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Beginning of the End

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517 - Beginning of the End
Air Date November 25, 1993
MST3K Director Kevin Murphy
Movie Director Bert I. Gordon
Year 1957
Cast Peter Graves
Peggie Castle
Preceded by 516 - Alien from L.A.
Followed by 518 - The Atomic Brain

"We've got to get organized. We should not be losing to grasshoppers, people."
  — Mike

The Movie



Beginning of the End

The film opens with newspaper photojournalist Audrey Aimes (Peggie Castle) accidentally stumbling upon a small town in Illinois which has been inexplicably destroyed. All 150 people in the town are missing, and the evidence indicates they are dead. Incredibly, the local fields are also barren, as if a swarm of locusts had eaten all the crops. Aimes suspects that the military is covering something up, and travels to a nearby United States Department of Agriculture experimental farm to learn what creature might have caused the agricultural destruction. She meets Dr. Ed Wainwright (Graves), who is experimenting with radiation as a means of growing gigantic fruits and vegetables to end world hunger. Dr. Wainwright reports that there have been a number of mysterious incidents nearby, and that locusts have eaten all the radioactive wheat stored in a nearby grain silo.

Gigantic mutant locusts rampage over the countryside. Dr. Wainwright and Ms. Aimes begin to track down the source of the mysterious occurrences, and quickly discover that the locusts which ate the grain have grown to the size of a city bus. The monsters have eaten all the crops in the area, and now are seeking human beings as a means of sustenance. It is also clear that they are headed for the city of Chicago. Wainwright and Aimes meet with General Hanson (Ankrum), Colonel Sturgeon (Henry), and Captain Barton (Seay) to strategize a solution. Machine gun and artillery fire seem ineffective against the creatures, and there are far too many to effectively deal with all at once. The United States Army and Illinois National Guard are called upon to help protect the city. But the monsters quickly invade Chicago, and began to feast on human flesh as well as several buildings.

Beginnig of the End

General Hanson concludes that the only way to destroy the beasts en masse is to use a nuclear weapon and destroy Chicago. However, Dr. Wainwright realizes that the locusts are warm-weather creatures. He concludes that he might be able to lure the locusts into Lake Michigan. There, the cold water will incapacitate them, and they will drown. The lure itself will be a decoy locust mating call, generated electronically with test-tone oscillators. The plan is put into effect, and it works at the last possible moment. The monstrous locusts drown, but Dr. Wainwright and Ms. Aimes wonder if other insects or animals might have eaten other radioactive crops. They ponder whether the whole world might be facing an attack of monstrous creatures.


  • Some grasshoppers were harmed during the making of this movie: at the start of the movie, they had 200 grasshoppers (a flightless, hopeless species from Texas). During the filming they began to eat one another, so by the time the last shots were done, only about a dozen were left.
  • Grasshoppers and locusts are the same species. When environmental conditions are right, grasshoppers undergo a variety of physical changes to become swarms of locusts.
  • Peggie Castle (journalist Audrey Ames) also appeared in episode 602 - Invasion USA. Morris Ankrum (General Hansen) also appeared in episode 201 - Rocketship X-M.
  • For you fellow Californians confused by Mike's comment, "This is so not Illinois!" I present to you... Paxton, Illinois , courtesy of Google Maps. Evidently you can tie down the wheel and take a nap while driving.

The Episode

Host Segments


Mike & the Bots present new playing cards

Prologue: Mike and the Bots attempt to sing some classic standards is repeatedly interrupted by a white trash woman on the hexfield who keeps dialing the wrong number.


Mike dials the wrong person

Segment One (Invention Exchange): Still getting calls from the wrong number woman on the SOL. Down in Deep 13 the Mads have come up with the Re-comfy bike, even more comfortable than the recumbent bike. Mike & the Bots finally present new playing cards, like Todd and the Eight of Chris Lemmon.

Segment Two: While the Bots advise against it, Mike calls the Mads and catches them acting very "unmanly". He says won't be doing it, for a while.


The Mads before Mike's call

Segment Three: Crow has written a screenplay: "Peter Graves Goes to the University of Minnesota". It gets somewhat repetitive.

Segment Four: Tom's standup routine at the Improv (with its trademark red brick wall) is heavy on jokes comparing grasshoppers and locusts.


The Mads box

Segment Five: Mike unlocks the secret to Bert I. Gordon special effects, meanwhile in Deep 13, to try to reclaim their dignity, the Mads box.

