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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.

And also be sure to visit the official web site of Mary Jo Pehl.

Also also be sure to visit the official web site of Kevin Murphy.

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This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1879: Helena Grant, who played Mrs. Fitzhugh in the movie in episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS.
1906: Kappei Matsumoto, who appeared in the movie in episode 819- INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN.
1912: Franklin Coen, screenwriter for the movie THIS ISLAND EARTH riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1913: Russ Conway, who played Reverend Snow in the movie in episode 912- THE SCREAMING SKULL.
1917: Don Torpin, assistant director of the movie WORLD WITHOUT END, riffed in MST3K’s first live show.
1923: Floyd Simmons, who played an army sergeant in the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1925: Kay E. Kuter, who played a priest in the movie in episode 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE.

DIED TODAY
1960: Gino Mattera (age 37), who played Orpheus in episodes 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED and 502- HERCULES.
1970: Gordon Avil (age 71), cinematographer for the movie in episode 210- KING DINOSAUR and the stereo sound director for the movie in episode 107- ROBOT MONSTER.
1982: Boris Andreyev (age 67), who played Ilja Muromets in the movie in episode 617- THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON.
1984: Richard Benedict (age 64), who played Major Everett in the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1988: Rene Cardona Sr. (age 81), who directed the movie in episode 521- SANTA CLAUS.
1989: George Coulouris (age 85), who played Max Greene in the movie in episode 305- STRANDED IN SPACE.
1990: Bernard C. Schoenfeld (age 82), screenwriter for the movies in episodes 411- THE MAGIC SWORD and 906- THE SPACE CHILDREN.
1996: Saul Bass (age 75), who directed the movie in episode K09- PHASE IV.
2000: Alla Larionova (age 69), who played Luberia in the movie “Sadko,” seen in episode 505- THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD.
2010: Wilford L. Holcombe (age 85), who co-wrote three songs that were featured in movie in episode 817- HORROR OF PARTY BEACH.
2013: Virginia Gibson (88), who played Mary in the short ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON, which was featured in episode 701- NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST.

EPISODE PREMIERE
1999: episode 1004- FUTURE WAR first shown.

EVENT
2000: Rhino Home Video releases episodes 506- EEGAH and 513- THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE on DVD, their first MST3K releases on DVD.


This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2014 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.

Episode guide: 1013- Diabolik

Movie: (1968) Super-thief Diabolik performs several daring heists, then sets his sights on a shipment of gold.

