Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer

MST3K 423: Bride of the Monster

Still working my way towards the "Coleman Francis episodes" of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've reached another movie that features someone who appeared in "The Unearthly" and will return in the episodes themselves... and this particular movie happens to have been directed by someone who was infamous well before Mystery Science Theater itself. Before Ed Wood's "Bride of the Monster" ("I wonder where's she registered."), though, we get the first part of a short that was broken up by the show itself to get the attention of those watching "Manos: The Hands of Fate," infamous through Mystery Science Theater's own agency. At last, perhaps, we can see how "Hired!" ("Well, that's something you didn't hear much during the Bush administration.") got started...

The short leads off with a young salesman trying to sell Chevrolets door-to-door in the early 1940s; unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have much luck at it. When his middle-aged manager picks up on this with much pathos ("That's nearly implausible. No human being under my employ has ever sold a car!"), he hangs out at his parents ("Who's the doughy man on our porch steps?"). His father is just starting to enlighten him as to sales when things leave off until the next episode.

As for the movie, an elderly Bela Lugosi plays the mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff, hanging out in a swamp dwelling somewhere between mansion and shack, with Tor Johnson once again as the massive assistant "Lobo," although in this case not in the sports jacket and T-shirt "Don Johnson" look of "The Unearthly" (which, as it turns out, was made after "Bride of the Monster.") Dr. Vornoff's real monster varies between stock footage of an octopus and a fake octopus its victims more or less manipulate themselves. ("Well, it's allegedly killing him.") A female reporter goes investigating, a police lieutenant follows her, and with more use of stock footage ("He's shooting at a different movie!"), eventually everyone comes together in Dr. Vornoff's lab where Lobo turns on his abusive master and sticks him in his own apparatus, which transforms him into a Bela Lugosi stand-in towering in elevator shoes. ("You know, this is Bela's best scene and he's not even in it!") The police lieutenant's shirt but not his suspenders get ripped off to less than impressive effect ("Trevor, the whisper-thin cop."), and in some confused scene fragments Dr. Vornoff falls into the clutches of his own monster and then blows up in stock footage of a mushroom cloud; we're informed that he "tampered in God's domain."

I happen to have seen old newsgroup posts that claimed "Bride of the Monster" and not "Manos: The Hands of Fate" would end the fourth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000; it's a somehow intriguing possibility. However, I've also seen comments that "Manos" is simply a funnier episode, and in some ways "Bride of the Monster" may drag partway through for me, although it begins to pick up as Bela Lugosi delivers a mad scientist's speech to a doomed if unsuspecting secondary character. The DVD does include some good special features in any case, showing how the "cheesy movies" of Mystery Science Theater can be tied into knots when the elderly gentlemen who was also interviewed for the special features of "Devil Doll" in the same collection explains how he was related to one of the people who worked on "Bride of the Monster." Joel Hodgson himself also speaks approvingly of the "Golden Turkey Awards" and their role in publicising Ed Wood, which I have to admit sort of surprised me; I've seen the book attract some criticism about claims of a mean-spirited edge, and Joel has suggested he tries to not just look down on "cheesy movies." Still, it provides food for thought, as does the episode being included in a collection along with "Robot Monster," one more of the movies infamous before the series featured it.
Tags: mst3k, mst3k episode
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