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814 - Riding with Death
0814
Air Date July 19, 1997
MST3K Director Kevin Murphy
Movie Director Alan J. Levi
Don McDougall
Year 1976
Cast Ben Murphy
Katherine Crawford
Ed Nelson
Jim Stafford
William Sylvester
Preceded by 813 - Jack Frost
Followed by 815 - Agent for H.A.R.M.


(Buffalo Bill jumps up and down, whooping and cheering excitedly)

Dukes of Hazzard got renewed!

  — Crow (as Buffalo Bill)



The Movie

Synopsis

0814-trucking

Riding with Death

As the movie begins, Harvard law graduate and Intersect agent Sam Casey (Ben Murphy) has been in a satellite explosion and the radiation renders him invisible. He gets a wrist watch that keeps him perceptible, and he can use it to switch back and forth.

He is given two assignments by his boss (William Sylvester): the first is to transport a revolutionary new gasoline additive a few miles down the road via tractor-trailer. He is aided by trucker Buffalo Bill, played by Jim Stafford. The inventor of the additive intends to have Casey killed and sell the formula elsewhere for $10 million. Casey's compatriot Abbie also gets kidnapped and must be rescued.

Later, Casey and Buffalo Bill must team up once more as race car pit crew members / substitute drivers to stop elusive terrorist Robert Denby (Ed Nelson, from Night of the Blood Beast), from blowing up a race car with "deutrium".

Information

  • MST3K Riding with Death
    This movie was pieced together primarily from two episodes of the short-lived 1976 television series Gemini Man, plus some footage and sound effects from the 1970 science fiction film Colossus: The Forbin Project used for establishing shots at the beginning. The episodes used were titled "Smithereens" and "Buffalo Bill Rides Again", with a common element between these two episodes being the guest appearance of country singer Jim Stafford as Buffalo Bill.
  • These two episodes were stitched together after the fact with dialog added in that refers to Dr. Hale, Robert Denby, Driscoll's moustache, and Buffalo Bill's change in career. The scenes where Abby appears to watch from a computer room were also added in from another episode in order to explain her absence during the latter half.
  • A scene from the pilot episode was also added during the first half of the film in order to explain the origin of Sam Casey's invisibility. In this flashback, Driscoll was played by Richard Dysart instead of William Sylvester like in the rest of the film.
    MST3KridingwithDeath
  • When "Carl" cuts Ben Murphy's brake lines, the only result would have been immobilizing the truck: Murphy would have been unable to move. Air brakes on trucks are designed to lock up if there is a compressor or hose failure.
  • At the time, Jim Stafford was an extremely popular singer/songwriter of novelty, comedy country-western music.  His songs "Spiders and Snakes" (which reached the #3 position on the Billboard Music charts) and "My Girl Bill" are referenced during the episode.
  • Along with Steven Bochco, another name under the "created for television" credits which should be noted is Harve Bennett. Like Bochco, Bennett would move on to bigger and better things: in Bennett's case, producing the Star Trek movies in the 1980s.
  • The movie's credits claim it was based off the novel from science fiction writer H.G. Wells. It's more specifically referring to how his novel The Invisible Man served as the "basis" for the film's original Gemini Man pilot).
  • Though the movie has a strong 1970s aesthetic, the computer explaining the back-story says that Sam Casey graduated from Harvard Law School in 1983, which would indicate that this show was supposed to have been set in the "future". The only significantly advanced technology shown would be Sam's watch.

The Episode

Host Segments

WarMST3K

The Camping Planet is under fire

  • Prologue Mike was once a teppanyaki chef. He tries to make an ornate meal for the Bots, in the process cutting off Crow's own hand to serve to him.
  • Segment 1 The Camping Planet is under fire! Pearl calls the Satellite crew for air support, and Mike proceeds to make the biggest baking soda bomb possible. He not only takes out the enemy army, but planet #3. Brain Guy makes a disturbing nurse.
    Ridingwithdeat

    Crow as Turkey Volume Guessing Man!

