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Sampo & Erhardt

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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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This Date in MSTory

1884: Zack Williams, who played Chief M’benga in the movie in episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS.
1889: H.F. Heard, who wrote the original story for movie in the movie in episode 905- THE DEADLY BEES.
1907: Philip Martell, who was musical supervisor for the movie in episode 111- MOON ZERO TWO and musical conductor for the movie in episode 905- THE DEADLY BEES.
1916: Sparaco Conversi, who was a production secretary for the movie in episode 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED.
1932: Fay Spain, who played Queen Antinea in the movie in episode 412- HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN.

1960: Douglas Spencer (age 50), who played the Monitor in THIS ISLAND EARTH, riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1964: Francis Rosenwald (age 60), who wrote the original story for the movie in episode 802- THE LEECH WOMAN.**
1965: Tom Kennedy (age 80), who played the bartender in the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1973: Rafael Ruiz Esparza (age 68), who did the sound for the movie in episode 113- THE BLACK SCORPION.
1980: Ray Walker (age 76), who played reporter Richard Lloyd in the movie in episode 906- THE SPACE CHILDREN.
2010: Richard Liska, keyboardist for the group “Davy Jones and Dolphins,” whose music can be heard in the movie in episode 209- “THE HELLCATS.”
2007: Rodney Diak (age 83), who played Anderson the movie in episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE.

1990: episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS (with the serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS Part 1) first shown. Jim Mallon makes his on-screen debut as a white hunter.

1965: The movie in episode 523- VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS is reviewed in Variety.

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 Leon Varjian

He’s never had anything to do with MST3K, but he was part of the mythos that led to it. He’s Leon Varjian, Jim Mallon’s partner in crime when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and Jim masterminded the famous “Statue of Liberty in the lake” prank, as well as the equally famous “pink flamingoes in the quad” prank.
When he died on Tuesday, he was a beloved math teacher at Midland Park High School in New Jersey.

His obit is here.

Varjian Mallon

Here’s a photo of Leon and Jim, celebrating their achievement.

Thanks to Tom Noel for the heads up, and the photo.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Nicknames of Movie Characters

Alert reader Sitting Duck asks:

During the course of a film, the riffers will sometimes refer to one or more characters by (usually derisive) nicknames. Which of these are your favorites? Mine come from Time Chasers, where crooked CEO J.K. Robertson is referred to as “Bob Evil.”

My pick: “The Load” in “Mole People.”

What’s yours?

New Streaming Eps

There are two new episodes of MST3K streaming on Shout! Factory TV: “Night of the Blood Beast” and “The Corpse Vanishes.”

RiffTrax Live: Your Thoughts?

An open thread for your thoughts about tonight’s show.

As always, hold any spoilers until after 11 eastern, when the west coast show starts.

Episode Guide: 401- Space Travelers

Movie: (1969) In a re-edited version of the movie “Marooned,” various obstacles hamper attempts to rescue three NASA astronauts trapped aboard a crippled space capsule.

First shown: 6/6/92
Opening: The Great Crowdini attempts an astounding escape.
Invention exchange: J&tB demonstrate The Dollaroid, while the Mads show off their “facial” tissue
Host segment 1: J&tB present a list of space race advancements
Host segment 2: Reenacting the movie so Crow can do his killer Peck
Host segment 3: J&tB wonder: If one of them had to sacrifice themselves…
End: Magic fun, letters
Stinger: Hackman, demonstrating that he’s good in anything
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (209 votes, average: 3.84 out of 5)

