krpalmer: (mst3k)
krpalmer ([personal profile] krpalmer) wrote2008-07-13 09:25 am
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MST3K 202: The Sidehackers

"The Sidehackers" opens what might be called the "biker trilogy" of the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's specifically pointed out by the mad scientists that the movie is "not a science fiction film"; at this point in the series, they still seemed to be observing such niceties. In some ways, though, this episode seems infamous in part through something that isn't quite explained on-screen itself, but can be found in the official episode guide...

"Sidehacking" itself involves taking a motorcycle and attaching a wide, low, flat sidecar with some handles, and then getting someone to ride on the sidecar leaning perilously in every direction to balance the bike around offroad turns. Rommel (whose name inspires a good many references to Patton in the "riffing") is a sidehacker with a girlfriend Rita, with whom he romps through a meadow early in the movie. ("They look like they're filming a Star Trek episode.") He happens to meet a sort of gang leader (exactly what he is doesn't seem quite clear) called JC, who takes an interest in sidehacking but also happens to be abusive to his own girlfriend. That girlfriend propositions Rommel, Rommel turns her down, and the girlfriend, who doesn't take that very well, convinces JC that Rommel tries to assault her. In response to that, JC and his gang bursts in on Rommel and Rita at a run-down country house, and the show cuts to a "host segment..."

As explained in the official episode guide, the show's writers had decided to work on the movie before watching all the way through it, not realising that it shifts from somehow goofy motorcycle racing (at one point "riffed" on via on-screen graphics by our heroes' mute chronicler, Cambot) to Rita being raped and murdered. The riffing tries to fill people in on most of what happened as Rommel wanders past the places where he and Rita used to go ("For those of you playing along at home, Rita is dead.") I've seen it suggested, though, that the scene took some of the energy out of the writers as Rommel, against the suggestions of his bike-shop partner, assembles his own team of misfits and sets out for revenge.

Hiding out and getting crazier than ever, JC manages to choke his own girlfriend to death, and at that point there's not much left to do but set up the final confrontation, where Rommel's gang manages to acquit itself fairly well against JC's (a sidehacking motorcycle makes an unexpected return) despite JC's having more guns and using them first. In the end, everyone seems dead or somehow missing but Rommel and JC, who have a long and struggling fight that does nevertheless invoke the famous "Haikeeba!" line first heard on the series not that long before in "Women of the Prehistoric Planet." Rommel seems to defeat JC, but JC finds a discarded gun and shoots Rommel, and that's that...

Following right after "Rocketship XM," the movie's conclusion leaves everyone on the Satellite of Love very depressed, although Joel does his best to cheer everyone up by singing his second song of the episode, this one a fairly close adapation of one in the movie into "Only Love Pads the Film." With that, "The Sidehackers" can be placed behind us.