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also has some hilarious content as well. Granted, most of the videos posted there were created by 12 year olds playing with their "Star Wars" action figures, however some of them are quite funny.
Fun With Shorts: This is Coffee! (MST3K-Style Commentary by Josh Way)
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Pak and Tyrant's MST3K Episode Guide -
KTMA thru Season 10
To watch every MST3K episode ever made including all the available KTMA episodes, specials, and the movie, and then review them all.
Because why not? Our ultimate objective is not only to have seen them all, but hopefully to get all the other MSTies on board to see them all too.
Meet the viewers and reviewers:
Tyrant: Has a pet husband named Pak-Man. Loves zombies, robots and animals (but not necessarily those three things combined). Is especially fond of bad movies in the horror genre. Favorite MST3K eps include Manos: The Hands of Fate, Pod People, and Parts: The Clonus Horror. Her favorite bot is Crow, but thinks Tom Servo is a great singer.
Pak-Man: Pet husband to Tyrant. Digs giant robots, cartoons, video games, and MST3K (Of course.) Loves comic-book and sci-fi movies. Favorite MST3K episodes include Hobgoblins, Eegah, and Prince of Space. His favorite bot is Crow. Favorite Invention Exchange is the Car-tuner.
MST3K REVIEW GUIDE BY EPISODE
K04: Gamera Vs. Barugon
K06: Gamera Vs Gaos
K07: Gamera Vs Zigra
K08: Gamera Vs Guiron
K09: Phase IV
K10: Cosmic Princess
K11: Humanoid Woman
K12: Fugitve Alien
K13: SST Death Flight
K14: Mighty Jack
K16: City on Fire
MST3K Episode K04: Gamera Vs. Barugon (Pak's Take)
An expedition to find a giant opal goes south when one of the crew decides to kill off the rest of the crew to claim the opal all for himself. Litle did he know, it was actually an egg that hatches a giant lizard-dog-monster thing with a battering ram for a tongue that spews destructive rainbows from its back. Fortunately, Japan's favorite rocket-turtle beast is on the scene to take him on!
Ah. From these humble beginnings...
The bots all looked and sounded way different. Tom, of course, was voiced by Josh at the time. Crow, voiced by Trace, was trying to work more of a monotone, robot-sounding element to his voice. Gypsy did this gasping inhaling voice (That was probably murder on Josh's vocal chords.) and looked like some sci-fi alien dinosaur skeleton.
The riffing wasn't nearly as polished as it would come to be in later years. The dialogue was mostly improv at the time (If I have my sources right) and there were a lot of gaps between riffs. (If you Riffaholics thought Batman and Robin was bad...) Even so, there were a few Riffs that felt like they could have come out of any of the later episodes (Even the running gag riff, "He seemed like a nice guy.... AT FIRST!" seems to have started running here) Fortunately the movie is a goofy enough affair on its own ("A rear view mirror is basically like a death ray projector, right?") so the experiment is largely watchable.
The host segments are mostly viewer call-ins (Including the infamous one from the guy who just didn't get it and loved the movie but hated the interruptions.) except for the last bit which has the bots discovering prank calls. There are no mad scientist bits and no invention exchange. The whole thing has a much rougher and more local feel to it (Which is likely because it was much rougher and more local.)
My favorite Riff: "Wow! He's discovered the Blowtorch!"
Overall: Mostly interesting for historical reasons. It's neat to get a look at how MST3K began. There are a few chuckle-worthy riffs and the movie provides some chuckles of its own, but it's a far cry from the greatness that would follow.
Rating: 3 out of 10.
MST3K Episode K04: Gamera Vs. Barugon (Tyrant's Take)
At the risk of reiterating Pak's very nicely written review, we've decided that whoever gets the chance to review first will do so following the motif above, while the other gets to throw in their 2 cents in a more free form, opinionated way (otherwise, it's just the same review over again).
I've been a Gamera fan for quite some time, and was excited about the prospect of "seeing where it all began" in terms of MST3K. I appreciate the fact that whoever uploaded this episode spliced in a fairly decent conditioned intro, which made me think for a moment or two that the entire show would be in the same condition. Unfortunately, I'd peg the recording to be roughly 8th or 9th generation and it really shows. Warbled sound made it hard to understand anything Tom Servo was saying most of the time (which sucks because he had some good lines you've really got to pick out to understand) and sometimes overlapped Joel's lines too. Crow was easier to understand overall but I was weirded out by his robotic monotone. Even more than Tom's psuedo-Kermit the Frog-type voice.
The movie itself is standard giant monster fare and you don't really get the feeling you're missing much with the terrible picture resolution. Some of the monster fighting reminded me of the confusing battle scenes in, dare I say it, Transformers. I couldn't tell the difference between Barugon and Gamera when the two were tangling. Fortunately, as giant monster movies go, you don't really need to know who is who so long as the main monster wins in the end. As Pak mentioned, the riffing comes in momentary spurts and is obviously improvised. I have to say, however, that even improvised the lines are funny, even if a bit tame compared to the riffing in future eps of the show. Thanks to this ep, Pak and I would never have known Best Brains was called Hair Brain at the time. Nor that Kevin Murphy tackled the camera and lighting for the host segments.
Speaking of, there's a quaint charm to the original sets and effects when the show was local. I loved the door segments (why did they take away the cool snatching vine-things in later eps?) and Tom's silvery paint job. I actually really dig Gypsy's original look too, although her design later on looks a little more friendly and less industrial. And who knew Cambot was a robot behind a camera originally, instead of a camera/robot combo? It seems only Crow's design (and the theme song, of course) has stood the test of time, with only subtle adjustments like making his eyes able to roll around later on (and probably more details that folks way nerdier than me can point out). Also, Joel looks good with long hair.
