"Just keep brushing and brushing and saying the name of our Lord and Savior!"
  — Mike

"She must be one of Senator Packwood's aides."
  — Mike

The Short

Keeping Clean and Neat (1956)



A 1950's social education short for children on how to remain clean and neat, how to dress, and how to organize one's shoe-shining equipment.


The Movie


Jaffe (played by Harry Keatan) in The Sinister Urge

The film revolves around a series of murders of young women. The opening scene features an unnamed blonde woman (Betty Boatner) running along a mountain road, wearing only her undergarments. She is clearly scared for her life. She enters a city park and manages to reach a telephone booth. Her attempt to escape her assailant ends in failure, when the man also reaches the booth. He quickly kills her and leaves her corpse next to a lake. The corpse is soon discovered by visitors of the park. The scene shifts to a police station, where Police Lieutenant Matt Carson (Kenne Duncan) receives a phone report on the latest murder. He instructs subordinate Officer Kline (Fred Mason) to gather information from the witnesses who called in the discovery of the body. Then he summons his associate Sergeant Randy Stone (Duke Moore) and they head out to the crime scene. They take note of the youthful appearance of the victim and suspect a connection to the "smut picture racket".

The next scene takes place in the film studio of pornographic director Jaffe (Harry Keatan), an elderly man who is somewhat elfin in appearance. Jaffe is currently shooting a scene involving three women posing for the camera. He fusses over the details of the scene he is shooting, in a scene that depicts (and mocks) his artistic pretensions. Jaffe's superior Johnny Ryde (Carl Anthony) interrupts him to bring orders from their boss, Gloria Henderson (Jean Fontaine). She wants their inventory moved to a safer location. Jaffe promises to do so after completing his shoot. He never finishes, as Carson leads a police raid into the studio. All participants in the shoot are arrested, and the inventory of films is taken into police custody.

Back at the police station, Carson and Stone are berated by their superior, who demands quicker action in exposing the racket. Afterwards, the two officers are visited by local businessman Mr. Romaine (Harvey B. Dunn), who demands to know why taxpayers' money is "wasted" in prosecuting harmless deviancy such as pornography. In Romaine's view, the police should be occupied with more serious crimes, such as murder and robbery. In response, Carson claims that the dirty picture racket is connected to major crimes. He then reveals images of the murder victims, and explains the connection between them working for the racket and their violent deaths. He then asks the shocked Romaine if he has a daughter. As he exits, the visibly shaken Romaine explains that he has two daughters.

The Sinister Urge

Next, Gloria is visited at home by Johnny Ryde, who informs her of the recent police raid. The conversation shifts to Shirley, who had been killed by Dirk (this is the revelation of the killer's name). The conversation also reveals that Shirley had learned too much about the inside operations of Gloria's organization and was attempting to blackmail them. Johnny states that he is worried about Dirk himself, since he clearly enjoys using his knife. They next discuss another aspect of the pornography ring. They have been peddling bondage photos to high school students, but these young customers have started demanding newer material.

The scene shifts to Jake's Pizza Joint. Teenage customers are depicted happily dancing and eating. Then two young man approach each other, with switchblades in their hands. A fight begins, and Dirk Williams (Dino Fantini) is seen observing from afar. The fight goes outside and evolves into a street brawl attracting onlookers. Inside, Jake (the owner) negotiates the purchase of more smut pictures from Janet, an agent of the pornography ring. He complains about the inventory of photos he already has, claiming that most of his clientele already have it, so finding new customers is hard. The fight outside attracts the attention of the police, so Jake and others are arrested. The two street fighters are revealed to be low-level smut peddlers, who were fighting over turf.

Later, Janet leads three other women into attacking Clauson, a distributor of smutty pictures who was embezzling funds of the organization. The man ends up hospitalized. The scene shifts back to Gloria's house. Gloria and Johnny are watching 16mm films and conversing. Gloria points that the increasingly unstable Dirk is both aroused and triggered to kill by viewing pornography. Johnny claims that he can still keep Dirk under control. Meanwhile, Dirk has returned to the park. He is flirting with a woman and the two kiss. But then his lust turns to murderous rage. He strips off her clothes and stabs her to death.

