"parts: the clonus horror" (that's how the film credits and the official episode guide capitalize it, so who am I to question it?) was a minor enough movie when Mystery Science Theater first looked at it, and yet that may have helped it when people first started wondering about peculiar similarities between it and The Island; the big-budget movie wasn't just "ripping off a cheap obscure movie," but "ripping off a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode"... and yet, I do find myself wondering about one particular point in the original movie, and whether Ewan McGregor would have wanted to play a thundering idiot in The Island.
Our heroes on the Satellite of Love have great sport "riffing" on the dimwitted people in Adidas sports clothes living on what looks very much like a country campus, and also toss in some references to how one of the doctors studying them reminds them of Super Mario Brothers. (One small yet amusing detail I've noticed myself is that there's a computer screen that at one point just runs a LISTing of a BASIC program.) In some ways, mind you, I can see how you might want clones you intend to use for organ transplants to not be that bright, and it's easy enough to view the movie, even in its Mystery Science Theater form, as "interesting idea, strange execution." In any case, one of the clones eventually realises that there is a larger world out there, in part through finding a beer can floating in the river, and evades the forces of authority (which leads to a thought or two about how smart they are) long enough to look down on civilization from a mountaintop. ("Just think how many new things are out there for him to not get.") Our clone hero runs into Keenan Wynn (who's also appeared in another movie shown on Mystery Science Theater, the roughly contemporary "Laserblast"), who takes him to see the person he's cloned from, the brother of a Presidential candidate played by Peter Graves, who's also appeared in several Mystery Science Theater movies. (The riffing at this point seems to go a little overboard with references to "Biography.") The movie makes its most valiant stab at exploring all the dark ramifications of its central idea (even as Presidential candidate Peter Graves wears a very 1970s plaid jacket and doesn't seem to have any official protection), and then everything ends in that specially 1970s bleak fashion, with all the good guys drowned, dragged away, lobotomized, or blown up. There is, however, an ambiguous note at the very end.
The "host segments" feature superpowerful "space children" showing up to torment the regular tormentors. These space children are played by some of the show's writers walking on their knees, which I can best describe a somewhat peculiar experience, but that does lead to another one of the all-time "unbelievable" moments as per a fan video I've mentioned before. The DVD also contains the movie's original trailer (giving a sense of what was cut from the episode for time and content) and an interview with its producer, director, and screenwriter Robert S. Fiveson. Fiveson admits how being informed Mystery Science Theater 3000 wanted to subject his movie to its loving touch was a heavy blow... for about five minutes, and talks about how it helped going up against The Island. He also talks about the difficulty he had trying to make the movie in the first place, and mentions how it just might have been a Canadian production had a tax break not been revoked... shades of "The Final Sacrifice."
With that, I've worked my way through another official collection, an entertaining enough ride while it lasted. Fortunately, I've got a whole string of ideas for what episodes to add to my new listing next.