"Who Done It" is one of my favorite Abbott & Costello movies. It features them at their peak, has a lot of laughs, a great supporting cast (including William Bendix, Mary Wickes, Walter Tetley, Thomas Gomez and Don Porter), and some surprisingly dark & mysterious atmosphere. They even throw in a couple of gags that lean on the fourth wall, as they say. Frank commentary is good, too. In addition to going over the movie itself, he talks about his liking for Abbott & Costello's work, differences in the various movie comedy teams of that period, and how the central mystery in the movie makes no sense (and how the viewer shouldn't care about that). Good stuff; in fact, I bought a box set of A&C's Universal comedies so I could get this movie and this commentary. (I must admit I waited until it was on sale at a discount.)
The "MST Hour Host Segments" were good, too. Mike is hilarious as "Jack Perkins". While his intros to the movies are funny, the bits he does during the closing credits (from playing catch with a stagehand to chasing said stagehand around the set)are good, too. If only Alistair Cooke had tried something like that!
Another good result this time. Now, here's week 14. For the Outsiders, the selection is..."CT: Rattlers"... -Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes? ...and for the Originals, it's..."Samson and the Vampire Women" (Show 624). -Safe journey, Frank!
Just wanted you to know, at least some people are reading this, and I for one am enjoying it. One of my problems is I have so many episodes I haven't watched that I can't decide what to watch, but this thread gives me a goal to watch each week. Your original choice for this week is one of my favorite episodes so far, and I am definitely watching it again before your next post.
Thanks for the encouragement. I really appreciate it.
So, how'd it go with week 14? "Rattlers" is one low-grade movie. It's low budget filler that, once upon a time, was a staple of the Saturday afternoon horror movie shows on Channel 5 and/or Channel 11 back in the day. About the only really surprising thing in it is the movie's going against the principle of keeping the younger characters safe. Otherwise, there's the standard bland hero, the sexual tension that vanishes pretty quickly, the openly sinister government types, and snake attacks that are funny due to the snakes being darn near everywhere. I first saw this at an actual CT live show; I think it was at the McCarter in Princeton. Once again, the Titans do a great job with the riffing, including a few nice callbacks to their previous gig (and Josh's all-but-traditional David Carradine joke). I'm glad they got this one on DVD. (Still waiting on the others, of course.)
As for "Samson vs. the Vampire Women", this was another funny one. There are some creepy moments, and the female leads (post-transformation) hold one's interest. And, costume aside, I kind of prefer that the world's supernatural menaces be kept at bay by a big, no-nonsense wrestler who doesn't go all angsty over the job. The host segments, dealing with Frank's departure, were good, too. Nice to see Frank get a somewhat happy ending, and Forrester's song worked well. And, of course, the riffing was great.
Good double bill this time. So, what's on for week 15? The selection for the Outsiders is..."Group Therapy"... -The cast talks about the ordeal that is "Manos". ...and the Originals selection is..."Last of the Wild Horses". -Your agonizer, please!
Sorry, I'm a bit late with this. I'm on vacation at my ancestral home somewhere in PA, so I'm a little off-schedule. Anyway, week 15...
"Group Therapy" only lasts around 20 minutes, but it's very interesting. Frank, Trace, Joel & Mary Jo sit around and talk about "Manos". More specifically, their thoughts about the movie and how tough it was to write the episode around it. It's a good talk, in that they don't pile on a lot of hate for the movie, and can look at it if not fondly, at least with some smiles. I admit was surprised that Frank didn't know the story of the bet that inspired the movie. And there was a good laugh over their views on where the movie crossed the line. A nice supplement to the episode.
As for "Last of the Wild Horses", I agree with the riff that pretty much everyone in this movie isn't all that smart. From the hero who goes out of his way to incriminate himself, to the disabled cattle baron who all but begs to get killed, nobody here is very bright. And, let's not get started about Remedy. The host segments, however, are among my favorites. The "Mirror, Mirror" spoof is perfect, and well-researched (like the lines accurately used from the episode, and adding a Sulu-like scar to Crow's beak). And I'm glad that GoodServo finds that "Joey the Lemur" song as annoying as I do. Funny stuff all around.
This turned out well. So, week 16. The Outsiders selection is... "Rifftrax Shorts: Vol. 1 (1st half)"... - For those of you who don't understand the concepts of safety, patriotism and shopping. ... and the Originals selection is..."Untamed Youth" (Show 112)". - Mamie Van Doren. 'nuff said.
The Rifftrax shorts were very funny. The group included "Down and Out" (learn about workplace safety with the clumsiest man EVER), "Patriotism" (learn about patriotism with Bob Crane and a really poorly constructed sentence), "Buying Food" (Learn about shopping with a guy who'll buy just about anything), "Skipper Learns a Lesson" (learn about racism from a racist dog) and "Right or Wrong" (learn about moral choices from a rather unresolved situation). A very good collection.