Overall, this is the most kick ass local show I've ever seen. You can tell the creators were putting lots of love into the show before it even went national, and that they truly believed in the premise they were working with. The show, even in this stage, oozes potential but it's obvious no one knew at the time what exact direction to take it in. It's not as well structured at this stage, with very short host segments that lack the interaction between Joel and the Mads, and the long periods of silence during the movies. There are so many elements they carried over into the later, more polished eps however, that makes this early episode feel as much like MST3K as they do.
Rating: 4 out of 10
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MST3K Episode K05: Gamera (Pak's Take)
An arctic expidition unearths an ages-old, fire-eating, fire-breathing, flying turtle monster. It craves fire, and the carnage caused by Tokyo seems pretty delicious to the big guy. Meanwhile, a kid with an obsession for his little turtle shifts his obsession to the big one.
Servo and Crow sit this one out, and we get to see Joel riff all by himself. He actually does a good job on his own and gets more riffs in than the whole cast got together in K04. It suffers a bit from the lack of someone to play off of, but the movie, yet again, carries the episode on its own goofiness. Riffing and giant monsters are a match made in heaven, it seems.
The host segments are, again, made up mostly of viewer call-ins. There are some amusing calls from people claiming to be from the giant mutant turtle coalition, and then from the giant mutant turtle coalition. I also found it amusing that one of the callers let the s-word fly on television, and they covered it up by replacing it with "ship" in the on-screen transcript. The viewer interaction makes these early episodes fun to watch. It's fun to hear from what must have been some of the first MSTies.
My favorite riff: War has come to the Eskimo Village.
Overall: Not a bad episode. The laughs are on-par with some of the first season Comedy Channel episodes. Quite a feat since they seemed to be short staffed with Josh and Trace sitting out on the riffing. We're not at greatness, yet, but there's a little bit more of the MST3K magic in the theatre segments than there were in K04.
Rating: 4 out of 10.
MST3K Episode K05: Gamera (Tyrant's Take)
Once again, we get to watch as Gamera kicks butt and takes names. We also get to witness the inexplicable trend in Japanese monster movies of young children obtaining access to top secret government military installations and science experiments merely by meeting the star monster at some point in the movie. Does anyone care about child endangerment laws at all in these movies? Half the time the parents (or adoptive parents as is the case in this particular film) themselves are even present to watch their kid in continual danger. I don't know about anyone else's Mom, but mine would have been rushing me to the nearest bomb shelter or across the Canadian border if a giant turtle was stomping all over the US of A. There's also the trend of everyone in the movie somehow knowing the kid in question, just for his/her having, again, contact with the monster. I guess, logically, that's how they can just waltz onto military bases with no security clearance. I can see it now....
Guard #1: Who goes there?
Token Japanese Monster Movie Main Character Child (TJMMMCC for short): Oh hi! It's me, Kevin! I've been saved on ten different occasions by ten different giant monsters!
Guard #2: Oh that's right.
TJMMMCC: Just thought I'd pop by to see how the top secret government plan to blow up Mothra's egg sack is going. Speaking of, how's the wife? She have that baby yet?
Guard #1: Oh she's great. Any day now. Yeah, you get in there, scamp. They'll be starting any time now. Oh, and here. Here's some rubber gloves, They should protect you from the ungodly amounts of radiation near that nuclear reactor over there.
The picture resolution for the movie itself is not bad, considering it's black and white which minimizes the multiple recording distortion. The sound also seemed slightly better than K04's, and we could hear every line Joel had fairly clearly. Speaking of, he's a funny man on his own. There was about as much dead space in terms of riffing as in Gamera Vs Barugon, but when you consider that Joel didn't have the bots with him on this ep, it means he was doing 3xs the riffing to compensate. There's an amusing bit involving Crow being frozen and turned into a Christmas tree, which reminded me that I've actually got this very episode somewhere on VHS (but in way worse condition) that I got from a friend in college. The distortion was so bad on mine that I only ever watched it once, so this recording by comparison is far better despite the occasional tracking issues the original tape was evidently having.
Favorite line: "Ah, the ocean. Where all life began....." (this is a running gag throughout the ep).
Rating: 4.5 out 10 (for best stilted Japanese to English translation EVER)
MST3K Episode K06: Gamera Vs Gaos (Tyrant's Take)
From the depths of a cavern near a small village rises....GAOS!! A laser beam shooting, fire-extinguishing, nocturnal flying monster who really, really hates getting a tan. Our (anti) hero Gamera returns to fight off the beast, make friends with a small boy, and overall protect the planet (usually by doing as much damage as the monster he's fighting). Also, the grandfatherly leader of the small village feels threatened by the building of a road nearby.
This episode is full of firsts, and seems to be the Homo-erectus before the Homo-sapien of the Comedy Central material as it sets up what is more typical of a MST3K episode. The main thing is that there is far less dead space in terms of the riffing, even if it does still sound somewhat improvised. The biggest change is Tom's voice. Joel decides it's time for Tom to go through "puberty" and, in the first so far example of a true host segment bit (ie: does not involve viewer messages, is longer than most segments to date and was obviously rehearsed), he adjusts the robot's voice from the weird Kermit The Frog warble to the voice we all know and love (at least until Kevin Murphy takes over, wherein we all know and love again).
This also seems to be the first time Tom refers to himself as "Tom Servo", going only by Servo for the first couple of episodes (and even in the robot roll-call). With a grownup, radio-announcer like voice to go with a grownup name, Tom joins Joel in the theater to riff on the movie (Crow is still frozen, but starting to thaw). The Mads also show up for the first time in the actual content of the ep, but in a still shot only (thanks to JoshWay for making a note of this on his DVD cover).
My favorite riff:
Some bad editing in the movie makes it look like the grandfather/leader of the village moos like a cow. Moments later there's a callback to the scene when an unseen cow moos again...
"Grampa, shut up!"
Were they doing stingers at this point, this scene would be a definite contender.