The Sinister Urge

In the police station, Carson and Stone start discussing the fates of the women victimized by pornography. The scene shifts to following the path of one aspiring actress - Mary (Jeanne Willardson) - who is rejected by film studios and talent agents before offered work by Johnny Ryde. Ryde introduces himself as a director, without explaining the kind of films he directs. With childlike naivety, Mary agrees to work hard for him. She receives money for her expenses long before filming starts. She first becomes economically dependent on her employers, then she resigns herself to posing for revealing pictures.

The scene shifts to the exterior of Gloria's house, where Dirk is seen lurking. He breaks into the house and gets his hands on more smutty pictures. By this point, he is clearly addicted to both porn and killing. Later, he returns to the park and finds another victim. This time the murder has repercussions for him. He leaves behind the photos which he had touched with his bare hands. Through his fingerprints, the police discover the identity of the killer, which is then leaked to the press. Gloria's own bosses in "the Syndicate" then order her to remove Dirk permanently, as he is an unruly employee who is drawing negative attention for their organization.

Gloria and Johnny next argue over the best way to accomplish this. Johnny suggests an indirect way of killing Dirk, by arranging a fatal "accident" for him. As if aroused by the idea, the two partners then share a passionate embrace. Dirk survives his "accident", then comes to Gloria's house seeking vengeance. He finds it empty but soon ambushes the arriving Johnny. Johnny temporarily manages to convince his assailant that they could work together to replace Gloria. Dirk then murders Johnny, before being shot in the dark by Gloria, who assumed that she was shooting Johnny. The film ends with Gloria's disbelief that she shot the wrong man as the police arrest her.


  • There are posters for three other films by director Edward D. Wood Jr. in Johnny Ride's office: Jail Bait (1954), Bride of the Monster (1955), and The Violent Years (1956). Mary asks Johnny, "Are gangster and horror films all you produce?", making him an obvious avatar for Wood himself. His later moan that he used to make good movies seems prophetic about Wood's later slide into adult films, as discussed below.
  • Ed Wood and Conrad Brooks are the brawling "teenagers" fighting over porn in front of the restaurant. [1] The footage used is from an unfinished Wood film Rock and Roll Hell. (Servo actually notes this, saying "I think these scenes are from a completely different movie.") The scene is used once again in the Wood film Night of the Ghouls when the film goes from a supernatural horror movie to showing the fight scene as a warning from narrator Criswell about the dangers of juvenile delinquency.
  • This film was profitable upon its release, but Ed Wood had sold the rights to the film for about $500 and missed out on receiving any residuals.
  • It seems very strange that someone who had such a non-traditional life (and such an eclectic circle of friends as Ed Wood did) could hold such a narrow opinion of pornography as evidenced in this movie. It would not be at all surprising if either: 1) the movie was a sardonic comment on the Puritanical views held about sexuality in the 1950's, or 2) Ed Wood wanted to make a picture about the porn industry (possibly something along the lines of Boogie Nights), but the script had to be drastically rewritten in order to get the picture made.
  • This was the final "legit" film that Ed Wood had any role in. Following The Sinister Urge, he made several soft-core and hard-core pornographic movies, including Orgy of the Dead, Necromania and The Young Marrieds.
  • Johnny Ryde's line "You can't keep selling the same old stuff to the same old crowd forever" was used as an intro to performances of "Numb" during U2's ZooTV tour (it can be heard at the beginning of the track on the Dublin concert bootleg).
  • Viewers may recognize actor Harvey B. Dunn (who briefly appears here as the man complaining about how the police are wasting their time with girlie pictures) from his roles in both Teenagers from Outer Space and Bride of the Monster.
  • Hard rock musician Rob Zombie used the film's title for his second solo album.
  • Paul Chaplin noted in the ACEG the truth to clipping your toenails after a shower is much easier for the softened effect of water, and fans have verified.

