|“||Hey, I can throw things through dad! I'm gunna get an anvil...||”|
|912 - The Screaming Skull|
|Air Date||August 29, 1998|
|Movie Director||Alex Nicol|
|Cast||John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway, Alex Nicol|
|Preceded by||911 - Devil Fish|
|Followed by||913 - Quest of the Delta Knights|
The Short: Robot RumpusEdit
A cautionary tale of our over reliance on technology. Gumby uses toy robots to do his chores. Initially Mrs. Gumby is thrilled by her son's ingenuity. ("This way we don't have to hire illegal immigrants!"-Crow). But unfortunately for our plasticine hero, things go awry ("Gumby was nude!"-Mike) and the malfunctioning robots wreak havoc throughout the house and yard. ("Well, if you use those older Philips analog chips with your robots, you're going to get this kind of thing."-Tom) They spray-paint graffiti on the house ("Clay figures go home!"-Mike) and begin to tear down the Gumby's garage. ("Habitat against humanity."-Crow).
Mrs. Gumby panics and calls her husband at the fire department, who races home in a fire truck ("I'll just take the company car."-Mike) and tries to stop the malignant mechanical men. However, he is quickly overwhelmed by the machines and dumped in the trash. Gumby manages to rescue his father but another robot breaks through the wall with a lawnmower ("I'd better mow the shag carpeting."-Mike) and frightens Mrs. Gumby ("That squares my breasts!"-Crow). Gumbo tries to stop a rogue robot who's digging up the flowerbed, but is thrown onto a nearby roof and takes the impact in the groin. ("Thank God for the internal genitalia!"-Mike). Gumby gets him down but not even a wrench can stop the robot! (Gumbo gets it thrown through him.) Gumby hijacks a crane ("Where did Gumby get a class-F license?"-Mike) and destroys the last robot. Gumby's parents force him to do all the chores by himself. The end credits feature a robot's head hung above Gumby's garage, which causes great disturbance to Servo and Crow.
Believe it or not, this was the first Gumby short ever aired. 
The film opens with a warning that you, the viewer, may die from fright while watching it. Alas, if only that were true.
Eric (John Whitlock) and Jenni (Peggy Webber, the sand-phobic wife from MST's "The Space Children") are some of the most indifferent (to each other) newlyweds you'll ever encounter. He's a joyless widower sans vocation, but he does have a mansion on lavishly landscaped grounds from his last marriage, which ended in the sudden death of his wife. Jenni's an unstable heiress who has spent time in a sanitarium due to a traumatic incident in her past - the accidental drowning of her parents, which she witnessed. She blames herself for being unable to save them and also for (prior to the accident) hating her mother and wishing her dead.
Back from their honeymoon, presumably, they move into the house without phone, lights, or furniture. They meet three locals - Reverend Snow (MST veteran Russ Conway), his Romulan wife and Mickey (director Alex Nicol), a shabby, nonverbal grounds keeper who can barely make eye contact, and whom, it is said, was extremely close to Eric's dead wife, Marion, having grown up with her.
Padre Snow and wife welcome them with fresh eggs and help them hang funereal drapes inside the residence (as foreshadowing, this fails). Snow, who punches up every other line by beginning it with "why" or "well", divulges to Jenni the story of Marion's mysterious demise. "She slipped on a leaf in the rain and hit her head on a wall and the base of her skull was bashed in and she fell in a pool and drowned", he says. Plausible, to be sure... and also a great Benny Hill sketch.
While Eric's away, Jenni tries to befriend Mickey, (perhaps because Mickey has a far more magnetic personality than her husband). Mickey is weird, but you know how hard it is to get a good gardener, so he stays on. Meanwhile, Mickey talks to the painting of Marion in the lobby of the house. "Send them away!", he begs her/it, in an eerily Snagglepuss-like vocalization.