This is an important episode for multiple reasons, and I would recommend that any MST3K fan wanting to skip over most of the earliest material should at least include this part in their viewing. The movie itself isn't bad either and is actually one of the best Gamera movies I've ever seen. The riffing occurs much more frequently so you're less likely to get pummeled with dead space and the overall feel of this episode is much more on par with what one expects of a typical early Comedy Central-era MST3K episode.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (we're not cooking yet, but we're starting to simmer)
MST3K Episode K06: Gamera Vs. Gaos (Pak's Take)
And the proto MST3K takes on yet another Gamera movie. I found it amusing that in the first host segment in the middle of 5 Gamera movies in a row, they chose to play a phone call from someone who thought 2 Gamera movies was "a little rediculous."
Here, we also get the change from the Kermit-The-Frog Servo into the more recognizable Tom Servo. I have to imagine doing the kermit voice for a couple hours straight was a litle taxing on Josh, and the change to something closer to his natural speaking voice was probably part that, and part making him easier to understand.
This Gamera movie has all the conventions. This time they take Gamera,. who eats fire, and pair him with Gaos, who can extinguish it. Gamera actually takes something of a beating in this one, but, as always, he returns to fight another day and is ultimately triumphant. This one also has the obligatory child who believes in Gamera and gets full military access as a result. I think "Kid who loves the title monster" is a couple ranks above "Four Star General" in Japan.
In this episode, Crow's still frozen, so we get our first 2-man riff with Joel and Servo. It definitely pays for Joel to have someone else in the theatre with him, and the increased tempo of riffing that we started to see in the last episode combined with a second riffer brings this episode way up to par. If it weren't for the improvised lines, this could easily have aired amongst Season 1's episodes.
Favorite Line: Same as Tyrant's. There really isn't anything better than old men mooing.
Overall: 5 out of 10.
MST3K Episode K07: Gamera Vs Zigra (Tyrant's Take)
From the planet Zigra comes....er...Zigra!!! A marine-type monster who can hypnotize beings into submission and wants to take over the Earth since humans are polluting it anyway. Fortunately, the Earth has Gamera, friend to all children and apparently a full-time hero now. There's also an environmental message throughout the movie about protecting the oceans. Zigra has one of the coolest monster designs ever, I might add.
Introducing the Gamera theme song. Legendary in the context of the movies, even more legendary after Joel and the Bots made their own lyrics. The full glory of the song isn't evident yet, but we all know it's coming. There's also the first 'real' appearance of the Mads in that they talk and are on camera and interact with Joel and everything. Being the Gen-Xer I am, I freaked out over the retro Pepsi cans they had on the desk in front of them.
Although the host segments are kept somewhat short and mostly involve viewer call-ins again, they're some of the funniest call-ins yet with one caller actually asking if it costs 50 cents to leave a message. Crow fully thaws during one of the segments and joins Joel and Tom, though the riffing is actually a little lighter this time around than in the last episode with just Joel and Tom. Also, being that this was their special News Years broadcast, Happy 1989!!!
My favorite riff(s):
Really hard to beat the revised Gamera theme song, although....
"Stretcher? Naw, let's keep them the same size...."
Also a really badly dubbed scene where an entire room full of people take turns shouting "Answer!!" into a microphone repeatedly (seriously, like 2-3 minutes of this). Finally Joel and one of the Bots respond,"What?!!"
This movie was so bad that it serves as a valuable reminder of what MST3K is all about. The story went no where, we never did find out if Zigra was a planet, ship, monster, or all 3. It was also one of the worst dubbed monster movies I've ever seen, and there wasn't just a little Japanese boy running around in really creepy short shorts, but also a little girl running around in really short dresses and shorts. And the ending? I'm not really sure there was one. Zigra and Gamera never have a real beat-down, and Gamera just kind of flies off after rescuing the humans by throwing a rock at Zigra's head. For a Gamera movie, it also had very little Gamera (I think he's on screen for a combined total of fifteen minutes). Although the riffing was good, it didn't come rapidly enough to stave off the pain of this terrible movie. Although it's got some cool firsts, this ep isn't quite as good as the last one and shows us that evolution sometimes has a few setbacks.
He may be really neat and full of turtle meat, but he barely shows up this time around.
Rating: 3 out of 10
MST3K Episode K07: Gamera Vs Zigra (Pak's Take)
One step forward and 2 steps back. Crow rejoins the crew of the SoL in the theater, but the riffing is scaled back to "every-now-and-then." It makes me wonder if, in this early phase, they were worried about stepping on each other's jokes, so everyone was waiting for someone else to say something. The mads get their first speaking lines, and they act and sound pretty much like they did in the early Comedy Central episodes. The movie, again, brings enough goofy to the table to get the viewer through the 2 hours in one sane piece. The space ship that Zigra hatches from looks like a gumball machine wearing the statue of liberty's crown.
There are some chase scenes that call to mind Shaggy and Scooby's most dignified moments, and once more there are children who can just waltz into restricted areas because they're tight with Gamera.
There's just something about the Gamera theme song that crawls into the deep recesses of your brain. I've been humming and whistling it all day without even realizing it.
All told, the riffing was OK, and there were a couple laugh out loud moments, but it wasn't up to par with last week's episode.
Favorite Riff: (After the line, "Bathyscope, we don't want you to die!") Tom chimes in with "We want you to suffer!" It works well with the delivery.
Overall: 3.5 out of 10.
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MST3K Episode K08: Gamera Vs. Guiron
3 Children: 2 boys and a younger girl, with hope of finding a world free of violence and uh.. traffic accidents.. take an outing into the woods where they find a Space Ship. Not heeding any of the younger girl's warnings or their own common sense, the 2 boys climb aboard, immediately figure out how to activate it, and take off for parts unknown. Fortunately, Gamera, friend to children that he is, is on the case and tags along to keep them out of trouble. Did I mention he's spaceworthy? Because I don't think any of the other Gamera movies did!
The children arive on an alien world that, it turns out, is always on the opposite side of the sun from us. It's inhabited by the obligatory space babes.
And it turns out they have a guardian of their own. A giant cleaver with legs!
