krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Last year, I looked at three episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I was tempted to call "Star Wars ripoffs." This year, the thought came to me that I could watch the episodes that might be "Indiana Jones ripoffs"... although for some reason it's a little harder to come up with a definitive list of them right away. There are plenty of movies in the Mystery Science Theater "canon" that feature intrepid explorers pressing into the unknown (in, of course, a variety of "cheesy" ways), and now that Indiana Jones himself is connected to the 1950s it's that much easier to make connections with movies from that era. However, I decided in the end to only consider those episodes featuring movies made after 1981, and came up first of all with "Alien from L.A.", a Golan-Globus production (Dr. Forrester informs Mike that he's wanted to inflict that team on him for quite some time), starring 1980s supermodel Kathy Ireland. However, looking good doesn't necessarily mean sounding good...

Kathy Ireland plays Wanda Saknussemm, an obvious reference to "Journey to the Center of the Earth," and possibly the movie's one clever touch. To demonstrate flowering through her adventures, she starts off wearing ridiculously large and square-lensed glasses; not that she seems to need them once the time comes to cast them off. She also speaks in a strange squeaky voice; even after watching the movie, I'm not sure if this is an exaggeration at first, but the movie itself does seem slightly aware of it. (After one late attempt by the movie to joke about it, Tom Servo mutters "I'd slap this movie if I could.") So are the "riffers," of course, and the beginning of the episode is heavy with "riffs" delivered in squeaky falsetto voices, most of them built around the idea of Kathy and her character being dumb. ("I've been thinking too much. My puzzler hurts!") However, as the movie grows stranger, these "riffs" seem to fade back.

Her father (who the "riffers" compare to "Clint Howard," and who explores wearing a bow tie and a dirty white lab coat) has been away for years, but when he falls down a bottomless pit in Africa, Wanda overcomes her fear of flying to go looking for him. Wearing a particularly frumpy outfit, Wanda winds up falling down the same bottomless pit (in a particularly bad process shot), to land with no injuries in the subterranean world of Atlantis. There, she first encounters a gruff but helpful miner with an Australian accent, who takes her to Atlantis proper, filled with a crowded collection of budget grotesques ("This is where all those New Wave fans went when the Wave was over.") Being an "alien," Kathy is pursued for reasons not quite clear to me and also put into more flattering outfits, assisted both by the Australian miner and more briefly for reasons not quite clear by someone she just happens to run into. Finally, though, Wanda meets up with her father again (who comments that the government building of Atlantis is actually a spaceship to no apparent effect), and the government leader willing to let them go punches out the government leader intent on taking more extreme measures to protect Atlantis, letting the Saknussemms return to the surface via a lift of some sort. ("So it's not really a bottomless pit, it's a topless hole.") The other person who helped Kathy shows up on the surface, the Australian miner apparently not being handsome enough to win the girl, and the movie ends with a very long credits sequence during which the "riffers" accuse each other of being into "really femmy movies." Crow then offers the sage thought from the bridge of the Satellite of Love that "You know, watching this movie was like watching a really bad movie." That may be true, but I can think of at least one more episode to continue the theme...

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