krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I now have my copy of the latest Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD set (complete with Gypsy figure, although I haven't taken it out of the box, just as I haven't taken the Crow T. Robot or Tom Servo figures out of their boxes yet), and to get started with I've watched not the earliest episode in the set, but the latest. "Devil Fish" might be thought of as a Jaws ripoff (to stand among all the other ripoffs the series covered over the years), if a late-by-some-standards one. The "riffing" doesn't dwell too much on this (beyond "A human! We've got to close the oceans!" and "They simply played the Jaws theme backwards."), perhaps instead pointing out how "European" the actors are, but in some ways the special lack of quality of the movie stands very much on its own.

Things start off with a cabin cruiser attacked, and then through a lot of short, disconnected cuts ("The director's vision? Lots of shots of things." "You know, just because you can edit doesn't mean you should.") some marine biologists begin to suspect there's something in the water. The weathered, beer-swilling guy and flat-chested woman ("Farrah Fawcett Minor.") get augmented by the (somewhat) more handsome hero, and it's eventually discovered that there's a bizarre tentacled shark-like thing underwater, and then, that much more eventually, it's revealed that the "devil fish" is the genetically engineered creation of an evil corporation, which kills off more of the supporting cast than the monster does (at one point while the two leads are making out on a beach). After some more or less incoherent battles ("Underwater fights are like the drum solos of movies."), though, the Coast Guard gets on screen ("So the Coast Guard just rolled over for the Italian film industry?"), and the "devil fish" is lured close to shore. Plenty of gasoline is poured into the water ("Well, this should take care of every living thing in the Everglades."), and despite a good number of extras being devoured ("Lotta guys named Bo were killed that day."), the "devil fish" is incinerated in the nick of time. ("The sheriff's official report simply said 'ick.'")

I suppose I did have a feeling part of the way through this episode similar to one I've had with other episodes of late, that things seemed to drag part of the way through, but also as before they picked up again towards the conclusion. In keeping with the "nautical" theme, Pearl Forrester tries to pass her castle off a cruise ship in the "host segments"; we also get Mike losing his identity and, inspired by a bit of the movie, our heroes asking just how smart dolphins are after all. The DVD gets rounded out with the impressive bonus feature of an hour-long convention panel featuring Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl.

June 2017

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