When it turns out that this planet isn't the paradise the boys had hoped for, it's up to Gamera to save them! Meanwhile, on Earth, the girl and her goofy Policeman friend try to convince average, forward-thinking adults that the boys have taken off in a space ship.
We're closer than ever to obtaining true MST3K status. The riffing is fast-paced and funny. I get the sense that even if they weren't scripted yet, they'd at least watched the movie a couple times in advance to come up with some material. The movie is, again, goofy enough to be funny on its own. I may just have to pick up some non-MST3K'd Gamera movies to get my fix after this. This also marks the end of a 5 episode stretch of nothing but Gamera movies. It will be interesting to see how the old MST3K fares against non-giant-rubber-suited-monster movies.
The Host segments were also closer to normal host segments than ever. They all revolve around an amusing dream Crow had where he was the evil scientist forcing Dr. Erhardt and Forrester to watch bad movies.
Overall: Better riffing, more fleshed-out host segments, all three of them present in the theatre, and a movie that truly deserves it. This is just about on-par with anything in the first Comedy Central season. It's still a little rough, but we're seeing some nice progress.
Favorite Riff: Hey! They're riffing on their own movie!
Rating: 5 out of 10
MST3K Episode K08: Gamera VS Guiron (Tyrant's Take)
This may be the best Gamera movie yet, but not because it's good. This particular episode in the life of Gamera demonstrates absolute perfection when it comes to a terrible giant monster movie. It's got horrible, HORRIBLE voice dubbing for one thing. The two token little boy characters both look to be 8-10 years of age, yet their dubbed voices make them sound as though they're on the fringes of adolescence. I think I may have actually heard a pubescent voice crack once or twice in one of the lines. There's also the fact that not one voice actor managed to work in any kind of emotion or intonation at all into any of the lines. I think the dub recording was done in one take and everyone just read flatly from their scripts. I refuse to believe otherwise.
Unlike the previous Gamera films, the children don't get access to any top secret military installation. They do, however, discover a spaceship landed in a forest and, naturally, figure out in less than a minute how to activate it and fly it off into parts unknown. They run into Gamera in...space....(who knew he was space-faring? I sure didn't!) and then are pulled towards a mysterious planet called Terra which, conveniently, is undiscovered due to its entirely opposite position from Earth on the other side of the sun.
It's here that the movie gets kind of messed up. The kids watch Guiron, a giant, living meat cleaver splice and dice a "Space" Gaos into pieces before retiring to his underground chamber. As with the spaceship, the kids figure out in less than a minute how to work the alien teleportation chamber-thingies and beam themselves into an abandoned alien cityscape where they meet two female aliens that look remarkably human and are dressed in typical alien fashion worthy of any B-movie. I spent a good deal of the movie trying to figure out why one would need a light-up belt buckle. The sidestory takes place on Earth as one of the boy's sister tries to convince all the stupid adults around her that the two boys took off in a spaceship.
This movie has one of the best giant monster beat-downs in film history. Gamera earned a billion cool-points in my book by performing not only an Olympic level acrobatic pole routine:
...but also a WWF-styled piledriver on Guiron:
Nice, huh? Gamera proves he can kick ass and take names. All in the name of the children!!
As for the episode itself, I have to go with Pak here when I say that this episode comes the closest to feeling like an early Comedy Central ep. The riffing is frequent (and funny, though still kind of improved), and there are no call-ins in the host segments this time. The Mads are back in this ep and even feature into a dream Crow has about him sending them cheesy movies on the S.O.L. (Satellite Of Loathe in the dream). Also, Joel has cut his hair!!! Tom isn't featured heavily in the host bits this time around, showing up only for the first one and replaced by Gypsy for the rest of the ep.
This is also, sadly, the last Gamera movie for the KTMA run. However, we'll get to find out how the crew handles non-giant monster movies. Also, as a sidenote, the resolution and sound has become progressively better as we've advanced through these episodes. The first one is nearly unwatchable compared to this one in terms of picture quality.
Favorite Riff: "Be the first on your block to be the last on your block."
Rating: 6.5 out of 10. Lovely, lovely cheese in this one.
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MST3K Episode K09: Phase IV
The Movie: And we're out of Gamera country! Having escaped the clutches of the frient to all children, we find ourselves faced with an ant movie. Not giant ants either. Ordinary run-of-the-mill ants who decided to start thinking outside the box and start pushing humans around. Our movie begins as a grouchy research scientist and his laid back assistant investigate a claim of ants "doing things that ants aren't supposed to do." They interview the locals who are right in the middle of ant central, and set up base in a research lab. When the ants don't show, and when \whomever is funding the project and the audience starts to get impatient, they decide to shake things up by blowing up some of their ant-monoliths. Sure enough, the ants mount their attack that night and force the locals to flee for the research lab, and the research lab to form a parimeter with high-power insecticide. Unfortunately, it happens in that order and they end up killing all the locals except for their daughter. This leaves us with the grouchy scientist, who's starting to lose it, the girl, who has every excuse to lose it, and the laid-back scientist, who is trying not to lose it.
A typically cheery shot of the survivors
Then things get REALLY weird. The ants start creating yellow ants that are immune to the insecticide, and then actually decide to try psychological warfare. They start by building a series of mirrors (Yes, the ants) to redirect the sunlight toward the lab and fry their computers.
This makes the plot and everyone in it completely bonkers and the movie gets hard to follow, but I THINK the grouchy dude gets sick from an ant bite, laid-back dude figures out how to communicate with the ants via LOGO, and the girl decides she can end it all by sacrificing herself to the ants. It all culminates in an ending that calls to mind the less lucid moments in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Also, the movie informs us, at seemingly random intervals, when we have moved from one phase to another. I'm really not sure what the phases are. I don't know whether it refers to the ants or the scientists, but neither seems to change their tactics all that much from one phase to the next.
Really, this movie was an attempt to take a B-Movie plot and turn it into a photographic masterpiece. It fails, of course, and gets extremely bleak and hopeless while it does, all the while distracting us with images of people manipulating control panels and ants crawling all over things. After 5 whole Gamera movies, the first non-Gamera movie ends up the worst movie so far.
