Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MST3K: Episode 402 - The Giant Gila Monster

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

Episode 402: The Giant Gila Monster

First aired: Comedy Central on 13 June 1992
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon (Solo DVD), Amazon (Volume 10.2), Rhino (Volume 10.2/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 10.2)

Sit down. I have a story to tell.

The Giant Mexican Beaded Lizard would have been a better title.
It's about two giant lizards. One is our friend Godzilla. The other is a giant gila monster known as "The Giant Gila Monster."

They never knew each other growing up. They never crossed paths. They never talked on the phone or emailed each other or sent each other text messages.

The only thing these two giant lizards had in common is that they were both giant lizards.

Until MST3K came along. Or, actually, after MST3K came and went. Let me explain.

Joel Hodgson playing Joel Robinson playing Frank Fontaine's Crazy Guggenheim
In October 2006, Rhino released The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 10 (Godzilla vs. Megalon / Swamp Diamonds / Teen-Age Strangler / The Giant Spider Invasion). Long title, but it did have 4 episodes. Only, there was a problem with one of the titles. Turns out that they didn't have the rights to release Godzilla Vs Megalon on video.

So, they had to pull the release. They re-released it, but with The Giant Gila Monster in place of Godzilla Vs Megalon. All the other movies were the same. They called it Volume 10.2. Clever, huh?

For fans that had already purchased Volume 10, they released (for a limited time only!) a solo DVD of The Giant Gila Monster, complete with instructions on how to replace the Godzilla movie with the Gila Monster movie to perform the "upgrade." They even got Joel, Trace, and Frank to reprise their roles for the instructional video.

He sings whenever he sings whenever he sings...
This created a rarity in the world of MST3K fandom. Two, actually. The Volume 10 collection was now out of print and hard to find. And, the solo DVD of The Giant Gila Monster was also hard to find.

Although you can't buy the Volume 10.2 collection directly from Rhino anymore, you can still find it. Harder to find is the Volume 10 collection. Hardest to find is the solo DVD if The Giant Gila Monster.

Some people, collectors, I suspect, have them all. I know I do.

Oh, yeah. The movie. The episode. Let's talk a little about that, won't we?

The quality of the movie is bad. Technically, I mean. The sound is awful.

The tune that plays whenever the Giant Gila Monster is close by reminds me of the tune the evil spirit whistles on The River. I think the people who made The River should get in their time machine, go back to 1959, and sue.

The actors in the movie, whenever they decide to have a conversation, prop their leg up on something and place their elbow on their knee. I'm guessing the director had a little Captain in him. That would explain a lot. Servo has a Host Segment where he talks about this, and Cambot has a montage of all the scenes where actors do that.
Got a little Captain in 'em?Captain
(image: CaptainMorgan.com)
Shug Fisher, who I knew best as Shorty Kellums on The Beverly Hillbillies, played the town drunk. Joel & the Bots did a funny drunk sketch, with Joel playing Crazy Guggenheim, a Frank Fontaine character I knew from The Jackie Gleason Show.

Oh, one other thing. This was the beginning of the running gag where Crow would occasionally be referred to by the name, "Art."

Remember Episode 203: Jungle Goddess? The one where they did a Host Segment based on a 1950s sitcom, and at the end, Joel, doing his best Jackie Gleason, introduced Crow as "Art Crow!" -- similar to Gleason's "Art Carney!" introduction at the end of his show?

Well, a four-year-old saw that and thought that "Art" was Crows's first name. This reference will show up again in Season Seven, and continue through the end of the series. But now you know its origin.

This is one of the episodes I've seen before. I didn't see a lot of Joel episodes, but this one I did see. And, yes, I'd seen the movie before I ever saw the MST3K episode, so it was familiar the first time I saw it.

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