1112. Carnival Magic (1983)

For 20 years, no prints existed. In 2009, a 35mm copy surfaced. Sweaty, icky, unpleasant, Carnival Magic (1983) hurts to watch it. A collision of the circus and The Dukes of Hazzard, nothing is safe. Joe Exotic, Dr. Oz, a talking chimp, the rest is white noise. So much cliche, so much filler, but “Where’s the Beef?” Tom-Talk, Yeasta-Pet, Flavor-Sweat, Cop Jargon, Mark Hamill. “George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Carnies”, “Not the Mama! Not the Mama!”, “Mongo only pawn in game of life”. Excrement or its own Cinematic Universe?


1999 me would have been utterly amazed if 2022 me would have told him (or me) that MST3K would be coming back via a website-based service with an all-new crew and a host segment featuring Mark Hamill and a song from an EGOT winner.

Some of that’s because of time travel, obviously, but most of that’s because OF ALL THAT.


Oh how I love this episode! The Elvin Feltner connection, the cheesy movie and the riffing thereof. And my name is in the credits of this one! My favorite of season 11. Enough said!


“Why did I have to eat midnight chili?” is the riff I laughed longer and harder at than almost anything. It still gets me every time.


My apologies in advance — I don’t believe this was the “new Manos” that MSTies were expecting. However, I remember it being quite an acquisition by Alternaversal at the time (especially considering it was lost media for decades).

“New Manos” speculation aside, as an episode? It absolutely kicks ass.

What else is there to say that hasn’t been said? It ticks all the boxes of a film so incredulous that it was practically made for MST3K. This was released in 1983 but feels like 1963. Al Adamson should be even MORE infamous for his output. Alex is an amazing/terrifying/hilarious character and Markov’s countless mind-reading scenes are hilariously over-the-top.

There are quite a few times where the film dips its toes into bad taste but, much like Beyond Atlantis, stops just shy. It’s painful and enjoyable at the same time.


Also, “He’s in the refrigerator! HE IS IN THE REFRIGERATOR!”

God, I love this episode. What makes this film work so well for MST3K is how weird it all feels, like it’s a completely random movie find. It feels like they didn’t discover this movie so much as they unearthed it.

That, and… who was this movie for, exactly? It’s ostensibly supposed to be a family-friendly movie, what with the carnival setting and the talking chimp antics and all, but there’s some dark violent content and THE NEAR VIVISECTION OF THE MONKEY WHO HAS TO BE WILLED BACK TO LIFE AFTER TAKING POISON

Just… what?

The only disappointing thing here is that the movie near made good on its promise (or its threat, rather) at the end for More Carnival Magic.

In addition to MARK HAMILL being MARK HAMILL, the episode also has an all-timer with that CB-radio lingo host segment.

This episode also has the distinction of having the longest stinger in MST3K history, nosing out the stinger for The Phantom Planet.


Let us not forget Missy O’Shea, girl in the car!


Who managed to show versatility later as Missy O’Shea, girl out of the car!


This one along with Cry Wilderness is the other all-time classic so far of the revival era IMO. Those two go in the pantheon with Manos, Space Mutiny, etc. in the larger collection of golden episodes for the entire franchise.

I have rarely if ever seen anything like Carnival Magic, and the fact that its star is Guiding Light patriarch Don Stewart as the uncomfortably virile middle-aged magician (who allegedly left his soap opera because he was tired of being paired with age-appropriate women) is the icing on this trashy cake.


This film has got such a weird, creepy vibe and definitely carries that “who did they make this for?!” energy. It’s not as bad as Manos, but it’s in the same territory.

Of course, the episode is massively boosted by an unexpected guest, and Mark Hamill hamming it up as a conman ringmaster is one of my favorite scenes of the season (I’m sure me saying that is a total surprise). I’m really glad he got a song out of it, too.




It’s exploitative, yes, but there’s also an earnestness about it that’s oddly endearing. All our leads become better people by the end of the film.


As if Diane Arbus had been hired by Sid and Marty Krofft to direct Señor Speilbergo’s version of Every Which Way but Loose, but left out all the fun?


Longer stinger than Atlantic Rim?

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It takes a lot for Al Adamson to find ways to be more skeevy, but it turns out the extra ingredient was always “just add carnies.”


I absolutely love this episode.

“They never found the talking chimp that did it.”

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Have we ever got an answer on what this was? Or any good theory?


Kinga’s revenge on Matt for any Kingadome livestream technical difficulties.


Wouldn’t that be prevenge, since it was before the livestreams?

Wait, is @mattmcg22 faking technical difficulties to get revenge on Kinga for this? Is this some weird venge-loop?


Just barely.

Carnival Magic’s stinger clocks in about 20 seconds, while Atlantic Rim’s stinger runs about 15 seconds. The latter’s length is about comparable with The Phantom Planet’s stinger, now that you mention it!