Sunday, August 05, 2012

MST3K: Season One, Episode Five: "The Corpse Vanishes"

corpsevanishes_lc1This episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 opens (after the opening credits, of course) in Deep 13, where Dr. Forrester has brought back something from the Mad Scientist's Convention for Larry -- it's the Isaac Asimov Body Wash, part of the Foundation Trilogy Gift Set! Larry's excited to try it all out, but it's time to contact Joel and get on with the experiment! Dr. Forrester allows Larry to make contact. The Invention Exchange begins with Joel presenting the Chiro Gyro, which looks like a giant bucket over his head with a cutout for his face (kind of reminds me of Man-E-Faces' head from He-Man and the Masters of the Unvierse). This is used to help relieve neck stress and pain, and when Joel turns it on, it appears as if it's twisting his head in a circle! Dr. Forrester would like to use it on Larry. The Mads' invention is a variation on the squirting joke flower, so they've updated it to the flaming flower!

corpsevanishes_posterThen, it's time for Movie Sign, beginning with a Commando Cody chapter, "The Bridge of Death"! After Tom reads the credits as if he was doing a Latin-speaking monk performing services (and Joel stops him before it gets too old), pop culture references in the jokes include Wham-O Magic Window, the Michelin Man, Mr. Peanut, Mr. Salty, Mr. Bubble, an old coffee commercial (the one where the woman thinks, "Jim never has a second cup at home!"), cordless phones, fashion show commentary, James Bond, lawn darts, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Das Boot, princess phones, and Gene Hackman.

Then we get to the first break before the feature, and Tom Servo's reading a magazine, "Tiger Bot," which features a spread on Data. Crow and Tom exchange some quips back and forth like teenage girls were expected to do when reading Tiger Beat back when, except with using technical terminology. Oddly, Twiki is picked as the Dream Date of the issue, and of course they go on about him -- until Tom realizes that the insults Crow is making apply to Tom as well! By the time they finish reading the article on Data, they aren't too fond of him any more.

corpsevanishes_belgiumNext, we get into the movie, and the pop culture references include Mr. Ed, the Little Rascals, Abe Vigoda, Life Savers, Shakespeare, the Three Stooges, "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" (changed to "I'm Getting Buried in the Morning"), SNL's Land Shark, Nelson Eddy, CHiPs, the Addams Family, Stanley garage door openers, Billy Barty, Cloris Leachman, soapbox racers, Meals on Wheels, and the Devo song Whip It. There's also a lot of Crow doing a Bela Lugosi impression!

In the next break, Tom Servo runs on-camera, then off, then it's Crow's turn, followed by Joel, and finally Gypsy... then it repeats! What's going on? They're playing tag, of course! Joel gets tagged by Gypsy, then he fakes out Tom and Crow, just in time for movie sign again!

corpsevanishes1aDuring the next segment of the film, references in the jokes include "Something Wicked This Way Comes," "I'm a Little Teacup," Fantasy Island, "Ticket to Ride," Disneyland "E" Ticket rides, Ice Capades, Churchill's "Nothing to fear but fear itself," Gilligan's Island (took a while for them to get that reference in this time), the ZZ Top song "Legs," International Coffees, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," toothpaste ads, "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," Dr. Pepper, Burgess Meredith, and Lava Soap. Joel also does a lot of internal dialogue gags in this segment, and the majority of the jokes aren't based on pop culture stuff at all.

Joel and the bots take a break from the movie, and head out of the theater. Crow is giving Joel a haircut while Tom continues to read Tiger Bot. They exchange gossip about some neighborhood kid caught in a thresher machine, a family marrying off their youngest child -- of course, it's all complete BS, I have no idea what even sparked this whole sketch, as it has nothing to do with the movie at all. Perhaps the names of the people mentioned were friends of the cast and crew? It's all rather silly but not as clever as the usual stuff they do in the breaks. The gossip goes into some silliness about a clown parade going horribly wrong and catching on fire, but they don't quite carry it as far as they could have to be as funny as I'd prefer.

corpsevanishes1In the final segment of the film, jokes are made based on references to Shecky Greene, "Werewolves of London," Ed Sullivan, "A date that shall live in infamy," Cloris Leachman (again), Lee Harvey Oswald, wrestling, the Little Rascals again -- not nearly as many pop culture references as usual this segment.

corpsevanishes_stillWhen they emerge from the theater, it's time for the bots to earn some RAM chips by saying something good and something bad about the movie, as Tom explains. Crow says a good thing was they got to meet an entire family of mutants; a bad thing was they were so stupid they tried to commit inconspicuous murder on the most conspicuous day of a woman's life! Then Tom says a bad thing was it was painfully long, color nonexistent, bad print, Bela was already mediocre... and a good thing he comes up with is... is... is... Tom can't think of anything, and suddenly the top of his head pops off and smoke comes out as he sings "Bicycle Built for Two" a la Hal 2000!

The Mads are pretty happy about Tom being blown up, and they push the button.

corpsevanishes_still1Definitely another bad movie, as most of the MST3K fare is, although not as bad as the last one -- at least this one has Bela Lugosi in it, and the actress who plays his wife, Elizabeth Walters (who had a memorable part in "Curse of the Cat People"). Plus Luana Walters, who plays a reporter in the film, played Lara in the Superman serial, and Tristam Coffin is in here, and he was Rocketman in one of the serials! The plot has holes big enough to fly the starship Enterprise through, but there is still enough to enjoy here that I could see myself watching this in its normal form, although I'd likely make my own jokes if I was watching it with other people!

This was kind of a step backward from the previous episode... the jokes weren't flying as fast as I'm used to (then again, by the time I started watching it, Larry had been replaced by TV's Frank, so they'd been doing it longer by then). There's still some good gags, but the best of them this time were when Joel was interacting with the screen -- he went from standing up to brush off an onscreen character's suit with his hands, and then later used a small whisk broom, and then he finally pulled out a big push broom to use on all the characters on screen!

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