602-"Invasion U.S.A." (1952)-B&W-Episode
opens with Mike building a robot that
goes berserk, Crow choosing a metallic "mother" over a Dr. Clayton Forrester
doll, and a great job of MiSTing the dull opening short, "A Date With Your
Family." Main film, though, is as hard to take as a concrete enema. Nothing
more than a sorrier rehash of "Rocket Attack, U.S.A." (see #205), this Cold War
propaganda piece would give anyone an industrial-military complex. Dan
O'Herlihy (who, in 1954, would earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in "The
Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe") and Peggy Castle ("Beginning Of The End") lead a
cast of no-names through one of the silliest plotholes of all time. A group of
pinkos are lounging in a bar one night, only to be hypnotized by O'Herlihy into
thinking the country has been attacked (hench, the title), and a mere 72 minutes
later, they become full-fledged interventionalists, and are ready to invade
Cambodia, Laos, Moscow, and Grenada. Movie's extensive use of stock footage
finally causes Crow to bemoan, "So World War III is going to look a lot like World War
II.", and us to doze off time and time again. Riffing is fine, but bad film,
plus dull skitwork (the visit from the Atom Bomb guy is really awful), add up to
one of the worst MST3K installments in quite a while, and I'm forced to give it
603-"The Dead Talk Back" (1957)-B&W-Amazingly
enept film, about a dull loner who
"invents" a radio that can communicate with the deceased, is supposed to be a
lesson in alternative methods of solving crimes, and ultimately has nothing
whatsoever to do with talking to the dead. Opening credits introduce someone
named "Aldo Farnese" (as "Mr Krasner"), as if he were some exciting, new,
highly-talanted discovery. And while watching, one wishes for the acting
displayed in "Manos: The Hands Of Fate," the direction of "Teenage Strangler,"
the continuity of "Monster A Go-Go," and the intricate plot mechanisms of "Robot
Monster," but to no avail. This almost totally obscure, practically
unrecognized movie even claims to be taken from a "recent pyschic research
file," which is similiar to the disclaimer set forth in "The Robot vs. The Aztec
Mummy," and just as ridiculous. And how many motion pictures can you name where
a murder is committed by a sharpened curtain rod fired from a crossbow by a
lisping disc jockey? Short film which comes before this feature is "The Selling
Wizard", and is nothing more than a 15-minute commercial for Anheuser-Busch
commercial refrigeration units, and both are roasted nicely. Sketches, which
include, The Dead Phone-In Show, the Grateful Dead Talk Back, and Crow's "Cosmic
Freight Train", are great, lifting this one to a solid "B+".
604-"Zombie Nightmare (1987)-Color-"Holy
bad career move, Batman!" Adam West
appears in this Canadian garbage bag about a zombie resurrected by a Tina Turner
look-a-like to wreak havoc and revenge upon yet another group of unlikable and
untalented teens. West, playing a detective who knows more than he says, joins
Asian beauty, Tia Carrera ("True Lies"), then a 17-year-old making her film
debut. And while she's quite nice to look at, her acting, along with everyone
else's, is abominable (check out the Humphrey Bogart-impersonating medical
examiner!). The poor script and sloppy direction are only matched by the
horrible soundtrack, as "famous" headbanger bands such as Deathmask, Girlschool,
Thor and Moterhead wail incessently in the background. Great MiSTing and decent
skits (the Batman play, the hot tub, and letters to Adam West) make this an
enjoyable "B" effort. And the actor even took things in stride by hosting the
1994 Turkey Day marathon, as the event's "cheesy gourmet".
605-"Colossus And The Headhunters" (1962)-Color-This
release tries to throw Kirk Morris onto the Hercules film bandwagon, but, like a
Three Stooges gag, he falls off the other side with a resounding thump. Morris
plays a mythological second-fiddle to Steve Reeves as he leads a gaggle of
extras from their stock-footage-destroyed island to the land of the "fierce"
headhunters, who are, in turn, led by a lisping, wincing, prancing villian who
makes Liberace look macho. Needless to say, Morris and Co. are able to easliy
defeat them, and return the imprisoned king back to his throne. You'll return
to the throne again and again to throw up during this one, but riffing makes
things a bit more digestable. Overlong running sketch about a dog named Nummy
Muffin Cocoa Butter, get old fast, but I still give this one a "B-".
