517. Beginning of the End (1957)

The original Giant Locust movie? Ooooh Laura Dern!!! If only John Hammond were here. “This week on Biography…” Radioactive produce, still photographs, Peter Graves, ending world hunger mutates nearby bugs and the military is deployed to eradicate them. Easier said then done. Their ace in the hole? The Man From Minneapolis. “An Adventure 65 Million Years In The Making”? Wrong Number, Re-Comfy Bike, New Playing Cards, University of Minnesota, At The Improv, Postcards. “Looks like this is where Ichabod Crane takes his dates”, “Ooh, and you know, it’d be sexy until you think, it might be my parents! Oh my god!!!”, “Hey, how does he sing while he’s kissing her?” “Don’t linger on that shot” or “Get off the postcard. They’re going to blow the postcard”?

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out there lauren GIF by The Hills

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University of Minnesota.

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517 Promos.

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“Returning to… The Beginning of the End” from Turkey Day 93.

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Unbearable Tension.

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Marching Band Station.

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Best of 517.

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More Best of 517.

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Trailer to Beginning of the End (1957).

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Hold Your Fire.

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Albert Glasser’s score to Beginning of the End (1957).

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Differences in the 35mm and 16mm versions of Beginning of the End (1957).

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John Sayles on Beginning of the End (1957).

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I’m Peter Graves. Tonight on Biography, giant grasshoppers eat Chicago.

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Bert I. Gordon is back, and this time the featured oversized abominations are grasshoppers. And much like the SDF in various kaiju films, the American military is largely helpless against this threat (though in this case it’s more thanks to overwhelming numbers). The technique used to realize them is a combination of split screen and rear projection. Though during their climatic infestation of Chicago, the effect for one scaling the Wrigley Building is accomplished by having it walk along a postcard. Needless to say, the illusion is shattered once it steps on the sky without any unfortunate consequences.

The ultimate solution to eradicating the pests involves using audio equipment set up in a boat on Lake Michigan to simulate a mating call. Thus, the lust-crazed locusts are lured to their cold, watery deaths. Mind you, there’s bound to be some long-term ecological ramifications having all those bug corpses floating about. As if Calumet Harbor wasn’t already a mess. There were also some human characters but, as with kaiju movies, they don’t particularly register.

Host segments are a mixed lot. Especially weak was Servo’s grasshopper stand-up comedy routine, which did its job too well. By that, I mean that the apparent intent was to show how the style of stand-up used isn’t very funny, resulting in a sketch that’s a chore to sit through. More promising are the reading of Crow’s screenplay about Peter Graves at the University of Minnesota and an unwitting look into the daily life of Dr. Forrester and Frank. Just plain bizarre is when they get a wrong number on the hexfield from a trailer park trash woman portrayed with unsettling conviction by Mary Jo Pehl.

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MST3K trashes yet another beloved film from my childhood, and I love every minute of it.

Okay, that may be a bit too strong of a statement. I do recall enjoying this movie as a youngster, and the episode, while fun, is not exactly a season 5 standout. Bert I. Gordon’s dedication to showing every second of a car approaching from a mile away is something not often seen in cinema, and must be applauded. Of course, there is only so much that can be said of Bert I’s film making habits, and by season 5, a lot of those things have already been said. The early riffing suffers as a result, but as noted previously, the riffing gets stronger as the action picks up in the movie.

The host segments are hit and miss as well. Mary Jo’s trailer park lady is a great segment, and was a real treat at that point, as we had only seen her on screen once or twice before this (Jan in the pan!). I really like the candid, behind the scenes look at the Mads, as well as the follow up boxing match segment (go Frank!). The other segments fell a bit flat for me.

All in all, a pretty uneven episode for me, but with some really fun moments.

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This movie is a great MST episode. The movie is traditional Bert I. Gordon schlock and has slow build, but there’s great riffs all the way through and it only gets better as it goes along. Early Mike at its best and a top 25 MST episode candidate easy. 7 out of 10.

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Positively love this episode. It is definitely a ripoff of Them. However, I am sucker for cheesy 50s Sci-Fi flicks and this combined with the MST3K crew makes it one of my personal favorites.

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