Woah! Seen him in my nightmares...
  — Tom, responding to a large cartoon clown to his right

Oh... The joke's on "us"!! Booooo!! Booooooooo!!!
  — Tom, Crow and Joel giving this film a proper reception.

The Short



The short is called Circus on Ice. It features women in striped suits on leashes, simulated gunshots and lots of the color pink.


  • Jacqueline du Bief, who performs the solo piece as a dying fawn, won the ladies world figure-skating title in Paris in 1952, and earned a bronze medal at the Olympics in Oslo that same year.[1]
  • The print of the film that Best Brains used is of a low quality, which is especially noticeable at the beginning and end of the short as being slightly jumpy and scratchy (to the point in which Tom Servo makes a joke about it as the film is ending).

The Movie


Monster A-Go Go

An Army astronaut's capsule returns to earth, but he's not in it. However, there is a mutant monster wreaking havoc nearby. Could there be a connection? The film infamously ends with a terrible twist, anti-conclusion in which the monster never actually existed and the astronaut was actually rescued days earlier in perfectly healthy condition.[2] As the movie itself admits, there was no monster.


  • Director Herschell Gordon Lewis needed another movie to round out a double-feature, so he bought Bill Rebane’s unfinished Terror at Halfday which Rebane had completely abandoned. Lewis filmed extra scenes, added some dialogue, used a prerecorded narration from Rebane, and released it as Monster A Go-Go. Because the film was completed so long after it had begun production, viewers will notice that the entire cast (save one actor) disappears roughly about halfway through the movie and is replaced with other actors playing different roles.
  • Another consequence of the long gap in production was that the appearance of the actor playing Dr. Henry Logan changed so dramatically that his character was changed to be Dr. Conrad Logan, Henry's brother.
  • This movie has one of the most infamous scenes of any film used on MST3K, in which one of the actors fairly obviously makes the sound of a phone ringing with his mouth in lieu of an actual sound effect. Joel notes the moment with a disgusted "Unbelievable!" followed by Servo quipping as the doctor "Yes, I made that phone noise!"
  • Was nominated in The Golden Turkey Awards series for Most Idiotic Ad Lines in Hollywood History for, "AN ASTRONAUT WENT UP-- A 'GUESS WHAT' CAME DOWN! The picture comes complete with a 10-foot monster to give you the wim-wams!" It lost to Kwaheri.

The Episode

Host Segments

Johnny Longtorso

The host segments in this episode are unusual in the Joel era in that none of them have anything to do with the movie, or each other. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide entry explained that since the film was about nothing, the segments would be as well.

Prologue: The Bots have constructed a cheese factory aboard the SOL. They use Joel's sneakers to add a bit of extra flavor.

Gypsy doesn't get Crow

Segment One (Invention Exchange): The Mads and the SOL crew compete in an action figure contest, and if the SOL wins, they get to watch Local Hero, and if they lose, they must watch Monster A-Go-Go. The Mads have Johnny Longtorso, whose body parts are each sold separately to maximize revenue. Gypsy immediately screams that they are evil for making such a product. Joel lets the bots show off their nonviolent, educational action figures: Tom's figure is Action OxfordCrow's is a tapeworm (the doll is just the host organism) and Gypsy's is Wilma Rudolph. Impartial judge TV's Frank calls Deep 13 the winner.

The Bots and their cheese factory

Segment Two: Gypsy doesn’t get Crow. After trying to help her figure out why (with also presenting some interesting technical information about himself), she comes to the conclusion it's actually Tom she doesn't get. Tom doesn't care - he's the wind, baby.

Segment Three: Joel and Tom play "keep away" from Crow.

Segment Four: Joel tries to explain "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" to Crow and Tom. The bots tear the song apart and nothing is resolved.

Segment Five: Joel crowns Happy King Servo and knights Sir Giggles von Laffsalot Crow, but they're so despondent over the movie that there's just no cheering them up.

Stinger: The "monster" shambles about awkwardly.

