1003 - (run last) MERLIN'S SHOP OF MYSTICAL
WONDERS (1984) - Color - In a lame attempt to be trendy, Mike and the Bots
are into 1920s college pranks. Servo is then given complete power, but
relinquishes it because of fire ants, or something.
The movie, a Brencam Entertainment/Berton Films release, is one of the more bizarre MST3K pictures to come along in a way, and is a welcome diversion considering when it was first aired, the show had already been cancelled in first-run episodes. It begins with a drunken medium consulting a Ouija Board and then being killed. It turns out that this was only a TV show being watched by Ernest Borgnine (who won an Oscar for "Marty," then appeared in such shows as "McHale's Navy," "Air Wolf," and "The Single Guy") and his grandson, Mark Hurtado.
After the electricity goes out, Borgnine relates two stories he "wrote for television" to the kid dealing with the seldom-asked question of what if King Arthur's wizard, Merlin, were alive today ("Merlin used his powers to come to our time," Borgnine drones).
The first episode features a jerk of a newspaper columnist in a small Northern California town, Jonathan Cooper III (John Terrance) and his co-dependent wife, Madeline (Patricia Samson). After insulting everyone around him, and uttering a great unintentionially-hilarious line ("I chew places like this up and spit them into the toilet!"), he is given the wizard' book of spells and told to go to town on them.
Merlin (George Milan), by the way, looks like a cross between Leon Russell and that one Oak Ridge Boy, and speaks like a gay guy on Novicane. A description of his wife, Zerella, played by Bunny Summers, is best left unwritten.
Anyway, Cooper, after mocking Merlin, starts looking through the tome, and talking to himself on a tiny tape recorder, but eventually begins to cast some of the spells. This of course leads to some goofy scenes of things flying about, him being attacked by a cat, and then turning into an old demon that looks like Saleri from "Amadeus, and finally a baby that his wife can now raise instead of the one she couldn't have.
The next story features a crook who steals a toy cymbal-playing monkey from Merlin's store (nothing else just the stupid monkey) and then pawning it off. The buyer then gives it to Michael (Struan Roberts), the son of an addled single dad, David (Bob Mendlsohn), who plays with it, briefly, before moving on to toys that are more fun and interesting.
For some inane reason, whenever the monkey bangs its cymbals, someone, or something (a plant, a fly, a goldfish, and a dog) dies. Which makes you wonder why Merlin even had it around to begin with. Another mystery is that why two different women would actually think that a normal 10-year old would even want such a thing, or why the burglar thought it was valuable in the first place.
Oh well. This plot device gives us a chance to see two really goofy scenes, though. The first has the little moppet singing "Rock 'N Roll Martian" to it like that one kid in "What's eating Gilbert Grape," and then David, being told by a pissed-off "psychic" to get rid of the toy, but not to "let it know you're trying to get rid of it." So, the idiot begins cleaning his living room, trying to knock the monkey into a trash bag while whistling ("Do da do do da. Not thinkin' about demons No demons").
Even after throwing it away, the stupid little kid fishes it out of the garbage can and is almost run over by a "stud" cruising for chicks in a Country Squire station wagon in a residential neighborhood. The dad has no choice but to take it out in the country and bury it, which only causes the earth to shake and David to almost get swallowed up as the world cracks like a China cup. Once again this begs the question on why a toy monkey that plays cymbals would have such power over life, death, time, space
and nature. Couldn't it have been a more terrifying symbol than a cheap child's toy?!
Later, after having a tree fall on him and almost dying trying to get rid of the thing, David discovers that his moronic mom brought it right back into the house. Merlin finally comes into the home and takes it back to his shop, placing it back on a shelf instead of destroying it.
More laughs than I can remember, this episode was funny from beginning to end, thanks to such riffs as, "Try the Merlin Chop, a half-pound slice of Merlin served with steak fries, vege-table of the day, and a whipped dessert," "So this is how Madeline Albright makes decisions," "Tonight, on 'Old Lady Gets Killed'," "Yeah, save it for Carson, grampa," "Merlin was a thieving rackhead who fenced VCRs to feed his habit," "I have my own private fertility clinic in the back," "If you were a store, I'd crush you!" "It's an ancient spell for becoming a more efficient red-neck," "Now that's not evil doing that, he's just a spaz," "Based on a story by Sigmund Freud," "Hit the pavement, you Celtic fairy!" "Wow! A smelly used toy!" "Borgnine's grandson is really bored by now," "Working at home, the reality," Brought to you by LSD," "We're gonna change that dog's name to 'Crispy'," "I'm stiff and dry and have a big lumpy but," and "Come on, grampa Borgnine, no wonder you never sold this turkey!".
