Once upon a time, two MSTies chatted furiously and at length about one of their favorite television shows of all time. Quips were made, quotes quoted, and other “Q” words as well!
So without further ado or a decent lead-in, here’s what Kaleb and I think about various MST3K episodes, the crew themselves, and architectural abominations.
Heather: I first came across MST3K on Thanksgiving Day back in 1997, during my golden years of teenage angst and being too cool to hang out with my family. As soon as I finished my meal I bolted for my room and locked out anyone who might try to do something stupid like bond with me.
I was completely uninterested in parades and football games, so I flipped over to the Sci-Fi channel and fell head over heels in love with those weirdos. I watched the Turkey Day marathon ’til the wee hours of the morning, and Saturday nights afterward were never the same. Fate smiled on me and my habit of being an insufferable brat, for ’97 was the only year that the Sci-Fi channel ran a Thanksgiving Day MST3K marathon. It’s possible that I would have never seen the show if I hadn’t caught it that day.
Kaleb: My turn! Picture it: Sicily, 1922… and/or my sister’s apartment in Oklahoma City, roughly ’94/’95. Spake she: “Hark, and directeth thine eyeballs to this weird new show I found!” And lo, I did reply: “Yea, verily.” And it was the MST3K Pod People episode. And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats… I vividly recall seeing the weirdest-ass-ever host segment you mentioned in your recent article, and thinking, “What mad genius is this?”
But, here’s where the story gets sad… For whatever reason, that was not only the first episode of MST3K I ever saw, but also the last, for the better part of five years. When I came back, Joel was gone, the bots sounded different, and the show only had a couple of years left to live. So I’m almost exclusively Mike-era. Fast-forward to 1998, and the resuming of MST3K veiwage in the lovably bizarre geometric chaos house-thing I lived in at the time. Wish I could find a picture of it. If for no other reason than to prove to myself that it actually existed.
Heather: I demand a visual aid of such a dwelling.
Heather: “Hobgoblins! Hobgoblins! What can you do with those Hobgoblins? There over here, they’re over there! Those darned Hobgoblins are everywhere!” Easily one of my very favorite episodes. My mouth hung open in disbelief for most of the movie, the first time I watched it. Sometimes I still can’t believe that was a real attempt at a film by someone.
Kaleb: (Pssst! Don’t anyone tell Heather that I’ve never seen this one! Just let her go!)
Heather: Also I got one of my favorite quotes from it, which has the dual benefits of being hilarious and usable on long car trips. If I spot a purplish-brown vehicle I always shout “Paint my muscle car prune-colored please!”
Kaleb: (Words in parentheses can’t be seen, because they’re my thoughts!)
Heather: Funny, I thought Kaleb would have said something by now; he’s usually so chatty. Hmm….what could he be up to?
What’s that, dear readers at home? Kaleb did what? Oh really…
Fiend! You’re a wily one, to be sure, but you’ve been found out!! You haven’t watched Hobgoblins! Not only can we no longer continue this conversation but I am also not your friend and have bought a plane ticket to fly out and burn your favorite Transformers figure at the steak.
Yarg. Steak stake. A stake made of steak, you see.
Kaleb: Blast! You beat me to it!
Heather: It’s fun when your fingernails are so long that they impede your ability to type. Why don’t you sound off on some episode or other while I grab a pail of nail clippers?
Kaleb: Time Chasers. I love it for its impossibly large-chinned hero, and inability to actually show us the decaying future. Its budget limiting it to a somewhat-grubby alley that doesn’t really look that much worse than a standard alley, but must nonetheless represent the entire apocalypse.
Heather: When I sat back down in front of the computer the first thing I saw was “…impossibly large-chinned hero…” and I immediately knew you were talking about Time Chasers. That ridiculous plaid suit the hero’s girlorwhatever wears is burned into my brain.
Kaleb: “They somehow gave her plaid theme music.”
Heather: On the DVD there’s an intro by Mike in which he tells the story of the crew being invited to a party thrown by the movie cast. Apparently they were super excited about being featured on MST3K, which is odd since it seems they had never watched the show. I say that because they were really upset with MST3K and the party got more and more awkward as it became clear that the guys didn’t feature their movie because it was so darned great.
Kaleb: That is rather priceless. I had already intended to buy the collection with Time Chasers on it; moreso now.
Heather: The whole set has intros by Mike, so yes you should get it. One of my favorite riffs is when the camera starts panning up the guy’s legs and one of the three says “Please don’t be splayed. Oh no…no…AAAH!”
