206. Ring of Terror (1961)

“Dean Wormer… Please come to the front desk…” “Dean Wormer… Please come to the front desk…” Fraternities, sororities, college life. Choose your own adventure. Delta Tau Chi, The Alpha Betas, Tri-Lambs, Oozma Kappa. So many tastes of the rainbow and so little time. What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas? Fake Movie Sign, Life-Size “Operation”, Pin-Bolus, Robotic Anatomy, More Phantom Creeps, “If Chauffeurs Ruled The World.” “Centerville. A real great place to raise your kids up”, “They just bought drugs from the Queen of England!”, “He looks like Count Chocula.” “Shouldn’t they have their high beams on?” or “They must be serving Tombstone Pizza”?

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“Puma?”

PUMA ?!?!?!”

Blinking Black Cat GIF by Xbox

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If Chauffeurs Ruled The World.

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Life Of The Party.

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Suck Up.

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To The Moon.

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Trailer to Ring of Terror (1961).

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This is such a weird episode. The movie itself is five minutes of plot stretched out way too far, somewhat like a marriage (Where did it go?!), and is pretty forgettable. The most unsettling thing about this one is the short coming after the movie! Just when you think you’re done, bam!

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I actually find this film entertaining. I realize it’s a thin plot stretched way too far, but I like the characters.

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I love it when we get Frank songs. Probably the worst singer of all of the classic cast, but he still has a ton of fun with it.

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This has all the earmarks of a tenth rate Twilight Zone submission that failed to get Rod Serling’s approval. And he would have been correct in his refusal.

Though there are a multitude of variants of this plot, the core elements remain identical. Guy goes into creepy place on a dare to perform a task. In the process of performing said task, he’s immobilized by a presumably supernatural force. Guy panics and dies of fright. When his body is discovered the next day, it’s revealed that the immobilization was caused by something mundane. The End. This works fine when told around a campfire. But adapting it even for a half-hour anthology series would require considerable padding. As a feature film, it takes padding to a whole new level.

Our protagonist is Lewis Moffitt, a 22-year-old medical student. At least they try to convince you that’s the case. In actuality, actor George Mather was in his early forties when this film was shot. Judging from their appearances, it was the same case for the other actors cast as students. So all the geriatric jokes in the riffing were pretty much inevitable. Now it’s been argued that there are plenty of college students of more advanced years. But that age group is rarely into going through fraternity hazings that are so prominently featured here.

Anyway, Lewis is supposed to be fearless, which is demonstrated by him dealing with a rattlesnake that interrupts the lovers lane time with his girlfriend and by being the only student who doesn’t toss his cookies during the dissection of a John Doe. Clearly, he’s Compensating for Something. So, the frat committee that assigns hazings has him break into the morgue to swipe the ring worn by said John Doe and the above-mentioned campfire story proceeds by the numbers.

Of the host segments, the most memorable is the one that parodies the dissection lecture scene, with Joel gutting a vacuum cleaner as the Bots get all nauseous. But that’s not all, as we get a serving of The Phantom Creeps for an unwelcome desert. Chapter Three is just as incomprehensible as the previous installments. The sole new development I could make out is that Monk’s loyalty to Zorka is wavering. The only reason I can think of for having the short at the end is because Frank’s song “If Chauffeurs Ruled the World” works better as part of the final host segment.

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Agreed. The short near the end solely makes sense as a means to the song. “Chauffeurs Ruled The World” offsets the discomfort of much of the show. It’s like warm milk after a spicy meal. The third Phantom Creeps inspires the number so it and the song are where they are.

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His enthusiasm dwarfed his musical ability. And that’s fine. We LOVE Frank regardless.

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They allow for good riffing. MST3K soars when the people onscreen invite hilarity.

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I like to think this movie was supposed to be an anthology movie, but they couldn’t get any other stories so they stretched for time. And they didn’t have the luxury the maker of “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders” did with a previous movie they did from a decade prior to tack on.

This episode does kinda showcase the minor annoyance I have of for the most part, the Comedy Central years being forgotten in the Sci-Fi years. Specifically when we get to the “Pumaman” episode.

This does make me wonder if any other episodes would have benefitted from having their short go on after the main feature. Mr. B Natural going after War of the Colossal Beast might have helped the short not overshadow the movie AS MUCH as it did as is.

Also, medical students getting that grossed out at an autopsy? To quote Super Chicken: “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it!”

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THIS. Watching 206 it has me wonder why they never ended later shows with a short. Possibly it felt unnatural or against the grain? Maybe it diminished the experiment too much not to have it last? Beats me. Whatever the reason, this remains a unique one-off in MST3K history.

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P.S. The Second Season on Comedy Central challenged the boundaries of the program across the board. Joel’s jumpsuit changing color, TV’s Frank replacing Dr. Earhardt, Servo’s new voice, Dr. F shocking Joel in 207, Best Brains experimented on the formula this season and having a short closing 206 is one of those tries. @optiMSTie previously said on 211 that they were working “something out of their systems” on Venus (1960) and that allowed 212 Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) to make the next step. This started even before Venus with several trials and errors throughout Season 2. That’s my feeling. Every episode up through Venus represents a direction and a choice of decisions MST could have gone down. A Growing Pains in other words before blooming with the Godzilla movies at the end of the season. 212 is the path they choose to take and that led us to 301, 303, and down the Yellow Brick Road of our memories.

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I agree with the overall assessment. It feels like a five minute campfire story that somehow got stretched into an hour long movie. Interesting choice to go for a movie heavy on the macabre, but it’s easy to see why they mostly avoided those in the future.

I really do like the Host Segments here and it did give us some more in-jokes (“Puma?”, “Feared Not”), so it has some good things about it!

For me, I actually really like that it ends with another chapter of The Phantom Creeps. It’s arguably more brighter and action packed than the feature!

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Me too! I wish they had done this more often.

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Short after the movie would be interesting if it happened more, but I have to take exception to your Mr. B Natural example. That short is already more remembered than the movie. And that’s with the movie to distract us afterwards. If the short came after the feature in that episode, I think Mr. B Natural would be even more seared into our brainiums.

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