The Episode: Fortunately, the Riffing is kicked up several notches to compensate for the bleak movie. Oh, you'd better believe there are ant puns, but some of them are so perfectly placed you can't help but laugh. We're starting to see some chemisty between the crew of the SoL and we're starting to see Josh and Trace get used to their characters and starting to act a little more natural in the riffing. The host segments all revolve around the Bots learning Asimov's 3 laws of robotics. It's not comedy gold, but it's one step closer to a traditional host segment. The file we downloaded also included a couple neat bonuses. Commercials!
There's an interesting ad for Joel's comedy stand-up act.
It goes against my fan-boy heart to say it, but it really doesn't look all that good. Maybe the years have been unkind to '80s prop comedy, or maybe the local ad didn't capture the majesty of Joel's act, but I'm not sure if I'd see it based on the commercial we saw. (I WOULD, however, see it just because it's Joel. :^))
There's also an ad for a local Pizza place called Pizza and Pasta starring none other than the mads, in full character.
If a pizza place used MST3K to try to sell me Pizza, I know I'D buy it. :^)
Favorite Riff: The thing about ant language is that it's not just the words, it's the sem-ant-ics.
Overall: We're definitely on our way. This is the most MST3K-like episode to date, and it does admirably well against a bleak and pretentious movie. There's more riffing and it seems better organized. It feels like everyone's starting to get into the rhythm,
Rating: 6 out of 10
MST3K Episode K09: Phase IV (Tyrant's Take)
Now we head into non-Gamera territory with a movie about super-intelligent ants. I admittedly first thought it would be about giant super-intelligent ants for some reason. How wrong I was and honestly, giant super-intelligent ants would have made more sense and been far more interesting than regular sized super-intelligent ants. The movie mostly consists of more close-up ant footage than your average nature documentary. It would be quite boring for most viewers, but as an avid ant-lover (and really lover of all things insectoid), I experienced a sensation that bordered between mild amusement and mild boredom.
The movie follows a couple of scientists that are investigating the intelligence of the ants, though how/why they got that way is never fully explained. Actually, a lot of things in this movie are never explained which bloats the storyline up with nebulous twists and obtuse motivations for the main characters. The narrative scenes with the ants are semi-well done. For example, we can put together that the yellow insecticide the scientists use on the ants is eventually consumed by the queen to make her offspring immune to it, and it's explained using nothing more than footage of ants transporting an insecticide particle into the nest. The end of the movie is about as anti-climatic as a movie can get, complete with a short scene that makes you wonder if you might be high on weed or not.
Drug hallucination, or simply the end of Phase IV? And what was Phase IV anyway? The movie really only showed phases II and III, and we're still now sure what those were.
The ep itself is basically in the same holding pattern as the last couple of eps, with speaking parts from the Mads, decent riffing with Joel and the Bots, and an amusing host segment featuring the Bots learning about the laws of robotics. As Pak mentioned, the real gold is the inclusion of snippits of Joel's stand up routine as a commercial, and some sponsorship for a pizza place by the Mads. Nothing really new or groundbreaking here, other than the captives of the SoL tackling a movie that doesn't feature a giant, destructive turtle. Ant puns abound in decent proportion, some of them really good, others constructed to make you groan and roll your eyes. All in all, this ep is good fun.
Favorite riff: Many ant puns to choose from, and impossible to choose between them....
Rating: 7 out of 10. Nice to be getting into different kinds of movies now, though this film made me miss Gamera.
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MST3K Episode K10: Cosmic Princess (Tyrant's Take)
The Movie: This movie is actually two back-to-back episodes of Space 1999. For the uninitiated, Space 1999 was a TV series back in the mid 70s that realistically portrayed a situation involving the moon being blown out of Earth's orbit along with the people living on it in a moon base. Bummer. The first half of the movie has the moon base crew dealing with an alien who wants to harvest their brain energy to feed his bio-computer to somehow resurrect his home planet. His shape shifting daughter also runs around turning into birds and things. The second half of the movie is mostly the shape shifting woman going nuts and turning into all kinds of grotesque monsters and overall being a real pain in the butt for the crew. As a side story, the moon base captain and his pal are trapped on the other side of a space warp and are trying to get back to the moon base.
Also featured is what may be the best chase sequence ever put to film: A horrible creature running in graceful slow motion on the surface of the moon while two people in space suits chase it also in slow motion in a moon buggy to the tune of some serious disco music. Then one of the space suited people makes a flying leap at the monster to knock it over. It's awesome.
And lots of people grimacing.....
The Episode: Joel and the Bots are in rare form this time around, paving the way for some of the best episodes being those riffing sci-fi movies. Especially amusing is the start of the ongoing issue regarding Tom's head. It simply won't stay put and is even missing when Joel and the bots go into the theater for a short time. You can tell the problem was improvised, but it looks like they stuck with it. Of all the pre-Comedy Central era eps, this one feels the most like typical MST3K fare yet, with another appearance from the Mads (might as well stop mentioning this, since it seems they're keepers from now on) and somewhat loosely scripted host segments. It seems the call-in segments are being phased out, since there were none in the last episode and none in this one, either. Charming as they were, it seems they've given way to to the more typical host segment by now with no indications they'll return.
Favorite Riff: "This is not the time nor the place. Well, not the time, at least."
"Well, we paid for the special effects, and we're gonna use em!"
Also, again, best chase sequence put to film EVER.
Overall: This is my personal favorite episode to date from the KTMA era because it's genuinely funny instead of just being cute regarding most of the riffs. Also, Tom's head falls off, which is pretty sweet.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
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MST3K Episode K10: Cosmic Princess (Pak's Take)
The progress continues on into episode K10. The movie is wonderful MST3K fare. The acting is cheesy, the costumes are questionable, and there's an undignified chase between a moon-buggy and a space monster.
