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The Skydivers

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And I thrust the nail into the soft, yielding wood.

609 - The Skydivers
Air Date August 27, 1994
AKA Fiend from Half Moon Bay;
Panic at Half Moon Bay
Movie Director Coleman Francis
Year 1963
Cast Kevin Casey, Eric Tomlin, Tony Cardoza, Marcia Knight
Short Why Study the Industrial Arts?
Preceded by 608 - Code Name: Diamond Head
Followed by 610 - The Violent Years

The Short

Why Study the Industrial Arts?


Joe and the Coach double-team to explain to a high-school student disparaging shop class the many and varied uses for Industrial Arts in all aspects of modern life.


The Movie


New Mexico, 1963. The Rowes, Beth (Kevin Casey) and Harry (the electric Tony Cardoza) manage an airfield for that special cadre of people who exist primarily for sport parachuting.

Beth puts on a cheerful front; she enjoys wearing coveralls, doing plane maintenance, and watching others skydive. Sometimes she ponders people's possible psychological motivations for jumping. Harry, in contrast, is a remote, monotonic, dysthymic, passive-aggressive, adulterous schlub.

They are experiencing marital difficulties. Beth still loves Harry, so she valiantly tries to rekindle the romance by donning her pearls and serving candlelight dinners in a cozy crawl space. There is also plenty of that magical Coleman elixir, coffee. She tries to draw Harry out on their relationship difficulties, but he refuses to even discuss their problems. Instead, he cheats on Beth with local bad girl Suzy. The two like to frolic along the moonscape of the artificial bass environment.

Suzy is also seeing the worm-ridden Frankie, a dimwitted pawn with a permanent grimace. He once worked for Beth and Harry but was fired for drunkeness. Jealous because Harry is seeing Suzy, Frankie returns to the airfield at night to sabotage one of the planes. Harry is waiting and they have at it. Harry, enraged almost to the point of seeming slightly irritated, threatens Frankie with extreme violence should he ever return.

Beth and Harry's downward spiral is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Joe Moss, Harry's friend from the Korean conflict, who joins the airfield crew as a mechanic. He too is an avid fan of "the bean". Joe and Beth begin exchanging searching looks in Harry's absence. This escalates to an actual kiss.

From time to time, various skydiving-crazed customers desirous of jump time drop by to be lifted heavenwards in the generic unmarked plane. We hear the transcendent music of the spheres as they ascend and plunge joyfully back to Earth. A gaggle of unidentified colorful onlookers, some with possible cognitive issues, bring cameras or guitars and pretend to observe the excitement, such as it is. One jumper forgets to pull his ripcord and buys the farm, so the FAA shuts down the airfield for a while.

One day Harry slams back the suds at a dismal hole called the "Sky Diver" then encounters Suzy as he leaves. He insults her and they have a brief physical altercation. She then begins plotting his demise; she forms a diabolical plan and commandeers Frankie's help.

At the film's climax, there is a Bacchanalian blowout consisting of an alcohol-free "twist party" held (I'm guessing) on Halloween at high noon on the airfield tarmac with (apparently) inmates from the local insane asylum and a traveling circus, powered by a band that plays absolutely no "twist music" whatsoever (they're pretty good, though). The dancing is to be followed by jumping en masse, including Beth, Harry, and Joe.

Suzy uses her feminine wiles to obtain acid at a local pharmacy and sneaks into the hangar where the packed chutes lie waiting. She sabotages Harry's, then she and Frankie retreat to observe the results of their evil handiwork.

Will Suzy's treacherous plan succeed? If so, will she be duly punished for the crime of murder? Will Beth and Harry rediscover their love?

Contains coffee, light planes, sky-diving and "Superman" wind-noise sound effects.


This is the first of the three films directed by Coleman Francis to have been MSTed, the other two being 619 - Red Zone Cuba and 621 - The Beast of Yucca Flats. All notorious for being some of the worst movies to have been shown on the show.

Regarding the band at the airstrip party: Jimmy Bryant (with partner/steel guitar player Speedy West) helped pioneer the West Coast rockabilly sound in the early 1950s. Click here to listen to 'Stratosphere Boogie' in full: it's worth it.

The Episode

Host Segments

Prologue: Tom's planetarium show is disrupted by Crow's repeated gags about Uranus.

Segment One: Dr. F's skill back in high school at swing choir causes him to propose a little competition...

