krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Jumping ahead to the eighth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I watched the episode with possibly the longest title in the show's canon, "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies." (The actual on-screen title of "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" is pretty long too.) There might be a point of intersection with episodes such as "The Robot Versus The Aztec Mummy" where the title sort of draws you in straight off, but I did find myself contemplating that the "zombies" in the title aren't quite like the now very familiar "walking corpses" that happen to show up in the later "Zombie Nightmare"; not, of course, that the movie stands or falls on "truth in advertising."

The carnival fortuneteller Madam Estrella propositions a "doughy guy"-style travelling salesman; when he spurns her, she has her stiff-faced and incoherent assistant Ortega pour acid on his face. Although things are stretched out through a nigh-endless series of not especially impressive song and dance numbers ("No one's ever attempted an interpretative dance of Mein Kampf before!"), about as risque as you could get in a movie of the early 1960s ("Now is this dance provocative or just boring?" "Well... provocative in its boringness."), the rest of the plot is delivered via the youthful and hooded sweatshirt-clad yet thin-haired and long-faced Jerry (played by "Cash Flagg," who's declared by the "riffers" to be the movie's producer-director Ray Dennis Steckler), who with his pompadoured and Eastern European-accented friend Harold takes his big-haired girlfriend Angie to the beachside carnival. An exotic dancer who just happens to be related to Madam Estrella lures Jerry into being hypnotised by a spinning disc thing; he pulls his hood up and starts stabbing other dancers. At last, when a convenient spinning parasol makes him attack Angie, Jerry returns to Madam Estrella only to have acid thrown in his face; however, if for no clear reason, the other grotesque "zombies" kept in a secret cage break out and kill their masters before being gunned down by two cops. Jerry, nowhere near as grotesque as any of the other victims, nevertheless flees down the beach until one of the cops shoots him at last; he topples into the surf, is dragged out by Harold and Angie, and possibly dies. It's bleak (if also confusing) enough to just perhaps resemble the Mystery Science Theater movies from a decade later. ("We hope you've enjoyed No Moral Theatre!")

Following up on "parts: the clonus horror," the "host segments" include Pearl Forrester returning the "space children" to their omnipotent parents; there's also an introduction that might be inspired in some small way by the lengthy title and an appearance by Ortega, who might have been seen in the same vein as the just as unkempt and peculiar in appearance (if more articulate) Torgo. As much as it could be pointed out how much "filler" went into the at least distinctive vision of the movie, it does seem to allow for room to "riff."
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