Kaleb: “Jump back! Kiss myself!” When whatshisface touches the hot engine. That’s one you kind of have to see. Although I’m sure you got it right off, anyone reading this may have a tough go of it. One of the best riffs of the entire episode happens in the first five minutes, when Crow refuses to accept Chin as the protagonist.
Heather: Oh yeah. Anything where they’re making fun of that guy is great. I think that’s why I love the “splayed” line so much. They do the same thing to the man who wears the upsetting tight short shorts in Boggy Creek II. So now that I have everyone thinking of splayed man-legs, we should probably move on to another one.
Kaleb: I’m getting close to finding a photo of that weird house. I have located the worst picture ever of myself, taken inside said house.
Kaleb: Throw pillows. Which movie was that segment associated with? It wasn’t Giant Spider Invasion, was it? Because we should probably talk about that one anyway.
Heather: I was just racking my brain for the answer. I think it was Giant Spider Invasion. That was a great one. Of course the “It’s a Giant Spider Invasion of savings at Menards!” is one of my favorite lines. That and “Uugh, he’s lactating!”. You know when someone says “I could have gone my whole life without seeing that” and you think to yourself that they’re just exaggerating? Not so in this case. I really, really would be thankful if I had never seen that man in his onesie and back brace loping around the kitchen with a wet spot on his nipple.
Kaleb: “Is it weird that it’s eating him with its butt?”
Heather: “Like a rock!” I think Crow sings that about 3 different times when they show the guy’s Ford and I chuckle every time. I don’t know why I find that so amusing.
Kaleb: Because it’s Chevy’s slogan. It’s brilliant irony.
Heather: I get the joke, I just always thought I found it funnier than most other people would. Where I’m from, Ford vs. Chevy is a matter of utmost importance and can get you punched in the face. I try to make my extreme apathy and annoyance toward the subject immediately apparent to anyone who starts talking about it. I also try to avoid people that think Ford vs. Chevy is an argument worth having.
Heather: I thought you might have been typing in parenthesis again.
Kaleb: I’m going to do a bit more snooping; see if I can’t find one from a bit further back.
Kaleb: Prince of Space! Krankor! Your firearms are useless!
Heather: I have that guy’s laugh as my text message alert.
Kaleb: That’s amazing.
Heather: And quite useful in completely alienating myself from whoever happens to be near when it goes off.
Heather: I can’t recall any line of dialogue both as repetitive and confusing as “Your weapons are useless against me!”. Our spandex-clad hero keeps telling that to The Phantom of Krankor and yet, as the SOL crew points out, he keeps on running away from and dodging the weapons shot at him. Why not just stand there like Superman does? He got shot in the eyeball, for cryin’ out loud. Even henchman stupid enough to wear beaks and fight for something called “Krankor” wouldn’t hang around after seeing somebody take a bullet to their eyeball without flinching. That war’s over right there, man.
Kaleb: I may be about to confuse Prince of Space and Space Chief, but I like the part about the children being eight years old, and therefore well out of college. Crow (I believe) says “So these kids are, what, about eight years old?” To which Mike replies, “Yeah, they’re well out of college by this point.” The point being that the Japanese are over-achieving workaholics.
Heather: Haha. I think it might be Prince of Space. Ooh, how about Cave Dwellers? How much Keefe is in this movie?
Kaleb: Miles O’Keefe! Okay, here’s the weird part…I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that one, but I somehow know the joke. Wait, is Cave Dwellers the one with the guy who’s a major load?
Heather: Major load? You really need to give some more detail than that. Maybe use some different adjectives, because I think I’m getting the wrong idea.
Kaleb: They keep making jokes about this one guy being a major load.
Heather: Is that like a “tool”?
Kaleb: I have completely derailed us.
Heather: Cave Dwellers is one of the first episodes I saw when I started watching the show again. I had only seen the Sci Fi ones before, so I was all “Who is THIS guy? I hate this guy”. ‘Cause it was a Joel episode.
Kaleb: Pecs of fringe? Wait, no, knees of fringe. Dammit. I think I’ve seen the Conan rippy-offy one, is what I’m getting at.
Kaleb: I’m determined to prove myself this time.
———————–Kaleb works on proving himself this time.
Kaleb: A-ha! I have seen Cave Dwellers after all. “Who is this gentle stranger with pecs like melons and knees of fringe?” http://sfdebris.com/sff/mst3k/mst301.asp
Heather: You have been redeemed by melon pecs and knee fringe. Well just to change stuff up a bit, what are some episodes you just don’t like? I mean, none of them are BAD, really, but there are some I just never watch. We won’t call them “bad” episodes…just “least favorite”.