First shown: August 8, 1999
Opening: M&tB discover the SOL employee handbook
Intro: Pearl has a new joystick, which leads to re-entry protocol
Host segment 1: Crow and Mike are packed; while Servo disposes of the many extra hims
Host segment 2: In Castle Forrester, everybody is lining up new gigs
Host segment 3: Crow is worried, so Mike sings a reassuring song
End: After the crash, M&tB settle in to their new home with a familiar pastime
Stinger: “Is that stud coming?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (186 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)
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• And so we come to the final episode, and, of course, this is one where the host segments outweigh the movie. Like all the big premise-changing episodes, the host segments are, once again, a marvel of tight, efficient (and funny!) story telling. As for the movie, it’s sort of “Danger Death Ray”/”Double 007″ meets “Batman” and, well, yes, it certainly is pretty to look at.
• Last time I called the riffing “steady and workmanlike,” adding that “there’s little that’s memorable.” I’m going to disagree with myself after this viewing. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but I laughed a LOT this time.
• Mary Jo (with an assist from Bill, Patrick and Paul) offers her thoughts.
References. I noticed a couple they missed: “Okay, I’ll go hang with Nova for a while” is a reference to the fact that the woman looks a bit like the female lead of “Planet of the Apes.” Also “Flaming truck at Brixton, 20 minutes late” is a “Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin” reference.
• While this episode was being made, Jim Mallon stalked the halls with a video camera, documenting the event. The footage was later released on video as “The Last Dance: Raw.” The last time through, I watched it before actually watching this episode, and it is interesting in a couple of respects. First, if it does nothing else, it captures the tedium of TV production. There is a lot of standing around waiting, and this gives us a real sense of that. Second, it gives a brief shot of where I scrawled on the back of the SOL set. Since that object no longer exists, to my knowledge, it’s nice that there’s a record of it. Finally, yes, the MST3K process has been described many times, but there’s nothing like actually seeing people doing it. So, if you haven’t given it a look, it’s worth one. But I doubt you’ll want to watch it again.
• I think a lot of MSTies agree that this was a strange choice for a final movie. We discussed it here.
• But I do have one question for the movie: What is the point of covering your face with a form-fitting mask that doesn’t disguise you at all? As proof of this, I simply have to note that, despite the face coverings, every cop who encounters Diabolik immediately knows who he is.
• There are many, many naughty riffs during the “rolling around in the bed full of money” scene.
• In one scene, the lovely Eva climbs into Diabolik’s car and as she does so we get a very brief glimpse of VERY high (stocking covered) inner thigh. Crow is the only one who reacts, and he does so only very quietly. I wonder if they just couldn’t decide whether to make a big deal out of it or not.
• I assume Esso (now ExxonMobil) paid for the blatant product placement: It feels very phony. Having the service station attendant ask Eva if she wants a tail (Esso stations sold little plush tiger tails that one was supposed to attach to one’s gas intake pipe so that, when the gas cap was in place, it looked as if there was a “tiger in the tank”), and actually say “Tiger’s in the tank, ma’am,” is a little over the top.
• I really like the little explosion sound effect they use in segment 1 as Tom disposes of the extra Toms. It’s a very satisfying little “boom.”
• Callbacks: “Welcome, Dr, Meecham!” (MST3K: The movie) “Ha-ha! I’m useless against your weapons!” (Prince of Space).
• Mike references the “giant fiberglass muskie in Hayward Wisconsin,” a landmark that is also depicted in the movie “Blood Hook,” directed by Jim Mallon.
• Crow’s concern about “traffic accidents” echoes a similar concern by little Akio in the movie in episode 312- GAMERA VS. GUIRON. I wonder who on the staff made that connection.
• During the song, Mike produces Crow’s “mother” from episode 602- INVASION USA. Wonder how much they had to dig in the prop room for that!
• I just want to note that the song in segment 3 is the second time in the series that a song rhymes “Earth” with “Colin Firth.”
• The final bit in Castle Forrester makes a reference to the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” finale, where the cast similarly huddled together and sang “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” Or maybe there’s a law that any TV show connected to the Twin Cities has to end that way.
• That’s the voice of Peter Rudrud as the TV announcer.
• The final bit, in which Mike and Bots settle in and start riffing on “The Crawling Eye,” the movie Joel and the bots riffed in the first national episode, is cute and kind of satisfying. But a lot of fans noticed a little goof: We can’t see the screen, of course, but based on their riffing, it seems that the first thing they see is opening credits. The problem is that “The Crawling Eye” doesn’t start that way. It starts with a cold opening, showing some characters mountain climbing (and then one of the characters is killed). The credits don’t begin until several minutes into the movie. Kind of ruined it for some people. But the bit is such a lovely bit of closure I can’t fault them.
• Cast and crew roundup: Director-scriptwriter Mario Bava was cinematographer for “Hercules” and “Hercules Unchained.” Assistant director Lamberto Bava directed “Devil Fish.” Makeup guy Otello Fava also worked on “Warrior of the Lost World.” Score composer Ennio Morricone also worked on “Operation Double 007.” In front of the camera, Marisa Mell was also in “Secret Agent Super Dragon.” Adolfo Celi was also in “Operation Double 007.” John Phillip Law was also in “Space Mutiny.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. “To Earth” — music by Mike; lyrics by Kevin (so you can blame him for the Colin Firth rhyme).
• Fave riff: “Member FDIC…” Honorable mention: “I’m driving with my whipper.”

Next week we will move on to the TV specials, starting with “This Is MST3K.”