The Episode

Host Segments

Gypsy's gift giving shower

Prologue: Mike and the Bots give Gypsy a gift giving shower, because that's what they believe all women get. And apparently they believe that all women want pinking shears.

Segment One: The shower is just so lovely and darling, while down in Deep 13 Dr. F begins to worry about Frank, who has been missing for several days. Searching for clues, Frank's movie choices are slightly concerning, and his gift to Gypsy of pinking shears includes a card threatening to blow up Deep 13.

Frank's got Dr. F all tied up

Segment Two: Frank gives the SOL a taste of what he’s planning, having sent a bomb up the Umbilicus. Frank gloats and reveals he's tied up Dr. F as he prepares to blow up Deep 13. Mike and Bots are initially amused by Forrester's cry for help, until they realize no more Mads means no way down. It's up to them to save him.

Segment Three: Everyone checks Frank’s background for clues, while Crow tries his contact on the streets - Huggy Bear! Well, a Huggy Bear, but neither he nor Rooster provide any aid, leading to Tom and Crow fighting over who's a better cop.

Servo and Crow act out cop show cliches

Segment Four: Things look bleak as the Bots cycle through more cop-show cliches, until Gypsy causes Mike to remember Frank's weakness: Potato Cakes. Calling down to a dynamite covered Dr. F, Mike convinces him of his plan and Frank seems to have no problem with Dr Forrester stepping out.

Segment Five: Frank calls up to the Satellite of Love to gloat over Dr. F's imminent demise, until Mike cuts him off by asking to speak to Dr. Forrester to talk him through how to use the potato cakes to defeat Frank and disarm the bombs. Mike and the Bots are now free to read a letter, before we return to Deep 13 to see Dr. F's revenge, Deep Fried Frank!

Stinger: “Dirk? No that can’t be Dirk ...nuh-uh ...no ...that’s not Dirk ...no,” says Gloria.

MST3K cast

Regular cast

Guest cast


  • “You’re stuck here!” (Fugitive Alien)
  • "Oh, goodie! THIS guy!" is a reference to actor Harvey B. Dunn (see "Information" above). He is easily recognizable due to an amputated right index finger.
  • Mike refers to the the grinning car as “Jet Jaguar” and Crow replies: “How would you know?” (Godzilla vs Megalon), an experiment Joel, not Mike was subjected to (though it's possible Mike could have seen it as well).
  • "EEGAH!!!" (Eegah)
  • "Daddy-O? Dick Cantino?" (Daddy-O)
  • "Oh, hi Batwoman!" (The Wild Wild World of Batwoman)