Kaleb: I have no idea what you speak of. All episodes are quality. Actually, I’m sure there are some I don’t care for, but it’s taking me a while to think of them.
Heather: Swamp Diamonds is a pretty “Meh” episode for me. As is that Ed Wood movie about the porn circuit or something.
Kaleb: Did you get the thing about house pictures happening in your direction?
Heather: Wow, that’s…..that’s a thing right there. It kind of looks like a barn and a church had a very ugly little baby.
Kaleb: I know, isn’t it great?
Kaleb: The first one. And the second.
Heather: I hardly recognize ‘ye. Then again, it was, like, ten years ago and you’re sportin’ a fro, so I guess that makes sense. Hmm. How many movies did we dissect?
Kaleb: Four, maybe five. You know what does need to be done right away? A meticulous dissection of Jack Frost! I can’t remember a whole lot about Jack Frost, save for liver-on-a-stick, and Tom Servo being endowable.
Heather: He was just pwecious! Jack Frost is one of my favorites from back in the day, and I still find it to be one of the most consistently funny ones. Also, the movie is gorgeous, colorful and just crazy enough to be entertaining on its own. If I were going to introduce someone to MST3K this is one of the movies I would use.
When I was younger I’d always lose it when the hero was chasing that pig sled through the forest and Mike says “IIIIIII’m bacon! Bacon, bacon, bacon mmmmm, I’m bacon!” Another favorite part of mine is at the beginning when the credits are rolling across the screen and Mike says, “These names are all Russian for ‘Alan Smithee'”.
Kaleb: Favorite line from Jack Frost: “You just got yourself a sled-load of whoop-ass, Frost.”
Oh, and I came up with a generally-not-watched episode, whenever you want to do that. “Merlin’s Magical Emporium of Poop and Windmills”; I can’t prove that it was a bad episode, but it’s telling that I can’t remember a damn thing about it; not even the proper title.
Heather: Merlin’s Mystical Shop of Wonders. I own it and I love it! That and “Party At Horror Beach” or something like that are the two I remember most clearly from the early years of MST3K-watching.
Kaleb: I think it’s Horror at Party Beach.
Heather: Tomato, tomahto. There was a party, that’s all I know. Oh, and a beach. Anyway, you really need to watch Merlin’s Mystical Shop of Wonders again. It’s amazing.
Kaleb: Hold that thought. Actually, don’t. I was going to go look for an episode list, to see if anything would ring a bell, but let’s talk about Pod People instead.
Heather: So your very first MST3K experience was the Peter Gabriel-esque skit that I talked about in my MST3K crazy skits article, yes?
Kaleb: Yar. And unfortunately, that’s kind of the only thing I remember. Well, that, and the part of the movie it was based on.
“I can’t bring him down! I don’t know how it works!”
Heather: Husband and I always quote the “furry potatoes” line. That and “Like hell, more food!”
Kaleb: One of my favorite quotable quotes, from either Prince of Space or Space Chief: “I will enjoy it VERY MUCH!!”
Heather: That’s Prince of Space. I REALLY need to see this “Space Chief” movie you speak of, apparently. I’m curious to see if it really is that close to Prince of Space, or if that is just an oddity of your brian. And also your brain. I have no long nails to blame for that one.
Kaleb: Ah, the reason you’ve never seen “Space Chief” is because there is no such movie. My mistake. It’s Invasion of the Neptune Men. Space Chief is the name of the protagonist.
Heather: Your failure makes me laugh. Or at least chuckle. Never mind that I can’t recall the correct name of Horror Beach: The Party That Loved Me.
Kaleb: L and O and L.
Heather: Oh and I feel compelled to correct you, if only that I feel you will find the quote flows better. The Prince of Space quote goes as such: “I like it very much”. It’s a running gag from one of the kids stating “What’s wrong with boot blacking? We like it very much!” That’s a quote that you can use any time, anywhere, and can be guaranteed to confuse non-MSTies while not sounding completely insane.
Kaleb: I think I was mating it with the oft-repeated Conehead one-liner. “Ah, I will enjoy it!”
———————————–THE NEXT DAY!
Kaleb: Rock n’ roll Martian!
Heather: Rock ‘n’ roll Martian! Those being the only lyrics, all I can do is repeat what you said.
