Your movie for today's experiment makes even me sick—and I liked Morgan Stewart's Coming Home.
  — Dr. Forrester

The Short

Junior Rodeo Daredevils



When old timer Billy Slater finds two children pulling a prank on his horses, he conscripts them to create a "Junior Rodeo". Most of the town shows up and watches children get thrown around by bulls while the narrator advises them that "That ground is awful hard!"


The Movie



The Killer Shrews

The captain of a supply boat, Thorne, and his Dixieland-Jazz-loving first mate and engineer "Rook" Griswald land on a remote island to deliver provisions to a research team that is using shrews as test subjects. The goal: to find ways to extend life / reduce resources / prevent global overpopulation.

The ensemble includes the heavily-accented German lead scientist; the scientist's sexy, heavier-accented, semi-intelligible daughter; a servant named Mario, a guy with black glasses who put up the money for the film, and Jerry the research assistant.

It is soon discovered that Jerry is prone to irrational behavior. He and the scientist's daughter were engaged to be married, but She ended it the previous night, merely because her beloved pushed her to the ground, the better to run away from some shrews. Later, Jerry got drunk, left the cages open, and now 2-300 starving 100lb shrews are all over island. He then threatens his ex-fiance.


The Killer Shrews

The ham radio is busted. A hurricane looms. The house is made of easily-chewed adobe. The shrews finish off the first mate and then advance on the livestock and the people in the house. Jerry becomes ever more hysterical.


  • This was one of two features produced by an independent company in Texas and intended to be distributed as a double feature. The other feature was The Giant Gila Monster (1959). These films marked the directorial debut of veteran special-effects man Ray Kellogg.
  • The production manager was Ben Chapman, who filled the same position on The Giant Gila Monster. However, this was not the same Ben Chapman who played the titular monster in The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • This film was produced by Ken Curtis (who also plays Jerry in the film). Ken Curtis would go on to international fame as Festus Haggen in the television series "Gunsmoke".
  • Several dogs were used to play the killer shrews for some of the scenes.[1] In other scenes, the shrews are evidently rat puppets.
  • In 2012, a sequel was released entitled Return of the Killer Shrews. James Best co-wrote the film and reprised his role of Thorne Sherman. Bruce Davison appeared as Jerry Farrell (replacing the deceased Ken Curtis). It also featured Jon Schneider, who had co-starred with Best on "The Dukes of Hazzard".
  • This film was "top-matted". Normally films are center-matted—when projected in a theater or drive-in a proportion of the top and bottom of the frame is covered to present a widescreen picture. The full frame of a center-matted film will also appear reasonable on a television broadcast. A top-matted film only has the top of the frame covered when projected. This presents the top quarter of a television screen with nothing of interest while the actors occupy the lower three fourths of the screen. Filming this way also forces the boom mikes to remain far above the actors so they won't appear in the frame. This often causes the audio to sound distant and echo-y if it is not dubbed later. This accounts for much of the unintelligible dialog in this feature.
  • Was nominated in The Golden Turkey Awards series for Worst Rodent Movie of All Time. It lost to The Food of the Gods.

The Episode

Host Segments


Hyper Frank

Prologue: Joel decides to give the Bots a pick me up and hands out cool gifts. Gypsy gets a Little Mermaid Ariel Bathtime Set, Tom gets a Junior Dragster Indoor Funnycar by Marx, and Crow gets dress slacks from J.C. Penney, perfect for job interviews. Crow is deeply disappointed.

Invention Exchange (Segment One): As Tom tunes his new race car and consoles Crow that he'd rather have a pair of slacks too, down in Deep 13 the Mads prepare to cleave the Earth in two. Only Joel's invention of Jim Henson's Edgar Winter Babies saves the planet.


Tom's new race car

Segment Two: Joel vapor-locks as he attempts an impression of Will Rogers and ends up going all over the shop.

Segment Three: The Bots sing the commercial for their new Killer Shrew board game, but the actual game seems like more a chance for them to vent over the shortcomings of the movie.

Segment Four: Joel and the Bots invent the Killer Shrew drink, which is insanely heavy on sugary items. Joel has a small taste, and goes into shock. When they send it down, Frank serves as the test subject, and goes insanely hyper.

