krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Returning to the tragically brief yet finely tuned seventh season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've got around to the episode "The Brute Man." I suppose that in watching the opening "host segments," I got a slight sense of how some people might have started to feel ambiguous about how the latest reshaping of the show was turning out, with half of a stuffed cat being pulled out of Gypsy as Mrs. Forrester heads out on a date with her son Dr. Forrester not taking it that well even as he sews the head of a piglet on to a fish. (In the invocation of an odd injoke, Mrs. Forrester puts "Art" in charge on the Satellite of Love, and that power goes to Crow's head.) Dr. Forrester seems to cheer up as he announces the movie, though...

After the short shown before the movie, Mystery Science Theater was only able to get around to three more shorts spaced through its last two seasons. That, I suppose, makes "The Chicken of Tomorrow" ("Dedicated to the chickens who lost their lives in the great chicken war!") a marker of sorts, and yet there's nothing melancholy about it, with shots showing developing eggs and cooked chickens ("Yes, chicken sliced to the width of one electron!") juxtaposed with fluffy yellow chicks and free-range poultry, to the accompaniment of cheerful music that I can seem to remember also played in a previous short in the series, "Body Care and Grooming." In an odd yet familiar sort of "soft sell," the motor vehicle and quality petroleum are talked up at regular intervals. ("The unholy alliance between Big Oil and Big Chickens." "Did America really need to be sold on the automotive industry at this point?")

As for the movie itself, it's from the 1940s and looks dark and forbidding. ("Wow, the world was dingy back then.") It features Rondo Hatton, whose features were photogenically distorted by acromegaly after being gassed during World War I, and the "riffing" does joke about this ("He's reminiscent of a tall dwarf." "Wow. Him and his college buddies went bobbing for anvils." "He looks like an Easter Island statue."), although the official episode guide does touch on the whole "exploiting tragedy" issue. In any case, Rondo's character "Harold Moffat" (calling back memories of "Ring of Terror," there are a great number of "riffs" about sitting on "toffats" and one about "eating curds and whey"), more often "the Creeper" in the movie itself, is out sneaking up on people from behind and strangling them. It turns out that he's seeking revenge on those who, in college, were connected to him being made to do some dangerous chemical experiments while in a worse than normal bad temper, whereupon he got into an accident and wound up the way he is. In a somehow quite familiar development, he's befriended by a blind piano teacher, but this doesn't particularly help him in the end after a great amount of slow, careful "creeping" ("Rocks move faster than this guy!") as the law closes in. The movie also features a particularly irascable owner of an old-fashioned grocery store in a brief yet memorable appearance.

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