krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Although it's been a little while since I commented on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, I'm back at it now. Entering the early days of the "Mike episodes," I rewatched "Outlaw," a movie somewhat in the "heroic barbarian fantasy" vein of "Cave Dwellers" (or, at least, as close as those movies come to that...) It's pointed out at times that this particular episode won a Peabody Award, and it does seem to be a particular favourite of many, but for some inexplicable reason it didn't make quite as much of an impact on me when I first saw it. It may be for that reason that I decided to rewatch it now...

Things start off in a very 1980s kind of bar, where the rugged yet withdrawn professor Tarl Cabot flashes back to fragments of a previous adventure ("Previously, on Outlaw..." "Oh, and we don't believe in transitions."), somewhat reminiscent of a similar recap in "Cave Dwellers." He then leaves with his pushy companion Watney Smith, who's the unfortunate sort of character audiences love to complain about (although, to be fair, the "riffers" only have one big string of demanding him dead), and then they just happen to plunge through some sort of implied time-space portal... ("Sorry, folks, we simply could not afford to have special effects!")

Now on the primitive desert world of Gor, Watney needles Cabot for an explanation, repeating his name over and over, they get their clothes shredded in a first battle, and then they head to a city where Cabot's well-known and his name gets repeated over and over once more. ("So, Cabot! then." "So our hero's name is... what, then?") Fully kitted out in barbarian wear, Cabot is reunited with his true love Talena from the last movie (and then a platinum-haired midget, Hup) and Watney prepares to enjoy the undivided attention of numerous servant women also with 1980s hair, proclaiming "this is the life." ("For you, maybe! Not the women.") However, the new queen manages to poison the old king and accuse Cabot, and Cabot's aged companion gets killed covering his friend's getaway... ("Open season on geriatrics?")

With Watney and Talena thrown into the dungeons ("I get one call to my tanning booth!"), Cabot and his short companion Hup wander the desert, then manage to fall in with slavers. Cabot is intent on breaking up their brutal racket, but after causing havoc ("Good one, Cabot; you just set fire to the Boy Scout jamboree!") he manages to rescue just one attractive female slave. In the meantime, an over-accessorised "Hunter" has been sent out, and he manages to capture the three fugitives with very little trouble. Cabot gets tortured, refuses a proposition from the queen, get tortured again, and then everyone is set on by gladiators. ("Don't worry kids, we'll have lions eating Christians if you'll just be patient...") Cabot manages to defeat his attackers, though, and then Watney accuses the queen of killing the old king. The "Hunter," swept away by the force of Watney's rhetoric, hurls his spear at the queen, and much rejoicing ensues. Cabot prepares to rule with Talena, and for no particular reason Watney is hurled back to Earth to wander the streets still in barbarian wear and then get picked up by the police. I haven't even managed to mention Jack Palance and his peculiar hat yet...

There was, after all, plenty of cheesy fun about this movie; it might have amounted to an "embarrassment of riches," as there didn't seem to be any "riffs" on the peculiarities of certain performances or the fake blood that kept getting on the swords. For all I know, the thought I started with was just a matter of liking certain other genres of Mystery Science Theater movies a bit more.

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