As for "Untamed Youth", it was the first JD drama on the show. As I noted in the Satellite News episode guide, the work farm in the movie doesn't seem all that bad. Sure, the food is bad and the inmates are overworked, but there are light-hearted nightly sock hops, with an in-house combo. Things could be worse. The riffing is good; by the late first season, they were starting to really adjust to the new routine of scripted riffing. The host segments were alright, though not top notch. It was a funny enough outing.
One good, one average. And on to week 17. The Outsiders selection is... "My (Educational) Short Life"... - A brief segment featuring Joel. ...and the Originals selection is..."Shorts (Vol. 2)". - Wonder what these will teach us...
"My (Educational) Short Life" is a segment from the Shout 2-disc release of "Manos". (You can find it on the disc with the original movie, in the "Jam Handy to the Rescue" section.) It only lasts about 9 minutes, but it's a nice segment with Joel. He talks about how the original premise for the Comedy Channel led to the use of educational shorts on MST3K, as well as his memories of watching similar shorts during his school days. I thought it was very interesting.
"Shorts (Vol. 2)" is, for my copy, a Rhino VHS release I inherited from South Plainfield Library after we ditched our VHS collection. (Ah, the perks of my job.) It's different from the first such collection, as there are no intros from Tom Servo. They just have the shorts, themselves: "Catching Trouble", "What to Do on a Date", "Last Clear Chance", "A Day at the Fair", "Keeping Clean" and "Days of Our Years". While the shorts are funny, I wish they'd included related host segments. I mean, "Catching Trouble" is so bad that we need to see "Catching Ross", and "Last Clear Chance" is even funnier when Trooper Tom shows up.
I'd say things went OK this time. So, let's go to week 18. And the Outsiders selection is... "Swing Parade" (with Mike commentary)... - Featuring the Three Stooges, to an extent. ...and the Originals selection is... "The Deadly Bees" (Show 905). - No, I haven't seen the dog's meat.
"Swing Parade" is an OK movie, I thought. It's got a good roster of songs and nice production values. Problem is, the movie is more or less average. It's just like nearly every other romantic musical comedy movie of that era. And the Stooges (on loan to Monogram from their usual Columbia home base) aren't allowed to really shine. Part of it is because they're just standard comedy relief rather than the stars of the show; their roles could've been filled by nearly any comedians or comedy teams of that period. Also, as I understand it, Curly was in poor health at the time, so he is unusually subdued. The movie's not bad; it's just...average. Mike's commentary for this one is pretty much all riffs, putting aside the film facts he'd added to his earlier solo efforts. It's good, but I think the full Rifftrax treatment with Mike, Kevin & Bill turned out better.
"Deadly Bees" is also not a bad movie. After all, it's from Amicus, which was Hammer's main competition back in the day for the British horror movie market. The problem with "Deadly Bees" is that it's just too unpleasant. The movie needlessly kills off Tess the cute dog, then graphically kills off Mrs. Hargreaves. It also goes too far in making Hargreaves such a jerk, while not giving us any reason to doubt that Manfred is a wacko. And Vicki is just too naïve. Still, the movie does feature Michael Ripper, who seemed to be in every movie Hammer or Amicus made at that time. The riffing was very funny, though while they did recognize Lord Melbury from "Fawlty Towers", they didn't recognize Mr. Walt, the second guy Basil thought was a hotel inspector. (Yeah, I'm nitpicking. What of it?) The host segments, with the return of the other Observers, were good, too.
Unremarkable movies this time, but nothing really awful. So, let's move on to week 19. The Outsiders selection is..."The Last Flight of Joel Robinson"... - That's Joel talking about his departure from the show. ...and the Originals selection is..."Teenage Strangler" (Show 514). - No, I didn't steal that bike.
"The Last Flight of Joel Robinson" is a special feature on the "Mitchell"/"Brain That Wouldn't Die" DVD. It only lasts about 10:30, but it's well-produced (especially the opening). Joel, Trace & Kevin talk about making Joel's last show as host. They note that the movie was picked almost at random, but proved to be a perfect fit. They also talk about selecting Mike as host, and Joel's last message from "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" (which Joel still mispronounces). It's a very interesting segment.