606-"The Creeping Terror" (aka-"The Crawling
Monster") (1964)-B&W-I don't know
if this movie (with over 75 percent of its dialogue accidently erased and
replaced with inane narration) is the worst of all-time, but it's certainly one
of the most putrid ever broadcasted on MST3K. It's rare when a film makes "The
Dead Talk Back" look like "Chimes At Midnight", but this one does, over and over
again. Premise, what there is of it, has cheap spacecraft landing in the woods
and expelling a huge walking carpet (it makes the gorilla suit in "Robot
Monster" look like a George Lucas effect) that lops about the country side,
devouring lethargic teens and other assorted village idiots. But the throw rug
proves it does have merit by chowing down on an entire sock hop, PLUS the band
and refreshments. In the end, though, local law enforcement (two deputies) team
up with a few inept military personnel to finally destroy the thing, but not
before most watchers have lost a large portion of their lunch, mostly during the
horrible "thermometer" scene. Fantastic MiSTing all the way around, and terrific
skits (especially the "Love, American Style" send-up) make this the best of
Season Six, so far, with an unqualified "A".
607-"Bloodlust" (aka-"A Deadly Charter")
(1963)-B&W-Before Robert Reed gained TV
fame as a lawyer in "The Defenders", and as a dad in "The Brady Bunch", he
appeared in this boring "Most Dangerous Game" knock-off as the leader of a
foursome of overage teenagers being hunted on a remote island. Wilton Graff
chews scenery like Doublemint gum as a vile, stereotyped German madman bent on
eliminating the quartet (hey, I'm with him), while his pathetic henchmen prove
to be easier to kill than members of the Iraqi army during the Gulf War. Reed
spends most of the film sucking in his stomach and making sarcastic comments,
but eventually helps the others escape as Graff is harpooned like a tuna by one
of his own men. Short film, "(A Visit To) Uncle Jim's Dairy Farm" is a perfect
foil for the riff and arrows of Mike and Co., even more so than the main
picture. The skits, including a visit from mother Forrester and the square
dance, are great, and I'll even ignore the silly vegetable stand bit and give
this chapter a "B".
608-"Code Name: Diamond Head" (1977)-Color-In
a year that saw such vile TV shows
such as "Fish," "Hello, Larry,"Busting Loose," and "Blansky's Beauties" earn
spots on their respective networks' fall schedules, this made-for-television
film couldn't even convince executives to give it a second look, and it's easy
to see why. Roy Thinnes ("The Invaders", "General Hospital"-see #'s 413, 415,
and 417), complete with a bad 1970's perm, is a super secret agent recruited to
stop a master of disguises (Ian McShane of PBS's "Lovejoy") from stealing some
kind of chemical. Franco-Vietnamese actress, Frances Ngyun plays the love
interest, while a fat black guy ("Zulu"), and "That Guy Who Plays `Victor' On
That One Soap Opera", join the idiocy. This one, as well as the short, "A Day
At The Fair", serve as perfect targets for the Brains' verbal buzzbombs, and
Mike Nelson's impersonations of Robert DeNiro (in "This Boy's Life"), a Crash
Test Dummy, and the Frugal Gourmet are priceless in this "B+" episode.
609-"The Skydivers" (1963)-B&W-Trace
Beaulieu has claimed that this is THE worst
film MST3K has ever done. And while that is a subjective opinion, one thing IS
for sure, no other movie (even "Zombi Nightmare" or "The Beatniks") can claim
worse music. Such tunes as "The Ha-So Stratosphere Boogie" and "Tobacco Worm",
by Jimmy Bryant & His Night Jumpers, have to be the single most painful sides
ever recorded for a movie. And what a movie! The first of three Coleman Francis
pictures, this tells the convoluted tale of Marcia Knight out to ruin the
skydiving business of Anthony Cardoza (who appeared briefly in "Hellcats") and
his wife Kevin(?) Casey. With a little acid on his chute, she succeeds, but
ultimately gets shot by a posse in the end. Dreadful all the way around,
especially the continuity, which Crow describes as saying that it must have been
editted by "someone with Attention Deficit Disorder." Riffing of this, and the
proceeding "Why Industrial Arts" short is good, but sketches dealing with Tom
destroying Crow and/or his possessions are pretty lame. Perhaps if Crow blew up
Tom a few times, I'd enjoy it better, and would award it a higher grade that the
"C" I'm forced to give this one. Who knows?