Segment Two: Shop class on the SOL isn't going too well due to Tom's lack of working arms and Crow's preference to work without safety equipment.

Segment Three: Believing it's something he needs to know how to get out of on his own, Crow puts himself in a "double jock lock".

Segment Four: Crow and his hot rod comes under fire from a fighter-plane-flying Tom.

Closing (Segment Five): Crow and Tom persevere and struggle in their parachutes as Mike reads a letter, while Frank suffers through dodge ball.

Stinger: Steve the soon-to-die skydiver says, "I don't know. I feel real free up there in the high blue sky."

Obscure References

'The Mads' vs. 'Mike & The Bots' "Battle of the Swings Choirs" consists of the following songs:

  • "Marlo Thomas, in That Guy!"
A reference to the real-life 1960's sitcom "That Girl."
  • "Extruded plastic dingus..."
A reference to the product Norville Barnes invents in The Hudsucker Proxy (which turns out to be a hula hoop.)
  • "Krazy Glue spokesman!"
A reference to a Krazy Glue commercial from the 1970s that showed a construction worker whose hard hat had been Krazy Glued to a steel beam.
  • "Tool operators...Tooool operators..."
A parody of the Sade song "Smooth Operator".
  • "Bravo respects the rights of the artist, but we cut their films anyway!"
A dig at a former slogan for the cable network Bravo.
  • "I'm gonna go watch the Kefauver hearings anyway."
The Kefauver hearings were a series of Congressional hearings on organized crime held during 1950 and 1951.
  • "They should set a place for Eraserhead."
The dinner scene resembles a similar scene in David Lynch's first movie, Eraserhead. This may be one of the rare occasiona, however, when you can compare "Eraserhead" to another movie and "Eraserhead" has a more coherent plot.
  • "Amon Goeth on guitar."
Amon Goeth was a Nazi war criminal .infamous for executing thousands of prisoners and attendees at Plazow labour camp. He was one of the main antagonists from Schindler's List.
  • "H.R. Haldeman on drums."
The drummer of the band bears a passing resemblance to H.R. Haldeman, a key figure in the Watergate scandal.  The idea of the extremely conservative, almost reactionary, Haldeman as a drummer in a "jazzy" band is made even more ironic in light of his Christian Science beliefs.
  • (Servo humming along with Jimmy Bryant's tune)
It reminds him of The Ventures' 1954 surf rock hit "Walk, Don't Run."
  • "I think it's this town's Passion Play."
Passion plays are an old tradition, mostly in Catholic communities, where locals put on a play during Lent depicting the crucifixtion of Jesus.  (Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a modern, filmed version.)  The name is misleading to modern ears; these are obviously very solemn productions, about as far from this swinging dance party as you can get.
  • "It's Polonius!"
A character from Shakespeare's Hamlet, the father of Ophelia.  In one scene, Polonius spies on Hamlet and Gertrude from behind a tapestry, sparking a cascading series of events that drive the tragedy's final act.
  • [singing] "We're so glad we had this time together..."
Carol Burnett sang this song at the end of each episode of The Carol Burnett Show.
  • "What d'ya suppose that big brown thing coming up to meet me is?"
A reference to a passage in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; a whale is (extremely improbably) yanked into existence several miles above the surface of a planet, and only has a few seconds to come to terms with its existence before dying on impact.  Its last thoughts are to name the "big brown thing coming up to meet me" and wonder if it will be friends.
  • "Yeah! Take that paper! Make it swing, Junior. Junior tried to be a singer, but he couldn't cut it. Sit down, Junior."
Mike is pretending to be Frank Sinatra commenting on his son's mediocre singing career.
  • "It won the Palme de Butt at Cannes."
A spoof on the Palme d'Or.

Video Releases

  • Commercially released on VHS by Rhino Entertainment in October 1999 as a single tape, and as a part of a 3-VHS set with Shorts Vol 2 and Catalina Caper.
  • Commercially released on DVD by Rhino in November 2002 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 1, a 4-DVD set with Catalina Caper, The Creeping Terror and Bloodlust!.
  • The DVD release is a double-sided disc, with the MST version on one side and the un-MSTed movie on the other. The MST3K side also includes a trailer for the original film.

External links

MST3K - The Skydivers Promo (609)00:29

MST3K - The Skydivers Promo (609)

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