MST3K cast


  • The Johnny Longtorso name is a call back/reference to a riff made during Experiment #104.
  • Nearly the entire cast of the show and Best Brains stated this was officially the worst movie they had ever seen up to this point.
  • Kevin Murphy has noted that Local Hero is his favorite film.
  • The Rupert Holmes song "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" was off his 1979 album Partners in Crime. The recording of Holmes' song "Timothy" recorded in 1971 by The Buoys was a one-hit wonder.
  • With regards to the song "Timothy"- Joel was either mistaken or trying to soften the story for the Bots. "Timothy" was about an instance of cannibalism that occurred between three trapped miners. Record executives had to sell the idea to radio stations that Timothy was a mule (not a duck as Joel suggested) in order to get the song played.
  • In MST3K lore, the narration "There was no giant, no monster, no thing called Douglas to be followed" has occasionally become misquoted as "There was no monster."
  • None of the cast or writers are quite sure where the "Hum de de de de de/Hoo-ah hoo-ah" ditty that Crow (and later Tom) hum just before and during Host Segment 2 comes from. At a Cinematic Titanic show, Trace Beaulieu said he vaguely remembered that Paul Chaplin came up with it, but wasn't sure.

Obscure References

  • "Burned on re-entry, huh?"

A phrase used in writer Tom Wolfe's novel The Right Stuff.

  • "A young Ghermezian brother scouts locations."

The Ghermezian family is a Canadian family of Iranian Armenian origin who have developed several of the world's largest shopping malls. The family's holdings include the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

  • "You've got your circus on my ice! You've got your ice on my circus! Two bad things that go worse together!"

In the 1970s and 1980s, a series of commercials were run for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups featuring situations in which two people, one eating peanut butter and one eating chocolate, collided. One person would exclaim, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" and the other would exclaim, "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" They would then sample the mixture and remark on the great taste, tying in with the slogan "Two great tastes that taste great together."

  • "Uh... I'd like a sloe gin circus." "I'd like mine straight up!"

A play on the title 'Circus on Ice,' referencing popular cocktails (i.e. Sloe Gin Fizz, etc.)

  • "Is this a Max Fleischer cartoon?"

In reference to the credits (which look like old cartoon credits.) Max Fleischer was an innovative animator in the first half of the 20th century responsible for animated shorts dealing with such iconic characters as Betty Boop and Popeye, among others.

  • "Hey, it's Bella Abzug!"

Bella Abzug was a notable Women's Rights advocate and a Congresswoman from New York State.

  • "They are soon returned to their lives of quiet desperation."

Henry David Thoreau commented on the (supposedly) mundane lives of men (and women, presumably) in his iconic work Walden, in which he claimed that "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

  • "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Murder."

This is a pun based on the narrator's previous reference to the skater as a 'fawn' (deer) in the forest (though not presumably the 'faun' (half human–half goat) to which the pun makes reference). Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is a symphonic poem for orchestra by Claude Debussy inspired by the poem "The Afternoon of a Faun" by Stéphane Mallarmé. It is one of Debussy's most famous works and is considered a turning point in the history of music.

  • "It's Billy Pilgrim!"

Billy Pilgrim, protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five, wore a pair of boots that had been spray-painted silver for a production of Cinderella in a POW camp where he was held.

  • "Hey... it's that new L.A. club."

Whisky a Go Go, a nightclub in West Hollywood, opened in 1964. It has been the launching pad for bands including The Stooges, Alice Cooper, The Doors, No Doubt, System of a Down, The Byrds, Chicago, Germs, Buffalo Springfield, Steppenwolf, Van Halen, Johnny Rivers, X, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Guns N' Roses, Death, AC/DC, and Mötley Crüe.

  • "Oh, I though it was going to be Munster, Go Home!"

Munster, Go Home! was a film based on the TV show.

  • "What's it all about?" "Alfie!"

"What's it all about?" is the tagline for the film Alfie. It was later made into a popular song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

  • "I think this is the movie version of Darkness Visible by William Styron."

Darkness Visible is a memoir by William Styron about his descent into (and return from) depression.

  • "Women are pulled apart like fresh bread."

An excerpt from Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia.

  • "Let's see here... Rumple Tweezer the good fairy lived under the Dum-Dum tree and got WHAT?!"

This was a reference to a storytime sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus where Eric Idle's character tries to read children stories which quickly turn adult.

  • "I'm going to spit on you... just a little spittle."

A reference to Baron Harkonnen's line in Dune.

  • "A strange object had fallen to Earth." "A Coke bottle!"

A reference to the cult favorite film The Gods Must Be Crazy in which a pilot drops an empty coke bottle over the Kalahari Desert, where it disrupts the lives of the natives.

  • "I'm Percy Dovetonsils."

​Percy Dovetonsils is an effeminate poet character created by Ernie Kovacs.

  • "Oh this is where Van Gogh painted his famous 'Crows in Corn.'" "Crows in Corn?"

Joel is actually referring to Van Gogh's supposed last painting, Wheatfield with Crows, which is also believed to be the painting he completed before fatally shooting himself.