610-"The Violent Years" (1956)-B&W-Written
(poorly), but not directed by cult
film-maker, Edward D. Wood, Jr., this is yet another poor example of any number
of juvenile gang exploitation pictures of the era. This time, though, there's
the twist of having the outfit be spoiled, rich young women, who go on their
nightly crime sprees simply because the parents of one of them don't pay enough
attention to them (welcome to the club, sister). Goofy gas station hold-up and
hilarious male rape scene add to the fun. Eventually, the girls wreck a third-
grade classroom (in a very lame swipe at Communism), and are shot by police.
End has a stern "judge" lecturing the parents, just like the conclusion of "I
Accuse My Parents," as they attempt to adopt their dead daughter's baby.
Meanwhile the quips come fast and furious towards this one and the short
feature, "A Young Man's Fancy," one of the best such gems since "Last Clear
Chance." That, and fair skits add up to a nice little "B" episode.
611-"Last Of The Wild Horses" (1946)-B&W-Only
the second western to be spoofed
by the Brains, this one stars Mary Beth Hughes ("I Accuse My Parents"), James
Ellison, Jane Frazee, and Grady Sutton (familiar to W.C. Fields' fans as a
character in "The Bank Dick" and "You Can't Cheat An Honest Man", among others),
and concerns the age-old story of good versus bad ranchers. Ellison, as a lone
cowpoke who stops the capture of some wild stallions, is framed for murdering an
old coot, and in the end, is forced to fight it out with the villian in a goofy,
punch-drunk hayloft scene. Film was voted Best Picture by the newsgroup, and in
fact, isn't that bad. Good riffs, and a great running skit about a matter
transference device (which causes Dr. F and Frank to be IN the theatre for the
first segment) elevate this entry into the solid "B" column.
612-"The Starfighters" (1964)-Color-If
you believe that military films are
exciting and full of spine-tingling action and adventure, then this movie is the
perfect antidote to such feelings. Robert K. Dornan was a real life jet pilot,
war hero, and even became a United States Congressman and Presidential
candidate, but at no time was he ever an actor. Despite this handicap, he
outshines everyone else in this dull, meandering pro-Air Force recruiting
commercial about a politician's son who bucks the old man to fly the "dangerous"
F101 jet. Dad (Carl Rogers), appears only behind a desk, lisping and whining
like Liberace because his kid won't fly the safer transport planes. Big deal. So
many shots of aircraft in flight, you can't sit through it without Dramamine, or
No-Doze, take your pick. Most quips are right on, though, as are the sketches
(Richochet barbecue sauce, Crow and Tom refueling, and the United Servo Men's
Academy Choir and song) to give this one a "B-".
613-"The Sinister Urge" (aka-"The Young
And The Immoral," aka-"Hellborn")
(1959)-B&W-The only urge you'll have while watching this Ed Wood crapper, is to
get up and turn off the set. This second Wood-directed film to be roasted on
MST3K (see #423-"Bride Of The Monster") tells the sorid tale of how pornography
is responsible for a bevy of unattractive women being slashed by a crazed killer
in a local park. Allusions to the evil results of smut are quite funny when one
realizes that Wood himself delved into it after failing at mainstream film-
making. Weak storyline has two of the most unappealing and boring police
officers (Ken Duncan and James More) out to bust a porn ring run by mannish,
husky-voiced Jean Fountain, and her spineless director, Carl Anthony (playing
"Johnny Ride" without any emotion, whatsoever). They are also trying to stop
the psychopathic Dirk Williams (a totally unconvincing and unintentionally
hilarious performance by Dino Fantini), who goes berserk every time he sees any
kind of pornography. Strickly for those with nothing to do and lots of time to do it with.