While alone - the vast, vast, vast majority of the film - Jenni hears strange sounds - knocking, distant shrieking, doors banging - and contorts her face into grimaces. (She also heard sounds before she went into the sanituarium, so she's afraid she may be getting sick again). A cabinet door opens by itself; she discovers a lily pad from the pond where Marion drowned on the floor of the house; the audience sees the image of a skull floating before the portrait of Marion. Does Jenni see it? Is she imagining it or is it really there? It's not so clear. Eric ascribes the presence of the aquatic vegetation to Mickey, who, Eric placidly says, probably enters their house unannounced at night - as if that's the most normal thing in the world. Well, okay, then. He promises to "speak to him".
Mickey and Jenni carry flowers to Marion's shrine on the estate grounds. It's likeness of Marion reveals she was perhaps eighty-five years old. Mickey tells Jenni that Marion "cries at night". Hey, who doesn't?
One evening, Jenni hears vigorous knocking at the front door. Upon opening, there is a skull resting on the doorstep, and it appears to roll of its own accord into the house. Mickey observes from outside. Did he do it, or is the skull self-powered? Ida Know. Eric pretends to confront Mickey as though he suspects the latter is responsible.
As part of Eric's unconventional approach to promote mental health, he urges Jenni to ritually burn the portrait of Marion because it reminds Jenni of her mother. They do so, but the painting shrieks in the process. (The audience hears the shriek but not the actors). Jenni and Eric start to bury the ashes, but that unearths yet another skull. Jenni swoons while Eric pretends to see nothing. He abandons Jenni, supine on the lawn, and takes the skull, hiding it in the garden pond, secretly observed by Mickey. Jenni, rattled, prepares to return to the rest home.
Reverend Snow becomes suspicious after hearing of the ashes and skull ceremony. He informs Jenni he is sending men to search the estate for the skull and she relays the information to Eric. He races to retrieve it from the pond, but it's gone. He violently confronts Mickey who tells him "Marion" took the skull.
Jenni prepares to return to the sanitarium. At least they have electric power. She takes a final walk to bid farewell to Mickey and espies a figure in the distance - someone in a wedding dress and veiled hat. It must be the dead Marion! Or a freelance beekeeper. Jenni screams and flees with "Marion" in hot pursuit, shrieking. Meanwhile, Eric readies a noose to kill Jenny and make it look like suicide. Jenny races into the house and Eric proceeds to throttle her into oblivion.
Suddenly, there is a loud knock at the door. An intruder has arrived. Who... or what... could it be?
Will Eric get away with murder yet again, or will his treachery be revealed? Will Marion attain vengeance? Will Mickey "Exit - stage left"?
Prologue: Tom reveals that he has become a beautiful butterfly.
Segment One: Although he doesn't look like it anymore, Tom is still a beautiful butterfly. Meanwhile, Pearl, Brain Guy, and Bobo pull a not-so-fast one on the crew, wasting time and money in the progress.
Segment Two: Crow and Tom create their own little cartoon based on the Gumby short, only to breakdown from the pain caused by it.
Segment Three: The Bots try to scam their way into getting a free coffin.
Segment Four: Crow disguises himself as a screaming skull to scare Mike. It works a little too well.
Closing (Segment Five): Tom's coffin arrives and reveals that to pay for shipping, he maxed-out Mikes credit card. Later, Bobo tries to pull the same trick on Mike and the Bots from before, resulting in him getting shrunk by Brain Guy.
Stinger: Eric flings a stool at the skeleton.
- "Hey don't! That's Wallace and Gromit's lawn!"
Wallace and Gromit is a stop-motion television series by Nick Park that features the adventures of a bumbling inventor and his dog.
- Habitat AGAINST Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian organization that builds houses for families in need around the world.
- Sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older...
These are the first two lines of the chorus of the 1946 folk song, Sixteen Tons, which is about the drudgery and poverty of coal mining.
- Hey, you use one of those older Philips analog chips in your robot, you're going to get this.
This refers to an attempt by Philips in 1992 to create the Digital Compact Cassette, a cassette recorder/player that was compatible with analog cassettes and that could compete with MiniDiscs and DATs. It never caught on, and was discontinued in 1996.
