krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
It's on to the third episode of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 "20th Anniversary Collection." I have the impression that "Werewolf" ("I don't know, you had him last!") is a particular favourite of many fans, but I also have the personal impression that this episode somehow didn't resonate with me quite as much as some when I first saw it. Even with that, though, I can certainly acknowledge its entertaining qualities.

"Werewolf" is copyright 1995, basically the newest movie ever featured on the series (there's a certain peculiar issue with a good chunk of "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders" that I hope to get to describe one day), and I somehow had the not-quite-profound feeling on watching the DVD that this was the sharpest film ever seen behind "shadowramma." Of course, that has to be weighed against many, many other aspects of the movie. The action opens with an archaeological dig in the middle of the high Arizona desert, supervised by a European guy named Yuri with a somehow protean hairstyle. We know that Yuri's a jerk because he gets into a fistfight with his three diggers for some obscure reason possibly involving a skeleton they've just unearthed, and in the process one of the diggers gets cut by the fangs of the skeleton's peculiar skull...

Getting together with his accented colleague Natalie around the skeleton, Yuri learns from his other colleague Noel that the skeleton is of a werewolf, or rather some Native American variant of the same. One of the distinguishing feature of this variant is proclaimed to be that the victim starts sleeping "like a coyote, nose to anus"... fortunately, we don't see that. The infected digger breaks out of the hospital after Yuri, disguised as a doctor, has snuck in and drawn some of his blood, but one of his former companions, played by Joe Estevez of "Soultaker" fame, is ready for him. "Later, in the dead of blue-filtered night," Estevez and the third digger shoot the werewolf with silver bullets ("The least successful werewolf of all time.") and then vanish from the movie themselves.

A new European guy Paul arrives in Flagstaff, apparently a writer, and moves in to the attic of a house kept up by the fairly unique character "Dictator for life Santa." In the meantime, Yuri has pressed drugged champagne on a security guard (played by the movie's director) and then, after his victim has passed out, injects him with "werewolf serum." The transforming guard drives off through the "most stubborn full moon in the history of the world," with Yuri tailing him, rounding what looks very much like the same block many, many times, until at last he loses control of his car, crashes into some convenient oil drums, and goes up in flames. ("So, his plan is to rid the world of security guards by changing them into werewolves one-by-one and then having them crash their cars." "Well, uh, it seems to be working so far; you can't fault him on that.")

With two werewolves now disposed of, Paul and Natalie have begun to hit it off together, and Yuri takes offence to that and gouges Paul's shoulder with the werewolf skull. ("Oh, this is like that time I hit that reporter with Piltdown Man's thighbone.") Paul takes his own sweet time transforming, but after Natalie comes over to visit him (just what happens is suggested by the movie's original trailer, included on the DVD), he charges out at last ("So whatever they did in the bed blew him out of his room and halfway across town.") and breaks up a make-out session. He then returns home and shoves his realtor or secretary or something down the attic stairs. ("This is good, because it's been a few minutes since a woman was brutalized.")

Returning to normal, Paul goes out with Natalie to a pool hall featuring a part of the generally cheap soundtrack perhaps somewhat more inappropriate than usual. ("Yup, bikers love harpsichord music.") He then promptly slumps in a corner, more and more hair appearing on his face with every scene, while Natalie plays pool with Yuri. ("Hey, Paul, you're really turning into a werewolf there. Oh, and three ball in the corner pocket.") At last, we learn that Yuri is in cahoots with Noel to reveal a werewolf to the world and reap fame and fortune. Natalie is understandably bothered by this, and after Paul escapes to rampage through the night ("Oh no, he's running through the streets doing things!") she warns him of what's happening, whereupon Paul mauls Yuri and we get a "twist" ending the "riffers" are more than happy to anticipate. To deal with this movie's lengthy end credits, they perform a wide-ranging medly to the accompaniment of its chanting soundtrack.

Entertaining and peculiar moments in the "host segments" include Mike using a ladder created by the "nanites" to climb all the way down to Earth; unfortunately, the Satellite of Love is in geosynchronous orbit right over Castle Forrester and he gets chivvied back into space by a lit cannon. As well, Mike and the bots draw inspiration from the "driving werewolf" ("An American Werewolf in Traffic.") to become a "girl group," and Mike manages to cut himself on Crow and wind up a "werecrow," a "net" sticking bizarrely up from his head for the last part of the movie. (Crow helpfully informs him that his "voice is going to change inexplicably every seven years or so.")

The DVD also includes the third and final instalment of the "History of MST3K" feature, which begins with the controversy over Mike replacing Joel. The making of the Mystery Science Theater movie is also discussed, everyone still a bit annoyed with the compromises of struggling with a studio. I suppose I did wonder a little about how some of them seemed a little blank when remembering being confronted with complaints that "This Island Earth" "wasn't bad enough for them to 'riff' on"; I could remember the speculation of certain people that even the "Best Brains" were becoming a little "tone deaf" to the genuine appeal of old movies... However, the discussion seems to deal with "getting cancelled" all at once and with an admission that they had always been sort of expecting it, and the feature itself closes with a discussion of the fandom (featuring an appearance of the two people who run the "Satellite News" site itself), which makes for a much more positive conclusion. The set itself, of course, isn't quite done yet.

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