The episode is a harbinger of things to come with the movie's subject matter being very much on par with anything they showed from Episode 101 on up and the riffing is more frequent and better paced. It still suffers from the improv nature of the show at the time, but they really seemed to be getting good at it by this point,
This episode also marked the first of many times Tom Servo would lose his head. It seems to have been by accident, and Tom's rage at crow for talking him into doing the stunt that made him lose his head was very nicely played on Josh's part. It was especially cool that they duct taped his head back on during the theatre sequence afterward, and then he had the tape on his head the whole rest of the episode.
Favorite Line(s): Numerous "Land of Dairy Queen" jokes.
Overall: 6 out of 10
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MST3K Episode K11: Humanoid Woman (Tyrant's Take)
Fashion abounds in this film.
The Movie: A mysterious woman with weird hair is found inside a derelict spacecraft amongst the remnants of what was obviously a cloning project. She's taken to Earth to be cared for by a family, learn about watermelons and be integrated into human society. She soon starts to display some startling, strange abilities like the ability to skiff over grass and rearrange furniture by widening her eyes. With large chunks of her memory missing, she's unable to tell her new family just what she is and where she's from, though it soon becomes fairly obvious she's alien. Anyone who thought that aliens visiting Earth might be confused by some of our fashion trends, like baggy jeans with exposed boxer shorts and brightly colored mo hawks, may change their minds when they get a load of the facial hair trends of the good folks from the alien planet in this film. I suggested to Pak that he might want to try the look at some point. Though made in Chekoslovakia, this film reminds me strongly of the Mike Meyers German bit, "Sprockets", from Saturday Night Live. Those who've seen both will know why. If you want to see what may be the lamest robots ever put on screen too, this movie also delivers.
The Episode: The crew of the SoL gets a taste of foreign film making that, for once, didn't originate from Japan. It features what may be the funniest host bit yet as the crew plays tag with each other, and Tom falls in love with a blender. Also, the first notation of the MST3K fan club instead of the usual Talk to Joel number is flashed. Fan grumblings about how annoying Dr.Earnhardt can be in the KTMA eps is also fully realized in this particular episode, as he channels Beavis' voice/laugh like never before.
Favorite Riff: "I feel an Eurythmics video coming on."
"Sweet dreams are made of these....."
Overall: Weird movies are possibly the best choice for a show like this (other than giant monster fare), and given the motif of the KTMA eps vs the later Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel material, it makes me wish this movie had been done later on under the more structured writing and filming protocols. Although the riffing is very good, there were many openings in this movie that didn't get taken advantage of with the semi-improved lines.
Rating: 5 out of 10.
MST3K Episode K11: Humanoid Woman (Pak's Take)
This movie, as the title suggests, is about a woman who resembles a human being. When a clone-gal is discovered in outer space, it's decided she should live with a rich family and a robot for a few days. Turns out she has the power to speed up the film, move furnature, and splatter watermelons. After several shots of what can only be called frollicking, the plot is moved along when the titular woman stows away on a mission to space, and things go from confusing to incomprehensible!
Joel and the bots are really starting to hit their stride at this point. The still-improvisational nature of the show keeps them from really hitting any jokes out of the park, but the rhythm of the jokes is really starting to match future endeavors. Usually a riff every 10 seconds or so, or whenever the movie seems to invite it. The movie, again, was strange enough to carry itself, so a goodly amount of laughter is a sure thing. The host segments are getting better as well. I particularly enjoyed the game of tag between Joel and the Bots. If this was in reference to the aforementioned frollicking, this might be the first movie-related host segment. It could be coincidence, though, and the ties to the film are a bit tenuous.
Favorite Riff: It's so corny... They're Corn Czechs!
Overall: 6 out of 10
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MST3K Episode K12: Fugitive Alien (Pak's Take) MST3K Episode K12: Fugitive Alien (Totally Not A Star Wars Movie) (Tyrant's Take)
The Movie: Yet another treat brought to us courtesy of Sandy Frank! This time, instead of giant monsters, it's invaders from space. The film starts in the middle of an alien invasion that seems to be going fairly well. (The aliens are all piloting ships that TOTALLY aren't X-Wings)
The invading force is causing the appropriate amount of mayhem, until the titular Alien, Ken, is asked to shoot a child to prevent him from growing up into a strong enemy (The alien's words. Not mine.) This is all well and good, until it turns out the child is also named Ken! This causes alien-invader-Ken to completely wig out and kill his partner instead. Once the invading force gets wind of this, the evil alien boss (Here he is:)
marks Ken (The invader) as an enemy. Now on the run, he is a FUGITIVE ALIEN! Hence the title. Ken escapes Earth in his totally-not-an-X-Wing and is attacked by several other totally-not-X-Wings.
When his ship (Not an X-Wing) is damaged in combat, he's left for dead in the icy cold of space. A passing troop of Earth soldiers picks him up. Ken must have really been through some trauma in the battle, because when the crew finds him, he's gone from this:
No real in-movie explanation. Not even a cheap excuse. This film was spliced from 2 other movies, and this is simply the point at which we leave movie A and enter movie B. As a result everything up until now is completely forgotten. The alien attack fades into the background. The alien boss is never seen again. The only purpose for movie A was to get Ken nice and traumatized so he can join this plucky team of rag-tag Earth Soldiers!
The rest of the movie chronicles their mission on a planet of middle-easterners and reveals a dark secret about Ken's past! Do not reveal the secret ending to Fugitive Alien!
The Episode: Trace seems to have been otherwise occupied during the filming of this episode, so it's just Joel and Tom again this time around. The riffing slips back a few notches. Most of the riffs are long, tangental riffs that mostly revolve around Joel and Tom playing off eachother and quoting tenuously-related songs and gags. They knock a few laughs out of the park, but it's not quite up to par with the last couple episodes. Joel also seems to be strangely energetic in his delivery this episode. Normally sleepy-voiced, in this episode there are moments where he sounds like he's had a few pots of double-cappuccino. He's almost gameshow-host like, which is amusing, but makes the episode feel just a little off. Maybe he was in a good mood that week.