  • "How not to be seen..."

A well-known Monty Python sketch.

  • "We wuz too late!"

From a less well-known Monty Python sketch, The Bishop.

  • "Five!" "Three, sir!"

A quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

  • "Oh, they decided to go to Shakey's!"

The Shakey's Pizza chain was popular in the United States during the 1960s and '70s, but its restaurants are now found mainly in Asia and Southern California.

  • "Rock, rock, rock, rock, Rock 'n' Roll High School!"

Joel and the 'Bots are singing the theme song from Rock 'n' Roll High School, a 1979 movie featuring the Ramones.

  • "What is this, the Lloyd Thaxton Show?"

Lloyd Thaxton was a record producer with a popular TV show in the '60s featuring dancing teens (à la American Bandstand).

  • "Django Reinhardt tunes up his guitar."

Django Reinhardt was a revolutionary Belgian Gypsy jazz guitarist active from the late 20s through early 50s.

  • "Here in my car, I feel safest of all..."

Tom is quoting the Gary Numan song "Cars".

  • "The Thin Blue Line!"

"The Thin Blue Line between Order and Chaos" is an expression used to describe the role of police in society (as police uniforms are typically blue). This phrase influenced the title of The Thin Blue Line, a 1988 documentary film about the murder of a Texas police officer.

  • "What is this, Chinese music torture?"

A joke on Chinese water torture (actually invented by an Italian), an ancient and subtle form of torment involving drops of water falling on the victim's forehead.

  • "Hey, good-lookin'. We'll be back to pick you up later!"

A line from the original Mr. Microphone ad.

  • "They're talkin' to Charlie Brown's mom."

In the Charlie Brown TV specials, the voices of adults were represented by the sounds of a muffled trumpet, not actual voices. This is also a bit of a goof, as the adult talking in the specials was usually Charlie Brown's teacher. Charlie Brown's mother was only featured in the comic in some very early strips and was never featured in the specials.

  • "Dog and Butterfly, he likes to fly..."

The American rock group Heart released a song and album entitled Dog and Butterfly in 1978.

  • "Mo Udall!"

A reference to Mo Udall, a former Arizona congressman, player for the Denver Nuggets basketball team, and 1976 Democratic presidential nominee hopeful.

  • "Hey it's Sununu going to get a haircut!"

A reference to the scandal involving George H.W. Bush's White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu using government planes for personal purposes.

  • "...and my book of S & H Green Stamps."

Green Stamps were a rewards program used by thousands of merchants throughout the country from the 1930s through the 90s, though the 60s were their heyday. They could be collected in books and redeemed for various kinds of merchandise.

  • "He's a regular Evelyn Wood, isn't he?"

Evelyn Wood invented a method of speed reading.

  • "Later, over lunch with Wally Shawn..."

A reference to the popular art film My Dinner With Andre, starring Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory.

  • "This is what happens when you're trapped in an Ionesco play."

Playwright Eugene Ionesco was a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd movement, whose plays often dealt with banal situations and featured dialogue full of intentional non-sequitur.

  • "Hey, it's the musical stairs from the Science Museum."

The Science Museum of Minnesota has a staircase where each stair plays a different musical note when stepped on.

  • "Return to violence!"

Tom Servo sings this line to the tune of the 1962 Elvis Presley hit "Return to Sender".

  • "Time keeps on slippin' slippin'... Oh what a lucky man he was!"

Referencing hit songs "Fly Like an Eagle" (1977) and "Lucky Man"(1970) by The Steve Miller Band and Emerson Lake and Palmer respectively, to which the soundtrack at this point bears a slight resemblance.

  • "The call is coming from within the laboratory!"

The babysitter and the man upstairs is an urban legend that dates back to the 1960s about a teenage girl babysitting children who is harassed by a series of anonymous telephone calls wherein she is told to "check the children." She eventually calls the police, and, after tracing the next call, they tell her, "The calls are coming from inside the house."

  • "Blame it on the Bossa Nova."

A reference to the 1963 hit song by that title released by Eydie Gorme, which reached #7 on the Hot 100 in Billboard that year.

  • "I was just trying to help."

Spoken in a mealy-mouthed voice, this is a riff on the voice of the cartoon character Droopy, a dog with a forlorn demeanor.

  • "I want some answers... Please frame it in the form of a question."

Dealing with the popular quiz-show Jeopardy, in which the answers must be formed as a question.

  • "My brother and I looked like wood ticks ready to pop!"

