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03 April, 2011

Cambot's Voice by S. J. Martiene: EXPERIMENT 2: THE UNEARTHLY

In my initial experiment, I informed you (the readers) that I would not get into too much detail about cast changes and back-story information. I intend to keep this promise with one glaring exception.  Throughout the show’s run, there were two different “humans” in the Satellite of Love with the robots (Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, Gypsy, Cambot, and the unseen Magic Voice).  Last month’s experiment involved Mike who was also a head writer throughout most of show’s run.  His banishment onto the SOL will be discussed on a future experiment.  Mike became more of a brother-type to Servo and Crow.  They picked on and pranked each other, but because Mike was the human, he had a certain amount of authority.
Joel, on the other hand, was different.  Joel….was the Bots’ creator.  Joel built them with spare parts he found on the Satellite so he would have some friends.  Tom Servo became the singing chick magnet, and rounding out the trio was the wise-cracking Crow.  Gypsy was the “girl” robot who ran the higher functions of the ship which is why she could never be in the theater with the guys except for one time. Cambot never spoke but could give you any camera shot within the parameters of the Satellite of Love.  “Cambot, give me Rocket Number 9,” was often shouted if the hosts needed to see something outside the ship.  Magic Voice was just the ethereal “voice” heard going in and out of commercial break from time to time.  During the course of the series, Magic Voice’s character was helmed by three different people:  Bridget Jones Nelson (wife of Mike Nelson), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and Prop Diva Beth “Beez” McKeever.
I never got into the Joel vs. Mike wars that seems to overtake many a good MSTie conversation.  When Joel left the show, I was heartbroken.  I never thought I could watch the show again, and did boycott Mike’s first entry MST3K #513 The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.  Then I found, like many others in did, that though the show was a bit different….THE RIFFING WAS STILL GREAT.  I did give Mike a chance.  He was affable, self-deprecating, and melded well with the Bots in the new storyline.  From here on out, I will alternate, Mike and Joel movies as best I can, and this month Joel is up with a flick from 1957, The Unearthly.

HOST SEGMENT 1/INVENTION EXCHANGE
The Bots film a “spontaneous” home video with Crow wearing flammable pajamas.  Chaos ensues and Crow will need to be identified by dental records.
The Mads (Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank) begin their Invention Exchange with Hard Pills to Swallow.  These pills have fish hooks, acids, poisons, rats, and life-size cartoon characters, because….we mustn’t forget…..THE CHILDREN.
Joel and the Bots show Celebrity Appliances such as:  The Emilio EstePEZ, The Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, The Jackie Mason Jar, Charlie Callas Massager.
*What do you think, sirs? ~Joel~* *I think you die, Joel. ~Dr. Forrester*
MOVIE SIGN!
Since the runtime for The Unearthly is only 73 minutes, the remaining time had to filled with “Shorts” (typically public domain short-features that either a) you remember seeing sometime in your life, or b) you are very grateful you have no memory of seeing these films in their original format~~yours truly DOES remember the FORMER which makes me even more appreciative of the latter).  These Short Subjects range from the Educational to Public Service Announcements to…well….let’s just called it “whimsical”.  Yeah…that’s the ticket.  This feature is fortunate to have TWO shorts:  The first one is called Posture Pals, and it is as exciting as it sounds.  We have a teacher, her students and the ongoing fight to stand and sit up straight.  While we enter into this world, we see the mutilation of a clown named Bombo…alcoholic and disappointed parents.  All this and more, JUST so they can be Posture King and Queen.  *And they’ll all go to Burger King and get crappy hats ~Joel~*

Short number two qualifies as an overview of life in the 1950’s.  In Appreciating Your Parents, we meet Tommy.  A little kid who doesn’t get enough allowance, and could use MORE money.  He also can’t figure out how the house gets clean or his clothes get washed.  Frankly, I’m surprised Tommy isn’t run over by a truck 30 seconds into the short since he is not the brightest-100-watt-incandescent-bulb-in-the-box.  Just as he becomes brave enough to ask Dad for MORE money   *Tommy calls many men ‘Dad’* ~Servo*  Tommy becomes enlightened, and suddenly turns into a “team” player.  We get an overview of what his Mom and Dad do all day  *Magic’s easy once you know Mom! ~Joel*  *Dad pulls the lever at the Big House. ~Servo*.  Tommy is ashamed that he’s been a slacker all this time, and we feel this shame.  You will too.

THE UNEARTHLY (1957)

Cast

Complete credited Primary cast:
...
Dr. Charles Conway
...
Mark Houston (as Myron Healy)
...
Grace Thomas
...
Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (as Marylyn Buferd)
...
Danny Green
...
Natalie Anders
...
Lobo II
...
Dr. Loren Wright
...
Captain Reagan
...
Harry Jedrow
...
Screaming Woman
...
Police Office

Courtesy Internet Movie Database ( www.imdb.com )