Overall MiSTing is hilarious, though, and the gag of Frank threatening to blow
up Deep 13 (only to be foiled by a potato cake) is top-notch in this "B+"
614-"San Francisco International" (aka-"San
Francisco International Airport")
(1970)-Color-Whereas the pilot for "Code Name: Diamond Head" failed to get that
show made into a series, this made-for-TV "Airport" rehash was picked up by ABC
for the fall. It lasted less than a year, however, and was one of the early
casualties of the 1970-71 season. Pernell Roberts ("Bonanza", "Trapper John,
M.D.") attempts to fill Burt Lancaster's shoes as the facility's security chief,
but falls flat on his face (even being replaced by Lloyd Bridges when the show
went to a series). He is joined by equally clueless Clu Gulagher ("Master Ninja
I") to stop Tab Hunter ("Lust In The Dust") and a group of inept criminals from
stealing a shipment of newly-printed currency. Dumb subplot has Van "Superdome"
Johnson's dopey son, Davey (Teddy Eccles), taking to the air in a stolen piper
cub because his folks are getting a divorce. David Hartman ("Lucas Tanner")
also appears as a dim-witted pilot whose wife, Jill Donahue, is being held
hostage. Another interesting character to look for is Frank Gerstle, one of
the Congressmen at the beginning, who played the mad nuclear scientist in "The
Atomic Brain" (see #518). This episode was nominated in the writing category
for an Emmy Award, and with jokes like these, it's easy to see why. The "B-"
grade I give it, however, would be higher, except for the overlong and unfunny
Urkel sketch, which finally shows humor when Torgo appears to tell everyone how
stupid they are for laughing at it. Hey, I'm with ya, Torg.
615-"Kitten With A Whip" (1961)-B&W-One
of a handful of films I had seen long
before tha advent of MST3K. Senatorial candidate, and happily married (although
we NEVER see his wife), John Forsythe, takes in runaway vixen, Jody (Ann-
Margret), while his better half is out of town. He's smitten by her teenage
charms, buying her clothes and heaping affection upon her, only to be played for
an idiot when she involves her fleabag friends, another daffy woman, a brain-
dead thug, and a philosophy-spouting beatnik. Interesting picture, especially
when Margret (who would later earn Oscar nominations for "Carnal Knowledge" and
"Tommy") humbles a prostrate Forsythe (voted Best Actor by r.a.t.m.) with a
bullwhip, making him crawl before her. Riffs are okay, as are the sketches
about Crow traveling throught the Umbilicus to Deep 13, and Mike giving the
'bots bionic noises. Kevin Murphy's take as a kitten with a whip is pretty sad,
though, lowing the grade for this one to a "C-".
616-"Racket Girls" (aka-"Pin Down Girls")
(1951)-Everything about this movie, a
so-called expose on corrupt forces in the world of female grappling, is awful,
and it actually out-Ed Woods Ed Wood. Flimsy storeline has crooked promoter and
horse rece-fixer (Timothy Farrell) strapped for cash, as well as good taste and
eyesight (you'll discover this when you see what kind of women he comes on to).
He then meets bulky, Romulan-like Peaches Page (voted Worst Actress), and with
the help of his depressing Italian sidekick, who's about as funny as the
Lindbergh kidnapping, he begins to train her for mat success. To insure this,
though, he attempts to bribe real life wrestlers, Clara Mortensen and Rita
Martinez, who are as bad at acting outside the ring as in it. Conclusion would
take a cryptogist to decifer, but needless to say, the bad guys get theirs and
the woman walk off smelling like roses, or a locker room. Short feature is the
hilarious, "Are You ready For Marriage?", one of the best-MiSTed of the year,
as is the main picture. Funny episode that I gladly give a "B+" to.
617-"The Sword And The Dragon" (1960)-This
Russian-made feature tells of a 13th
century invasion of the Motherland by the Mongol Horde. The steppes are saved,
however, by Ilya, a sullen, bearded behemoth (Boris Andreyev) who leads his
ignorant people to a complete, albeit, unbeleivable victory, al a "Alexander
Nevesky." In addition, Ilya gets to take on a "Wind Demon," just for fun. Great
cinematography and battle scenes, along with so-so special effects, make this
one quite enjoyable. The use of real Asians as Mongols is also a nice touch.
MiSTing is almost perfect, as are the skits (two girls visit Deep 13 and "A Joke
By Ingmar Bergman"). Only downside of this "A" show, is the visit from Ilya
(Kevin Murphy), but it's still one of the best episodes of the season.
