krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I've come to a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode well worth coming to in the estimation of several. The movie "Pumaman" seems to be an entry in a previous "superhero movie boom," that of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It might be described as a "peculiar" entry even dating from then, but that of course adds to its charm within the series.

Things open with declarations of an "Aztec legend" about an unattractive gold mask ("Goldfinger got Mike Tyson!") and a distinct "ancient astronaut" flavour ("Christmas ornaments of the gods!" "Hot bathysphere action.") Then, Donald Pleasence (already familiar within Mystery Science Theater itself), clad in black leather, uses the mask (and the apparent ancient electronics inside) to bend the will of a young blonde woman also in black leather to his own. Then, we learn that Americans in London are falling to their doom from high places. One American paleontologist, though, manages to land on his feet after being chucked out a window by a big-faced "Aztec guy," who nevertheless makes several references to the "Andes."

Whether Vadinho ("I'm an onion.") had also been tossing the doomed Americans out of windows before he found Tony Farms isn't quite clear, but in any case he's now found the latest in a long line of "Pumamen." Tony is resistant to this truth until he gets invited to a party at the Dutch embassy by Jane Dobson, Donald Pleasence's mind-controlled minion, and set upon by armed thugs. Tony escapes into the attic and smashes his way through the roof ("Luckily they made their house out of peanut brittle." "So basically a mild rain could take out that roof.") and must at last accept the mystic belt thrown to him by Vadinho, which puts him in a costume one part superhero, one part apparently ancient, and one part sensible slacks. ("He gave him the Captain Dork costume by mistake.") Absurd music plays ("Soundtrack by my little brother's Casio.") as Tony flies in most awkward fashion against poorly done special-effects shots. ("He has the power to rear-project major cities!")

Vadinho tutors the complaining Tony ("Are pumas also known for their whining?") with great patience, instructing him on puma powers like phasing through walls. This eventually gets Tony into a confrontation with Donald Pleasence, who promptly uses the gold mask to twist his will and take away his powers. Tony barely escapes, and Vadinho tells him about one more puma power, that of feigning death. After this makes Donald Pleasence's minions eventually dismiss him ("To be left alone; the goal of every great hero."), Vadinho punches Tony out and ties him to a plank while he goes to blow up the bad guys via suicide bomb. However, Jane manages to free Tony's will again, and he (sort of) manages to join in the fistfight Vadinho is engaged in against all of the minions, and then bring the escape helicopter crashing down in flames. The mask and Vadinho are beamed up by the spherical spacecraft, and Tony and Jane get around to making the next generation of pumamen in mid-air. ("And immediately he defiles the holy gift given to him!")

This is one episode where the "riffing" is more memorable than the "host segments," although Tom and Crow trying to get Mike to become "Coatimundi Man" is pretty entertaining. Nevertheless, what we do get is more than sufficient to make for an enjoyable experience.

Date: 2009-06-28 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is one of my favorite episodes of MST3k, because man, I love Vadinho and how he's basically the hero, and Tony is just his whiny sidekick. Also the "Pumaman, he flies like a moron! Pumaman, when will he find love?" song.

I never put together until now, because I didn't spend time thinking about it, but yeah, I guess Vadinho was just running around chucking guys out of windows, hoping that one of them would turn out to be Pumaman.

Date: 2009-06-28 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I did perhaps more get around to "Pumaman" because of its episode number than pick the number so I could rewatch it in particular, but it was well worth getting back to for me. Perhaps we're supposed to think of Donald Pleasence instead of Vadinho when it comes to the other people falling from high places, but once the thought comes to mind it's certainly one to wonder about...

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