HOST SEGMENT 2

Servo tells the story of  “A Robot Named Crow”.  Like any sibling relationship they always try to make the other one look as bad as possible.  Here, Servo wants Crow to look like poor stupid Tommy, and Gypsy is cast as “Mom” who does ALL the work around the Satellite.
MOVIE SIGN!
Unlike last month’s feature, you should actually recognize some names in this cast:  John Carradine, Allison Hayes, and yes, even the beloved wrestler-turned-actor, Tor Johnson. John Carradine’s career speaks for itself.  It spanned nearly 60 years and he worked diligently up until his death and through the ravages of crippling arthritis.  You can see the effects this had on his hands in later movies like The Shootist and Crowhaven Farm.  Allison Hayes should be proclaimed the Queen of the MSTie.  She was featured in FOUR riffed films:  Gunslinger, The Undead, The Crawling Hand, and The Unearthly. Even Myron Healey (our hero) is known from other MSTied entries as The Incredible Melting Man and Gunslinger. Healey was also in a few cult classic TV shows including The Veil, Kolchak:  The Night Stalker, and the nearly forgotten Circle of Fear.
From the opening, The Unearthly is a bit muddled.  Dr. Conway (Carradine) seems to have gathered a few patients to “experiment” on.  Conway is trying to find a Fountain of Youth.  The patients are there under the impression that his hospital is a sanitarium of sorts.  Working in concert with Conway is his beautiful, but strangely jealous Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (Marilyn Buferd) and the always obedient Lobo II (Tor Johnson).  He also has one other co-conspirator, Dr. Wright.  Now, according to the IMDb, unlike Johnson’s Lobo character in Bride of the Monster (a movie that also got the MSTie treatment), this Lobo SPEAKS.  Just think of him as a bulging, lumbering, bald, talking Harpo.  You have to love Tor.  He commands it. 
Okay…so we have Grace Thomas (Allison Hayes) who arrives for her respite at Conway’s house of horrors.  We also have a side experiment of “Jedrow”.  I mention him because Jedrow figures prominently in the plot.  I think.
SUDDENLY (and I mean suddenly)… OUR HERO …Mark Houston (Myron Healey) enters the movie.
Tor throws him down, “I found him in the gar-DEN.”
Conway, “Whatareyoudoingthere?”  (For some reason, the eloquent-speaking John Carradine felt it necessary to speed through most of his lines in this movie.  Most of his dialogue is very difficult to understand)
*I’m a turnip. ~Joel*
Houston tells some story about why he is there, Conway doesn’t believe him and pegs him as an escaped criminal he heard about.  Never mind THAT WE, the audience, HAVE NOT HEARD ABOUT this escaped criminal UNTIL NOW.  Conway decides he is going to bargain with him, but will talk to him later.  More annoying characters are introduced (Natalie and Danny) but the riffing that includes scenes from WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? the song “Signs”, and banter from every soap opera ever shown in the 50’s and 60’s is priceless.  The male character is hauled off and given a shot…of something.  By this time, all of us need a shot of something as well.  Pick your poison.  I do not; however, recommend watching this movie in a horizontal position, particularly if you are over age 40.  Between Tor, Carradine, the script, and the host’s inclination to creep into Dead End Kids lingo, you will slip into forty winks in no time, or my name isn’t Rip van Winkle.

HOST SEGMENT 3
The Bots decide to honor the only DECENT actor of the bunch:  Joel thinks it is Carradine.  The Bots beg to differ and honor Tor Johnson instead.
MOVIE SIGN!
Dr. Conway tells Houston exactly what he wants to “use” him for, and Houston balks.  The girls are at the pool and Natalie (Sally Todd) has to go see the doctor.  Mark Houston starts making moves on Grace and discovers she is afraid of “things”.  *I’m afraid of sock monkeys, go figure. ~Servo* Jedrow dies.  *Long live Jedrow. ~Crow* Natalie is given the treatment, Conway starts playing the organ, and Tor announces with great authority, “TIME FOR GO TO BED!”  Now, I have used this phrase on my kids since they were little, I know it magically works. Having since reached middle-age…well, let’s say I just LOOK more like Tor than I want.  I think it may be a curse.  Now, everyone goes to bed like they are suppose to, the doctors operate on Natalie.  Houston blows the whistle on the doctor to Grace, she doesn’t believe him. 
Then eight hours later, Conway and Gilchrist see what happened to Natalie.  And it is obvious. *She’s turned into a Sleestak! ~Crow*  and my favorite *She’s been jerked! ~Crow*  Grace then tattles on Houston.  Tor is lumbering about, and Gilchrist’s jealousy heightens.
HOST SEGMENT 4
The Bots shake off cabin fever by combining leftover parts of all their games to make one huge game, John Carradine’s Unearthly Mansion.  Like any kid, BOTH Bots want to just PLAY, but Joel wants to read the rules so everyone knows how to play.  He closes the segment reading John Carradine dialogue card as Carradine.  The Bots give up.
MOVIE SIGN!
As we head back to the movie Tor is spotted burying Jedrow.  Houston investigates the coffin and lo and behold…Jedrow is not quite dead. *I’m getting better. ~Crow*  It is at this time The Dead End Kids Roundup escalates.  Grace, Danny, and Mark try to escape, figure out what’s going on, or try to DO SOMETHING..BUT..they get caught.  They are locked in a dungeon, except Grace.  Danny and Mark tell Tor a story.  Grace gets ready to go under the “knife”.  I can’t help but notice how many times Carradine’s hair color changes during this movie too.  But then, as Joel says, “It’s Confuse-O-Vision”.  Conway goes outside (why?  Who knows, he just does), the police arrive… Conway returns and Jedro—Jedro kills him.  Tor mourns.  Houston rescues Grace and they confusingly get past the fact that Conway is a cop.  The police find the *cast from Quest for Fire.~Servo* and *The birth of the WWF ~Servo*
And mercifully, the movie ends, except for the Dead End Kids stuff.  You have to admit, though, the guys are pretty good at it.
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