Stinger: "Alright, men. Into the woods!"[1]

Other Notes

  • Premiered on Turkey Day '93.
  • Unusual credits: Before the copyright, an additional credit was added: "Shot entirely in Minneapolis, home of the University of Minnesota".

Guest Stars


Obscure References

  • "Let's see what Benny and Joon are doing!"

A reference to the 1993 movie Benny & Joon.

  • "Miss Mansfield?"

Urban legend said (mistakenly) that actress Jayne Mansfield was decapitated in a car crash in 1967. In fact it was only her wig that flew off.

  • "Why is Walter Winchell in this scene?"

​Walter Winchell was a radio commentator and gossip columnist. His fast-paced speech pattern is best remembered in his work as the announcer on The Untouchables TV series.

  • "Must get Vivarin!"

Vivarin is a brand of caffeine pills.

  • "Jimmy Jam does his thing!"

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are highly successful R&B and pop music producers.

  • "File on Dalton Trumbo, sir.." 

Dalton Trumbo was a Hollywood screenwiriter who was blacklisted from working in the film industry due to the fact he had been a member of the Communist Party.  

  • (Singing) "This is the army, Audrey Ames...!"

​A riff on the 1943 song This Is The Army, Mr. Jones by Irving Berlin.

  • It's a star city

Refers to a Minnesota rural economic development initiative. [1]

  • "Suddenly it's turning into 'Topper'!"

Topper was a 1937 comedy film about a pair of ghosts.

  • "This was no boating accident!"

​An oft-misquoted line from the 1975 movies Jaws , spoken by Richard Dreyfuss .

  • "Women on the Verge of an Atomic Breakdown."

A reference to the 1988 Spanish film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

  • "Coincidence? Read the book!"

A quote from commercials for the Time-Life book series "Mysteries of the Unknown".

  • "Is this a snipe hunt?"

A snipe hunt is a type of practical joke that often involves sending the person on the receiving end to "find" a nonexistent animal or object.

  1. "Exterminate with extreme prejudice!"

A reference to Apocalypse Now , in which Capt. Williard is ordered to "terminate" Col. Kurtz' command "with extreme prejudice" (that is, assassinate him.)

  • "Animals trained by Rudd Weatherwax."

​Rudd (and brother Frank) Weatherwax trained animals for movies; they handled the training of dogs for the Lassie movies and Ol' Yeller.

  • "...Just like they handled the Chicago convention."

​The 1968 Democratic National Convention , held in Chicago, was the source for the phrase "police riot ." Members of Chicago PD and the Illinois National Guard were indiscriminate in their use of batons, fists, and tear gas, both outside and inside the convention center.

  • "Bad Lieutenant!"

Bad Lieutenant was a 1992 movie starring Harvey Keitel.

  • "And this is the 1910 Fruitgum Company!"

The 1910 Fruitgum Company was a 1960s pop band.

  • "Hey general, where ya goin'?" "Decatur! I'm gonna shoot that paper-hangin' sonofabitch!"

A riff from the movie Patton : "... And when we get to Berlin I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch Hitler."

  • "Mister Mitchell!"

​The newsreader has an uncanny resemblance to Dennis the Menace's dad .

  • "They've got a picture of Russ Bender!"

Russ Bender played Richard Kingman in The Amazing Colossal Man and Dr. Carmichael in War of the Colossal Beast.

  • "I sing, whenever I sing, whenever I sing..."

​A reference to one of singer/hot rodder/tow truck driver Chase Winstead's less-than-stellar tunes from The Giant Gila Monster (episode 402).

  • "I gotta have those Glengarry leads!"
    MST3K 517 Promos01:05

    MST3K 517 Promos

A reference to the film and play "Glengarry Glen Ross", in which the "Glengarry leads" are coveted premium "leads" (i.e. names of interested buyers) that the salesmen compete to get. (The reference is suggested by the sight of a man pacing nervously around an office.

  • "Trumpy!"

A callback to that weird alien thing in the movie "Pod People ".

Video Release

  • Commercially released on VHS by Rhino Entertainment in March 1999.
  • Commercially released on DVD by Rhino in January 2001, the DVD was later pulled in December 2005 due to rights issues with the movie. The single-sided DVD also includes the uncut/unMSTed version of the original movie, along with previews for episodes 506, 513 and 515.This DVD version is infamous for having two big mistakes:
    • Joel’s picture is on the package and he is touted as the star.
    • On the menus, you can hear Arch Hall Jr. croon “Vicky” from the episode Eegah.
  • A new release of this episode will come out sometime in 2011 by Shout! Factory, still as a single disc, and only available in the Shout Select section of their website.


  1. Satellite News

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