Kaleb: So I figured out why I couldn’t remember anything about Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders. I hadn’t ever actually seen it. You were right; it is quite spectacular.
Heather: Do you have a particular favorite line from MSoMW? I lose it every single time the scene with the father and the psychic comes up. Her anger is so over-dramatic and unjustified at his ignorance of the supernatural. Everything he asks her or says incurs her wrath until Tom starts screaming in her voice: “You stupid bastard! I could stab you in the eyes right now, so help me GOD!”
Kaleb: I like it whenever Mike or Crow make threats in Merlin’s benign, floaty voice:
“Remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you.”
“Now I have to send you to Hell.”
Heather: That whole episode…it would be really difficult to pick the best line.
Kaleb: “I utterly loathe you! You wanna have a baby?”
I’m presently in the middle of Boggy Creek II, which I had apparently also never seen. What gives? I remember watching this show religiously back when.
“I was wondering if I could borrow a cup of shirt.”
Heather: “Okay, everyone without shirts please put them on, and everyone with shirts please take them off.”
Kaleb: So, over Christmas, what with the whole family gathered together in Rockwellian love and warmth and crap, I decided we should all watch Santa Claus, which I had never seen before. We made it about twenty minutes. Because there are some movies nobody can salvage. And, as it turned out, I actually had seen it before, but not as an MST3K episode. It was on one of those “20 Christmas movies for roughly a nickel” compilation DVDs. Oddly enough, I think I managed to endure its unriffed form slightly longer.
Kaleb: It was like, “Wow, this is terrible, but it’s a Christmas movie, so whatever,” whereas the MST3K viewing was more like, “Wow, this is so terrible the SOL crew can’t even do anything with it; this is really uncomfortable and let’s stop”. It was like watching a boxing match where the guy you bet on is getting his ass handed to him.
Heather: Ah, yes. The stupid Christmas movie that features both a devil and Merlin. I watch it from time to time, but it feels more out of a sense of duty than anything else. To be fair, the host segments are solid, and the painfully long scene of kids singing is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen the crew do. Random fact: This episode is often credited as the genesis of the term “nightmare fuel”, from the part of the movie where a creepy animatronic Santa is laughing and Crow says “Woah! Now this is good old-fashioned nightmare fuel”.
Heather: Luckily my Christmas MST3K showing fared better. We watched Santa Claus vs. The Martians. Everyone in the room was having a ball, and not everyone there was the kind of person I expected to enjoy MST3K.
When I started watching MST3K again it was after the show had already been canceled. I borrowed Volume 1 from my friend and was introduced to Joel, as two of the four episodes are Joel episodes. As stated earlier, I hated him a lot at first.
Kaleb: So did I. And then later. And kind of still now. Although I’ll always fondly remember his excellent jogging in place.
Heather: He has a certain charm about him, and I’ve grown to appreciate his more subtle style. Still, I adore Mike’s caustic form of humor, and I think that’s why I prefer him.
Heather: I’ve considered my Mike preference before and I have come to notice that he, like I, enjoy tearing crappy movies apart. I have an affection for said movies, but I love the comedic affect I get through merciless ridicule. I think he and I are similar in that fashion.
Kaleb: I also have to have Kevin Murphy be Servo and Bill Corbett be Crow. Set in my ways, I am. Or… wait, did I name the wrong guy for Crow? Was it Trace who did it during the Mike Age?
Heather: Both did.
Kaleb: Which one of them sounds like the guy I’m thinking of?
Heather: *gurgle noises*
Heather: Er… name your favorite movie with Crow.
Kaleb: Who did it later?
Kaleb: Yes, him.
Heather: I would never choose between the two, and my head would explode if you asked me to.
Kaleb: Has anyone other than Kevin ever voiced Servo?
Heather: For a very short while there was Josh “J. Elvis” Weinstein, who was also Dr. Forrester’s original assistant and the first voice of Gypsy (before Jim Mallon and eventually Patrick Brantseg took it over). Supposedly, he left the show after the first season because it was moving away from the improv style that he loved. I say good riddance, because Josh’s character was annoying, his Tom voice sounded like a used car salesman with a cold, and MST3K’s early, improvised episodes had long stretches of awkward, joke-free silence. It didn’t lend itself to the fluidity and hilariousness that comes from actually getting to know the movies well and writing jokes. Kevin was and is amazing and I take no substitutions!
Well with that major nerd-out I say we stop this crazy thing. I had fun rattling on about a show that I’m obsessed over, and to the two of you that actually read this whole thing: Thanks! Also…what’s wrong with you?