This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1910: Albert Zugsmith, producer of the movies in episodes 601- GIRLS TOWN and 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1914: Larry J. Blake, who played Corporal Mathias in the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END and Sgt. Connors in the movie in episode 522- TEEN-AGE CRIME WAVE.
1924: John J. Fox, who played an attendant in the movie in episode 908- THE TOUCH OF SATAN.
1924: Jay O. Lawrence, production supervisor for the movie in episode 424- MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE.
1926: William Riggs, who appeared in the movie in episode 307- DADDY-O.
1966: Kelly Zombor, who did the sound for the movie in episode 910- THE FINAL SACRIFICE.*

DIED TODAY
1981: Patrick Conway (age 50), who played Sgt. Pete Allen in the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1984: Eijiro Yanagi (age 88) who appeared in the movie in episode 314- MIGHTY JACK.
1989: Mickey Finn (age 50), who played Sam Haskall in the movie in episode 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER.
1998: Leslie Stevens (age 74), co-creator, co-producer and co-screenwriter of the TV series “Gemini Man,” two episodes of which were featured in episode 814- RIDING WITH DEATH.
1998: Frederic Downs (age 81), who was barkeep Jack in the movie in episode 209- THE HELLCATS, the pharmacist in the movie in episode 609- THE SKYDIVERS, Tinsley in the movie in episode 619- RED ZONE CUBA and Prof. Howard Erling in the movie in episode 807- TERROR FROM THE YEAR 5000.

EVENT
1954: Peter Lawford, who played Burke in the movie in episode 622- ANGELS’ REVENGE, married Patricia Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy.
1962: John Ashley, who played Stan Kenyon in the movie in episode 418- ATTACK OF THE THE EYE CREATURES, married actress Deborah Walley.
2003: Rachel Taylor becomes the 100,000th member of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Information Club.


This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2014 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.

New Short from RiffTrax…

KeepAJobPoster

See a sample or download it here.

Wired Magazine Piece Buries the Lede

Just about everybody gets a say in Brian Raftery’s “definitive oral history” in Wired.

There are some interesting comments by the cast members. Much of the info is stuff we have heard before but some of it is new.

But at the very end the piece says this:

This spring Hodgson is hoping to start a new online incarnation of the show, one that will feature a fresh (and as-yet-unannounced) host and cameos from many MST3K alumni.

Thaaat might have been the headline.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Memorable Hats

Alert reader Sue suggests:

I remember when Easter was a time for, among other things, breaking out new hats in order to be fashionable. Yes, I’m old. No, I don’t want to say how old. At any rate, how about “Best/Worst Hat or other Fashion Accessory in a MSTed Movie”?

But in an MST3K, my favorite hat and hat riff are from “The Deadly Bees,” during the inquest: “Objection! Stupid hat!”

Me, I gotta go with the hat Mary Beth Hughes wears when singing in “I Accuse My Parents.” “Now she’s wearing a table centerpiece on her head!”

What’s your pick?

New(ish) Short from RiffTrax…

NormSpeechPosterC

Previously included in the RiffTrax Live: Night of the Living Dead video, now available on its own. See a sample or download here.

 

Flash Sale on the Gamera Set

Shout!Factory has announced a “Deal of the Day” sale on the “MST3K Vs. Gamera” set (with collector’s tin): $32.99. The sale will end Monday at 10 a.m.

More info here.

Episode guide: 1012- Squirm (with short: ‘A Case of Spring Fever’)

1012s.jpg

Short: (1940) In a moment of weakness, a frustrated guy wishes springs never existed … a wish he soon regrets.
Movie: (1976) Electrically supercharged worms attack the residents of remote Georgia town.

