krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I've headed back to the sixth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but in doing decided to rewatch what may be one of the "coconut candies" of the series for me. In the long tradition of Mystery Science Theater movies that just might be called "ripoffs" of other things, "Bloodlust!" ("The story of Wisconsin sausage!") is pretty much a take on "The Most Dangerous Game." Before we get to the movie itself, though, it's time for a stopover at "Uncle Jim's Dairy Farm"...

City kids George and Betty are packed off to the eponymous farm for the whole summer ("Let's go tip some cattle!"), and meet their country cousins Andy and Jane to be informed in somewhat odd fashion of the general cleanliness of the operation, thus ensuring purity and wholesomeness of the milk. The whole "wholesomeness" theme continues to be played up via hearty dinners ("Repressed emotions help the evening pass without incident." "Good, hearty white bread for white, white people."), and just as the various baby animals grow so too do George and Betty mature until they can climb the rope in the hayloft. The whole thing may sound a little more appealing in retrospect detached from the soft sell and faded colour; the assorted "riffs" on the unique pleasures of the city ("She's dreaming of midtown Manhattan.") were amusing enough at the time.

The movie itself opens with four people (often called "young" by other characters, although it does seem to be the sort of "young" that's been mocked in other Mystery Science Theater movies) on a pleasure cruise. When they just happen to spot an island looming nearby all of a sudden, they take a boat ashore ("Unfortunately, they landed on Bikini Atoll in 1947.") while the drunken skipper is passed out. Intending to go on a "clambake," they press inland until their sharp-shooting blond leader Johnny Randall (played by Robert Reed, later to become famous as the patriarch of "The Brady Bunch"; the "riffers" are careful not to dwell on this) falls into a pit trap. ("The lure of the clambake proved to be their undoing.")

Before long, our four hapless "youths" have been taken by henchmen in vaguely piratical striped shirts to the brooding, trophy-stuffed mansion of Dr. Albert Balleau. After a lot of uneasy portents, it's discovered via the less competent brown-haired "youths" ("Indiana Nerd and the Temple of Dork!") that there's a fake sort of cave beneath the mansion where the stuffed trophies are human, including the unfortunate couple who tried to warn the protagonists. Explaining that he got hooked on killing people during the war, Balleau dispatches the two guys into the jungle along with the miserable skipper, who had supplied him with convicted criminals before. The two girls, the blonde one just happening to be a judo master, manage a breakout of their own ("The Defiant Debs.") even as the skipper is taking a crossbow bolt to the gut, and a body-sized tank of acid, a convenient pit of leech-filled quicksand, a crazed and ragged island dweller appearing without explanation ("John the Baptist!") and an empty but sharp trophy rack show up before everything is sorted out.

When I think about it, I might have been somewhat distracted during the first part of the movie, that traditional period for standing around and talking, but things do pick up once people are out in the jungle (however much of it might have been built on a soundstage) again; the movie is gruesome enough for its time and the "riffing" seems to pick up in response. The "host segments" in the middle of the episode are brief yet pointed, but as a wraparound we get the first appearance of Dr. Forrester's mother, her hair at this point as wild as her offspring's. She gets along famously with Frank (prefiguring their reunion in "Soultaker"), but not quite so well with her son. There's also an amusing opening with Tom Servo psychoanalyzing Crow, who's wearing his "sensible pants" the better to recline on the couch.

May 2017

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