MST3K Episodes Featuring A-Listers in Strange Roles

We all know at some times actors sign on for a paycheck. But, has there been an MST3K episode featuring an A-Lister that just doesn’t seem to fit the role?

For example, I just finished watching Outlaw of Gor with Jack Palance playing the bad guy. To me it seemed like a role that didn’t really fit him.

Has there been any other MST3K movies where you thought the same?

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Jack Palance spent most of his career playing bad guys. I’m surprised there was one even he couldn’t pull off!

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I thought Martin Balsam was squandered in Mitchell, but his character was pretty much something he’d play. Another waste was the dull-as-dirt role they gave Gregory Peck in Marooned - he is capable of so much more.

I feel sorry for David McCallum in Killer Fish. He started out as an actor with Klaus Kinski intensity and range, and just fell into worse and worse work as the years rolled on.

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David McCallum was the mercenary terrorist in Master Ninja II.

Fun Fact: Jeff Gillen, who portrayed Fats the mentally impaired biker in Wild Rebels, later gained renown for his role in A Christmas Story, where he portrayed the Santa Claus who famously responded to Ralphy asking for an air rifle with, “You’ll shoot yer eye out, kid.”

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Ah yes, that’s the one. Not sure why I was thinking Killer Fish, that’s the skeevy guy with the beard. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was conflating “awful terror plots”.

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Speaking of Master Ninja, I’d argue that Lee Van Cleef is pretty miscast in the title role. Sure, he’s a great tough guy and has done some amazing roles (absolutely love him in For A Few Dollars More). But he radiates “only occidental master of Japanese assassination art” about as much as Bea Arthur.

And circling back to Jack Palance, his casting seemed even more unsure as a middle-management heavy in Angel’s Revenge. Peter Lawford was as equally (and as boozily) miscast as the crime lord.

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Van Cleef was also rather oddly cast as the sad sack scientist whose lifetime of bullying drives him to betray humanity in It Conquered the World.

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Clint Eastwood as the lab assistance in Revenge of the Creature is probably the biggest one.

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Good point! But I’d argue that Gene Hackman’s role was worse. Seeing him as the sniveling, panicking astronaut was disturbing. Lee Grant felt like quite a mismatch too; she’s a strong presence to be squandered on such a lackluster role. Mariette Hartley too, for that matter.

Maybe the gang knew what they were doing after all by giving this movie the business.

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Though it did lead to a neat meta joke in Back to the Future 3, where there’s a poster for Revenge of the Creature as Marty prepares to go back to the old west, where he takes the name Clint Eastwood.

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In “Tormented” Nick was played by Joe Turkel… who was also Lloyd the bartender in “The Shinning” and Tyrell in “Blade Runner”.

I don’t know if that makes him an A lister, but those films are certainly top tier.

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I’d say he counts. I like Joe Turkel, he’s a good quirky actor who I enjoy seeing even in small roles. Blade Runner has a number of such actors, including James Hong and William Sanderson.

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The absolute most bizarre for me was Robert Vaughn as a moody Teenage Caveman in a movie they did in season 3…can’t remember the name of it.

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I think the Episode title was “Teenage Caveman”.

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It was Teenage Caveman. Episode 315. An unappreciated classic, in my opinion.

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I have to go with Ernest Borgnine in Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders.

Granting that Ernest has been in some weird stuff, it’s still a bit strange to see him acting in the frame story for a movie built around a failed TV pilot, with the set up of him telling his grandson about a failed TV pilot.

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Ha Ha, yeah sorry bad joke on my part inspired by this:

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I actually have a funny story about this. I was working as a cast driver on Knives Out, and I drove Christopher Plummer to set one day. Very nice guy, I don’t really recall what we talked about, but as I was waiting for him to be done for the day I was watching MST3K on my phone and I just so happened to be on the Star Crash episode that day! It was such a crazy coincidence and I had about a million questions to ask him, but after a long day of working, he wasn’t much in the mood for talking (totally understandable). I never ended up driving him again and never got to ask him if he was even aware that he was on the show, but a funny coincidence either way.

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Poor Basil Rathbone in Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965).

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Came across this trivia for Star Crash. He just wanted a free trip :rofl:

Christopher Plummer admitted that he did the film so he could visit Italy for free. In an interview, he said “Give me Rome any day. Getting to Rome was the greatest thing that happened in that for me.”

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