You, the ice cream manufacturer.
Up against the wall! Spread 'em!
  — Crow

The Short

The Selling Wizard



A promotional film for grocery-store freezer cases, brought to you by Anheuser-Busch.


This short was included on Shorts, Volume 3, released by Rhino Entertainment on VHS in January 2001, and on DVD in August 2004 as an limited time exclusive bonus for ordering MST3K: The Essentials from a specially created Rhino site (then by Shout! Factory on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection in May 2018).

The Movie


The Dead Talk Back

A narrator intones that what ensues is based on a "true event from a psychic research file". We meet Dr. Henry Krasker, an amateur inventor and criminologist with a fascination for the occult.

Renee Caldwell is a bored underwear model who resides at the boarding house where Krasker lives. Viewers witness her final Earthly activities - talking to her girlfriend, smoking, lounging on her bed, chatting on the telephone. When she is murdered on the front porch, pierced by a curtain rod fired from a crossbow, the police launch an investigation to determine the identity of the assailant. Henry Krasker has helped solve eight cases for the police before, so once more he becomes involved in police affairs.

The Dead Talk Back

Two par-boiled detectives, Lieutenant Lewis and Harry cross-examine the diverse occupants of the boarding house.

Among them are Christopher Mattling, an emotionally labile, jobless, judgmental Scripture-quoting unsuccessful writer and lecturer; Raymond Millbrun, a suspicious-acting radio DJ with wealthy parents; Fritz Krueger, a shifty-eyed German immigrant who served three years for "bothering a girl"; Younger, a twice-divorced music shop clerk whose marriages lasted less than three weeks ; and the proprietor of the boarding house, her daughter and two incorrigible grandsons. Several listless interrogations and behind-the-scenes slices of police life occur. The authorities track down Tony Patini, a photographer and source of a shoe heel that was left at the scene. When they accost him at his place of business, he flees the interview.

Under the aegis of the police, Krasker calls a meeting of the boarding-house residents. They all adjourn to his lab for a "seance" utilizing his "radio" in which he pleads with the spirit of the dead girl to name her murderer. The killer, unnerved, confesses.


  • This was among the first films to explore the concept of Instrumental Transcommunication (the supposed real-time communication with the dead), or Electronic Voice Phenomenon. Later such films include Poltergeist and White Noise.
  • The route that Tony Patini takes through Los Angeles when being pursued by Lt. Lewis is implausible. From identifiable landmarks, it starts at 6519 Hollywood Blvd., with Tony jaywalking to the south side after passing the Academy Theater. After a cut, he's back on the north side going west past Whitley Ave. After a brief shot showing some unidentified open space, he passes Grauman's Chinese Theater (several blocks west from the previous identifiable point). Almost immediately after that shot, Tony has somehow arrived in a parking lot between Wilcox Ave. and Schroeder Blvd., just south of his starting point on Hollywood Blvd. [1]

The Episode

Host Segments

SOL fire drill

Prologue: Gypsy’s fire drill makes it clear that in space there’s nowhere to go when there’s a fire.

Segment One: Dr. F attempts a pinpoint marketing campaign with Nelson cigarettes. Mike is not interested, but Tom and Crow are.

Segment Two: The Bots put on a radio talk show, "The Dead Talk Back". They communicate with the dead ("Abe from Illinois" and Winston Churchill). Much to Mike’s chagrin, the dead guys only want to chat about the chances of the Bills making a fifth straight Super Bowl appearance.

Nelson cigarettes

Mike & the Bots are "The Dead"

Segment Three: Based on a loose association with the title of the film, Mike and the Bots are "The Dead"; Crow starts an hour-long guitar solo a la Jerry Garcia, and doesn't pay attention to the interruption of Movie Sign until Mike grabs him to haul him into the theater.

Segment Four: Dr. F interrogates Frank, who proceeds to confess to everything, including killing that fat barkeep and eating all the Frusen Glädjé. Crow continues his guitar solo.

Segment Five: Crow is still playing the guitar. Gypsy starts another fire drill. Mike reads a letter midst the noise and chaos, ultimately screaming "Simon, Theodore, Allllllllviiiin!" Dr. F practices his archery skills - on Frank, of course.

Stinger: A woman screams after seeing Renee's dead body.

MST3K cast

Regular cast

Guest cast


  • Unusual credits: Crow's guitar solo continues instead of "Mighty Science Theater" starting up.
  • The concept of fire drills and emergencies aboard the SOL would be revisited in one of the promos the Brains did for the American Red Cross during season six.
  • Winston Churchill turned out to be correct - the Buffalo Bills have not returned to the Super Bowl since 1993, and Jim Kelly never earned a championship ring.
  • Crow's guitar solo was performed by Minnesota musician Andy Lacasse. Lacasse recalled that Jim Mallon stopped him at one point and told him to make the solo "more grating and irritating."