Obscure References

  • "There you are Don, back in bed this morning." "Now, a giant cockroach"
An allusion to Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis.
  • "He's becoming Howard Hughes!"
The aviation tycoon and film producer Howard Hughes battled obsessive-compulsive disorder his entire life, which eventually turned him into a recluse.
  • "And Rosie Ruiz takes the lead in the Boston Marathon."
Rosie Ruiz cheated her way to a first-place finish in the 1980 Boston Marathon by taking a subway to within a few miles of the finish line and joining the race already in progress (she was subsequently disqualified).
  • "It's Erich von Stroheim's Greed."
Erich von Stroheim shot more than 85 hours of footage for the classic 1924 silent film Greed, and delivered an 8 hour long cut to the studio, which was further edited down to 2 1/2 hours by the studio. The full 8 hour long cut is now considered lost, though film archivists have long sought it.
  • "It's Jet Jaguar!" "Hey, it is! How would YOU know?"
Jet Jaguar is a reference to the goofy smiling robot in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Crow's confused reaction is due to the fact that Mike Nelson was yet not aboard the S.O.L. for that experiment - Joel was.
  • "Smut?! I'll show you SMUT!"
A very obscure M*A*S*H reference snarled by Hawkeye Pierce when accused of reading "smut" to a Korean child (who didn't understand English). His utterance is barely heard over the ranting between the entire M*A*S*H cast.
  • "Mad dog! Eh-heh, eh-heh!"
Crow is imitating Pee-wee Herman in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
  • "Don Was? The producer?"
Don Was is a prolific music producer.
  • "Richard Diamond, Operator."
A reference to the radio drama and TV series Richard Diamond, Private Detective.
  • "It's Bizarre with John Byner!"
Bizarre was a sketch-comedy TV series from the 1980s. It often featured raunchy content.
  • "Person to Person with Irving Klaw!"
Person to Person was a popular TV talk show of the 1950s. Irving Klaw was an early bondage/fetish photographer, best known for his work with Bettie Page.
  • "It's Hymie!"
A reference to Hymie the robot from Get Smart. Played by Dick Gautier, Hymie looked a bit like Johnny Ryde.
  • "A young Benazir Bhutto robs the malt shop!"
Benazir Bhutto was the first female prime minister of Pakistan.
  • "Let's watch Ghost Dad again!"
Ghost Dad was a 1990 movie starring Bill Cosby.
  • "Fred Olen Ray, Sr.!"
Fred Olen Ray is a director and producer of T&A-laden B-movies such as Bikini Cavegirl. One connection between Ray and Wood is that the former was a fan of the latter's. In 1978, Ray, who was 23 at the time, paid Wood for a science fiction comedy script, intending to make a "so-bad-it's-good" B-flick. The film was called Beach Blanket Bloodbath, and a scene was shot to entice investors. Wood died later that year from complications due to alcoholism, and no investor was interested in the script.
  • "Ed Wood dresses as Marian McPartland and brings down the house!"
Marian McPartland is a jazz pianist and the host of the National Public Radio show Piano Jazz.
  • "There's a gay character in For Better or Worse!"
In 1993, the comic strip For Better or For Worse generated controversy when one of its characters came out as gay.
  • "Oh, goodie! THIS guy!"
Harvey B. Dunn was a regular character actor in Edward D. Wood films (including Bride of the Monster), as well as Teenagers from Outer Space.
  • "She must be one of Senator Packwood's aides."
Senator Bob Packwood was forced to resign from the Senate in the wake of multiple sexual harassment charges against him.
  • "Coming this fall on ABC- Get Courtney Love!."
A reference to rock singer Courtney Love , and the TV movie Get Christie Love!
  • "Quickly, into the TARDIS!"
A reference the British science fiction TV series Doctor Who, about a humanoid alien who travels through time and space in a vehicle (the TARDIS) that has the outward appearance of a police phone box.
  • "I don't like the direction The New Yorker is taking under Tina Brown."
Tina Brown took over as editor of the venerable magazine The New Yorker in 1992, amid concerns that she would push the magazine in a more commercial direction.
  • "I'm still big! It's the dinkies that got small!"
Parody of a famous line from Sunset Boulevard spoken by former silent film star Norma Desmond. (Actual Line: "I AM big. It's the pictures that got small.")
  • "You know she still looks better than Lucille Ball in Mame."
Mame was a critically-panned movie starring Lucille Ball as the titular character. Like Gloria, she dressed in a manner that was both lavish and tacky.

Video Release

  • SinisterUrge.jpg
    Commercially released on DVD by Rhino Entertainment in May 2006 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 9, a 4-DVD set with Women of the Prehistoric Planet, Wild Rebels, and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, the DVD was later pulled due to rights issues with Women of the Prehistoric Planet, which made Volume 9 out of print and very hard to find.
    • The set was re-released in January 2019 by Shout! Factory.
      • The DVD features a introduction with known Ed Wood contributor and actor Conrad Brooks, who played Connie in this movie, specifically taped for the release. Brooks discusses his work on the film as both an actor and a misguided turn as a stuntman. The re-release also features the Wood: Taming The Sinister Urge featurette.

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