Mad Scientists, Secret Formulas, Playing God, the line between medical miracles and madness is very fine. It’s often the final step or a grudge that gives way to horror. Fritz bringing the wrong brain, Ralph ignoring a curse, Griffin playing with monocane, Universal Monsters thrived on a fall from grace. It’s much of the recipe. One wrong move effecting the rest. Dr. Moreau being matchmaker, Dr. Pretorious stealing Frankenstein’s wife, the small stuff seals the deal. When You Went Mad, Hell-In-A-Handbag, Acetylene-Powered Thunder Lizard, Joel’s Blender, The Wolf Man, Switching The Bot’s Heads, The Death Of A Scientist. “Is that Marty Feldman?”, “Guns by Vidal Sassoon”, “You will believe a man can fly.” “There’s a lovely fire in the fireplace” or “Stop, Drop, and Roll”?
Wow. This might be the worst movie of season one. The print is bad, and there’s little action. The riffing is okay, giving how early in season one this is. This one is a PRC film. Producers Releasing Corp was the lowest of the low on the poverty row studios. The lead actress is Anne Nagel. IMDB describes her life in one word “miserable”. First husband committed suicide, divorced second husband. Died from liver disease at 50. Seems like her life summed up this movie pretty well.
Why do I feel like even when it was made, this film generated a LOT of yawning both on-set and off? Every single plot point, character, and element was just grabbed from better movies, sliced, diced, and melded into the blandest mush possible. I remember that there were decent riffs in it, but the forgettable nature of the story causes me to not remember a single one, though I’ve seen it plenty of times.
Oh, yeah. The Overscore Guy. He made some good compendiums. However, he also couldn’t seem to stop yammering about how every Mike episode was better than every Joel episode, every RT was better than every newer MST3K without Mike, and so on. It really wore on me after a while.
Though Radar Men from the Moon has yet to wear out its welcome, a few signs are cropping up. First off, there’s that bane of all serials where the apparent demise of the hero in the previous week’s cliffhanger is resolved with a lame cop-out. In this case, Cody dived out of the ray gun’s line of fire which deceptive editing had omitted. Another thing is the repetition of certain exposition points that the audience might have forgotten since last time (it’s not like they were expecting these installments to ever be screened again). Then there’s the padding to get the serial up to twelve chapters. While not as blatant as later instances, Cody and Ted stealing a tripod mounted ray gun only to be forced to abandon it doesn’t really accomplish much in a narrative sense.
As for the movie, it must be said that Dr. Cameron’s idea of using werewolf soldiers is stupid. Their apparent lack of reasoning ability would make them only suited for direct assaults. Even then, in a war zone they’d encounter firepower considerably more potent than a random yokel with a shotgun. But then for a mad scientist, practical applications take a back seat to Showing Them All.
As an interesting aside, the cast features a couple of regulars from the Universal Classic Monster films. Dr. Cameron is George Zucco, who has been in plenty of villain roles, primarily for The Mummy series. Meanwhile test subject Pedro is Glenn Strange, who was one of the performers to take the role of the Frankenstein Monster after Boris Karloff quit over the characterization going from simply misunderstood to actively evil.
As an episode, this is a prime example of the weaknesses of the low riffing rate in the early episodes. Unlike the prior two movies, there are long stretches without any dialogue or background music. Had this been a later episode, they would have filled this dead air with riffs. Without any wisecracks, the effect is soporific.
Having started watching MST3K during season 1 on Comedy Channel (!), I have seen this episode many times. The Mad Monster is not a terrible movie, but it is not great either. Very dreary and grey, but if you are down with traditional “B” pictures, it is an easy watch.
The lighter riffing style of season 1 does lead to some quiet spells, but Joel and the Bots seems more active in this one than in some other episodes. Lots of great doggy jokes throughout. One of Josh’s best episodes I think, his sardonic tone for Tom Servo really shines in this outing. The blender host segment is a classic, one of my all time favorites.
Favorite riffs in no particular order:
“Hair designs by Shemp Howard.”
“Men who are governed by one collective thought, the animal lust to kill without regard to personal safety!” “Republicans?”
“That felt good. Now I am going to go turn my daughter into a woodchuck.”
I think I own this episode in 2 different manners. I have it in single DVD as well as digital copy from Kickstarter.