krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Continuing through the latest collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, I've reached "Indestructible Man" (there doesn't seem to be a "The" in the title on screen.) Again, it was one of the last episodes I got around to seeing, and I suppose I was still wondering how I would take revisiting it.

After having commented last time how the series stepped away from serials as episode-stretchers, all of a sudden I've skipped far enough ahead that a serial has returned. This episode includes the second chapter of "Undersea Kingdom" (the first chapter was shown with "Attack of the Giant Leeches"), the oldest film ever shown on Mystery Science Theater, where a nattily dressed naval officer, a plucky girl reporter, an elderly inventor scientist, and a somewhat strange kid find their way into the lost city of Atlantis, underwater but still well-supplied with air. Much furious, sped-up galloping of horses and some not as swift "robots" ("Oh great, water heaters that install themselves") fill this chapter before we reach a cliffhanger that doesn't actually imply our heroes have just been killed. On the other hand, this was the last chapter the series showed. Some black-and-white segments of the "General Hospital" soap opera followed before it was back to promotional and educational shorts.

Lon Chaney, Junior was listed in the credits for "Undersea Kingdom," and he also stars in "Indestructible Man." He plays "the Butcher," a condemned criminal who promises he'll take revenge on the turncoats whose testimony condemned him to death. It doesn't seem to be his own doing, though, that brings his executed body to the lab of a scientist who zaps him back to life. The shock burns out his vocal cords, which probably appealed to the Mystery Science Theater writers because they could "talk for him." Now impervious to bullets, the Butcher shambles off with many closeups of his screwed-up eyes to cast his enemies down from high places and search for the stolen money he hid in the sewers of Los Angeles. ("Oh, it's the Treasure of the Sewer Madre.") In the meantime, the detective who narrates the whole things using after-the-fact knowledge so we can tell what's going on is chatting up the burlesque dancer who used to date the Butcher, which seems at least a little like "trading up" for her. There's one very long scene of that where Tom Servo falls asleep and Joel then finally breaks down, which I suppose might not be the best way to make things seem funny rather than a punishment. In the conclusion, the police seek the Butcher through the sewers and blast him with a bazooka and a flamethrower. Being mute didn't seem to bother him, but being stuck with a lumpy face (and being broke) does: the Butcher struggles up to the surface, hijacks a loading crane, and drives it straight into some convenient power lines, which disintegrate him on impact.

One thing I did start to like about this episode was that, among a certain number that may be "too many" of references dwelling on "cops and doughnuts" (the Satellite of Love crew signs a legal form promising not to do that any more, although I once noticed it referenced in a later MSTing) and yucky things down in sewers, I noticed a reference to Expo 67 and comparing the crane to a "giant gantry" now moving away "from the Gemini capsule and its Titan." It may, of course, be nothing more than the selfish feeling that I get the riffs where others may not.

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