As for "Teenage Strangler", as well as the "Is This Love?" short, we get an MST mainstay: "teenagers" that are somewhat past those years. The short is very funny, and surprisingly unresolved. The movie, which has been said to look like a town's community theater project, is less than successful. The plot, like "Girl in Lovers Lane", is begging for a fan fiction rewrite where the murders are averted. The drag race isn't exactly exciting, and do I really need to bring up Mikey? Still, the riffing was great, and the "Janitor Song" is one of the best. And, since it's an early Mike ep, we still have the Invention Exchange and Mike trying to be in charge, sort of. Lousy movie, but a great experiment.
Things didn't go too bad this time. So, on to week 20. The Outsider selection is..."ConventioCon II Highlights: BBI Tour"... - Should we have asked for Babs? ...and the Originals selection is..."The Indestructible Man" (Show 409). - With a non-lycan Lon Chaney, Jr.
Late again, sorry. My work schedule has been nutsy this week, and it's thrown me off. Anyway, let's look at week 20.
The BBI Tour video was good. It's fan-made, so it's not really polished. But it did bring back memories of when I took the tour, also during ConventioCon II. I remember the sets, the props, the big "Fire Paul" note on the blackboard. I'd worked in TV for a few years at the time (and many years since), so I wasn't surprised by how different it looked in real life. Nice video, I thought. (By the way, a few years ago during one visit to the Eden Prairie area, I made a bit of a pilgrimage to the industrial park that once housed BBI. I resisted the urge to bother those in the surrounding offices for their memories. I did, though, notice a couple of cars bearing MST3K stickers,)
As for "Indestructible Man", it features Lon Chaney Jr. at a low point (but not the lowest point) in his career. The story is somewhat interesting, but it's poorly made. Plus, we get too much of a focus on Casey Adams as the detective rather creepily pursuing Butcher's old girlfriend in looooong scenes that even bothered Joel. Part 2 of "Undersea Kingdom" was better, if only because things kept moving, and the print used by the show had been clumsily edited to finish early. While the movies weren't good, the ep is great. The host segments are funny, and the riffing is top notch (though they still don't realize Joe Flynn wasn't in "The Boatniks"). I particularly liked the "Playboy After Dark" style for the Mads' invention, and Officers Mike & Kevin's appearance at the end. The series was at it's Joel era peak, and it shows.
Well, pretty much OK this time. So, on to Week 21. The Outsiders selection is... "RT Live: House on Haunted Hill"... - Llllllllllllllladies! ...and the Originals selection is... "Lost Continent" (Show 208). - Ugh! Rock climbing!
The RT Live version of "House on Haunted Hill" turned out well. The riffing was great, and the movie is actually pretty good. (Hey, a William Castle movie with Vincent Price? Of course it's pretty good!) The addition of Paul F. Tompkins (whom I'm not really familiar with) was OK, and set up a nice gag during the movie. Both shorts were great, with "Paper & I" coming across as paper's answer to "A Case of Spring Fever", and "Magical Disappearing Money" making me afraid who'll turn up next time I buy name brands at A&P.
As for "Lost Continent", shorten the rock climbing scenes and you'd be left with...a not really good movie. But it would've been less tedious. At least the composer and the cast (except Sid Melton) give a good effort. The riffing is OK, given the material. And the host segments were good; I liked the pre-game pep talk opening, and Mike as Hugh Beaumont was top notch. Still...rock climbing, Joel. Rock climbing.
One good, one survivable this time. So, let's move to week 22. The Outsiders selection is..."Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: A Taste of Hell From on High"... - Guest-starring Joel! ...and the Originals selection is..."Soultaker" (Show 1001). - Guest-starring Joel and Frank!
Oh, boy, I'm really late this time. I've been worriedly keeping an eye the storm track. Anyways...
"Comedians in Cars..." with Joel was quite good. Basically, Jerry Seinfeld and his friend Joel drive over to Jersey (in a cool Karmann Ghia) and go to the Sunset Diner in Edison (which is not too far away from me). And they talk about a whole lot of things, from "Mad Men" to ketchup bottles to cars. It only lasts about ten minutes, but it's really funny. And the diner looks really cool; I'll have to get over there sometime.
As for "Soultaker", it's actually not too bad a movie. The basic premise is interesting, and there are some good touches in the movie. It's just the inconsistencies in the script (like the widely-recognized way that Joe Estevez's character gets knocked out with a golf club, but isn't affected by a shotgun blast) and some insufficient production values that hamper it. Personally, I think an improved remake might just work. As for the episode, the riffing is great, and it features one of my favorite bits, Crow's search for the Visine and its aftermath. Joel and Frank's cameos were really great, too.
Definitely a good experience this time. So, week 23. For the Outsiders selection, I'm going outside the rotation for..."Rifftrax Live: Miami Connection". - I missed the Thursday remote (the Somerset Patriots baseball team was in the championship), but I'll catch the Tuesday repeat. I haven't read any comments on this one, nor have I seen the original movie. And, for the Originals, the selection is..."Hercules and the Captive Women" (Show 412). - This weekend is dedicated to Uranus!
