By D.G. McCabe
As you may have guessed from reading my blog, I’m a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. MST3K was on the air from 1988 to 1999 on KTMA-TV, Comedy Central, and the SciFi (now Siffy) Channel. The basic premise was this: bad old movie, three guys making fun of it, two of whom did so through robot puppets named Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. It was hosted by Joel Hodgson from 1988 to 1993 and Mike Nelson from 1993 to 1999. Since I’ve probably watched just as many episodes of MST3K as real movies over the last couple of years, I thought I would share my six favorite episodes:
6. The Final Sacrifice (1990)
What do you get when you go into the woods of Western Canada with a cheap film camera, an obese vagrant named Zap Rowsdower, a super effeminate kid, and some weirdo in a cloak? Do you really want to know the answer to that questions? If so, The Final Sacrifice answers it for you!
The Final Sacrifice is one of the newer movies that the MST3K team made fun of, although you wouldn’t know it by watching it since it looks like it was shot on a home movie camera in the 1960’s. And not one of those fancy ones that shot the Kennedy boys playing football, I’m talking about one of the ones that would spontaneously combust.
- [The group sing as music plays and the credits start to roll]
- Servo: Oh baby, Rowsdower saves us and saves all the world!
- Crow: He comes to save the day in a broken truck.
- Mike: With a stinky denim jacket on his back.
5. Eegah! (1962)
Somewhere in the desert lives a caveman named Eegah. No one knows how he got there or why he’s there, but he’s about to terrorize a town for some reason. Did I mention that the main “hero” is a teenager who looks like he’s been punched in the face by a grizzly bear, has an unhealthy obsession with dune buggies, and frequently attempts to sing rockabilly music?
If that’s not weird enough for you, Eegah, the caveman, gets shaven by this kid’s girlfriend. In a cave. In front of her father. And Eegah licks the shaving cream.
Dr. Miller: He left the road right here.
Dr. Miller: [ dubbed voiceover ] Watch out for snakes!
Servo: Who said that?!
4. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
No MST3K rundown is complete with at least one Coleman Francis film. Francis, who apparently was trained in the art of filmmaking by a blind raccoon, gave us this film about a scientist who survives a nuclear explosion only to become a monster stalking the – you guessed it – the desert!
In this bizarre world, characters come and go for no apparent reason. Sure there’s a narrator, but his insane ramblings just add confusion to this vehicle for legendary, really big “actor” Tor Johnson. Fun stuff.
Narrator: Flag on the moon. How’d it get there?
Mike: These are all just random sentences, folks.
3. Santa Claus (1959)
Children throughout the world are familiar with the legend of Santa Claus. How he lives on a castle on the moon with his stereotyped, singing, child laborers and the wizard Merlin. How every Christmas Eve he drives his toy sleigh driven by creepy mechanical reindeer to Earth so that he can do battle with the devil and maybe deliver some toys. And of course, how he is super self-conscious about his age.
This insane, Mexican fever dream narrowly beats out “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)” for the holiday spot on my list. Although that has its share of insanity, at least there’s no child endangerment…oh nevermind, there totally is.
[Santa winds his reindeer (which are all apparently wind up toys) and they begin to move.]
Servo: This isn’t charming at all! It’s creepy!
[Santa begins to laugh as he watches the reindeer]
Crow: Oh, when Santa laughs, the whole world shakes its head.
[The reindeer begins to laugh in a very unnatural way]
Servo, Mike, and Crow: He, he haha, hahaha, [laughing turns into terrified screams] AHHHHH! AAHHHHHH!!!
[Santa is still laughing]
Mike: [scared] What’s happening?!
[Scene cuts to a shot of the wall behind the sleigh and there is a pentagram-like symbol on the wall.]
Servo: A pentagram, and reindeer laughing… you figure it out.
2. Final Justice (1984)
For some unknown reason, the government hires a slow witted, small town sheriff named Thomas Jefferson Geronimo to supervise the extradition of a dangerous criminal to Italy instead of, you know, the U.S. Marshall Service. As you can probably imagine, this moron nearly loses the criminal on Malta (which is a small island nation), nearly destroying Malta in the process. No, it’s not one of the “Earnest Saves…” film, it was billed as…oh hell, it was just Joe Don Baker wanting a free trip to Malta.
Joe Don Baker, of course, is a mediocre cowboy actor who, for some reason, was cast as an action hero in this and “Mitchell (1975)”. MST3K lampooned Mitchell in an earlier episode, and apparently Baker was quite upset, so of course they did it again!
[In Malta, Geronimo confronts three henchman in a classic spaghetti-Western showdown.]
Servo: The Ugly, the Ugly, and the Ugly.
1. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
In 1966, a fertilizer salesman named Hal Warren bet a friend that he could make a movie for $10,000. The result is quite possibly the worst film ever made. For most of its existence, it existed in relative obscurity and would have been lost to history if not for MST3K. Thanks guys.
Somewhere in the desert outside El Paso (yep! the desert again!), there is a maniac. He stumbles about with his huge knees and serves a unenlightened despot and his cadre of catty women in lingerie. He says he is Torgo, and he takes care of the place while the Master is away…
Joel: You know, every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photograph.
More some other time!
(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe