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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

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Hello. Welcome. What you are about to see, is, an experiment...
  — Dr. Clayton Forrester


M01 - Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (This Island Earth)
Alternate Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movie Poster
MST3K Director Jim Mallon
Running Time 73 mins
AKA Metaluna IV antwortet nicht (West Germany)
Movie Director Fritz Bottger
Year 1955
Cast Jeff Morrow
Faith Domergue
Rex Reason
Lance Fuller
Russell Johnson

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (also known as MST3K: TM) is the feature film release version of MST3K, in which Mike and the Bots riff on This Island Earth.


The Movie-Within-The-Movie (This Island Earth)

Synopsis

Dr. Cal Meacham (Rex Reason), a noted scientist, receives an unusual substitute for electronic condensers that he ordered. Instead, he receives instructions and parts to build a complex communication device called an interocitor. Although neither Meacham nor his assistant Joe Wilson (Robert Nichols) have heard of the device, they immediately begin construction. When they finish, a mysterious man named Exeter (Jeff Morrow) appears on the device's screen and tells Meacham he has passed the test. His ability to build the interocitor demonstrates that he is gifted enough to be part of Exeter's special research project. Intrigued, Meacham is picked up the next day at the airport by an unmanned, computer-controlled Douglas DC-3 aircraft with no windows. Landing in a remote area of Georgia, he finds an international group of top-flight scientists already present – including an old flame, Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue). Cal is almost immediately suspicious of the odd-looking group of men leading the project.

Mst3kmovie2

Exeter from This Island Earth

Cal and Ruth flee with a third scientist, Steve Carlson (Russell Johnson), but their car is attacked and Carlson is killed. When they take off in a Stinson 108

light aircraft, Cal and Ruth watch as the facility and all its inhabitants are incinerated, and their aircraft is drawn up by a bright beam into a flying saucer. They learn that Exeter and his group are from the planet Metaluna, having come to Earth seeking uranium deposits as well as scientists to help defend their planet in a war against the Zagons. Exeter informs the Earthlings that he is taking them back to his world. Exeter and the Metalunans are attacked by Zagon starships guiding meteors as weapons against them and Metaluna. The Metalunan saucer easily avoids each attack, dodging oncoming meteors.

Thisislandearth

This Island Earth

They arrive to find the planet under bombardment and falling quickly to the enemy. Metalunan society is breaking down and there is little hope. Their leader, the Monitor (Douglas Spencer), reveals that the Metalunans intend to relocate to Earth and insists that Meacham and Adams be subjected to a Thought Transference Chamber in order to subjugate their free will so they cannot object. Exeter believes this is immoral, and misguided since it would impede their ability to help the Metalunans. Before the couple are sent into the brain-reprogramming device, Exeter decides to help them escape.

Thisislandearth2

Promotional still from the movie

Exeter is badly injured by a Mutant while the three flee from Metaluna in the saucer as the planet's protective "ionization layer" becomes totally ineffective. Under the Zagon bombardment, Metaluna heats up and turns into a lifeless "radioactive sun". The Mutant also boards the saucer and tries to attack, but dies as a result of pressure differences on the journey back to Earth.As they enter Earth's atmosphere, Exeter sends Cal and Ruth on their way in their aircraft, but Exeter himself is dying and the ship's energy is nearly depleted. The ship flies out over the ocean and rapidly accelerates until it is enclosed in a fireball and finally crashes into the water and explodes.

