A Taste of MST3K
As an integral part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 universe, Christopher Cornell of Pittston Twp., or “Sampo” as he’s know online, is one of the men behind Satellite News, the official fan site of MST3K that contains everything from episode guides to This Date in MSTory factoids. Cornell also played such an important part in bringing Joel Hodgson and Riffing Myself to the Electric City, that Hodgson is including him in the show. “He is very important in MST3K story in that he is so involved with the online presence,” Hodgson said. “I feel obliged to have him be in the show (in Scranton) because he actually knows more about MST3K than I do.”
When asked how it made him feel that someone knew his work better than him, Hodgson said “I love it. I can’t be the person who retains that (information) because I make it. If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, so I’m happy with the arrangement.”
We asked Cornell to name some episodes that are fan favorites and he offered us these four gems: Pod People, Outlaw of Gor, Space Mutiny and Manos The Hands of Fate.
We watched the episodes and this is our take on what our eyes have seen. Let’s take a look.
Pod People Episode 303
The classic story of poachers discovering alien eggs, a vengeful alien mother killing everything in her path, a rock band on a camping trip and a little boy with an alien friend he names Trumpy.
The film features a musical performance, “Burning Rubber Tires,” which was dissected on MST3K for its lyrics, specifically the chorus “hear the engines roll now,” which was interpreted by the MST3K cast as “hideous control now,” “idiot control now” and other variations. The lead singer makes the ok sign after recording the track followed by grinning and saying, “It stinks.” (Riff: Hey you think the mic’s picking up their dancing?)
There’s a great scene where little Tommy and Trumpy have a magical game of Simon. (Riff: It’s a Peter Gabriel video. Somebody hit this kid in the head with a… sledgehammer.)
Manos The Hands of Fate Episode 424
A family (Michael, Margaret and daughter Debbie), gets lost on a road trip and winds up at the Valley Lodge managed by the Igor-like Torgo, who takes care of it “while The Master is away.”
Torgo tells the family “There is no way out of here. It’ll be dark soon” and father-of-the- year Michael asks Torgo to let him and his family stay the night. What can go wrong here?
The family discovers the presence of “The Master” and several women dressed in nightgowns, later revealed to be his wives. After a few cult- hijinks including a full blown nightgown fight (Riff: You know, after this they’re going to laugh and cry and pierce each other’s ears), The Master severs and horribly burns Torgo’s left hand (Riff: The Jamaican wings are ready!) and sacrifices one of his wives. The movie ends with Margaret and Debbie becoming wives of The Master and an entranced Michael greeting two new lost travelers “I take care of the place while the Master is away.” The production credits read “The End?”
The movie was shot with a camera that could only shoot a small amount of film at a time, making long, continuous takes impossible.
Outlaw of Gor Episode 519
While barhopping and searching for women, a magical ring (Riff: I bought it off of Pete Rose) transports our hero, Cabot, back to the magical planet of Gor where he is soon framed for the murder of the king. Cabot is said more than 55 times in first 10 minutes of the film, 35 by his friend Watney Smith who was transported to Gor along with Cabot. There is so much Cabot riffing to kick off this episode, it builds and builds to absolute hilarity. The late, great Jack Palance plays a raspy sorcerer and the impressions go on and on and on. This is a fantastic episode for newbies looking to get into MST3K.
Great riffs: (“Are there any woman on Coraba? Yes, and they’ll reject you too.” and “You see, freedom is — what the — P-P-PLEASURE?”)
Space Mutiny Episode 820
The leaders of a flying space colony must fight back when their disgruntled security chief plans to take over the ship. Some of the space scenes feature “Battlestar Galactica” television footage and was also dubbed quite possibly the worst science fiction/space adventure film made in English. Space Mutiny includes several shots of windows which show sky, a chase scene involving slow-moving vehicles resembling bowling-alley floor polishers, a reoccurring actor who was killed off in a previous scene and characters being thrown to their deaths over guardrails, coined by Mike and the bots as “railing kills.”
Dave Ryder, our hero, is referred to by many outlandish names, such as “Fridge Largemeat,” “Thick McRunfast,” “Slake Fistcrunch,” “Slab Bulkhead,” “Punt Speedchunk,” “Blast Hardcheese,” “Trunk Slamchest,” “Fist Rockbone,” “Stump Beefgnaw,” “Smash Lampjaw,” “Punch Rockgroin,” “Buck Plankchest,” “Stump Chunkman,” “Dirk Hardpeck,” “Rip Steakface,” “Rip Sidecheek,” “Punch Sideiron,” “Buff Hardback,” “Blast Thickneck,” “Crunch Buttsteak,” and many, many more.
Riffs: (“Special effects by Industrial Light and Morons.” and “Is it a good idea for a pilot to eject into space?”)
— tom graham
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