Monday, January 30, 2012

MST3K: Episode 206 - Ring Of Terror

I'm watching all of the episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, from start to finish. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 206: Ring Of Terror

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 3 November 1990
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon DVD (Volume 11), Rhino (Volume 11/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 11)

"Movie Sign!" ... Not!
This one is dark. Literally. It's hard to see. The blue/purple tinting is really evident, but it actually helps. Without the tinting, you'd never be able to see the shadows of Joel & the Bots.

It's hard to see for another reason: the DVD of the episode is out of print. Oh, it is available from a variety of sources, as you can see from the listing above. It's available fo streaming from iTunes and Amazon. It is part of a four-pack (Volume 11) that's out of print, and though Rhino no longer has the pack, Amazon and Best Brains do. Additionally, the episodes in the four-pack are still in stock at See the links above, if you want to add this episode to your collection.

This episode opens with a joke played on Joel by the Bots: They do a fake "Movie Sign," and we get to see Joel use the tube to the theater. Not sure when that was installed. I never noticed him using it before.

Joel is back to wearing the teal jumpsuit. They should have changed the lyrics to the song. I know: it's just a show, I should really just relax.

In the Invention Exchange, Frank does Frank (Dennis Hopper) from Blue Velvet. If you've never seen that film, you probably won't get the joke. And, while watching the movie would help you get the joke, I can't say that it's worth it. Unless you want to see something you'll never, ever forget. Ever.

Dr. Forrester's invention is great: it's a life-size game of Operation, using Frank as Cavity Sam. Funny stuff. My favorite Host Segment was the autopsy of the Hoover vacuum cleaner. I'm not a fan of autopsy humor, but this was well done.

42-year-old George Mather plays 23-year-old Lewis Moffit.
The bad part about great Invention Exchange or Host Segments is that they often coincide with a really bad movie. Not just bad. Not just MST3K bad, but poke sharp implements into my eyeballs bad. That's this movie.

The plot of the movie is enough to fill a five-minute short. If you filmed it twice. Here it is: a college student has to steal a ring from a corpse, but a cat distracts him, his coat gets caught on something, then he gets scared and dies. Really. That's the plot.

There was a Twilight Zone episode, The Grave, with a similar plot and ending that aired a year before this movie was made. I'm not suggesting that this movie stole the plot from the Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone episode is an old west retelling of "The Path Through the Cemetery," a short story by Leonard Q. Ross. There are a lot of similarities between Ross' tale and this one.

The payoff: Lewis' coat is caught, and he dies of fright. The end.
The college students are 40 years old. Well, the actors are. The characters are 20. They're played by people that are 40.

Joel & the Bots make fun of this during a Host Segment, where they do a promo for a college: The Old School. When I was younger, I would have thought that was funny. Now, I'm thinking that's where I'd like to go if I decide to pick up some additional courses.

They reversed the order of things on this episode. After the movie, Joel was happy that things went so quickly. That's when the Mads surprised him with a short film: The Phantom Creeps, Chapter 3. That was evil.

Frank makes up for it -- sort of -- with his song at the end of the show: "If Chauffeurs Ruled the World." That almost makes watching an episode of The Phantom Creeps worth it.

Hoover autopsyFrank sings!
I liked the riffing in the movie and the short. Had the picture quality been better, it would have helped things. The movie and short wouldn't have been any better, quality-wise, but you could at least see how bad they were. Instead, I had to hear how bad they were.

They were bad. And that's good.

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