Information

  • Mike can be seen reading an issue of Satellite News in the opening host segment.
  • TV's Frank's face appears on one of the doors in the door sequence.
  • MST3K: TM was released in a number of non-English-speaking countries, including Brazil [1], Thailand [2], the Netherlands [3], Spain, Finland, Italy [4] and Germany. The German version was translated by comedian Oliver Kalkofe, who in many cases rewrote riffs to replace American-centric cultural references with references that would be more familiar to a German audience. The Brazilian version was retitled O Filme Mais Idiota do Mundo ("The Most Idiotic Movie in the World").
  • Actor Lance Fuller (Brack) would later achieve further MST3k immortality as the emotionless, mumbly, lead character in The She-Creature.
  • Coleman Francis briefly appears as the man who delivers the Interocitor manual to Dr. Meacham's lab.
  • When Universal originally released the movie, they thought that a limited release in a select group of "college towns" (where they believed MST3K was most appreciated) over a longer period of time would lead to a box office bonanza and keep it from having to compete with the early summer blockbusters like Twister (1996) and Mission: Impossible (1996). Instead, very few fans of the show were even aware that the movie had been released and the film languished in relative obscurity throughout the spring and early summer. This was the first (and last) time that Universal attempted such a plan.
  • At one point, Crow quips, "Oh, PLEASE, let us get the Sci-Fi Channel, oh please, oh please, oh please!" At the time, the production company Best Brains was negotiating a deal to air on the Sci-Fi Channel.
  • The control panel for the robotic arms that Mike uses to grab the Hubble is marked "Manos." Manos, along with being Spanish for "hands", is also a reference to the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
  • The TV show's usual density of gags was reduced for theatrical audiences, so that a larger number of people laughing wouldn't cause too much dialogue to be missed.
  • At ninety minutes, each episode of the television series is actually longer than the movie runs (73 minutes).
  • The makers of MST3K were so annoyed by their experiences having to work within a major studio on this film that they later parodied the experience on the TV series. In episode 704: "The Incredible Melting Man" the host segments are about Crow's screenplay being purchased by a studio then ruined by the executives (Dr. Forrester and Mother Forrester) as they vainly try to shoot it and screen it for audiences. Series writer and star Mary Jo Pehl would later call the episode an "exercise in healing" after the ordeal of MST3K: The Movie.
  • By many accounts, making the movie was not a happy experience for the filmmakers, due to frequent studio interference. Years later, at a cast reunion appearance in New York City, Trace Beaulieu was asked what the worst movie featured on MST3K was. His reply was, "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie".
  • The original DVD release had no special features and was withdrawn from circulation in 2000. However in 2003 on the 7th anniversary of the movie's premiere (19 April 1996) an unknown Internet fan released a Special Edition DVD. This two disc set has the widescreen version of the film, the theatrical trailer, TV spots, a review from E!, a slideshow presentation from the 1996 MST3K convention and the cut host segment & alternate ending.

Host Segments

  • Mst3ksol

    The SOL orbiting Earth

    Prologue: Dr. Clayton Forrester introduces himself and his experiment to the world. He makes a strong case for the "mad" part of mad scientist, but the scientist part is up for debate.
    Mst3kmoviehost

    Mike working out

  • Segment One: Mike Nelson is finishing his daily workout when Tom Servo runs up and presents a problem: fellow Bot Crow T. Robot has convinced himself he can tunnel through the bottom of the ship and get back to Earth, conveniently ignoring the empty vacuum of space in between. Attempts to stop Crow result in danger, laughs, and a new sensation for Servo.
    HFVMovie

    "I think that was more of a curtsey than a bow"

  • Segment Two: Gypsy happily pilots the ship until the Bots dare Mike to try. He succeeds in crashing the Satellite of Love into the poor, abused Hubble. Trying to put things right, he uses the SOL's manipulator arms - pressing the Manos button to activate it - to free the Hubble from the SOL's hull, only to have it fall down to the earth after being released, much to the dismay of Mike. Gypsy cleans up the mess while the boys head back.
    MST3k The Movie Bridge Scene

    Mike tries driving the ship

  • Segment Three: Reminded by the movie, the boys go searching through Servo's room for his misplaced Interociter. Mike and Crow learn about Tom's strange obsession with men's underpants. Finding the Interociter puts them into contact with Benkitnorf the Metalunan, who tries to help them use it to escape and ends up repeatedly shooting Servo in the head with laser beams, not knowing how to work the Interociter. The signal is cut of by Forrester (a la Wicked Witch of the West) and sends them back to the theater.
    Mikebrokethehubble

    Mike brakes the Hubble!

  • Segment Four: The crew holds a "Metalunan mixer" to celebrate them getting through the movie. Dr. F has an Interociter of his own which he attempts to use to make the SOL crew regret their joy. He ends up stranding himself in poor Benkitnorf's bathroom.
    Mst3kmovieending

    The SOL "Metalunan mixer"

  • Stinger: No stinger, but Mike and the Bots do riff on the credits to their own movie!

Other Notes

The "amped-up" remix of the theme song done for the movie trailer is by popular comedian and long-time MST3k friend Dave (Gruber) Allen. Cinematography was done by Jeff Stonehouse.