- I'm going to set you on Don Knotts strength!
Don Knotts (1924-2006) was an American comedic actor. His most famous roles--deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, the titular character in the movie The Incredible Mister Limpet (about a bashful and nerdy bookkeeper who turns into a fish and helps defeat the Nazis) and landlord Ralph Furley on Three's Company--played up his thinness and lack of physical prowess for humorous effect.
- "Davey and Goliath are moving in next door. There goes the neighbourhood."
Davey and Goliath was a Christian television show by Art Clokey (also the creator of Gumby) that featured the adventures of a claymation boy and his talking dog who gave moral advice.
- "Now I'm ready for years of powerful Adlerian therapy, Mike!"
A reference to types of psychotherapy based on the theories of Alfred Adler.
- This is worse than Seven!
Seven (also called Se7en) was a 1995 thriller about two detectives' pursuit of a serial killer, who is killing people in ways that make them embody the deadly sins the killer feels they are guilty of. The deaths of the victims are graphically depicted and extremely gruesome.
The Screaming Skull
- Thank you and good night.
Thank You and Good Night (1991) was a documentary on the elderly, aging and death.
- Looks like a dead person won the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby is an annual American race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses that, since 1875, has been held on the first Saturday of May. It is also called the "Run for the Roses," because the winning horse is draped in a blanket of red roses.
- Al Lewis's one-man show!
- Brekekekex, ko-ax, ko-ax.
The frog chorus from Aristophanes' comedy, The Frogs, which was first performed in 405 B.C. Yale University uses the frog chorus as a cheer.
- My Sharona...
My Sharona was the debut single by the Knack in 1979, and re-entered the charts in 1994. It's noted for having a hard, fast bassline.
- Mazo-ola corn goo-oodness....
Refers to an ad shown from the late '70s to the early '80s. The three above words were chanted by Native American men in an attempt to connect Mazola corn oil with Native Americans, the natural world and quality. The 1982 version of the ad may be seen here, from 1:37 to 2:01.
- I knew an Alex Kristy McNichol once. Thank you very much. Good night.
Kristy McNichol was an American actress who was best known for her roles as a teen and as a young woman in such TV shows as Family (1976-1980) and in such movies as Little Darlings (1980), Only When I Laugh (1981) and The Pirate Movie(1982). McNichol's last onscreen role was as Barbara Weston in the sitcom Empty Nest, which she left in 1992 after being diagnosed as bipolar. She returned in the series finale in 1995, which, to date, was her final appearance onscreen, though she has done some voice acting since.
- Help us! NBC is after us! Hide us!
The pretended speakers are the peacocks in this scene--and NBC's logo is a peacock.
- Poor Mickey. He's so fine, he blows my mind, poor Mickey.
A slight misquote of Toni Basil's song "Mickey". The lyrics are actually Oh Mickey, you're so fine/You're so fine you blow my mind/Hey Mickey, hey Mickey. Full lyrics are here.
- "Fruma Sarah!"
This refers to "The Dream" from Fiddler On The Roof. In this notable sequence, the "ghost" of Fruma Sarah is part of a story that Tevye weaves to explain a change in an arranged marriage.
- "...and Ida Know"
Not Me and Ida Know are two recurring characters in the newspaper comic Family Circus. Appearing as ghosts, they are allegories for the kid's excuses.
|preceded by: Season 8||MST3K Season 9||followed by: Season 10|
|901||The Projected Man||1998-03-14||906||The Space Children||1998-06-13||911||Devil Fish||1998-08-15|
|902||The Phantom Planet||1998-03-21||907||Hobgoblins||1998-06-27||912||The Screaming Skull||1998-08-29|
|903||The Pumaman||1998-04-04||908||The Touch of Satan||1998-07-11||913||Quest of the Delta Knights||1998-09-26|
|905||The Deadly Bees||1998-05-09||910||The Final Sacrifice||1998-07-25|