A paraphrase of a line spoken by the narrator of A Christmas Story referring to the huge number of layers of clothing Ralphie and Flick were forced to wear by their Mother to stave off the Indiana winter temperatures.

  • "Incontheivable!"

In the film based on the William Goldman novel The Princess Bride, Sicilian mastermind criminal Vizzini (played by Wallace Shawn) speaks with a slight lisp and utters the word 'Inconceivable!' numerous times.

  • "Whenever I go out, the people always shout there goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!"

A reference to the popular children's song using those lyrics.


MST3K 421 Promo

  • "The Piña Colada song... could you phrase it in the form of a question?"

Another "Jeopardy" joke, this time referring to the (in)famous Rupert Holmes song "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)".

  • "Hey, The Outer Limits is coming on."

The sci-fi TV series The Outer Limits opened with a shot of an oscilloscope.

  • "Laszlo Kovacs my butt, this is great photography!"

Laszlo Kovacs was an Oscar-winning cinematographer who shot highly-regarded movies like Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. He also worked on The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.

  • "It says, 'Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids, I'm never coming back!'"

A reference to a letter written by Lieutenant Colby to his wife in the film Apocalypse Now

  • "Bbbbbbbb-oooooooooooo..."

 A reference to old ads for Lifebuoy Soap,

Memorable Quotes

Circus on Ice (short)

[The title "Circus on Ice" shows onscreen]
Joel: You got your circus on my ice!
Crow: Hey, you got your ice on my circus!
Servo: Two bad things that go worse together!
[Referencing a Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ad campaign.]
Servo[in response to a clown on screen] Woah, seen him in my nightmares...
[Two pink tutu'd skaters perform a synchronized skating routine to a light, cheery tune.]
These two girls, they make quite a pair.
They both come from your worst night-mare.
They will haunt your soul forever,
And now,
When you see pink,
You're gonna think,
"We're doomed".
They are agents of Satan...
Joel[laughing] Okay, stop it, Tom...
[A group of women skaters dressed as Zebras come on screen, and are described as actual animals.]
Servo: We're gettin' into a whole weird area, here.
Crow [as Narrator]: Yes, it's sexist male fantasies on ice!
. . .
Narrator: And now, the little bareback rider exhalts in her victory over the wild beasts!
Servo[nervously chuckling] Uh-huh...
. . .
Servo [as Narrator]: Yes, it's dehumanized, objectified circus on ice!
[A skater portrays a fawn trying vainly to escape from hunters.]
Servo: Prelude to the afternoon of a murder.
Narrator: Frantically the fawn tries to escape.
Joel: Suddenly... she darts across the highway! (The bots make car noises and the sound of a car hitting a deer.)
Narrator: The hunters close in. There is no escape!
Servo: Unshaven, stinky and boozed up on Rumple Minze the hunters spray bullets into the woods!
. . .
Crow [as Child]: Oh, Mom, I don't wanna... [gulps] I don't like the Circus on Ice anymore! I wanna go home!
Servo [as Mother]: Shut up and watch the deer get slaughtered! It's fun!
. . .
Joel: Oh, and she skates over her own intestines.
[The camera pans down from the spotlights to some skating ballerinas.]
Narrator: And now, the spotlight falls on a world of delicate loveliness...
Crow [as Narrator]: ...and kills them.

Monster A Go-Go (movie)

