Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer

MST3K 620: Danger!! Death Ray

Continuing to rewatch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that I've identified as "ripoffs of the 1960s James Bond movies," I've crossed over into the "Mike era" of the show, and also returned to a super-spy identified as American. (I'm guessing that Neil Connery was dubbed over in "Operation Double 007," though, as he sounds basically nothing like Sean Connery in the movie.) "Danger!! Death Ray" ("I'm glad they said 'Danger,' or I might have thought it was just a normal death ray,") is perhaps a bit less pretentious than some of the other ripoffs shown on the show, but still good solid fun.

The movie opens with a collection of apparently important people ("Ladies and gentlemen, your pasty white European guys,") gathering to meet a scientist who has invented a death ray that much better than a laser. ("On behalf of the Ugly European Society, we applaud you!") However, two of the people happen to be members of some sort of evil organization, and gas everyone else and kidnap the scientist, making a getaway past easily outwitted police to a rather suspicious-looking submarine. ("The ocean is beautiful in this part of the tub." "This set is at least three box tops." "Special effects by Billy!")

With that, secret agent "Bart Fargo" is called in, despite the fact that he's supposed to be on vacation. As it turns out, there was a MSTing author who used that alias, and that caught my attention up until I managed to see this episode at last (as one of the last few I had left to see, in fact), and experienced a comfortable revelation. Bart Fargo himself seems a bit more "pumped up" than other super-spies, which can be explained by his actor having got in on the "muscles 'n' mythology" trend in European movies of just a few years back; he seems to depend more on just beating people up and knocking them out than on using super-secret gadgets. ("Four people down and not a single quip!") Eventually, after facing a whole series of peculiar-looking people ("Abe Lincoln is Time Cop,") Bart Fargo reaches the villain's lair, where he machine-guns an endless series of remote-controlled camera guns (this causes Cambot, the mute but faithful chronicler of each episode, to tear up after the movie is over), defeats the apparent head villian (the death ray is not much help to either side here), and gets the girl, throwing away his radio watch in a final sequence where the editing is unbelievably off. One other fun point about the movie is its score, catchy (and repetitive) enough to be memorable but just peculiar (and repetitive) enough to add to the humour.

In one of the "host segments," Tom builds his own death ray and blasts Crow, ultimately setting his ping-pong ball eyes on fire, and this does make me wonder about how our heroes could seem to be "casually cruel" to each other at times in the early "Mike era," and how this might have made it that much harder for some people to move on from the "Joel episodes." However, there are also good moments such as Crow suffering from his new contact lenses (Trace Beaulieu's puppetry is gruesomely effective here, even with a robot puppet you might not think to be that expressive), Torgo returning once again to sign up with TV's Frank's new talent agency, and Crow starting his own line of somewhat suspicious sunglasses inspired by Bart Fargo's.
Tags: mst3k, mst3k episode
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