  • Segment 2 Inspired by the movie, Tom writes and performs a song, "The Funky Seventies." He has completely misunderstood the premise, but still tries to save the sketch with with an even more inappropriate song about the Fifties.
  • Segment 3 Tom somehow acquires another new body. This time, it is that of a truck driver. His butt is flat, and he loves it.
  • Segment 4 Crow is now a new superhero...Turkey Volume Guessing Man! He can tell you how many turkeys it takes to fill up a space. Mike accidentally steals Crow's thunder.
  • FunkySeventies

    Tom performs "The Funky Seventies"

    Final Segment The SOL crew tries to figure out what the movie was actually about. Pearl calls in to alert them to her medal ceremony for her actions on the planet below. She gets so many medals she can't hold her head up and ends up being unable to steer the Widowmaker.
  • Stinger Buffalo Bill expresses enthusiasm.

Trivia

  • TomServoTrucker

    Tom Servo with his trucker body

    Jim Mallon's final episode before leaving.
  • Segment one reveals that Crow was made from molybdenum.
  • Camping Planet becomes the third and final planet Mike destroys, following Deep Ape and The Observers home planet.
  • During the final Host Segment, Crow says that he still has "...no idea just what the Heck-tor Elizondo that was supposed to be." This is a reference to the actor Hector Elizondo, who was well-known at the time as a cast member of the popular TV hospital drama Chicago Hope and the films of director Garry Marshall. A similar reference had been made by the Custodian during Experiment #313 Earth vs the Spider.
  • The special The Making of Mystery Science Theater 3000 shot most of its behind-the-scenes footage during the filming of this episode.

Quotes & References

  • (After the title "Riding With Death" is revealed) "The Matthew Broderick Story!"

Matthew Broderick was involved in a 1987 car collision in Northern Ireland in which a car he was driving crossed into the wrong lane and struck another car head-on, killing both passengers in that car. Broderick, who suffered a concussion in the crash, claimed to have no recollection of what happened, and though he faced charges that could have given him prison time, he was only convicted of careless driving and fined $175.  

A crime drama, starring David Janssen, that ran for 2 years on ABC in the early 1970s.

  • "Steven Bochco? Does this mean we have to see Dennis Franz's hairy butt cheeks?"

Steven Bochco went on to create several TV series, such as NYPD Blue, which was known for pushing the limits of network television in terms of adult language and nudity. An early episode featured a partial shot of actor Dennis Franz's naked backside.

  • Christo started out with small projects like this.

Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, are a pair of environmental conceptual artists from Europe.  Some of their most famous installations involve wrapping major landmarks (such as a bridge or a stretch of sea cliff) in fabric and giving them atmospheric lighting.

  • "Gavin MacLeod-mania. Not Gavin MacLeod, but an incredible simulation." "I'm also a freelance Murray Slaughter." "Oh, Murray.... sweet, homicidal Murray!"

Murray Slaughter was a character played by actor Gavin MacLeod on the popular 1970s TV sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He  was addressed in this fashion by the marvelously realized, sex-obsessed but outwardly wholesome cooking-show host Sue Ann Niven (Betty White). The first phrase also reflects the ads for 70's musical Beatlemania with their catchphrase "Not the Beatles but an Incredible Simulation!"

  • "I'll have a Poppa Burger with cheese... Fries..."

​A fairly standard order from an A&W burger stand. A Poppa Burger is a double-meat, double-cheese hamburger.

  • "Woo, my favorite number!"  "70?"

The counter read "69" when Tom first said that. "69" is a colloquial term for a certain sexual position.

  • "So they have thirteen hours to drive from Torrance to Long Beach?"

Those cities are approximately 10-15 miles apart from each other, and it would only take approximately twenty minutes to drive there (depending on traffic).

  • "And Mickey Mantle's new liver is transported across the country!"

​Baseball legend Mickey Mantle suffered from alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver and received a liver transplant in 1995; there were accusations of favoritism due to the speed in which he was matched with an organ donor.

  • "Her code name: Muskrat Susie."

A reference to the Captain & Tennille song "Muskrat Love", which is about love between 2 muskrats named Susie and Sam.

