Saturday, September 22, 2012

MST3K, Season One, Episode 6: The Crawling Hand!

Yes, friends, it's time for another visit to the Satellite of Love! The experiment this time is The Crawling Hand, which came out in 1963. It was directed by Herbert L. Strock, and written by Bill Idelson and Strock. It starred Peter Breck, Kent Taylor, Rod Lauren, Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan's Isle), Allison Hayes (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman), Sirry Steffen, Arline Judge, Richard Arlen, and Tristam Coffin.

The basic plot of the movie is, after a space capsule is detonated in orbit (with an astronaut inside it), a teenager finds a severed arm among the wreckage on earth. The arm returns to life to murder and possess the teen!

The episode opens on the Satellite of Love, and Joel is dressed in a red bathrobe or smoking jacket, carrying a cup of coffee. There's a vase of flowers on the console, and applause playing (which Joel tells Cambot he doesn't have to play). Zooming in a bit, Joel says, "People of Earth, my name is Joel, and I'm marooned in outer space. I'm the subject of a bizarre movie-watching experiment, and now, I guess, so are you. I'm expecting a call any second now from the two evil scientists who shot me into space for no good reason at all." But then it's commercial sign!

After the commercial, Joel talks about one of the hard things about being marooned in space, missing the little things, like rain, snow, mini-marshmallows... but then he's called by the Mads! It's time for the invention exchange, and Joel has what looks like a circular saw, but's actually a safety saw, it has an infra-red light that senses when fingers are near, and shuts itself off automatically. Joel demonstrates it, and cuts off his fingers!

Well, not really, it's just a trick, with fake fingers.

The Mads, apparently fooled, present their own invention, a way to emulate Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four! It's their Limb-Lengthener, which you put on the appropriate limb and stretch away! Dr. Forrester walks across the room, stretching Dr. Erhart's law. As they restore Dr. Ehrhart's arm to its normal length, they tell about this week's movie, which they say has a star from Gilligan's Island (as already noted), one from The Big Valley, and one from the Hamburger Helper commercials!  Of course, then it's movie sign!

crawlinghand_hsIn the first film segment, jokes are made based on Love, American Style, Gilligan's Island (expect a lot of those), Joel makes a "I can see my house from here" gag, typefaces, fireworks oohs and ahhs, Kirk Douglas, Space Oddity, a lot of jokes about smoking, the Beatles, jokes about one of the actor's arm movements, Max Headroom, Spirograph, Tammy Faye Bakker, Robert Smith from The Cure, William Shatner's acting style, Footloose, Palmolive commercials, Chubby Checker, Ed Begley Jr., Jerry Mathers, and James Dean.

It's time for Joel and the bots to take a break from the movie, and head out of the theater. Crow's by himself, and he's bowling! Tom, off-camera, provides the narration. Of course, we don't see Crow throwing a ball or the ball hitting the pins -- we just hear the sounds and see the top of Crow's body movements. Joel and Tom congratulate Crow on his score, and Crow says his new arms work great, but he doesn't like the way his feet smell after wearing rental shoes. Joel's surprised, because he didn't know Crow could smell!  Crow quickly changes his story, saying he can't smell, it's spectral analysis, which seems to appease Joel, who now wants to play Murderball. Joel keeps getting "not it'ed" out by the bots, making him "it," but then he tries to talk them into using rock/paper/scissors, which of course, the bots can't do, because Crow's hands can only do scissors. Tom finally says, "Okay Joel, you win everything!" and Crow says, "We're your friends -- NOT!" Joel calls after them mockingly, trying to remind them they owe their very existence to him, but it does no good. He vows that next time he makes a robot, no more free will. And then it's commercial sign!

crawlinghand_stillBack at the theater, Joel and the bots make jokes based on some of the stupid dialogue (as they usually do, but mostly without the pop culture references), From Here to Eternity, a bunch of fish puns (a painful haddock, just for the halibut, etc.), triathlons, Star Light Star Bright, foreshortening, a bunch of arm puns (when a character finds a disembodied arm, naturally), Mr. Spock and Dr. Spock, Mister Mister, Cujo, Def Leopard, Palmolive commercials (again!), Nyquil, jokes about what characters are dreaming about, Judy Garland, Captain Kirk, Ed Sullivan, and Gilligan's Island (seconds before the first onscreen appearance of Alan Hale).