Favorite Riff: (Used repeatedly after several different lines) Sounds Painful.
Overall: Japanese films always make the best background for riffing. The odd voice acting and stilted dialogue often carries itself, leaving little for the riffers to do (Which is a good thing if you're down by one man). The riffing was a little off, but the movie was exactly the kind of train wreck one expects when sitting down to an episode of MST3K.
My Score: 4 out of 10.
Definately not X-wings.
This is totally not a movie inspired by Star Wars. Seriously. The movie begins with acrobatic blond-haired, insect-helmeted aliens invading Earth for some reason never explained in the movie. One of the aliens decides not to kill a kid because he's got the same name as him (Ken, or I would imagine, Kenneth. An alien named Kenneth.....). As such, he's suddenly put on the alien leader guy's hit list, and we've got our title. Ken (or as I like to
call him, Kenny) morphs into a fairly normal looking Japanese guy with black hair and is taken in by a surly starship captain and his crew of lovable rejects.
This movie has a "To Be Continued" clause at the end, meaning there's more to the story than what we got with this ep of MST3K. The directing is actually fairly decent, with what would have been some nice ship and battle scenes if only there had been a larger budget to afford better blue screen effects. One can tell the director was inspired heavily by....oh....what's his name....George something something.....The aliens are totally not flying X-Wings, though.
The ep itself is more of the same, basically. Dr.Forrester doesn't show up, however, because "he's in Vegas" (whether Trace really was in Vegas or just needed a week off is something we'll probably never know for sure). Naturally, Crow sits this one out. Joel and Tom still have their one-on-one chemistry and can still punch out some decent riffing without their third wing-bot. The picture quality seemed a little off to me this time around, after a few eps appearing marginally decent. Beggars can't be choosers, however, and this is actually one of my favorite eps of the KTMA era just for including another Sandy Frank production.
Favorite Riff: (As tons of people are being killed on screen by the aliens) "We're not even through the credits yet. They've wasted 40 people...."
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (highly enjoyable if you're into Japanese monster/sci fi films)
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MST3K Episode K12: Fugitive Alien (Totally Not A Star Wars Movie) (Tyrant's Take)
MST3K Episode K13: SST Death Flight (Tyrant's Take)
You'd think ticket sales would have been lower for a plane called "SST Death Flight".
The Movie: A typical 1970's disaster movie featuring a high tech plane (which, going just by the title, is doomed to crash) piloted by Robert Reed and passengers that all happen to know each other and have personal issues going on. A dude that one can assume was in charge of engineering sabotages the hydraulic system by putting detergent into it, corroding the seals and making sure the plane's maiden voyage will be much like the Titanic's. To make matters worse, a doctor is transporting vats of a terrible flu virus on the plane, which naturally gets cracked open at some point and results in the crew and passengers having to make a difficult moral decision about where to crash later on towards the end. The movie is sprinkled generously with some well-known actors like Peter Graves, Billy Crystal, Lorne Greene, and the dude who played Q in ST:TNG.
"Florence honey, I'll be home by 9. And tell all your damn kids to stay out of my stash."
The Ep: Dr.Forrester returns from Vegas, sporting tons of cash, a new car, and a nice gift basket for his annoying Beavis-voiced lab partner (seriously, you just want to strangle him until he goes away). Gypsy gets a voice change momentarily thanks to Tom throwing his voice, Crow and Joel conduct an experiment on Tom so he knows what pain feels like (stubbing a toe is minor, an ep of Arsenio Hall is major), and we witness the return of the fan mail segment .
Buy a new lab partner. Please.
Favorite Riff: "Hey, I can see the Grand Canyon!"
Overall: I counted more gut busting riffs in this ep than any to date, proving what I've known my entire life: 70's disaster movies are fertile ground for jokes. The plot was ridiculously over done while at the same time engaging enough that you're rooting for certain characters to survive/not survive. It's the first KTMA episode where I was truly intrigued by the movie itself along with enjoying Joel and the bots, and therefore I ordain this episode to be the most balanced of the lot so far. Also, I detected the faint hint of what might possibly be actual writing in the content of the riffs. They didn't seem quite as improved as usual just due to the timing of several lines.
"Well, here's to me."
Rating: 8 out of 10.
MST3K Episode K13: SST Death Flight (Pak's Take)
MST3K takes on the disaster movie with a film starring just about everyone who was ever on Nick-At-Nite pre 1995. Doomed, sabotaged flight:: check. Top secret, barely aerodynamic plane:
Check! Highly contageous virus aboard: Check. Lots of relationships on thin ice: Check! Peter Graves: Check! (Unfortunately, this episode predated Peter Graves' run on Biography, so the running gag could not yet be born.) As Tyrant mentioned, this episode shows a lot of signs of being scripted. The timing of the jokes is always spot on, and Joel even appears to flub a line at some point. It does wonders for the show and the Riffing is top notch from start to finish. The film was fun too. Not bad as much as it was horribly cliche, and starring a lot of recognizable faces, and even more faces that you almost recognize from that film where they were in that thing with the one guy. The riffing is the best it's been thus far, and it doesn't even need to rely too much on the movie's goofiness.
Favorite Riff: Movie: If only he could learn to act more like a normal human being...
Crow: He wouldn't be in this movie.
Close Second: Joel: This is like a parody of the movie Airplane!
Overall: 7 out of 10
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MST3K Episode K14: Mighty Jack (Tyrant's Take)
The Movie: Mighty Jack is the codename for Japan's highly daring special mission force. It's purpose: to defend human freedom from Q, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.
*sings* "He never gives up. He'll stay til the fight's won. Mighty Jack will dare! G.I. Joooeee....wait...what?"
