310. Fugitive Alien (1986)

Always loved this episode. It was the episode that cemented in my mind, “OK … this is a show that I want to watch because it is CONSISTENTLY funny”. Cave Dwellers was the first episode I ever saw and it hooked me because it was so crazy bad and had so much going for it. But it was Fugitive Alien that landed me in the boat because I now knew that MST3K wasn’t just a 1-time lark. It was a show that had legs that was funnier than 99.9% of anything else on TV and it could be something that kept delivering.

This one had a lot going for it and so many memorable riffs. I still to this day love Joel’s riff as the “Ma and Pa Kettle” music plays while the camera pans past the Bacchus IV and he says, “What?! It’s the goofiest ship in the cosmos…!” Captain Joe’s alcoholism. Multiple Kens. The forklift song. I’ve been hit in the pants. It just keeps going and going and going. Fugitive Alien is always a fun watch. 7.5 out of 10.

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I’m not a huge fan of the hacked up Japanese tv show episodes, but I enjoyed this one more than I expected when I watched it a few months ago. Was it because of Synthia’s new content or because I was, at least in spirit, watching it with you lot?

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It could be worse. This was just a couple of episodes of a show in one “movie.” Time of the Apes was an entire TV series condensed into 90 minutes of TV. Mighty Jack too.

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Oh yeah, this is definitely the best of the bunch. Those others feel like you keep falling asleep and missing huge chunks of them.

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“Oh come on, we’re intimate with this scene for crying out loud.”

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:notes:"This is the song right after the train chase. This is the fight. Rocky and Ken!!!":notes:

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You’re right. This is strangely the most comprehensible of the bunch. Even with the weirdness, it tracks best for the riffs.

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About twenty years before this, Fugitive Alien star Joe Shishido was in a really cool Sam Fuller-style gangster movie called Youth of the Beast…
Youth_of_the_Beast_poster

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… which is available from The Criterion Collection!

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Trailer of Youth of the Beast (1963). Starring Joe Shishido.

Directed by beloved Japanese auteur Seijun Suzuki who brought us Tokyo Drifter (1966), Branded To Kill (1967), Zigeunerweisen (1980), Kagero-za (1981), and Yumeji (1991).

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Wow he still had those puffy cheeks, didn’t he?

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The man had a look. It served him well. Attributes like that keep actors current.

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@optiMSTie Is Fugitive Alien (1986) as classic a show as Cave Dwellers (1984) or Pod People (1983)? I’m not as familiar with it. Yet rewatching it yesterday, the “He Tried To Kill Me With A Forklift!!!” played as well as “Ator Flies And So Does My Heart!!!” or “In Cars… In Cars…” It nearly reached that standard for me. The replay of the jokes felt incredibly high. Your thoughts? Again it’s subjective but I felt an ageless MST feel in this episode.

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Here’s a charming little performance that starts sounding oddly familiar at about 0:40. It even provides ukulele tablatures!

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Absolutely Fugitive Alien (1986). I’m having visions of forklifts in my head!

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Forklift will freaking mess you up too. Those things are dangerous.

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It feels like Fugitive Alien not only has a classic place within the MST3K canon, but that it’s also something of an influential episode to some degree.

As far as its classic status is concerned, you’re definitely right to focus on the Forklift Song, which has more/less carved out an unshakable place in MSTdom. It was one of those times where all the planets aligned to give us this amazingly riffed scene that would represent a trademark MST3K moment.

You look at the MST Scrapbook, and decades ago, you had people singing that outside of one of the MST3K Live events. In my own experience, I was fortunate enough to attend the Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour, and there was someone in attendance who had a “HE TRIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT” wrestling show sign. An episode doesn’t inspire THOSE kinds of moments without standing out as a classic installment of the series.

That’s not to overlook the rest of the episode, now. The Forklift Song may be the episode’s most enduring legacy, but you also had fun bits like the round-singing of the “I Love Ken” song. Then there’s the “Rocky!” / “Again?” nods to Rocky and Bullwinkle (which get cranked up to eleventy when we get to the sequel). And you also had great riffing on the ridiculousness of the aesthetics of the antagonists (Servo riffing “When Josie and the Pussycats go bad!” in one scene while another scene inspires Joel’s “Space Mimes: In Color!”).

AND THAT DOESN’T EVEN GET INTO CAPTAIN JOE AND THE CREW OF THE BACCHUS 3

Great riff fodder there, such as this moment near the end:

Captain Joe: “I knew he’d pull it off!”
Crow as Captain Joe: “Let’s break out the liquor! Oh, I drank it all.


Now, to backtrack here, that bit I said about the episode being influential? I think this episode helped to demonstrate just how far a running joke could run.

Personally? I love the Planet of the Kens joke, where the gang believes that everyone in the film is named Ken. It’s ridiculous and absurd, and it’s quintessential MST3K. And we’d see shades of a similar joke getting rammed into the ground in later episodes, like all the Steves we’d see in Night of the Blood Beast. They really got a lot of mileage out of the Ken jokes, and I’d have to believe that this joke helped to reinforce the importance of recurring gags down the road.


Speaking of recurring bits, this episode also works in a lot of callbacks to past episodes like Women of the Prehistoric Planet, Robot Holocaust, Rocketship X-M, Wild Rebels, Lost Continent, Cave Dwellers, Gamera, Pod People, and Time of the Apes. Callback humor plays a major role in MST3K, and there’s some good past references here.


And the movie itself is light and goofy enough without getting bogged down in too much boredom or ugliness. While it’s not a super-ultra-mega personal favorite in my book, that’s the case for a great deal of MSTies, and it’s not hard to see why this one is such an enduring favorite.

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I’m a huge fan of the Japanese episodes! But,(I’m gonna get killed for this), not Fugitive Alien. I know, it’s iconic. It’s got Ken, the forklift, etc, but it’s probably middle of the pack for me. Prince of Space rules supreme for me of the Japanese movies! And I actually like Time of the Apes better! Again, just my opinion here but this one is overrated.

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Oh, p’shaw, no worries on that, nothing of the sort.

I enjoy the episode myself, but I don’t have it ranked ridiculously high on my list of personal favorites.

Besides which, it’s like I always say: varying opinions of such episodes is the very lifeblood of a fandom. It keeps all these discussions so interesting, absorbing, engrossing, and thought-provoking, which in turn adds this sense of vibrancy and vitality to the landscape of these conversations. And that’s pretty dope, I think.

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