Taking a break from the movie, Joel re-enacts a scene from the movie, but done a la William Shatner as Captain Kirk, followed by Crow doing the same, and then Tom Servo -- all with lots and lots of Star Trek episode references, but then they go to other stuff, but then Joel stops them, as it's just not working for them. But then it's movie sign! Tom still gets one more Shatner impression in before they leave.

crawlinghand_mexlc.JPGThe next film segment features gags based on The Book of Lists, Gilligan's Island (that's the third one, if you're counting), Zen koans, Gilligan's Island (#4), Prince (the musician), Lee Press-On Nails, Isotoner Gloves (and other hand-based references, since there's a disembodied crawling hand, after all), the Heimlich maneuver, charades, Miller Beer, Gilligan's Island (#5 and 6 -- two jokes in a row), A Hard Day's Night, Rebel Without a Cause, Mission: Impossible, the Everly Brothers, Pete Townshend, Close 'n Play Phonograph, Timothy Hutton, Adam Ant, Gilligan's Island (#7 and 8), June Lockhart, George Washington, Julius Caesar, Gilligan's Island (#9), Clearasil, Buzz Aldrin, Rapunzel, Cyrano de Bergerac, James Dean (again), Willie Aames and Scott Baio, Lionel Ritchie, Elvis Presley (several in a row), a bunch of zombie gags, and parody lyrics for the song "The Bird is the Word" which played several times in the movie.

Then, it's time for a break from the movie! The bots talk about the disembodied hand in the movie, trying to figure out how it knows where its victims are (given it's got no brain), and then Joel shows up to tell them what a crawling hand could do, such as stick its fingers up your nose while you sleep, tap you on the shoulder, and other silly things that the bots won't believe could kill someone. Just then, a giant hand enters the control room, which Joel and Tom see and run away from as Crow goes on and on about how a hand can't scare him, and then he sees it, and it pats him to the ground.

crawlinghand_ukquadBack to the movie... Crow talks a bit about the giant hand, but Joel reveals it was a trick, it was just Gypsy in a giant hand costume... and jokes are made based on the changes puberty brings on, Gilligan's Island (#10), Fine Young Cannibals, Pete Townshend (again), Bob Crane and Hogan's Heroes, Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, Gilligan's Island (#11), The Munsters, Gilligan's Island (#12), Beatlemania (in an obscure way, you wouldn't realize it if you weren't familiar with it), Fine Young Cannibals (again), arm wrestling, a bunch of additional hand and arm jokes, The Beatles, Adam 12, The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, a few more hand gags, Gilligan's Island (#13), Sal Mineo, Jaws, Gilligan's Island (#14 and 15), and Domino's Pizza.

Joel and the Bots head back to the control room as the credits begin, and of course, it's time for the bots to say something good and something bad about the film to get a RAM chip. Crow says something good that involves how the movie ended, so I won't spoil it for you... and something bad was about not trusting delivery men. Tom, on the other hand, says something good was the Swedish babe in the film, but as the movie went on, she didn't spend enough time on her makeup.

Joel then thanks the viewers for their letters, and reads one from Ricky Foss (I think that's how his last name is spelled). Tom then gives the address to the fan club, and Joel asks the scientists what they thin, and we see that Dr. Forrester is being tossed about by his accomplice, whose arms have both been extended! Forrester finally pushes the button to end the episode.

This was kind of a step back for the show... there were a lot of sections of the movie where Joel and the bots hardly did anything at all, so perhaps this movie wasn't quite bad enough for them to make the best of it? In fact, a few of the jokes weren't even based on things happening on the screen, but puns based on complaints that each other was saying. That's not to say that this wasn't a bad movie -- the acting was particularly bad, even from actors I've seen on other shows and movies! But between the movie just being bad (and not so bad it's good, if you know what I mean) and some of the space between jokes from Joel and the Bots, this is the first time I've ever found myself feeling impatient for the episode to get over with!

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