our first FVI title. For those who don’t know, Film Ventures International was a company that obtained the rights to films after the copyright expired, and then re-edited and re-marketed the film (sometimes under a different name, sometimes not). We’ll get more FVI titles next season. By the way, the clips used during the opening credits are from “Son of Godzilla.”
• Callbacks: “Rock climbing!” (Lost Continent) “You and your friends the only creeps in this joint.” (Wild Rebels) “Linda!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet?)
• Just for the record, what Joel is reading in the opening segment is nothing even remotely like the real “Velveteen Rabbit.”
• As the characters sneak into the installation, it’s another classic case of a bad guy’s building with hallways that have structures that stick out from the walls, making sneaking around easier. Only in the movies.
• Local reference: Somebody mentions Trip Shakespeare, a Minnesota-based band some BBI staffers knew.
• Joel actually sort of acts during segment two. Not that Joel isn’t performing all the time on the show, but let’s face it, Joel Robinson the character is not that far removed from Joel Hodgson the guy. But in this scene he has to actually act like he’s kind of crazy. He does a good job, I think!
• Then-current reference: Bhopal. Kind of a dark riff.
• I thought the “Karl Malden’s nose!” line of the “Godzilla Genealogy Bop” was just a non sequitur, but this time I noticed a little random throw-away riff where they observe that Godzilla has a nose a lot like Karl’s, which I guess is where that line came from.
• Incidentally, the “Godzilla Genealogy Bop” is one of those songs some fans forget, but it’s quite a lot of fun.
• That’s Mike as the voice of Mothra, of course, in segment 3.
• It seems like they wanted to have the Mothra prop blink, but couldn’t come up with a mechanism, so they sort of shaded the light that was shining on his eyes. Didn’t really work.
• Another then-current reference: “Cocooning,” was one of those short-lived buzzwords that arose when the 200-channel cable universe arrived and just about every movie you could think of was on VHS, so people supposedly stopped going out and just stayed home taking in entertainment in their “cocoon.” Wikipedia says it was coined by none other than Faith Popcorn, who was later parodied by the Brains.
• NOT-current reference, as Crow points out: “Thicke of the Night,” a talk show hosted by actor Alan Thicke (father of recent pop star Robin Thicke).
• Trivia: The script for this movie was actually written for King Kong, but Godzilla was substituted when rights to Kong weren’t available. What about Frankenstein?
• Cast and crew roundup: As noted in the previous episode, several of the cast of “Godzilla vs. Megalon” also worked on this. I won’t repeat all those. Special effects guys Eiji Tsuburaya and Teisho Arikawa also worked on “Mighty Jack.” Akira Watanabe worked on “The Green Slime.” The guy who wrote the score (clearly for the FVI version), Karl Michael Demer, also did the music for other FVI titles, including “Cave Dwellers,” “Pod People,” “Master Ninja I” and “Master Ninja II.” In front of the camera, Eisei Amamoto is also “Mighty Jack” and Wataru Omae was also in “Time of the Apes.”
• CreditsWatch: The whole “creative pit boss” thing is gone. “Villians” is still misspelled. Makeup lady Faye Burkholder must have tossed out some riffs that got used, because she was added to the list of writers for the first time since the KTMA era. Burkholder also gets a co-writing credit with Kevin on the “Geneaology Bop.” Mole person Sylvia was intern Robert Czech and mole person Jerry was intern Nathan Molstad. And the “Squeeky” Toy Orchestra (the people providing all the additional squeaky-toy noises during the Mads’ invention exchange) were Mike, Jef Maynard and Alex Carr.
• Favorite riff: “It’s the Mothra Graham Dance Troupe.” Honorable mention: “What a party! That last shot I saw crabs!”

Bad Movie Thursday in Scranton

For folks in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Scranton Cultural Center will host Bad Movie Thursdays with MST3K — hosted by yours truly — Thursday at 7 p.m. (Cocktails start at 6.) The month’s offering is episode 512- MITCHELL.
More info here. If you live in the area, or are visiting, join us, won’t we?