The Rifftrax Live show for "Miami Connection" went very well. The opening title cards were funny, as always, and the songs were catchy. The short, featuring Measuring Man, was a scream; I can only hope they'll find other shorts in that series. The brief teaser for the upcoming "Santa & the Ice Cream Bunny" show looked promising. And, as for the main feature, "Miami Connection" was pretty inept; I guess that's the best way to put it. Poorly shot and acted, with a rather nonsensical premise (martial artist boy band vs. redneck thugs and a ninja drug cartel?). It also featured many things about the 80's that I, a child of the 70's, was trying to forget. Great riffing, though.
And "Hercules and the Captive Women" is a real favorite. Lots of action, even if it doesn't make much sense. And, Herc, even if he is initially lazy, shows some sense once in a while (like not swallowing the drugged drink). It was tough to follow at times, though; I'll have to watch an uncut print to get the full story. The riffing was great, as were the host segments. And it was nice to have Gypsy have a shot at riffing with the guys.
This turned out well, I thought. So, here's what's set for week 24. The Outsiders selection is..."Film Crew: Giant of Marathon"... - Swords & sandals, folks...again! ...and the Originals selection is..."Diabolik" (Show 1013). - The end of an era...again!
Hello again, from the MSTie with the worst sense of time in the Western Hemisphere. Anyway, week 24...
"The Giant of Marathon" is a pretty good movie, actually. It has some good production values and a few good action scenes. One problem, though, is that it's very familiar, even down to the love interests (one "bad", one good). Another problem is that Steve Reeves isn't playing Hercules, the demigod. Instead, he plays Phillippides, a strong yet ordinary guy who's lacking in charisma. It kind of hurts the movie. This, of course, is one of the entries from short-lived Film Crew series. Like the first videos from "Cinematic Titanic", it functions as a middle ground between MST3K (where you have a framing story) and Rifftrax and the later CT entries (where it's just riffing). This one turned out good, with great riffing and a funny host seg where Bill explains the Battle of Marathon. The DVD also features a couple of good extras: Mike's less-than-effective apologies, and a sort-of cast member commentary. Good stuff.
As for "Diabolik", the movie is certainly off-the-wall, but it's well-made and watchable. It shows a lot of imagination, a good score from Ennio Morricone, attractive lead characters, and Terry-Thomas. Of course, you have to forget that Diabolik is, basically, a murderous thief and terrorist, but...hey, the Sixties! The riffing is top notch. And the host segs are fine, as we say goodbye (for now) to the show. One of the best series finale shows, in my opinion. (At least they didn't go all "Blake's 7" with it.)
Well, that went OK. So, on to week 25. The Outsiders selection is..."Trace & Frank at Sci-Fi London 2014"... - Should I be drinking tea while watching this? ...and the Originals selection is..."Warrior of the Lost World" (Show 501). - Guest-starring MEGAWEAPON!
Oh, by the way, while back I wrote an article for the old Even Deeper Blurting board on the scenes BBI cut from "Diabolik" for the episode. Should I post it?
"Trace & Frank at Sci-Fi London 2014" is archived on YouTube. It's a convention appearance moderated by Bunny Galore (whom I'm not familiar with). While some of the subjects they talked about were familiar, I enjoyed this one. They talked about subjects ranging from the show's beginnings to movies they wanted to riff on but couldn't get to the development of the characters. The fact that this took place in the UK, where the audience isn't as familiar with the show as here in the U.S., provides an interesting viewpoint. There's also a brief trailer for "Do the Frank", which I'll get to sooner or later. I liked this one.
As for "Warrior of the Lost World", it's one of the really good ones from the show. The movie, a "Mad Max" wannabe, is funny on its own, particularly the very unsympathetic "hero" and his annoying motorcycle sidekick. And the low budget makes the post-apocalypse Earth seem...not much worse than what we have now. Not even the awesome screen presence of MEGAWEAPON can save the movie. The ep is really funny, with great host segments (I especially liked the Steve Allen reference) and one of the best Invention Exchanges (Loved Forrester's voice-over, and I figure somebody must get around to making actual Bittersweet Hearts). One goof, though: Frank is actually imitating Curly when he works on his Shemp area. And the riffing was great (and, no, I have no fruit to declare).
This one turned out fine. So, on to week 26. The Outsiders selection is..."Tom Servo vs. Tom Servo"... - Or Josh not-really-versus Kevin. ...and the Originals selection is..."Fire Maidens of Outer Space" (Show 416). - But did you know the original theme is from the "Polyvetsian Dance, No. 2" by Borodin?