618-"High School Bigshot" (1959)-What could
have been an intriguing tale of a
miserable high school loner ("Marvin", played by homely Tom Pittman), whose
abuse at the hands of his classmates leads him straight into the arms of a femme
fatale (Virginia Aldridge), becomes a muddled, juvenile version of "Ocean's 11,"
and falls into the drink, literally. Marvin, after being denied a much-sought-
after scholarship for helping the vixen cheat on a Sheakspeare exam, decides,
with the aid of ex-con, "Harry March" (Stanley Adams), to steal the funds made
in a heroin smuggling operation. Needless to say, the girl spills the beans to
her real boyfriend, "Vince (Howard Viet)," and all heck breaks lose, resulting
in death and mayhem for all concerned. Also Malcolm Atterbury, who played
"Grandpa" on "Apple's Way", and was an occassional character on "Green Acres")
is Marvin's drunken loser of a father. Short feature is "Out Of This World,"
and, like the main film, is MiSTed perfectly, as Mike and the 'bots turn this
bizarre story of Satan and an angel battling for the soul of a bread delivery
truck driver, into sort of a "Wiseguy" cum "Goodfellas" experience. "A" episode
includes the giant Servo monster ("Movie bad!"), the drive-by egging, and
specialty breads. A great scene also takes place when Mike, tired of listening
to Tom singing "(Don't Pay) The Ferryman," tosses him, like a used Kleenex, at
the movie screen.
619-"Red Zone Cuba" (aka-"Night Train To
Mundo Fine") (1966)-It's a pretty good
indication that a film is going to be supremely horrible, when ancient character
actor, John Carradine ("Captains Courageous," "Jesse James," "The Unearthly"),
is "singing" the title song. Another bad sign is when the words, "Written by,
Directed by, and starring: Coleman Francis" appear. There is really no way to
describe how awful this movie, number two of the Francis triolgy, really is.
Carradine, included for marquee value only (as if he still had any), appears
only briefly in the beginning, and much to his credit, does not show up again.
As a locomotive engineer, he sets up and explains the weak story of Griffin
(Francis), an escaped con, who meets up with two sterno bums, Anthony Cardoza
("The Hellcats," "The Skydivers") and Harold Saunders, to participate in the
ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. It's easy to see how Castro beat back the
attack, with only six people participating. Coleman and Co. are taken prisoner,
a few are executed, but Francis, Cardoza, and Saunders escape. They then return to
the States and participate in an incomprehensible scene with a farmer in a well
and his blind daughter, before being killed. Mind-bogglingly inept, it's hard
to envision a worse picture. Short film is "Speech: Platform Posture And
Appearance," which is the prefect companion piece to "Speech: Using Your Voice"
(see #313), and "Posture Pals" (see #320). Riffing is fine all the way around,
but, as Crow says about main feature, "This film DARES you to watch it.", and
running skit about Dr. F in traction is pretty lame, too in this "C+"
620-"Danger!! Death Ray" (aka-"Death Ray")
(1966)-Danger!! Dull Ray, is more
like it as a low-budget James Bond (Gordon Scott) "stars" in a low-budget 007-
clone, that had absolutely no reason to have been made. Scott plays "Bart
Fargo" ("My name is Fargo, Bart Fargo??!!"), a supposed super secret agent out
to stop someone from blowing up the world with a powerful laser beam ray-thing.
I, like many other MiSTies, hoped Gordon's character would be kileed at every
turn, but, alas, the most unlikable super-hero in screen history survived, time
and again. Wretched film fare, even for fanatics of the genre. Decent riffs,
though, and the sketch about Cambot crying, make this "B-" show worth viewing.
621-"The Beast Of Yucca Flats" (1961)-Remember
what I said about it being hard
to imagine a worse film than "Red Zone Cuba"? Well, scratch that. I just found
one. Coleman Francis concludes his Season Six assualt on good taste, with his
magnum opus, starring Swedish hulk, Tor Johnson (the biggest name, despite being
given only SIXTH billing), who took a huge step down from his Ed Wood days to
work with cinema's most untalented director/writer/star. Johnson plays a
defecting Soviet rocket scientist, of all things, who, while being chased by KGB
agents, stumbles into the path of an atomic bomb test (much like Colonel Glenn
Manning did in "The Amazing Colossal Man"). And, as in "Colossal" and "The
Atomic Kid", the blast doesn't kill the victim, only engergizes, enlarges and
mutates him. In this case, Tor becomes terminally pissed off (at Francis, no
doubt), and is inflicted with the desire to scream, rabble the barren
countryside, and toss paper mache boulders at equally challenged "actors",
including the most unattractive "family" (Coleman's two kids were used) in history.
