krpalmer: (mst3k)
krpalmer ([personal profile] krpalmer) wrote2009-12-15 06:46 pm
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MST3K 105: The Corpse Vanishes

Getting back to the latest official Mystery Science Theater 3000 collection and back to the first season, I've watched "The Corpse Vanishes." Thinking back on this episode, I do have the feeling that the "riffs" don't seem quite as sparse as in "The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy" or "Mad Monster," and yet they're still somehow more just "there" than standing out. Still, being tied with "Mad Monster" as the oldest movie featured on the series (although there was an older short), with a vague reference to wartime tire rationing tossed in, might count for something somewhere somehow...

Things start off with another chapter in the adventures of "Commando Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon." In this one, Cody and his sidekick head down the side passage that wasn't mentioned last chapter to evade the wave of molten rock splashing towards them, evade the moon men in their rickety space tank, and get back to their rocket. Despite taking forever to build up any altitude, the rocket escapes the space tank's heat ray and heads back to Earth, where the two gangsters in the pay of the moon men are waiting. After a gunfight, Cody jumps into a somehow even then old-fashioned car (I've heard that the Republic serials finally penny-pinched themselves into oblivion through heavy use of stock footage) and tears off in pursuit, only to have a bridge blown up under him...

As for the feature itself, brides are collapsing at the altar and apparently dying, and people passing themselves off as undertakers keep collecting the bodies before the official folks arrive. A spunky female reporter starts looking into the story and eventually manages to get to the home of a doctor played by Bela Lugosi, who keeps revitalising his wife with extracts from the young women (she doesn't take when it wears off well) while being assisted by a midget, a weathered and leering but perhaps not otherwise deformed hunchback, and their mother, the three of them one understated note of interest in a dreary, draggy movie. She stays overnight, wears a sheer nightgown and robe ("You might say that she's dressing for distress."), heads through a secret passage in her wardrobe ("This is much better than my old passage through the sock drawer."), and discovers that the doctor and his wife sleep in coffins; he's quite casual about that when it's mentioned to him. Eventually, the reporter gets away alive after the doctor has strangled the hunchback ("No, he doesn't want to hurt him; it's just high-impact chiropractics."), determined to get a cigarette girl to put on a fake wedding to draw the doctor out with his deadly orchids. He picks her up instead though, even if the midget gets shot in the process, and is about to draw extracts from her when the disgruntled mother of his assistants stabs him. With all the bad guys dead, a wedding between the reporter and the good doctor she met along the way can be arranged.

Joel's "invention exchange" is the "chiropractic helmet" he showed off in the primal "host segments," and a host segment that I believe is based on one from the previous small-market season combines with one where everyone is just playing tag to give me a sense things are a little understated this episode. On the other hand, Tom Servo's head explodes when trying to think of a good thing about the movie to get a "RAM chip," something I take particular notice of after all the MSTings in which somewhat the same thing happened.