Pearl, on Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 presents

Episode #812

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies

A drunken doughy salesman (that is, a salesman - we're talking 1964 here) turns down the apparently sexual advances of pizza-faced Carmelita, a carnival fortune-teller who summons her even more pizza-faced assistant Ortega to help her pour acid on the guy's face and usher him into the back room, where he joins her growing army of former salesmen who are now zombies. Had even one salesman consented to lay with Carmelita perhaps we might have been spared this movie, but on such chances doth history turn.

Then we meet a guy named Jerry (director Ray Dennis Steckler, acting under the pseudonym Cash Flagg) who is posited to be a rebel, albeit a whiny weenie sort of rebel. He's got a friendly Czech roommate, which is fine, and a girlfriend named Angie who in spite of her super-skinny mom and super-fey brother Madison seems a pleasant sort. So what's Jerry's problem? Why is he such a crab? Who knows. Anyway, soon enough Jerry, Angie, and roommate head to the carnival and what with one thing and another Jerry is ensnared by Carmelita and becomes a zombie. He kills a carny or two and is shot by a cop on the beach.

Aside from all that, there are dozens of extravagantly shoddy dance numbers, performed by women clad only in saggy underpants.
What I've skipped could fill a paragraph.

Prologue: Crow and Servo raise funds in competing walk-a-thons, for groups with real long acronyms. Servo's very deserving non-profit is called "Helping Children Through Research and Development," which stands for - you don't have time.

Segment One: Pearl is driving the annoying children from last show home; she keeps them fed and happy with her bountiful stock of bar snacks and non-alcoholic drink mixes. From the planet, the squabbling Bobo and Observer speak to the SOL only through audio and still shots. (Why?) Bobo hurls something unspeakable at Observer. It's something available only to him.

Segment Two: Crow and Servo, pretending to be a crack fortune-telling team, take Mike for fifty cents. Mike is a little disappointed.

Segment Three: Inspired by the nice foreign guy in the movie, Crow and Servo sport new pompadours. They talk Mike into getting one two, and he contacts Nanite Shelli. She gabs and talks and is just so nice and gives Mike a real real tall pompadour, I mean real tall.

Segment Four: Crow hires Ortega to cater the commercial break. It's a great spread, especially the rellenos with smoky gouda and fresh crab, and the blue corn baskets with flaked trout in chipotle vinaigrette, although Mike simply must object to Ortega's filth and saliva and what not. Sadly, Ortega ashes in the quail eggs and his shame overwhelms him.

Segment Five: Crow and Servo put Mike in box, call it a roller coaster, serve him some hot coffee and push him off the desk. Pearl drops off the kids at their parents'. They're huge and omnipotent so she turns down their offer of coffee and carrot cake.

In the vast history of MST movies made by oily guys who elect to direct the camera largely on themselves, this one stands out, although to be fair Ray Dennis Steckler is really no oilier than a number of sallow oleaginous fellows we could name. Actually, we couldn't name them, but we could definitely think of them and retch.

You know what, though? On the way on to work this morning I perceived a vision of three crosses surrounding the sun. It was a moment of blinding purity and a sign to change my ways, I'm sure, so I'm going to take the high road and play down the overt criticism. Except I do need to mention that the Psychotronic Guide to Films describes this movie as "unbelievably well photographed."


The cinematographer was one Vilmos Zsigmond, see, and with a name like that what else could he grow up to be, I ask you. He's a famous fellow who went on to cinematographize many a great film, as well as The Ghost and the Darkness and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

- Paul Chaplin

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