Blood Waters Of Dr. Z

Welcome to the wacky wonderful world of Dr. Z, a bitter nutball of a scientist who lives in Florida and - what else? - oh yeah, he wants to turn himself into a giant man-fish. Why, you ask? In addition to the usual reasons people do this, Dr. Z wants to "get revenge on his friends" - at least that's how the John Prine-like folk song at the beginning of the movie explains the premise. Apparently he was denied tenure and/or permission to use humans as experimental subjects. So quite logically, he goes the giant man-fish route, intending to lead an army of squirmy walking catfish on to world conquest. Wouldn't you, if you found yourself in his position? Be honest, now.

Anyway, after some very long expositional voice-over monologues, Dr. Z - who is never identified by that name in the movie - succeeds in turning into a man-fish by stripping down to his lumpy boxer shorts and immersing himself into an indoor tank full of icky, mad-scientist treated water. The elaborate level-and-pulley system he uses to dunk himself in the water shows that he has thought this through well, and is quite serious about being a man-fish. It's not the kind of thing one should take lightly, is what the movie seems to be saying.

He succeeds in turning into a man-fish, though he seems temporarily disheartened that his dreamed-of resemblance to a catfish wasn't achieved. These are the kind of disappointments that stop other mad scientists cold, wallowing in their own self-pity for weeks. But damn it if Dr. Z doesn't just pull himself up by his shin-fins and keep his eye on the prize, whatever that is. In no time he is swimming around mucky lagoons spraying ZaAt, a compound which will - what? Turn fish into half-men? Make them bigger, more aggressive? Give them opposable thumbs and a taste for Geno's Pizza Rolls? You'll have to ask him.
In any case, he at least seems to have prioritized his work nicely with a large paper wheel which functions as his Franklin Day Planner: full of nice homemade graphics, notes to himself, and done in suitably large magic marker. His sketches of victims-to-be show that Dr. Z. most likely graduated from one of those matchbox art correspondence schools.

So once the spraying is done, he checks the wheel and moves on to his next two goals. First on his "to-do wheel" is to kill two former colleagues who doubted his work. Mad scientists, as you probably know, have famously thin skins and shaky ego boundaries. This murdering he does with great dispatch, though no particular elegance - just a couple of pimp slaps by his beclawed hand, and those who have wronged him go down hard. And probably a little embarrassed.

But he also wants a fish-lady queen. Yup, our man wants to spawn, baby. Hell, who doesn't? But rather than hitting Florida singles bars, where his fishy visage might not make him much of a chick magnet, he kidnaps a busty bikinied blonde and tries to make her into Mrs. Fish. Alas, he kills her by accident. These things happen, to be sure - ask Kevin sometime about some of his similar mishaps - but from here Dr. Z is really off his game, and the to-do wheel stands in mute irony as his plans go ker-flooey.

I forgot to mention - there are other humans in this film, or at least pale simulacrums thereof. There's a redneck sheriff working with a black scientist who is almost ridiculously patient with his racist innuendo; then two other bland jumpsuited white scientists who join the hunt for Fish-Guy halfway through the movie. (Note: people who habitually wear jumpsuits are always suspect, in my book.) The white guy just rides around on the runner of a truck sticking a microphone out; the white girl almost undresses but doesn't and is eventually captured by our buddy Dr. Z as his new FishLadyQueenHoneyBabe. In the end everyone's dead or dying, especially us.

Prologue: Crow takes up chewing tobacco, spitting big gooey wads of it into an array of pop cans -- and then, to our horror, into Mike's shoe.
Segment One: Servo accidentally drinks out of Crow's pop cans full of tobacco-ey spittle, further ruining our dinners.
Down in the castle, Pearl performs an experiment in withholding love to the SOL. Servo and Mike feel no difference, but Crow panics until they get back the symbols of her love--lemon-flavored gin, hot pads, a pawn shop receipt for a shotgun, etc .

Segment Two: Crow, hiding in the rafters, taunts and threatens Mike a la Dr. Z's voiceover monologue. Mike, trying to polish his shoes, is mostly annoyed. And then of course, as per tradition, Crow falls down.

Segment Three: Inspired by the fishing scenes in the movie, Mike and 'bots orbit over Bass Lake, trying to catch some sunnies. Nice day for it, after all. Mike catches one and reels him waaaaaay up from Earth. Unfortunately, the fish freezes in the upper atmosphere and goes through explosive decompression. Gotta throw 'im back, yah. Yer gonna see dat.

Segment Four: Disappointed by the movie's teasing shots of women starting to take off clothes and then not doing it, Servo and Crow try to convince a skeptical Mike that any movie scene is better off with nudity. To demonstrate, they enlist Brain Guy and Bobo into performing a scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, starkers. Needless to say, it does not make their case.

Segment Five: Taking a cue from Dr. Z's neat, portable ZaAt cases, Servo and Crow show Mike a variety of handy plastic food carrying cases, in just the right sizes and shapes. They explain it to him long, long after he's gotten the point.
Down in Castle Forrester, Pearl has invented a Mer-Monkey, using a giant grouper, a Sawzall, and a Bobo. Seeing that Bobo now attracts lonely rugged sailor men, she decides she will be become half-grouper herself, enter mermaidenhood, and get some old salt action.

I had a slight fondness for this movie, not as a movie per se, of course, but as fodder for that particular little thing we had going, many years ago. (Well, a month and a half ago, as I write this...) It seemed to have lots of the things that make for a good solid day of MST-ing: a pompous mad scientist; a ridiculous, badly costumed monster; a fat redneck sheriff; a few vapid good-looking heroes; and a nice silly theme song. At least compared to some of the others we watched for Season 10, this seemed benign.

The most memorable host segment for me, based on the experience, was Segment 4, Bobo and Brain Guy's nude scene. One technical note: it was always a challenge for our brilliant director of photography, Jeff Stonehouse, to light scenes with both Bobo and Brain Guy, as their colors were so aggressively different. After Season Eight, we made some adjustments with make-up and masks so that Brain Guy wasn't wearing clown white but a slightly more flesh-colored white; and Bobo was given a somewhat lighter face mask. So that helped. But once "nude" - what with Brain Guy's pasty torso (and for the sharp of eye, actual purple nipples - eeewwww!) and Bobo's dark full body ape suit - the challenge was back, and worse than ever. So poor Bobo was almost invisibly black.

Leaving Brain Guy all too visible. My god, I apologize! None of you did anything to deserve that. I'm so sorry.

- Bill Corbett

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