Joel as Will Rogers

Closing (Segment Five): The Bots dressed as shrews attack Joel, who like the scientist has just enough time to describe his symptoms and read a letter before the poison kills him. Down in Deep 13, Frank is feeling the effects of too much Killer Shrew drink, but nothing a good ipecac won't fix.

Stinger: Dr. Craigis explaining that "Any unusual experiment can produce unusual results."


  • Ipecacs reappear; they first reared their ugly head in episode 315- Teenage Cave Man.
  • Goof: Joel says “we will be-ack” and “MST3 viewers.”
  • Goof: Crow claims "It's not over til it's over" was Casey Stengel. That was a quote by Yogi Berra.
  • Crow's sensible brown pants would appear in several subsequent episodes.
  • The Killer Shrew drink sketch is similar to the "Alaskan Polar Bear Heater" scene from the 1963 film The Nutty Professor, with "similar results" regarding what happens when you drink it.
  • The invention segment by the mads is regarded by the writers and fans as possibly the most ominous ever done.

Obscure References

  • "You know", he told Bobby and Mike, "If I like the girl, who cares what I like?"

A paraphrase of lyrics present in the pop song "Cool It Now" by New Edition.

  • "C'mon, Quaker Oats for you, it's the right thing to do!"

A reference to a series of Quaker oatmeal commercials featuring Wilford Brimley.

  • "Hey kids, you ever read 'The Ox-Bow Incident'?"

The Ox-Bow Incident is a Western novel in which three innocent men are accused of cattle rustling and lynched.

  • "Animals vill be bred und SLAUGHTERED!"

A line spoken by the title character in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

  • "Maybe rodeos are the opiate of the masses!"

Servo is paraphrasing a Karl Marx quote about religion.

  • "Why can't Johnny ride?"

An allusion to the book Why Johnny Can't Read.

  • "Bob Clampett!"

Warner Bros. animator Bob Clampett was a slender, mustachioed man.

  • "Wait 'till I finish my Saratoga!"

The advertising slogan for Saratoga 120 cigarettes.

  • "Meester Fawlty! Polly!"

An imitation of Andrew Sachs' character "Manuel" from the British comedy series Fawlty Towers .

  • "There's a Teddy Roosevelt costume and some graves down here!"

A reference to the film/play Arsenic and Old Lace.

  • "Weasels ripped my flesh."

'Weasels Ripped My Flesh ' is the name of a Frank Zappa - Mothers of Invention album released in 1970.

  • "I thought you said your dog does not bite." "That's not my dog."

A line from The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

  • "I am sixteen, going on seventeen..."

From the song Sixteen Going On Seventeen in the play and movie 'The Sound of Music .'

  • Thorne: "I don't want you to let anyone open that door 'til I tell you, you understand?"
  • Tom Servo (as Girl's voice, repeating order) "Okay, anyone can open the door when you tell me ..."

A reference to a scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail where the Prince is trying to escape from his father's tower and a dim-witted guard fails to understand some simple instructions.

  • "Tell me about your homework, Usul."

Chani asks Paul this in Dune, while (from his mother's point of view) she is trying to ingratiate herself with him.

  • "Well, we covered the waterfront."

A reference to the jazz standard "I Cover the Waterfront", but perhaps most famous as the way that Tennessee Williams answered the question when asked if he was gay.

  • "'What a dump!' Who said that, George?"

A reference to Martha asking that question in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. (That would be Bette Davis, first in the movie Beyond the Forest.)

Video Release

  • Killershrewdvd
    Commerically released on DVD by Rhino in April 2005 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 7, a 4-DVD set with Hercules Unchained, Hercules Against the Moon Men, and Prince of Space.
  • The DVD features the contents of the Assignment: Venezuela and Other Shorts VHS tape released by the MST3K Info Club in October 2001 as an extra.
  • This DVD also has the most infamous Rhino screw-up, on the original disc about 45 seconds from the opening titles of Killer Shrews was cut, a short bit narration setting up the premise of the movie. Due to fan complaint Rhino eventually offered free replacement discs with the error corrected.