Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer

MST3K 604: Zombie Nightmare

The latest episode I watched out of the latest Mystery Science Theater 3000 set might be seen as the "odd one out": it's in (often dark, murky, and hard to see) colour where the others are in black and white, and from the 1980s where the others are from the 1950s. As with so many other movies from that decade the series managed to get the rights to, "Zombie Nightmare" ("Every zombie nightmare I have, I'm naked at a hockey game.") presents a special kind of cheesiness for me.

In the spirit of the movie itself, Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank get into voodoo complete with costumes as "a safe and economical way to inflict evil on the world" and send a voodoo kit up to Mike and the bots; they use it to do nice things to various public figures instead before finally using it as intended on Dr. Forrester himself. Then, it's off to the heavy metal opening credits; I've noticed another commentator pointing out how the "riffing" takes a "from an older generation" perspective on the music, although to me the perspective seems affected for purposes of humour. Then, it's on to a sandlot baseball game ("Pride of the Zombies.") with what might be the barest attempt to suggest it's happening in "an earlier time"; quite soon, the "riffers" have guessed where the movie is being filmed and Canada digs abound. In any case, after the game a young black woman who watched it is followed by two racist teens. ("Think I'll walk down Certain Doom Lane.") However, a big guy on the baseball team, his wife and young son in tow, charges to the rescue just as things are about to get ugly but gets stabbed to death in front of his family for his trouble. ("This is like Dickens's view of the suburbs.")

All of a sudden, it's the present day... or at least the 1980s, as the now beefy and hairy son Tony plays sandlot baseball himself and then beats up on two armed thugs trying to rob an Italian convenience store worker. In this case, though, he's run over by five teens (one of them a young Tia Carrere) cruising for "sleazy chicks"; they escape into the night and Tony's body is brought to his mother by the convenience store guy. The mother reacts with what might be understandable anger ("Housewife Vigilante.") and calls in the now-adult black woman, who just happens to be a voodoo priestess with a strange, quavery voice. ("She must be from Newfoundland.")

The episode might drag a bit for me during the voodoo ceremony, but things pick up again as the ringleader of the five teens hurls leftover spaghetti at his mother and then drives, rebelliously yet sensibly, to the "Twist and Crème" to gloat to his much more worried companions. Two of them have a late-night tennis match ("ESPN at 3 am." "Did we accidentally switch to a different movie?") and then an underwear romp in the hot tub, but the baseball bat-carrying zombie ("George Romero's Casey at the Bat.") shows up and things get unpleasant ("Oh, zombie chiropractor.") just as we cut to a "host segment"...

A young detective ("So who put the 12-year-old in charge of the investigation?") works with a strange-voiced doctor to unravel the crime even as the ringleader tries to assault a "Twist and Crème" waitress but gets the zombie's bat driven into him during the commercial break. The detective's boss, played by Adam West with a moustache, blames everything on "drugs" and drags in a resisting punk ("The word 'truncheon' comes to mind. Cudgel.") to pin the blame on, kicking him in the ribs to provide a little help for his struggling men. ("Oh, that was easy for him! He just pretended it was Tim Burton.")

The young detective begins to sort out ("I just realised something we're not going to tell the audience! Hah.") that the voodo priestess was photographed at both crime scenes, but Adam West doesn't take the news well, apparently reminded of something. ("He's flashing back without us!") In the meantime, the zombie, makeup getting thicker and more gruesome all the time, kills an adult who happens to have been the father of the ringleader and happens to have been connected to Adam West. The two remaining teens plan to carry out an emergency plan of the ringleader and rob the garage of his uncle for getaway money, but despite Tia Carrere changing ("Oh, should I bring my sports bra in case we get chased?") into something tighter and more revealing ("She's dressed for Ladies' Night at Shenanigans." "If Mr. Blackstone was a zombie, he'd kill her just for that skirt.") the zombie manages to finish off both of them with a commercial break thrown in. ("Well, Tia, it's still nicer than working with Mike Myers.")

Adam West, though, manages to coerce the voodoo priestess to a convenient cemetery in his car ("Oh, is your Batmobile in the shop?"), and as the young detective catches up the truth comes out. It so happens that Adam West also knows what happens to zombies after they've taken revenge, and things look bad for a moment before there's the sort of sudden development that takes quite a while to work out. The young detective wanders off into the night, possibly sadder but conceivably wiser. ("You were the bestest Batman ever. Goodbye, Cesar Romero!") What the mother made of all of this isn't said.

I did wind up noticing how the episode keeps cutting away right when the zombie strikes, but it's still rich with entertaining "riffs." Two of the host segments are pretty short (one setting up a running yet possibly punchline-free gag for the season where Tom runs over Crow in a little car), but in the third Tom and Mike are dressed up in Batman and Robin costumes only to learn Crow just plain forgot about his "Batman sketch." As if to make up for the riffing, letters to Adam West are prepared at the end of the episode, and TV's Frank has managed to turn Dr. Forrester into a zombie.
Tags: mst3k, mst3k episode
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