[Over the film's title]
ServoMonster A Go-Go? I thought this was gonna be Munster Go Home!
. . .
Joel: You know, guys, I got a feeling this is gonna be a tough one.
Crow: Oh, it might not be too bad...
Servo: No, I think Joel's right, this one has "stinkburger" written all over it.
Joel: Yeah...
Crow[sighs indignantly] C'mon, you can't tell just from the credits!
Joel: No, no, it's a feeling I have. My gut instincts tell me that this is gonna hurt real bad.
Crow: Joel, it's not healthy to have such a negative attitude right out of the gate.
Servo: It's just common sense, Crow. There's a feeling of incompetence already in the air here.
Joel: Yeah, we might as well face up to it...
Crow: Well, I refuse to give in so soon! I'm gonna riff away like it's nobody's business! ...I-I can't think of anything now, but...
[The credits mention that the film's music was performed by a group called The Other Three; part of the credit is cut off by the side of the screen.]
Joel[reading] The Other Th?
[The credits list Bill Rebane as the film's producer; his name reappears as the film's director.]
Crow[enthusiastically] Hey, what a coincidence, there were two guys named Bill Rebane! Heh heh... y'know, ya see, 'cause of the thing with the... and the... uh, the guy, the... [deflating] This is gonna suck.
[Scene showing the laughably tiny space capsule Douglas was supposed to have landed in.]
Narrator: Without question, this WAS the capsule that had put Douglas into orbit.
Joel: "Right!" (He and the bots chuckle.)
Narrator: And without question Douglas was gone without a trace!"
Servo: Douglas was pear-shaped, very short and stood the whole way!
[A scientist is walking up a flight of stairs with music playing.]
Servo: Hey, its the musical stairs from the science museum.
[Dr. Logan just gets through talking on the phone and he looks distraught]
Joel [as Dr. Logan]: That's it. I'm dead. I'm a dead man. I'm a dead man walking, and talking and wearing clothes, that's how dead I am. I'm dead.
[Dr. Brent tries to find out why Dr. Logan didn’t tell him he had the monster in one of his radiation labs for the last eight weeks]
Dr. Brent: Why didn't you tell us then?
Dr. Logan: I don't know. I was trying to help.
Servo[whining] I was just trying to help.
Dr. Brent: Help? You've jeopardized this whole project!
Dr. Logan: What the hell do you want from me, Dr. Brent?! I don't have a precision mind like yours!
Crow [as Dr. Logan]: I'm only a scientist!
[Close up on a phone when a ringing sound (made by a person offscreen) goes off]
Joel[in disbelief] Unbelieveable...
[Tom bursts out into laughter]
Dr. Logan: Hello? [A pause] Yes?
Crow [as Dr. Logan]: I made that phone noise.
[In Chicago's Lower Level, men dress Col. Connors and Dr. Brent in radiation suits.]
Crow [as Col. Connors][makes a fart noise] What? Oh. Uh... Pull the helmet off! Pull it off me!
Narrator: There is one terrifying word in the world of nuclear physics...
Servo: "Oops".
Narrator: "...radiation."
Servo: Oh.
Narrator: The long wait began!
Joel: And you're going to see EVERY minute of it!
Narrator: As if a switch had been turned, as if an eye had been blinked as if some phantom force in the universe had made a move eons beyond our comprehension...
Tom Servo: As if we cared.
Narrator: Suddenly, there was no trail. There was no giant, no monster, no thing called Douglas to be followed. There was nothing in the tunnel but the puzzled men of courage who suddenly found themselves alone with the shadows and darkness!
Crow: There was no dignity for ANYONE for who worked on this film!!
Joel: Turned out to be an alien snipe hunt, go figure.
Tom: This is a test. Had this been an actual movie, you would have been "entertained".
Narrator: Frank Douglas was found alive and of normal size some 3,000 miles away in a lifeboat.
Joel: Aw wait a minute!! (The bots show their equal displeasure with this reveal.)
Narrator: Then who or what has landed here? Is it still here, or has the cosmic switch been pulled? Case in point! The line between science fiction and science fact...
Crow: And science CRAP!
Narrator: ...Is microscopically thin. You have witnessed that line being shaved even thinner.
JoelOh, the joke's on us!
Tom: Boooooo!
[Joel realizes how depressing the movie was and is trying to cheer up the 'bots when Servo begins to cry.]
Joel: Hey, w-what's wrong?
Servo: Joel, it's this movie. It was really depressing! It was like being a little kid and eating dinner at your Aunt Ruth's apartment in the summer, and it's hot in there and she's got a local Christian radio station on, and there's nothing to do or look at 'cause all she's got in the apartment are Good Housekeeping magazines and linen doilies!
Crow: Yeah! And then they send you out to play with the strange neighbor kids and they're all big and their skin is pink and they have big pores and a big eighth grader makes you look at really upsetting pictures, so you go back inside and you sit down and they're all just talking with these big pauses in their conversations and you can hear the clock ticking on the wall!
Servo: Yeah! Yeah, and so you dig into your seat cushion and you find a really old peanut, and you're so bored you eat it! And then you just feel bad and a little sick, and then you think you're about to go! But-but then Aunt Ruth takes out a photo album filled with black-and-white photos of kids with squinty eyes and they're supposed to be your uncles and aunts or something, and then your parents force you to look at them!

Video Release

  • Amazon Digital Cover

    Commercially released on DVD by Rhino in November 2005 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 8, a 4-DVD set with Hobgoblins, The Phantom Planet, and The Dead Talk Back.
    • Re-released on DVD by Shout! Factory in November 2018 as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume VIII.
      • DVD Special features include a theatrical trailer and a Bill Rebane Speaks interview.