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The Dead Talk Back

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603 - The Dead Talk Back
Air Date July 30, 1994
MST3K Director Jim Mallon
Movie Director Merle S. Gould
Year 1957
Cast Aldo Farnese
Short The Selling Wizard
Preceded by 602 - Invasion USA
Followed by 604 - Zombie Nightmare

You, the ice cream manufacturer.
Up against the wall! Spread 'em!
  — Crow

The Short

The Selling Wizard



A promotional film for grocery-store freezer cases, brought to you by Anheuser-Busch.


This short was included on Shorts Vol 3, released by Rhino Entertainment on VHS in January 2001, and on DVD in August 2004 as an limited time exclusive bonus for ordering MST3K: The Essentials from a specially created Rhino site.

The Movie



The Dead Talk Back

A narrator intones that what ensues is based on a "true event from a psychic research file". We meet Dr. Henry Krasker (Aldo Farnese), an amateur inventor and criminologist with a fascination for the occult.

Renee Caldwell is a bored underwear model who resides at the boarding house where Krasker lives. Viewers witness her final Earthly activities - talking to her girlfriend, smoking, lounging on her bed, chatting on the telephone. When she is murdered on the front porch, pierced by a curtain rod fired from a crossbow, the police launch an investigation to determine the identity of the assailant. Henry Krasker has helped solve eight cases for the police before, so once more he becomes involved in police affairs.

The Dead Talk Back

Two par-boiled detectives, Lieutenant Lewis and Harry cross-examine the diverse occupants of the boarding house.

Among them are Christopher Mattling, an emotionally labile, jobless, judgmental Scripture-quoting unsuccessful writer and lecturer; Raymond Millbrun, a suspicious-acting radio DJ with wealthy parents; Fritz Krueger, a shifty-eyed German immigrant who served three years for "bothering a girl"; Younger, a twice-divorced music shop clerk whose marriages lasted less than three weeks ; and the proprietor of the boarding house, her daughter and two incorrigible grandsons. Several listless interrogations and behind-the-scenes slices of police life occur. The authorities track down Tony Patini, a photographer and source of a shoe heel that was left at the scene. When they accost him at his place of business, he flees the interview.

Under the aegis of the police, Krasker calls a meeting of the boarding-house residents. They all adjourn to his lab for a "seance" utilizing his "radio" in which he pleads with the spirit of the dead girl to name her murderer. The killer, unnerved, confesses.

The Episode

Host Segments


SOL fire drill

Prologue: Gypsy’s fire drill makes clear the fact that, in space, there’s nowhere to go when there’s a fire.

Segment One: Dr. F attempts a pinpoint marketing campaign with Nelson cigarettes. Mike is not interested, but disturbingly everyone else is.

Segment Two: The Bots put on a radio talk show, "The Dead Talk Back". They communicate with the dead ("Abe from Illinois" and Winston Churchill). Much to Mike’s chagrin, the dead guys only want to chat about football.


Nelson cigarettes


Mike & the Bots are "The Dead"

Segment Three: Based on a loose association with the title of the film, Mike and the Bots are "The Dead"; Crow starts an hour-long guitar solo a la Jerry Garcia, and doesn't even pay attention to the interruption of Movie Sign until Mike grabs him to haul his skinny butt into the theater.

Segment Four: Dr. F interrogates Frank, who proceeds to confess to everything, including killing that fat barkeep and eating all the Frusen Glädjé. Crow continues his guitar solo.

Segment Five: Crow is still playing the guitar. Gypsy starts another fire drill. Mike reads a letter midst the noise and chaos, ultimately screaming "Simon, Theodore, Allllllllviiiin!" Dr. F practices his archery skills - on Frank, of course.

Stinger: A woman screams after seeing Renee's dead body.

Other Notes


  • Unusual credits: Crow's guitar solo continues instead of "Mighty Science Theater" starting up.
  • The concept of fire drills and emergencies aboard the SOL would be revisited in one of the promos the Brains did for the American Red Cross during season six.
  • Winston Churchill turned out to be correct - the Buffalo Bills have not returned to the Super Bowl since 1993, and Jim Kelly never earned a championship ring.

Obscure References

  • "EEeeeeeEEEEEEEeeeeeEEeeeeeee..."

Mike and the Bots imitate the haunting choir surrounding 'The Monolith' from '2001: A Space Odyssey.' The silhouette of the ice cream cabinet resembles it.

  • "And don't forget Ed McMahon's Budweiser-flavored Ice Cream. Hayoooh! (hiccup)"

Ed McMahon was Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The drunkenly spoken style is a reference to the infamous show in which McMahon appeared on the show visibly drunk.