First shown: August 1, 1999
Opening: The SOL’s annual safety check reveals a surprising lack of same
Intro: Pearl is throwing a Castle Forrester Fair, and Tom and Crow’s livestock entry surprises Mike
Host segment 1: Crow rashly wishes that Mike didn’t exist, and sure enough, Mikey the sprite appears to grant his wish and enforce Crow and Tom’s somewhat reluctant repentance
Host segment 2: Tom comes down with severe southern belleness
Host segment 3: Mike’s plan to create mutant killer worms instead results in a tasty snack
End: Crow takes a fall from his reeeally high platform shoes; Pearl forces Brain Guy demonstrate the fair’s bungee jump attraction, which has some flaws
Stinger: “You gon’ be da worm face!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (212 votes, average: 4.35 out of 5)
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• Well, this one is a lot of fun. The short, of course, is golden, just exactly what MST3K is all about. The short itself is great goofy fun and the riffing is top-notch. The movie keeps the momentum going with a watchable and actually kind of creepy little story, with plenty of flaws for the guys to pick at (bad acting, nerdy unlikeable hero; unsympathetic victims, etc., etc.). The host segments also keep things going, and if they’re not hilarious, they at least don’t outstay their welcome.
• Bill’s thoughts are here.
• This episode is not yet available on DVD.
• Where did they get that standee of Ben Murphy? Bet a fan sent it.
• In his comments, Bill confirmed what many people suspected: that this short had been kicking around BBI for years and was in fact the inspiration for the “Willie the Waffle” sketch way back in episode 317- VIKING WOMEN VS. THE SEA SERPENT.
• Fave riff in the short: “Guns, huh?”
• Many years ago, I mailed a copy of this short to the Springs Manufacturing Association in hopes they would reply with something funny to say about it, or might even know the history or background of the short. I never heard back.
• Callbacks: “Jeeeeeeed!” (The Leech Woman) “The monster called Gamera is destroying the city.”
• Naughty riff: “Mother! That’s private!” Also: “See? It’s not true that I can’t get wood.”
• That’s Patrick as Mikey and Mike’s Socksey
• One of the things I noticed this time was the proliferation of Klan jokes. A few are appropriate but I think they may have overdone it.
• Obscure: “…letters from Der Weisse Engel…”
• In segment 3, when Mike says he’s “gotta make a rice a verms” he’s mocking the famous Bela Lugosi line from Bride of the Monster about “rice a pipple.”
• Also in that segment, notice that somebody was making the little worm wiggle.
• In our recent discussion of the worst cops, many folks singled out the icky sheriff as the worst or one of the worst. Boy howdy were they right. Wow, what a jerk.
• “Hank Hill’s friend” has a name. It’s Boomhauer. Did they not know or were they afraid people wouldn’t recognize it?
• Yet another credit bit: This time it’s earnestly answering the questions asked in the song.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects makeup guy Rick Baker also worked on “The Incredible Melting Man” and “Track of the Moon Beast.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. For some reason Jeff Stonehouse was unavailable and someone named Kevin Galligan was the DP for this episode. Similarly, John Sims was not available and somebody named Clayton Hughes was the boom operator. Ed Dykhuizen and Sarah Lemanczyk were back as interns.
• Fave riff: “Lowly Worm’s worst day ever.” Honorable mention: “Kevin McHale, cross-dresser.”

Upcoming Cast Appearances

Here’s a look ahead at some of the public appearances the cast members will be doing.
Joel has signed to do a bunch o’ cons this summer. Here’s the list so far:
• May 30-June 1, Indy Pop Con, Indianapolis – ”Riffing Myself” and meet & greet. More here.
• June 20-22, Monster Bash, Mars, Pa. – “Riffing Myself” and meet & greet. More here.
• June 27–29 Albuquerque Comic Expo – “Riffing Myself” and meet and greet. More here.
• Aug. 1-3 CONjure, Orlando, Fla. – “Riffing Myself” and meet and greet. More here.
• Aug. 22-24 Wizards World Chicago – meet and greet. More here.
• Aug. 29-31 Dragon Con, Atlanta – “Riffing Myself” and Meet and greet. More here.

Kevin will be heading to Chicago to perform in an live episode of “The Thrilling Adventure Hour Saturday, April 26, at 8 p.m. (CDT) More here.

And here’s one for you folks over the pond (and we know you’re out there!):
Having successfully raised the funds via Kickstarter, Trace and Frank will shortly be whisked to London to appear at the Stratford Picturehouse Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m. as part of Sci-Fi London’s annual MST3K all-nighter. More info here.

There will be more, we’re sure. Send us info if you hear about any!