The skits, Tom and Crow give each other negative reviews ("The ugly guy in the movie reviewed novelty stores and strip malls and he's famous !"); Servo tries to levitate an egg but turns Mike into a baby; Mike orders the Ernest Borgnine Children's Book Collection (Santa' Workshop of Shimmering Delights, Slow Bear's Woodland Picnic, Fluffy Bunny's New Suit, and Dr. Blood's Orgy of Gore ); and the closer, Bobo dressed as the cymbal-playing simian while Pearl totlas up the pain scores, are all very good.
A bittersweet show, considering it is the last (so far) of the almost 150 first-run episodes, but one in which I am more than proud to give an unqualified A+ to, and to hold out some hope until the show returns again (it's doubtful, but one can dream, can't one?!).
Since beginning this critical effort in 1994, it has been my greatest pleasure to catalog each of these shows and the effort that went into to making them, and, in my humble opinion, enjoying one of the funniest programs ever to play on the Silver Screen. Best Brains, whatever else comes in the future, know that you made at least one person very, very happy, for a little while, at least.
1007-Track of the Moon Beast (1976)-Color-After
receiving their Lilian Burnham Onion-Blossomer (a short-lived kitchen fad),
the Bots blossom everything in sight, including a bowling ball, caulking
gun, shoe, wallet, and Servo's head. Meanwhile, Peal and Observer (Bill
Corbett) have attached Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) to a Universal Learning
remote control for some inexplicable reason.
The fun ends there, however, as the movie, a Cinema Shares International Television, Ltd released directed, if one could use that term, by Richard Ashe and starring such untalented hacks as Chase Cordell, Donna Leigh Drake, Gregorio Sala, and Patrick Wright, among others.
What there is of a plot has mineralogist Paul Carlson (Chase) and his idiotic friends Johnny Longbone (Professor Salinas-Sala), Butt Healer and some dopey chick, on a dig somewhere in New Mexico when photog Cathy Nolan (Drake), who dresses like a hooker (but without the good fashion taste), comes into their midst's.
Naturally, Paul and Cathy fall for each other and the story follows the same old pattern of boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-spend-night-on-mountain top, boy-gets-hit-in-head-with-meteorite, boy-goes-crazy-and-becomes lizard-monster, boy-kills-several-homely- extras-and-dies. We know SOMETHING is going to happen to Paul, because after he's conked on the coconut with a moon rock, the Kleenex he used to wipe off the blood begins to glow.
There's also a cracker sheriff, a drunk bowler, some old farts playing cards, a bow and arrow contest, and Johnny Longbone, who, when not pontificating about the old Indian legend of how a lizards and a coyote created the Earth, bores everyone to tears about his stew.
But the real weirdness of this film occurs with the musical interlude of "California Lady," sung by a Robin Gibb-looking guy and his two lame back-ups. This leads into one of the season's best skits as Mike (doing his best Kris Kristofferson) relates a "Behind The Music" parody featuring the "fish-lipped guy and the Eskimo," whose careers ended due to a "spiraling cycle of drug abuse, alcohol addiction, gambling problems, and womanizing," even though they did get to play on the same bill as Wet Willie and Toots & The Maytals, once.
Meanwhile, Carson spends most of the film without a shirt, but his hairless pink chest wouldn't even turn on the most unattractive woman or loneliest gay guy in the free world.
In the end, though, even his bare chest cannot prevent him from glowing bright red (after Johnny Longbone shots him with an arrow made from another moon rock) as the picture comes to an end. Dumb, but not repulsive, it just sits there like a Big Mac in your stomach, with no nutritional value, whatsoever. Mike and Co. do make the digestive processes a bit easier, however, with such bon mots as "Some burnt toast is heading for the Sun," "I just want some peyote," "She gets off the ground saying 'what happened?!' a LOT!" "Ahhh! We stumbled onto an Eagles' concert! It's a nightmare!" "I forced my skull right through my face and refused to wash my stringy hair," "The snaggle-tooth folk rocker followed them home," "Filmed through chocolate milk," "What HAVEN'T we seen in this movie, yet?! Oh right, a scrawny, drunken bowler's ass cheeks. Thank you!" "Th-that's just a PICTURE of the Moon!" "He's transforming into the exact same person," "I'm ready to fight Captain Kirk," "Geesh, there's acting all over the place, now," "and "Hey, I'm in a Buggles' video. Not great riffs, but above average.
