krpalmer: (mst3k)
krpalmer ([personal profile] krpalmer) wrote2008-04-06 09:34 am
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MST3K 810: The Giant Spider Invasion

It's been quite a while since I last managed to rewatch a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, much less comment about it; a collection of other projects got in the way. However, that didn't mean I wasn't looking forward to rewatching this particular episode in the "Volume 10.2" collection...

"The Giant Spider Invasion" happens to be in colour, which our heroes take brief note of after nine black-and-white movies in a row featuring monsters and the like from the 1950s to lead off the eighth season. On the other hand, this movie is not only from the 1970s, but is set in rural Wisconsin. Directed by Bill Rebane ("One of the finest directors ever to come out of north central Wisconsin,") who was already infamous in the Mystery Science Theater "canon" for his connection to the movie "Monster A Go-Go," the movie opens with a meteor crashing to Earth ("Pull up, Laika, pull up!") near the rundown farm of a philandering, "grass"-growing ("So lawns are illegal in Wisconsin?"), ultimately somewhat familiar farmer and his drunken wife, who has a comely young sister ("Ed Wood's Lolita.") Two middle-aged scientists, one from a panelled NASA office and the other working out of a local planetarium and lab with a giant demonstration slide rule hanging in the background, begin to investigate the meteor reports as the farmer and his wife discover their cows have been consumed by photogenic tarantulas hatching out of geodes filled with industrial-quality diamonds. Bigger and bigger spider puppets ("Giant puppet invasion.") begin to show up until at last a really big and really fake spider appears, one always conveniently behind low hills whenever it's shown moving. ("I understand you can repair these giant spiders yourself.") Things end with most of the rural folk dead, but the scientists, who have got into their own unflattering situations ("I can't believe I let you roll on me!"), manage to bomb the dimensional gateway or something the meteor opened up and the really big spider sort of melts down ("It came from Planet Grossout."), as a revival preacher who's figured in the background before continues preaching via voiceover. ("Is there a verse in the Bible that tells us when the end of this movie is near?")

With Mike Nelson having come from Wisconsin (and sporting a state seal patch on the arm of his jumpsuit), the "riffing" has some definite fun poking at the state. ("Ah, greasy guys carrying unconscious girls, comfortable two p.m. beer buzz... Homesick yet, Mike?") The "host segments," in keeping with the theme of the eighth season, more or less involve Pearl Forrester and her henchmen finding pods on the planet they're camping on, pods which begin to try and replace everyone. Our heroes struggle to stay awake, Mike drinking coffee out of a Darth Vader mug, Tom just nodding off (although later triumphing over a duplicate by providing an inventory of his underwear collection), and Crow well-wired on a collection of over-the-counter stimulants, until at last Professor Bobo finds the resolution to pummel the central pod. The real Pearl Forrester, on learning that Mike and the bots have watched a movie without her getting to watch them, subjects our heroes to the experiment all over again just as the end credits begin. That's unpleasant for them, but the first time around was quite entertaining anyway. With that, too, my viewing of the latest collection is complete, although I don't lack for ideas of what to rewatch next.