Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MST3K: Episode 603 - The Dead Talk Back

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

Episode 603: The Dead Talk Back

First aired: Comedy Central on 31 July 1994
Availability: Amazon (Volume 8), Rhino (Volume 8/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 8)

No they don't.
Here's a spoiler: the dead don't talk back.

See? Now you don't have to watch the movie. You can, but you don't have to.

Unless you really want to. This piece of cinematic sludge is available on DVD if you want it. Or, if you absolutely can't wait, you can watch it online right now.

But you don't. Trust me on this.

If you want to see it, I do recommend the MST3K version because, well, misery loves company. You'll be miserable. But, you'll have company in the form of Mike & the Bots. You'll need them.

Dr. Creepy wants to talk to dead people.
Now, this isn't he worst movie ever made. In fact, it's far from it. But, it's not a good film.

It would fit as an episode of the The X-Files or Fringe or something. Some TV show that has a supernatural element to it, but could just as easily have a non-supernatural explanation to a mystery.

This movie tries to set itself up as a supernatural film. The whole idea of talking to the dead, after all, isn't reality-based. But, at the end of the movie, the whole supernatural element is part of a ruse to get the killer to confess.

Dr. Creepy is trying to build a radio to talk to the dead using razor blades and wine glasses, but he's not nuts because he has helped the police solve murders before, so when a girl is killed exactly when the narrator says she'll be killed, no one suspects the narrator, but instead focus on the resident of the boarding house where the girl lived, along with Dr. Creepy and a bunch of other creepies who agree to a seance to talk to the dead girl, and after a false start, it goes well enough that the dead girl talks back, causing the killer to confess that he didn't really killer her, but he did because it was all a trap, although Dr. Creepy still thinks he can talk to the dead one day, and everybody lives happily ever after, except the killer, who gets hauled off to jail, and the dead girl. The end.
M&tB are "The Dead." Get it? Crow plays a Jerry Garcia-length solo that goes on and on...... and on and on and on ....
This movie was made in the 1950s, but never got released until somebody found it in a drawer or something in the 1990s. Fortunately for them, there was a TV show that made fun of bad movies, so everybody won.

Well, except the people who watched the movie.

Okay, I enjoyed it. Not the movie, but Mike & the Bots riffing the movie. The movie wasn't very good. But, like I said, it could have made a decent episode of a TV show. With some work.

I'll buy whatever she's selling.
There's also a short film in this episode. It's called The Selling Wizard, and it's intended to help merchants sell more stuff from a display freezer. It's actually a straight-up helpful sales video. It's not one of those where they say something that's stupid or anything. It's dated insofar as the appearance of the equipment and merchandise, but the concepts taught are actually on target.

Put it this way: if they remade the short today, it'd be a lot cheesier. The lady dressed as the wizard isn't over the top. Today, somebody would insist on a Harry Potter or Gandalf or something. And that would be a heckuva lot cheesier than this short.

Though the short isn't quite goofy, they do have some fun with it. The movie is more riffable, and they do riff it good. And the Host Segments are okay. The Jerry Garcia-like solo that Crow embarked upon was cute. The fire drill was worth a chuckle. And the call-in radio program, "The Dead Talk Back," was cute. Winston Churchill was right about the Bills, by the way.

While no one part of the episode was great, this is one of those instances where the sum is greater than the parts. I liked the overall package better than any one piece of it. It just worked for me.

The only drawback is actually my DVD. There's a problem with it. The image flickers several times. And, it's not the film they're watching, it's the episode. It happens during Host Segments, too. I only have it on commercial DVD -- it was never released on VHS -- so I can't say if all videos of it are that way. It's watchable, and only happens a handful of times, but it is irritating.

Still, an enjoyable episode.


  1. Sad, but true: I actually bear a passing resemblance to Dr. Creepy.

    Then again, I bear a passing resemblance to almost any guy with a thin face, long nose, and trimmed beard. I should probably start a club.

  2. This is probably one of the worst movies shown on Mst3k during the Mike era. It's been a while since I've seen this episode, but as far as I can recall, nothing involves talking to the dead in this movie.

    By the way, a note about the DVD section: You may or may not already know at this point, but it appears that way on every disc. Unfortunetly, the master tape was damaged by the time it came on.


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