And like "The Creeping Terror", much of the dialogue is simple, confusing and unnecessary
narration. Movie ends with Tor being shot about ten times, only to come back to
life as a rabbit begins licking his face. As bizarre and terrible a film that
has ever been made, with no redeeming value other than to have Mike and the
Robots make fun of it. Two great shorts, however, come first. "Money Talks",
has Benjamin Franklin rising from the grave to help an inept teenager with his
allowance; and "Progress Island, U.S.A.", a promotional film put out by the
Puerto Rican Trade and Tourism Bureau. Perfect, politically-incorrect MiSTing
and sketches (Proposition Deep 13 and the Film Anti-Preservation Society), make
this a great "A" episode. A classic for the ages.
622-"Angel's Revenge" (aka-"Angel's Brigade")
(1979)-Cheap, made-for-TV toilet
fodder attempting to cash in on the then-current popularity of "Charlie's
Angels", right down to the almost note-for-note copying of the theme music. If
"Girls Town" (see #601) featured a cast of young has-beens, then this film
features a collection of old ones, most near death and ignorant of the
embarrassment they were heaping upon themselves. Arthur Godfrey, Jim Backus,
Alan Hale, Jr., Pat Buttram ("Green Acres"), and others make humiliating cameo
appearances in this tale of eight beautiful women who join forces to fight a
drug dealer (Peter Lawford) and his henchman (Jack Palance-Academy Award-
nominated for "Sudden Fear" and "Shane", before winning an Oscar for "City
Slickers"). Non-actress, Sylvia Anderson is the leader who recruits the femmes,
who drive about in an armored custom van, blowing people to bits. Eventually,
the women totally crush and defeat their enemies, and then celebrate by swimming
in the nude. How many ways can you say "bad"? Riffing is good, though, and skits
(Shame-O-Meter, and Chocolate Jones) are okay (the 1970's relief pitchers sucked,
however) in this midling "C" chapter.
623-"The Amazing Transparent Man" (1960)-"Amazing"
this movie is not. Grade Z
horrorman, Edgar G. Ulmer (the poor man's Cy Roth), helmed this cheapie about a
mad scientist (James Griffith-"Manhunt In Space") who makes a criminal (Douglas
Kennedy) invisible, so that he can steal some radioactivity to make more people
invisible with. Or something like that. However, the crook decides to use his
new-found transparency to rob banks. Homely Marguerite Chapman plays Kennedy's
love interest, while Ivan Triesault portrays the non-descript foreign scientist
being held hostage by Griffith. Boring movie, and unmemorable riffs are
overcome by great short feature, the depressingly hilarious "The Days Of Our
Years", and sketches (Auntie McFrank's Bed & Breakfast, Touch The Llama).
You'll be screaming "Squanto!" all day long after watching this "B" episode.
624-"Samson vs. The Vampire Women" (aka-"El
Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiros" aka-
"The Saint Against The Vampire Women") (1961)-Film, which pits Mexican wrestling
hero, Santo (called "Samson" in the U.S. production), against a bevy of
beautiful undead Nosferatu, and their three muscular, but incompetent henchmen,
takes a back seat to the fact that this is Frank Coniff's last show.
Bittersweet episode has running skit of Frank being taken away to Second Banana
Heaven by "Torgo The White", and Dr. F plaintively singing, "Who Will I Kill?"
once he realizes he is gone. The movie, produced by K. Gordon Murray, the same
man who brought us "The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy" (see #102), and "Santa Claus"
(see #521), is poorly-dubbed, badly-acted, and horrendously-filmed, but riffs
are great, and despite Frank's depature, I still give it a "B+". Take some
Keopectate and enjoy this little gem from south of the border. Frank would have
wanted it that way.