An organization named "Q" attempts to take over the world. Standing between it and certain conquest is Mighty Jack, a very non-descript team that rides around in a boat and a water-to-air jet. The leader of Q is everything you'd expect out of a James Bond film, complete with a white cat that sits in his lap. Only he's not nearly as cool. There's also a guy who plays guitar and isn't Japanese. I forget what his role was, and I wish I cared enough to try to remember. There's lots of double crossing and people running around, too.
That's not a transforming robot at all.
The Ep: The mads have an argument about changing their letter head, and Earnhardt loses his Beavis voice in the process (which is, unfortunately, only temporary). Joel and the Bots discuss games they can play after a round of bowling, including "Murder Ball" which resembles a really lame version of tag, and "Rock, Scissors, Paper". Also, Joel learned that Crow and Tom can "smell", despite not building either to do so. The host segments are important in that they keep you from falling asleep from the movie. Picture quality isn't spectacular this time around, and some of the scenes white out completely, making it impossible to see what's going on. You can tell Joel and the Bots have fun with Sandy Frank productions, seeing as the majority of the movies up til now have been such. The riffing is spot on, as always, but you find yourself wishing you were hearing it to the glorious sounds of giant monsters.
This boat doesn't transform into a robot either.
Overall: I'll be honest here. Even Joel and the bots can't stop this ep from being slow and boring. Although the only good parts are the ones with them in it. The movie is, how shall I say it tactfully, craptacular. The pace is slow and monotonous (there are several riffs about this), and Pak and I were waiting with bated breath for The Mighty Jack team vehicles to merge into a giant robot at the end for at least some small payoff for our patience. This, very disapointingly, never happened. There were also no giant fighting monsters, either. There were some very funny lines which managed to hold our attention on the ep, but it overall just wasn't enough to pad the deep hurting this movie caused.
Totally not a James Bond villain rip-off.
Favorite Riff: "All this action and we haven't even seen the credits yet!"
Movie: "How could you do this? My own son!!"
Riff: "Yes, my German son. Of Japanese ancestry."
Rating: 3 out of 10
MST3K Episode K14: Mighty Jack (Pak's Take)
Mighty Jack is not a movie about a mighty lumberjack, nor is it a movie about a man named Jack with awesome superpowers. Mighty Jack, it turns out, is a Japanese team of freedom fighters who pilot awesome vehicles. Had I known that these vehicles were not destined to turn into a giant robot named Mighty Jack, I might not have watched with the sense of hope that I did. I spent most of the movie thinking to myself, "Well when this flying submarine transforms into an awesome robot, all this boring, clumsy espionage will pay off! But there is no giant robot in this particular Japanese movie. Just the aforementioned clumsy espionage. Sadly, there's little Joel and the bots can do to save it either. This was the first episode of MST3K where I felt like the crew had simply gotten in over their heads. Maybe this is why they decided to revisit it in Season 3 after they'd shapened up their chops (Oh my gosh. I just realized I have to watch Mighty Jack again!) For now, though, this was too little story and, too soon for them to take it on.
Favorite Riff: Ominous Voice: Mr. Atari...
Mr. Atari: What do you want?
Crow: A free game!
Overall: 3 out of 10
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MST3K Episode K15: Superdome (Pak's Take)
The Movie: The Superbowl is in 3 days, but can the Cougars win when one of their star players is going through a relationship crisis, and there's a mysterious terrorist killing off key team members? I'd hoped that the combination of made-for-TV goodness, and the star power of the likes of Dick Butkus and Tom Selleck would provide a pleasantly cheesy experience like Deathflight SST provided. There's just not enough happening in this movie. The marital struggles of one of the football players actually turns out to be the most interesting thing going on here, and if you're hoping for football of any kind to show up in this movie, forget it. You don't even get to find out who won (Much to Tom Servo's dismay.)
The Episode: We have our first (And to my knowledge, our only) clip show! The host segments all revolve around Tom Servo writing a letter "To Whom it May Concern" about his experiences on the SoL. Most of the host segments just flash back to previous host segments, but there's a very amusing host segment where Tom remembers Joel acting like a jerk to the bots. It's completely out of character for Joel which makes it hilarious to watch and has the awesome line, "Listen, I'm not really this way, it's just Servo's perception of me."
Overall: This was another move that just didn't have enough material for Joel and the bots to work with. There's a point late in the movie where everyone seems to give up on the whole episode (See Below.) There's less dead air than there was in Mighty Jack, and they manage to nail a few good riffs, but this was still a hard episode to get through.
Best Riff: Crow: Boy, this thing turned out to be a real yawnfest.
Servo: Who are you talking to? Most of our viewers have tuned out by now anyway.
Overall: 4 out of 10
MST3K Episode K16: City on Fire (Tyrant's Take)
As Pak has mentioned, this movie is about a city on fire.
Here's the city:
And here's the same city, but on fire:
As with all true disaster films, there are several plots involving relationship issues and what not going on with the flaming destruction of the city as a backdrop. Plots like a mayor with a severe common sense disorder, an egotistical doctor with a heart of gold, an alcoholic newscaster who proves her mettle, and a nurse who likes to yell. Also, lots and lots of people on fire.
There was so much fire in this movie that we didn't even want hot chocolate while watching it, and it was below freezing outside at the time.
The episode has kind of a cold open. Instead of cutting to Joel and the robots on the SoL before the movie is introduced, the Mads lead into it themselves. I had a fleeting thought they might be riffing the movie until the familiar silhouettes showed up in the theater. Joel shows off one of his more dangerous props to the robots, and this scene is probably the beginning of the evolution of the invention exchange that we wouldl all come to know and love soon.
Overall, I would say that this is the type of movie MST3K was created for. One which is incredibly stupid, but fun with plenty of material to riff on. After the last couple of episodes being a bit weak in both host bits and chosen movies (they even admitted it in Superdome), this one gets the show back on track. There was no might in Mighty Jack, and no football in Superdome, but there was definitely fire in City on Fire.
Favorite Riff (s): "It's the scent I love."
"I hope those guys know not to take him back to the hospital."
Rating: 8.5 out of 10. I love stupid disaster movies.