  • "I'll be your candle on a pile of papers..."

Parody of the song "Candle on the Water" from the Disney film Pete's Dragon.

  • "It's Alan Smithee's number!"

Alan Smithee is a name used by directors who wish to distance themselves from a film. The fictional nature of the name matches the fictional phone number shown on screen (with the telltale 555 prefix).

  • "Ah. Rhoda and Joe, I hope they get married."

A reference to the sitcom Rhoda, itself a spin-off of the aforementioned The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  A prominent plot-line in the show's first season was the title character's relationship with a divorced bachelor, Joe Gerard.  The marriage of the two characters was one of the highest-rated events in television history and a massive cultural event of the decade.

  • "Poor guys who own this gas station just rebuilt after Jonathan Winters' rampage."

A reference to a scene in the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World.

  • "Nice blue flame. Speaking of blue flame, I sure hope Craig Breedlove's record holds up."

Blue Flame was a rocket-powered car driven by Gary Gabelich, which broke the land speed record held by Craig Breedlove on October 23, 1970.

  • "Nice ADR."

Automated Dialogue Replacement, a process by which actors in a film or TV show re-record dialogue, usually because the recording made of the dialogue during the actual take is not of acceptable quality. However, since a completely new line of dialogue is being inserted into this scene (a rather clumsy attempt to work a mention of the elusive Robert Denby into the first half of the movie, though he was not mentioned in the TV episode this is taken from), this isn't really ADR, this is an overdub.

  • "He's from Barcelona."

A reference to the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, a line often used by Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) to explain the incompetence of his waiter Manuel.

  • "This goes out to my friends in the Posse Comitatus!"

Posse Comitatus is an American white supremacist group.

  • "I'll get that bird for ya." "Hey college boy!"

The bar patron with this line resembles the unstable Captain Quint from director Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

  • "Kelly Flinn, on her way to another tryst!"

Kelly Flinn was the first female B-52 pilot in the United States Air Force. She was discharged two months before this episode aired for violating the Military Code of Conduct by giving false statements on  an affair she had with a male civilian, who was married to a female officer within Flinn's chain of command.

  • "Goodbye Sister Driscoll"

Parodies a line in "Sister Disco" from The Who's Who Are You album.

A few miscellaneous 70s references:

