krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Continuing my brief survey of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that might be thought of as "Indiana Jones ripoffs," I've reached "The Final Sacrifice." ("Oh come on, one more sacrifice before we go..." "Okay, but this is The Final Sacrifice.") This episode features a map leading to a lost city and a dangerous cult, but in a way doesn't have to be seen as an "Indiana Jones ripoff" to be entertaining; as one of the episodes from the "Sci-Fi Channel years," it stayed around longer than the earlier ones and seems well-remembered now even though it isn't available on video yet. Even so, it took me a little while to get around to seeing it even when I had the chance...

"The Final Sacrifice" happens to be a Canadian movie, and I knew from the online official episode guide that one of the "host segments" involved Tom Servo trying to sing a "song of tribute" to the nation that winds up going horribly wrong. I suppose I worried I would be too thin-skinned to see the humour. Eventually, though, I had seen enough reassuring comments from other fans to watch the episode itself at last. It is true that Pearl Forrester's henchman Observer (or "Brain Guy") introduces the movie as "the worst thing to ever come out of Canada," and yet the movie in a sense entertainingly condemns itself without having to be condemned just for being Canadian. Too, perhaps being based in Minnesota helped the "Best Brains" toss out references that Canadians themselves would appreciate, including references to Brian Mulroney, Guy Lafleur, a good number of Canadian musicians, Expo 67, and my personal favourite, "As It Happens."

The movie begins with "Randy Bachman" "being pursued by sado-masochists," cult members in black ski masks and tank tops, through the snowy, scrubby forests of Southern Alberta. Following the fleeing person's execution and the credits, the action picks up "seven years later," with the dead guy's teenaged son Troy McGregor ("He's made in the image of an egg noodle!") turning up a crudely drawn map via much searching of his house ("So, we're just watching someone fritter away their afternoon here!") As if drawn just by that, the cultists storm Troy's house ("You know it's spring when the executioners start getting in the house,") led by sharply dressed "Canadian villain Garth Vader," whose hair has been cut in the seven years since we last saw him. After a bicycle-versus-car chase scene as cheaply scored as the rest of the movie ("The music is really more suited to plate spinning,") Troy manages to leap into the debris-filled back of a battered pickup truck as it drives away.

The pickup truck has been started with great difficulty by the movie's second protagonist, the doughy, moustached, "hockey-haired" Zap Rowsdower. ("So, Rowsdower... is that a stupid name?") The official episode guide opines that Rowsdower should really have been the guy who takes Troy to the "real" hero and then serves as the gruff but lovable sidekick, but the episode itself just has fun with his general peculiarness. After another chase in which Rowsdower concocts a Molotov cocktail using the contents of his truck's back and then just tosses a crate of empty bottles at the cultists' two vehicles, just as shabby-looking as the "Rowsdowermobile" but somewhat better-running, our heroes become stranded in the mud. They happen to be right near where Troy can find an underground chamber ("And no matter where he goes, he finds a basement to dwell.") with a wall painting that matches the map and a notebook filled out by his father. In the meantime, Rowsdower has been captured by the cult, and we learn he has a dark secret...

Reunited at last, our heroes run into Mike Pipper, who knew Troy's father. ("Knew him? He was delicious!") Pipper looks and sounds so much a seedy (seedier?) version of the minor Canadian icon Red Green, at the most just starting to appear when the movie itself was made, that it's kind of scary. Most of the "riffing" concentrates on making Yosemite Sam references, though, although there's one (slightly wrong) quote from Red Green himself at the very end. Things end with a final confrontation between good and evil, or at least the best this movie can manage for both. All in all, it's highly entertaining, and a good way to wrap up this two-episode experiment.

May 2017

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