416. Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)

“In space, no one can hear you scream…” “This time it’s war…” “Somewhere in deepest space all” Timmy “is breaking loose.” Jetting to Jupiter, New Atlantis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956) “seeks out new life and new civilizations” and settles on Z Grade instead. No charisma, no convincing models, no Gene Roddenberry, Ed Wood anybody? Strange Black Creature, The Big Checkbook, Nike Air Chalada, Double Entendres, Twin Screw Universal Controller, Aliens, Alien. “Oh I bet George Kennedy’s in this”, “Oh New York right? By the time that plane lands it’ll be covered with graffiti”, “Mr. Secretary the next sound you will hear will be a high pitch squeal… That’ll be the sound of the ambassador’s phone melting.” “Cy Roth… Maker of Films and Fine Candies” or “I am the maiden of hellfire”?

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Don’t let a dark specter into the satellite!

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The Timmy Skits.

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416 Promo.

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Incidentally, this movie really tested my love of Russian composers…

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A pretty good song from an album that’s mostly for hard core fans/completists, but to this day I’m convinced that T-Bone Burnett was thinking of this absurd slog fest when he penned “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

He’s the right age to have seen it on TV as an impressionable teen.

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It said at terrifying speed… but it didn’t say if it was a fast speed.

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Ah, to me this is the zenith of the CC era. Perfect movie! Dreadful special effects on this one! The astronauts are all sexist, but that gives J&TB’s plenty of riffing room. The CC era rarely gave us a story arc in the skits and this is probably my favorite. It culminates in Timmy attacking Servo in the theater which leads to the awesome skit that riffs off of Robot Holocaust! Just a great all-arounder!

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Is the sustained sidesory one of the main attractions for you? Aside from the riffing and show itself? Do you wish Comedy Central did this more often?

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Follow The Screams.

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Best of 416.

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@optiMSTie A favorite of yours?

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Every episode is a favorite of theirs!

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That’s likely true. More some than others.

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*not The Castle of Fu Manchu

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Oh, do I really, really like this one!

You got this really weird and shamelessly padded movie. I’m sure that 80% of this is sitting, smoking, walking and dancing.

It certainly shows how comfortable they were by Season Four because the riffing is so strong here! It helps that, despite the padding and slow pace, it’s usually giving them something to work with. It’s not an “empty” movie.

And of course: Timmy! I’ll never forget the first time I watched this: When Timmy suddenly showed up in the theater, I gasped and said “Oh shoot! Timmy?! What’s going on?!”. I was transfixed. I was still laughing along, but my eyes kept going back. Then it kept getting more freaky (especially as he was harassing Servo). I was stunned they were Going There with this subplot.

Might just be the only time MST3K ever really tried genuine dramatic tension. Major props!

(It’s still easy to keep darting my eyes back whenever I give this another go!)

This is classic in my book! It would be a dream come true if The Gizmoplex got the rights to this one. I think this would be a great Synthia Selects and Open Thread!

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You know how in some episodes, the movies are upstaged by the shorts?

This one of those instances where the movie is upstaged by its host segments. That’s right, the main attraction of this installment is the SOL’s encounter with Timmy, the dark specter friend that Crow prayed for.

These host segments are absolutely killer and a hoot and all built upon the simple conceit of using the black-painted Crow puppet that comes into play for filming the theater segments. It’s about simplicity resulting in something inspired.

Timmy turning Joel’s meditation on double entendres into something skeevier? Dig it. Timmy screwing with the integrity of the time-space continuum with Joel’s Screw Universal Controller? And putting the blame on Crow? Love it. Timmy sticking Servo to the wall with goo and forcing Joel to pull an Ellen Ripley on him? Freaking awesome!

mst3k416timmybite

And let’s not forget that closing moment where Frank reenacts the stinger from Being from Another Planet after Timmy chomps on his finger!

Let’s put it another way, and this is not about throwing shade at the episode, as it’s more about me emphasizing how memorable the Timmy sketches are: the odds are good that you could probably tell me a lot more about what happened in the host segments than you can about the movie.

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What makes it eerie? Your attention isn’t called to Timmy emerging from the theater seats right away. You might not notice it at first.

It’s so slow and subtle that when you DO become aware of Timmy in the theater? You know that nothing good’s gonna come of that.

And I like how the tension is heightened even more by Servo being the only one who realizes that he’s there. Yeah, Joel and Crow are oblivious, just riffing away and focused upon the cinematic shenanigans, but Servo know what’s happening and he knows that it isn’t good at all.

We never see Timmy again after this episode, and in some regards, that’s a shame. You can’t have too many secondary adversaries on a show, and Timmy would’ve been fantastic as an entity throwing a wrench into the works, making the kind of impression upon us that was made by the likes of Torgo, Ortega, and Pitch.

But… in other regards, that singular appearance? That’s all he needed. It was his one special stand in the spotlight. And he made it count, by Frank.

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That’s an interesting question, because that movie is a BRUISER. It’s not in my rotation very often, but not because I’m trying to actively avoid it. Maybe that’s due to how an official copy isn’t streaming or on DVD? I dunno.

It is a well-written episode with great jokes, but brother, you have to hunker down for THAT kind of movie. We’re talking a movie that takes you on “why does this movie even exist” journey, like the rock climbing scene in Lost Continent or the sandstorm scene in Hercules Against the Moon Men, but drawn out over an entire movie… kinda like the movies to come down the pike in the form of Monster a Go-Go, Manos, and the Coleman Francis troika.

The Sidehackers told us that only love pads the film, but that’s not love padding the film. It’s the awareness of the relentless march of time, and nothing to FILL that time.

If you think about it, the focus on Timmy for this episode’s host segments makes sense, because just like Monster a Go-Go, you get the sense that this one wore down the writing room with meandering ennui and a seemingly endless reliance on “A Stranger in Paradise.”

To make this work, you have to accept how terrible the movie is and accept the great joke telling on its own terms. For example, the HEAVILY PADDED sequence where a secretary is called downstairs (and you watch each and every second of the descent), and Servo serves up some great sound effects action as she makes her way through the turnstiles, and JUST AT THE EXACT MOMENT THAT SHE STARTS SITTING DOWN, Joel says in a hilariously cocky voice: “Thank you, that’s all.” And Servo’s (likely real) laughter seals the deal.

The movie’s full of cheapness and tedium (Joel: “Can we get a table closer to the plot?”) just as it’s full of typical 50s sci-fi sexism/objectification a la Project Moonbase (“Yeah, the maid will get those”). Which is to say, the movie packs on the pain, so it’s something of a marvel that the gang can wring hilarity out of this dry movie.

And I like how the gang is not only able to joke about the proceedings, but also showcase how the movie COULD HAVE been more interesting, but didn’t go that route, like when the riffers point out that a cleverer movie would’ve turned the creature into a good guy or something. But that’s our Fire Maidens! (studio laughter)

An all-time classic riff over a clock:
Crow: “I’m Ed Bradley, and this is 60 Minutes-”
Joel: “-of padding.”

Oh, another one!

Crow: “There’s more action in the wallpaper!”

I mean, when you come right down to it, you know that the movie’s got NOTHIN’ to offer the SOL crew when its stinger features a guy absentmindedly throwing a drinking cup at the wall.

That all sounds more negative than I’d like it to sound. I’ll sum up.

tl;dr: The riffing is great, but the sheer nothingness of the movie is at risk of knocking it down a number of rungs in my book. The gang’s got some great jokes on tap (“This scene is bad, even for THIS film”), but brother, you gotta be ready for some heavy lifting, because Cy Roth does NOT play.

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Yes, I do! :grin:

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