Memorable Quotes

[In the middle of a war, after Mrs. Forrester is hit.]
Mrs. Forrester(panting) Oh, great! Just what I need!
Bobo: Medic! Medic!
Observer[enters wearing nurse's outfit] Here I am!
Mrs. Forrester: Brain Guy? What the hell is...your...deal?
Observer: My race is pacifist and does not believe in war. We only kill out of personal spite. We will, however, administer humanitarian aide. (begins attending to Forrester's wound)
Mrs. Forrester: ...what's that smell?!
Observer: Oh! Mustard gas!
Mrs. Forrester: Mustard Gas! Get the masks!
Bobo: Oh, no, that's just me; I ate a whole jar of Plochman's with my knishes for lunch.
Observer: Good god, ape...
Mrs. Forrester: That's it, we're pulling out!
[Clanking sound is heard]
Observer: Hand grenade!
Bobo: Grenade! I'll save you! [throws Observer to the ground; the grenade goes off right near him]
Mrs. Forrester: Bobo, Brain Guy, quit farting around and get in the van! Okay, Nelson, we need air support an we need it fast!
Observer[looks up] It's a good thing I don't have a body... [flops back down]
[Back on the SOL, Mike Nelson is pouring baking soda into a bomb casing while Crow and Tom Servo watch on]
Mike Nelson: Sure, no problem; I used to make these babies in junior high school, out of vinegar and baking soda...
Crow: I-is that too much baking soda, Mike, or—
Mike[ignoring Crow] ...and high school, now that I think of it. And college, too. Got...got expelled for that...
Tom Servo: D-definitely too much baking soda, Mike.
Crow: Just a little too much.
[Crow makes a small "Whoa..." as Mike pulls out a much larger box of baking soda and filling the bomb casing with it]
Mike: And for that temp job I worked on, too...until that one guy in receiving got me fired...
Crow: Heh, Mike, Mike, honey...the baking soda—
Mike[again ignoring Crow]It was just a little prank, but he had to rat out on me, didn't he? Oh, well, I guess some people are just like that...
Tom Servo: So! Bombs away, Mike!
Crow: Okay, Mike! Bombs away!
Mike: Oh! Right... [Mikes walks away with the bomb as Crow and Tom Servo cheer]
Crow: Bombs away, Mike!
Tom Servo: Bombs away! [to Crow] Hey, I heard you can make a bazooka out of PVC tubing and a used diaper.
Crow: Is that so?
[Mike reenters without the bomb]
Crow: Okay, okay! Hee-hee-hee...
Mike: There you go, Mrs. Forrester, a little distraction...
Crow: A little distraction!
[Mike and the bots laugh, and then a huge explosion goes off, knocking the bots off Mike's workstation.]
Crow[gets back up] Okay...few things, Mike. First, well, you blew up another planet, obviously; what's that, three for you now?
Tom Servo: Think so...
Crow: Second, uh—ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR STUPID, ROTTED SKULL, YOU DUMB MAN?!
[As the gang enters the theater, the Universal Pictures logo appears.]
Servo[Imitates the theme to "The Jetsons", then a space car]
Mike: Universal, except for you, Ron.
Crow: You know, the Earth's thinks it's so great.
Servo: Oh yeah. It thinks the world revolves around itself.
[As the title appears]
Mike: Hey, the Matthew Broderick story.
Crow: And believe me, Death does not pony up for gas.
[During the opening credits]
Mike: Is there such a thing as starring Ben Murphy? Isn't it more honest to say that most of the time the camera is pointed at Ben Murphy?
. . .
Crow: Starring rejects from Harry-O.
. . .
Servo: If Clu Gulager isn't in this, it'll be very wrong.
Mike: Anthony Zerbe, come on! Please, please, please, please!
. . .
Servo: Ah, that's who's playing John Hiller this time.
. . .
Servo: Aw, Steven Bochco? Does this mean we have to see Denis Franz's hairy butt cheeks?
Crow: Ah, that gooey LA sky.
Mike: Birds? Nope. All dead.
[A computer monitor is flashing advanced forumlas.]
Mike: The world's most difficult math test.
[A character is spending the scene fiddling with his glasses]
Crow: Just between the three of us, my glasses are FILTHY!
[A nametag-wearing mechanic sabotages Sam's truck and watches him leave, wearing a vaguely menacing expression.]
Servo [as Mechanic][evilly] They don't call me "Karl" for nothing.
[Truckers Sam and "Buffalo Bill" attempt a dangerous tandem braking maneuver.]
Sam: Alrighty, I'm coming up on your mudflaps at 67.
Crow: "Coming up on your mudflaps." People have such cute names for sex.
Mike [as Sam]: Ma' well-oiled chassis is comin' up on yer backside, now.
Servo [as Sam]: My rigid grill structure is bearin' down on yer unprotected cargo door.
Crow [as Sam]: My oft-complimented Peterbilt is rhythmically nudging that sweet honey pot of yours—
Mike, Servo: Ugh— Crow!
. . .
[Sam and Buffalo Bill have completed the maneuver and are easing into a town.]
Mike [as Sam]: Drained and satisfied, I'm tracin' lazy circles on yer' supercab now.
Crow: You said I was bad.
Mike: You inspired me.
[Buffalo Bill jumps up and down, whooping and cheering excitedly.]
Crow [as Buffalo Bill]Dukes of Hazzard got renewed!
[As Denby and "Cupcake" Tina watch, Sam dumps unconscious Buffalo Bill out of the car and rejoins the race.]
Mike [as Denby]: Cupcake! Get Twinkie the Kid and Fruitpie the Magician!
[Buffalo Bill is singing on the CB]
Buffalo Bill: I'm on the air/I said I'm on the air...
Crow: Well, get off the air, ya cracker!

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