  • "...and then my wife came downstairs, and her face was split!"

An excerpt from Bill Cosby, Himself.

  • "Arnold Stang, fugitive!"

Arnold Stang (1918-2009) was an American character actor.

  • "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Dweeb!"

Allusion to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

  • "Stop! In the name of Eddie Deezen!"

Eddie Deezen is an American character actor known for playing awkward, nerdy roles. He would later appear in Experiment #706 - Laserblast (as a bully).

  • "Invisible army?! I don't see anything."

A reference to John F. MacArthur's book God's Invisible Army.

  • "Excuse me, do you know what evil lurks in the heart of men?"

A reference to Orson Welles' famed radio play version of The Shadow.

  • "Esther Hoffman Howard!"

Esther Hoffman Howard was the name of Barbra Streisand's character in the 1976 version of A Star is Born.

  • "Ignatz and Krazy Kat are calling!"

A reference to the early 20th-century comic strip Krazy Kat. Ignatz Mouse was Krazy Kat's antagonist.

  • "The selling revolution will not be televised!"

Mike is paraphrasing the Black Power-era poet Gil Scott-Heron.

  • "Turn on your flood lights!"

A parody of the Neil Diamond song "Heartlight".

  • "You, Manute Bol!"

Manute Bol was a Sudanese-born basketball player known for his height of 7'7".

  • "Not since 'Moonraker' has there been such an exciting opening sequence!"

Moonraker was a James Bond movie released in 1979. It had a strong science-fiction element and was heavy on spectacle.

  • "Oh, he's got a Heathkit!"

Heathkit was the brand name for a line of amateur radio equipment sold in disassembled kit form.

  • " be in the Cramps."

The Cramps are a psychobilly band with a mad posh for cross-dressing.

  • "Oh look...'My Father the Hero' is out on video now!"

My Father the Hero was a comedy film starring Gérard Depardieu.

  • "Aw damn, I'm gonna miss 'The Commish'!"

The Commish was a TV series from the early 1990s.

  • "The Eyes of Kenneth Mars!"

A reference to both the 1978 thriller The Eyes of Laura Mars and actor Kenneth Mars.

  • "Shoot that poison arrow through my hea-ea-eart!"

A quote from the 1980s pop song "Poison Arrow" by ABC.

  • "It's the Mary Jo Kopechne Memorial Bridge!"

In 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne was a passenger in a car being driven by Senator Ted Kennedy, who drove the car off a bridge into a pond. Kennedy survived, but Ms. Kopechne did not.

  • "Thom McAn!"

Thom McAn is a now-defunct chain of shoe stores, which were often found in shopping malls.

  • "The heater never works in this thing..."

Volkswagen Beetles had notoriously bad heaters, due to a combination of their spartan design and physics.

  • "The film seems to have taken a decidedly Jarmuschian turn!"

A reference to independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.

  • "Used to be Ray MOR."

"MOR" is an abbreviation used in the radio industry for "middle of the road" music.

  • "Wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean?"

​A reference to a Monty Python sketch called Nudge Nudge .

  • "Hey, Helmut Kohl's working the counter!"

Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of Germany (originally West Germany) from 1982 to 1998.

  • "Try to understand."/"I'm a magic man!"

A reference to the Heart song "Magic Man".

  • "I'm an octoroon, you know."

"Octoroon" is an outdated term for people with partly black ancestry.

  • "Ah, Swisher Sweets!"

Swisher Sweets is a brand of cigars.

  • "I'd like to thank Edmund Scientific for their generous support for this project."

The Edmund Scientific Corporation sells laboratory supplies through mail-order catalogs.

  • "He caught her in a tryst with Aleister Crowley!"

Aleister Crowley was a famed British occultist of the early 20th century.

  • "Oh, so *there's* Bunny Lake!"

A reference to the 1965 thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing.

  • "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret!"

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a novel by Judy Blume.

  • "Yes, another great Saul Bass title sequence!"

Graphic designer Saul Bass was famous for designing movie title sequences and posters, which often incorporated highly stylized or abstract animation.

  • "Don't rot away, Renee!"

A paraphrase of the song "Walk Away, Renee" by The Left Banke which made it to number five in 1966.

  • "Leni Riefenstahl's most powerful film."

Leni Riefenstahl is best known for directing the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.

  • "Film seems to have taken a decidedly Jarmusch-ian turn."

The films of director Jim Jarmusch are known for having scenes with long silences and very little movement.

Video Release


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