• And so we begin the second of four 24-episode seasons BBI pumped out. You can really feel how settled in and relaxed they are. As they said in the ACEG, they were luxuriating in that rarity of rarities in the TV world, job security. We start off with a very good but not spectacular episode. The riffing is comfortable and steady, and we haven’t had a star-studded, very watchable movie like this since the KTMA days. None of the segments are clunkers, either, so it’s a great way to start the season.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXII.”
• The stretch between the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 was 133 days, the eighth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• “Marooned,” the movie Film Ventures International chopped up to create “Space Travelers,” is the only MST3K movie that actually won an Oscar. It won for Special Visual Effects, and was also nominated for cinematography and sound.
• In episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M where Joel asks “Why didn’t you just show us ‘Marooned’?” and Dr. F replies “We couldn’t get it!” Guess they could get it after all.
• The opening bit is a little complicated. You’re supposed to notice that Crow accidentally drops the all-important key and nobody thinks to retreive it for him before he is blown to kingdom come. But you could easily miss it.
• Joel’s invention really doesn’t make sense, but they got a good bit out of it anyway.
• In the ACEG, they tell a story about meeting Dennis Miller, whose only comment to them was that he wished they hadn’t riffed “Marooned.” He likes it. It was an early instance of the response they would get a lot with “This Island Earth.”
• The riffing in this one starts a little slowly, largely because the movie itself starts a little slowly. It seems insane now, but I was alive then and I can tell you: The workings of NASA fascinated most Americans, and just watching them work was captivating enough for a lot of people. I’m sure the filmmakers thought nothing of beginning their movie with 10 minutes or so of random NASA footage. But there’s not a lot you can say about it.
• For a moment, J&tB do ethereal “eeeee” singing bit — a reference to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” — that they used to such good effect in episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK USA.
• Then-current reference: Somebody mentions the president, and Servo says he’ll “vomit on some Japanese people.” Here’s a report on the incident he’s referring to. Also: Baby Jessica. Jessica, by the way, is married with kids now.
• Crow’s Gregory Peck is truly killer. Joel also attempts a Peck impression and pales by comparison.
• Servo, on the other hand, does a very good Burt Reynolds laugh.
• This ep has not one, not two, but three Firesign Theatre references!
• Host segment 2 is another “broken sketch sketch” — essentially Joel/Mike and the bots try to put on a sketch and the whole thing goes to hell — that was a MST3K staple throughout the years. Not all of them were that funny but this one is pretty good.
• Callback: Crow recalls that he “called dibs” on the ability to say who lives and who dies, back in season 3. Also, “That was number 9!” (Sidehackers)
• The wonderful “aaaaaaaahhh!” closing bit by the Mads became a great way to say goodbye to MSTie pals for years.
• Cast and crew roundup: It probably shouldn’t be surprising that most of the people listed for this movie also worked on KTMA movies, many of which were much more mainstream. 2nd unit director Ralph E. Black was a production manager for “Invasion U.S.A.” Script writer Mayo Simon also worked on “Phase IV.” In front of the camera, David Janssen was also in “Superdome.” James Franciscus was also in “City on Fire.” Tom Stewart was also in “SST: Death Flight.” And Walter Brooke was also in “Bloodlust” and “San Francisco International.”
• CreditsWatch: Additional Contributing Writer: Bridget Jones. Host Segments Directed by: Jim Mallon, but, unlike most of last season, they will take turns as the season goes on. Trace and Frank are no longer “villians” but Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.” Frank is, beginning with this episode, “TV’s Frank.” The new season means a new set of interns, most notably this episode marks the arrival of Patrick Brantseg. Also there was Nathan Devery, Brendan Glynn, Suzette Jamison and Steven Sande. Bryan Beaulieu and Bill W. are gone from the special thanks credit. Instead it’s Skyline Displays Inc., Teachers of America, Mark Gilbertson, all MSTies coast-to-coast, the authors of the 1st Amendment. This episode also marks the arrival of Bradley J. Keely, as assistant editor. For the entire season, they had the services of Rob “the engineer” Burkhardt in engineering. Clayton James comes in for a two-show stint in hair and makeup.
• Fave riff: “Oh they’re dead. How’s the rabbit?” Honorable mention: “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

RiffTrax Live Preview

James Tutten of the Orlando Sentinal previews tonight’s RiffTrax Live show, and talks with the creator of the movie they’ll be riffing, “Miami Connection.”

The Latest RiffTrax Short…

… is another in the terrific Mary Jo/Bridget series:


Stream or download it here.

‘Manos’ Piece in ‘Playboy’

We’re a few days late with this, (sorry, I was sick this weekend) but Jake Rossen has an eye-opening piece in Playboy (I read it for the articles, honey!) about the behind-the-scenes battles over the rights to “Manos.”

The Latest from RiffTrax Is…


Stream or download it here.

And don’t forget RiffTrax Live: “Miami Connection” on Thursday at a theater (hopefully) near you!