Obscure References

  • "EEeeeeeEEEEEEEeeeeeEEeeeeeee..."
Mike and the Bots imitate the haunting choir surrounding the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The silhouette of the ice cream cabinet resembles it.
  • "And don't forget Ed McMahon's Budweiser-flavored Ice Cream. Hayoooh! (hiccup)"
Ed McMahon was Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He had also been a spokesman for Budweiser, an Anheuser-Busch beer during the 1960s and 70s.
  • "...and then my wife came downstairs, and her face was split!"
An excerpt from Bill Cosby, Himself.
  • "Arnold Stang, fugitive!"
Arnold Stang was an American character actor known for playing "nerdy" types.
  • "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Dweeb!"
Allusion to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
  • "Stop! In the name of Eddie Deezen!"
Eddie Deezen is an American character actor known for playing awkward, nerdy roles. He would later appear in Laserblast (featured in Experiment #706) as a bully's sycophant.
  • "Invisible army?! I don't see anything."
A reference to John F. MacArthur's book God's Invisible Army.
  • "Excuse me, do you know what evil lurks in the heart of men?"
A reference to Orson Welles' famed radio play version of The Shadow.
  • "Esther Hoffman Howard!"
Esther Hoffman Howard was the name of Barbra Streisand's character in the 1976 version of A Star is Born.
  • "Ignatz and Krazy Kat are calling!"
A reference to the early 20th-century comic strip Krazy Kat. Ignatz Mouse was Krazy Kat's antagonist.
  • "The selling revolution will not be televised!"
Mike is paraphrasing the Black Power-era poet Gil Scott-Heron who stated that "The revolution will not be televised."
  • "Turn on your flood lights!"
A parody of the Neil Diamond song "Heartlight".
  • "You, Manute Bol!"
Manute Bol was a Sudanese-born basketball player known for his height of 7'7".
  • "Not since Moonraker has there been such an exciting opening sequence!"
Moonraker was a James Bond movie released in 1979. It had a strong science-fiction element and was heavy on spectacle.
  • Krasker: "Have you been hearing some weird stories lately?" Servo: "...About Chuck Berry?"
In 1987, Chuck Berry, the "Father of Rock and Roll", was charged with physically assaulting a woman at New York's Gramercy Park Hotel. In 1990, he was sued by several women who claimed that he had installed a video camera in the bathroom of his restaurant. Reportedly, a police raid on his house found intimate videotapes of women, one of whom was allegedly a minor. Police also found 62 grams of marijuana.
  • "Oh, he's got a Heathkit!"
Heathkit was the brand name for a line of amateur radio equipment sold in disassembled kit form.
  • " be in the Cramps."
The Cramps are a psycho-billy music band with a penchant for cross-dressing.
  • "Oh look...My Father the Hero is out on video now!"
My Father the Hero was a comedy film starring Gérard Depardieu.
  • "Aw damn, I'm gonna miss The Commish!"
The Commish was a light-drama TV series from the early 1990s.
  • "The Eyes of Kenneth Mars!"
A reference to both the 1978 thriller The Eyes of Laura Mars and actor Kenneth Mars.
  • "Shoot that poison arrow through my hea-ea-eart!"
A quote from the 1980s pop song "Poison Arrow" by ABC.
  • "It's the Mary Jo Kopechne Memorial Bridge!"
In 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne was a passenger in a car being driven by Senator Ted Kennedy, who drove the car off Dike Bridge into Poucha Pond. Kennedy survived, but Kopechne did not. It is known as the Chappaquiddick incident.
  • "Thom McAn!"
Thom McAn is a brand of shoes and a former retail chain often found in shopping malls. By 1996, all Thom McAn outlets were closed.
  • "The heater never works in this thing..."
Volkswagen Beetles had notoriously bad heaters, due to a combination of their spartan design and physics.
  • "The film seems to have taken a decidedly Jarmusch-ian turn!"
A reference to independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, whose works are known for having scenes with long silences and very little movement.
  • "Used to be Ray MOR."
"MOR" is an abbreviation used in the radio industry for "middle of the road" music.
  • "With Jack and Neal and Me."
A reference to the song "Neal and Jack and Me" by King Crimson.
  • "Wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean?"
A reference to the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Nudge Nudge".
  • "Hey, Helmut Kohl's working the counter!"
Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of Germany (originally West Germany) from 1982 to 1998.
  • Krasker: "Try to understand." "I'm a magic man!"
A reference to the Heart song "Magic Man".
  • "I'm an octoroon, you know."
Octoroon is an outdated term for people with partly black ancestry.
  • "Ah, Swisher Sweets!"
Swisher Sweets is a brand of inexpensive cigars.
  • "I'd like to thank Edmund Scientific for their generous support for this project."
The Edmund Scientific Corporation sells laboratory supplies through mail-order catalogs.
  • "He caught her in a tryst with Aleister Crowley!"
Aleister Crowley was a famed British occultist of the early 20th century.
  • "Oh, so *there's* Bunny Lake!"
A reference to the 1965 thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing.
  • "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret!"
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is a young adult novel by Judy Blume.
  • "Yes, another great Saul Bass title sequence!"
Graphic designer Saul Bass (who also directed Phase IV) was famous for designing movie title sequences and posters, which often incorporated highly stylized or abstract animation.
  • "Don't rot away, Renée!"
A parody of the song "Walk Away Renée" by the Left Banke which made it to number five in 1966.
  • "Leni Riefenstahl's most powerful film."
Leni Riefenstahl is best known for creating the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. Riefenstahl's techniques have earned Triumph of the Will recognition as one of the greatest propaganda films in history.

Video Release

  • 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 Monster A-Go Go.
    • The set was re-released by Shout! Factory in November 2018.
      • DVD special feature includes the Myron Natwick Talks Back interview.


  1. starting at about twenty-two minutes in