Guest Stars

Mst3kmovieguest

John Brady as Benkitnorf

Deleted Scenes

The original film featured an additional host segment and a completely different ending:

  • In the cut segment, often called "The Storm Shelter Sequence", the movie is interrupted by a sudden meteor shower. The crew flees to the SOL's storm shelter, only to have the air supply damaged by one of the meteors. Mike begins to asphyxiate (Crow: "Ha ha ha! Who needs air?" Mike: (annoyed) "I do."), and the Bots panic. Servo summons up his courage to help Mike by pushing the button to restart the air by launching himself full-tilt at it with his hoverskirt. Mike is saved, the storm passes, and the gang returns to the theater at Dr. F's insistance.
    Deletedscene

    Deleted Scene

  • The original ending shows Mike's plan to get back at Dr. F for This Island Earth. Dr. F appears in the Hexfield Viewscreen seeking out the crew for groveling. Only Servo is present; he distracts Dr. F with flattery while Mike, Gypsy, and Crow bring the Interociter out of Tom's room. Mike hooks Gypsy's tubing from the Interocitor to the Hexfield, Crow dumps out the last survivor of his ant farm, and the crew Interocicizes it, turning Debbie the ant into Scrotor, the alien from the movie (played by Jef Maynard). The tube sends Scrotor into Deep 13, where he vanquishes Dr. F and leaves to get a Hollywood agent. The crew celebrates their victory until they realize Crow is missing. He's back down in the bottom of the ship with the chainsaw he found earlier in Servo's room...

Obscure References

  • "Space... The FINAL frontier.... These ARE the VOYages of Babylon 5..."

Servo references both Star Trek and Babylon 5, while making fun of William Shatner's style of acting.

  • "The light from these credits originated 7,000 years ago..."

Mike is doing an impression of Carl Sagan.

  • "Oh look, Orion is bankrupt!"

Orion Pictures was a now-defunct movie studio that went bankrupt in the early 1990s.

  • "John Sununu goes for a haircut."

Tom is referring to John H. Sununu, famous for his forced resignation as White House Chief of Staff due to his inappropriate use of government aircraft for personal use. Tom says the line with a tired tone because of the joke's overuse during the series.

  • "Ow, that ringing! Now he knows what the world sounds like to Pete Townshend!"

Tom is referencing The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who suffers from deafness from tinnitus due to his overexposure to loud music and/or Keith Moon detonating his drum set next to his ears on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

  • "Ah, Been ordering from the Adam & Eve collection again, HMMMMMMM?"

The Adam & Eve Collection is a mail-order "marital aid" catalog.

  • "Your camera will pick up nothing but smoke and fog!" "Oh, it's a GoldStar."

GoldStar was a brand of inexpensive consumer electronics manufactured in South Korea.

  • "Oh, PLEASE let us get the Sci Fi Channel! Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!"

An inside joke, as during filming, Best Brains was in negotiations with the Sci Fi Channel to pick up the series.

  • "Your in-flight movie is 'Fearless'!"

Fearless was a film about survivors of a devastating plane crash, obviously an extremely inappropriate film to show on a flight!

  • "What's this 'and the rest' crap?!"

Russell Johnson played The Professor on Gilligan's Island. The "And the rest" is a reference to the first season's closing song, which omitted The Professor and Mary Ann with the lyric "And the rest here on Gilligan's Island". Later seasons changed the lyrics to include the two characters.

  • "So Professor, you made this car entirely out of bamboo, huh?" and "His coffin will be made entirely of coconuts."

Yet more references to Russell Johnson's role as The Professor.

  • "You two are beginning a strange journey." "Mawwiage!"

Crow is imitating the lisping priest from The Princess Bride.

  • "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"

Crow is singing this song while making a hole in the spaceships hull. This is probably a reference to the movie Das Boot where this song is sung by the crew. The U96 is sunk by to a torpedo hit ("hole in the hull").

  • "Oh they're flying into a Roger Dean album cover."
  • "Yeah they're really into 'Yes' on this planet."

Roger Dean is a British-born artist whose work consists of both surreal and organic imagery with heavy sci-fi/fantasy elements. Yes is one of the many bands he illustrated album covers for.

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