Sketchwork, along with the aforementioned skit, is fine, as well (mocking the lame practical joke at the beginning of the film, the Bots "rush the Halloween season," but get no reaction out of Mike; then they send a remote robot camera into his room to see what kind of pajamas he wears; and Observer supporting Bobo and his exposed brain), but episode is nothing special. A "C" at best.
1012 - SQUIRM (1976) Color - The opening sequence shows Mike and the Bots
checking the SOL for safety equipment (there is none), while Pearl Mary
Jo Pehl) has a fair and forces The Observer (Bill Corbett) is forced to
pickled Windex and tufts of deep fried Bobo hair.
This leads to a short film, one of three for the 10th season (see "Century 21 Calling" and "Robot Rumpus"), and easily one of the wierdest ever shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The mini-feature, "A Case Of Spring Fever," has "Coily," the demonic spring sprite taking springs away from a guy for a few minutes. Later, the idiot bores all of his golfing buddies to death discussing the objects.
Mike and company have a nice time with this, including getting in a few classic jabs ("Well, it's not as bad as the time I wished for no muscle tone." and "So, Coily waited all eternity for this moment and backs down almost instantly?!").
This, however, is just an appetizer for the real pain, 1976's "Squirm," a repulsive piece of composte written and directed by Jeff Lieberman (come back, Ed Wood, all is forgiven!), which relates "the most bizarre freak of nature ever recorded (unless you count Al Gore)."
Film "stars" Don Scardino as Mick, a most unappealing nerd from the city (it nevers says WHICH city, but, then again, it doesn't really matter, does it?), who comes to Fly Creek, Georgia, to visit the pathetically pale, thin and most uncommonly unattractive Patricia Percy. There's a minor summer storm which causes the electric wires to fall to earth sending worms (or, in this case, slugs and millipedes), to appear in strange places, like Mick's "egg cream."
Other characters, including an effeminate sheriff (Peter Mac Lean), a demented worm farmer (RA Dow), a wacky antebellum mom (Jean Sullivan) and a slutty, undernourished little sister in laughably-huge platform shoes (Fran Higgins), among others go way over the top in acting talents and southern accents, as the worms (looking like slimey piles of slowly moving ground round) kill a few crackers and inbred rednecks).
And that's the problem with this movie. Let's face it, friends, worms, no matter how electrically-charged they are, or how ferociously close-up they are filmed, just aren't scary. Plus, there's really no new ideas here that haven't been used in countless horror pictures. Case in point, not only do the worms devour the flesh of their victims, but they also seem to have an incredible knack for hiding the bones so that local law enforcement can't find them, thereby casting doubts on those reporting the incidents and allowing even more hicks to be eaten.
Despite the silliness of the plot, terrible acting and lack of direction, the gang gets off some decents riffs, such as "Come on, no one's THAT Southern-tone it down.";"If Steve Young and Alvin the Chipmunk had a baby."; "I'm gonna Willem DeFoe all over you." ; "I'm Peter McNichol, and I'm concerned.";"How is it possible that Jerry Reed ISN'T in this movie?!";"Mr. Beardsley!", among others to ease the hurt.
The skits, especially the first, in which the theory that every object in the universe having it's own sprite is tested when Crow and Tom wish there was no Mike and meet Mikey the Mike Sprite. The puppet (in a blue jumpsuit) isn't very convincing in persuading the Bots to recant their wish, but Crow finally relents, repeating the line the springless clown used in the short, "Aw gee, Mikey, I didn't realize what I was missing. Isn't there anything we can do? Please let me take back my wish." An imp representing Mike's socks, however, is harder to please-and to smell.
Closer has Crow, in mile-high platform shoes, falling to his doom, while Pearl makes a suddenly spineless and stupid Observer jump off a box over and over again.