Friday, August 17, 2012

MST3K: Episode 818 - Devil Doll

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

Episode 818: Devil Doll

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 4 October 1997
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon DVD (Volume 19), Shout Factory (Volume 19), Best Brains (Volume 19)

Hair styles by Shemp Howard.
Because of various rights issues, some episodes of MST3K haven't been released on video. But, a lot have.

Some are released on physical media (DVD, or, formerly, VHS) and some are electronic media (streaming). Usually both. Every now and then you'll find one that's only on DVD and not available streaming. I can't think of one that's available streaming, but not DVD. Pretty sure there aren't any.

Those available streaming can usually be found on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, or, most often, both.

It's frustrating when there's a really great episode that's not available in any format.

Butt Lady assists Vorelli.
Almost as frustrating is an episode that's available in every conceivable format ... and it's not a fun episode.

That's this episode.

Don't know what it is. Maybe the whole "ventriloquist dummy is alive" thing that I don't care for. It's been done. Many times.

Twilight Zone did it. Tales from the Crypt did it. There have been several movies that have done it.

To be fair, Devil Doll is one of the earlier efforts, but I saw many of the others first. That kind of clouds my perspective.

"Kubrick saw this seen and said, 'We've found out Heywood Floyd!'"
Even if I had seen it earlier, I doubt I would have liked it. It seems as if it would be able to stand alone -- that is, without Mike & the Bots -- but I don't want any part of that.

It's just a shame, to me anyway, that this episode is available on video when so many better episodes aren't.

What's it all about? Glad you asked.

The Great Vorelli is a ventriloquist with a creepy dummy named Hugo that looks kinda like Shemp Howard, and an assistant who keeps forgetting her pants, and his act consists of he and Hugo bickering and threatening each other, which the audience seems to just love for some reason, plus he's a hypnotist who uses his powers to make Heywood Floyd's hot girlfriend fall in love with him, which ticks off Heywood Floyd, who discovers that Hugo used to be a real person who was part of Vorelli's act in post-war Germany, but Vorelli killed him as part of the act, which the Germans were apparently okay with since he didn't go to prison or anything, only Vorelli put Hugo's soul into a dummy, which was apparently a setup for his master plan to hypnotize some hot rich chick to fall in love with him, marry him, then he'd put her into a dummy and kill the person her, and inherit all her money, but Hugo doesn't like the idea, and neither does Heywood Floyd, so Hugo attacks Vorelli and swaps places with him. The end.

Heywood Floyd's rich girlfriend.
See? Kind of a weird movie. I even left out the part about where Vorelli said he wouldn't let Hugo have any ham. I also left out the part where Hugo stabbed the Butt Lady to death because he was mad at Vorelli for sleeping with her or something.

I also didn't ask about why Vorelli would plot to put the hot rich girl in a ventriloquist dummy before he killed her instead of just killing her. I mean, after having killed one assistant in his act, for which he served no time, wouldn't you think authorities might get suspicious if another "accident" on stage took someone else out?

Oh, well. If it was a good movie, then MST3K wouldn't have bothered with it.

No thanks, First Amendment.
There are some good riffs in this episode. Just not enough to make this one a good episode, in my mind.

The Host Segments feature Pitch trying to sell Crow some Devil Dolls and offering to teach Crow how to transfer souls, which Mike doesn't tolerate.

It's an okay episode, but not one I'm looking forward to seeing again. I've seen it before (plus, I own the DVD and the electronic version), and when I came to it as part of this "watch 'em all in order" project, I wasn't excited about it.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh about this episode. I just know what I like. And don't like.

Oh, one other thing. In the end credits, they didn't thank the Authors of the First Amendment. Don't know why. And, I'll be watching to see if they return that to the credits (hint: they don't).

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