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His humid, fleshy extentions struggle as he attempts to dominate some simple, seemingly purposeless toy. Already a sense of pity overcomes me, and yet I am repelled by my own compassion! Although his biological makeup implies a living thing, I'm certain we will discover him to be but an animated piece of refuse or feces. But I must remain impartial and continue to study even as he mocks everything I hold dear. I hate him, and can take comfort only in my own cool detachment.
  — Observer studying Mike


The Movie

Main article: The Thing That Couldn't Die (film)

Synopsis

The severed head of a 400-year-old warlock is unearthed on a secluded ranch. The living head psychically controls several residents until it is reunited with its body, then destroyed.

The Episode

Host Segments

The Observers

  • Prologue Tom Servo unveils his newest art show, "Crow: A Thousand Years of Tyranny". As the name indicates, it's less than flattering. Crow unwittingly paid for the whole thing and is a bit concerned about the negativity... until clowns on velvet are mentioned.
  • "Crow: A Thousand Years of Tyranny"

    Segment 1
    Servo eschews the clown idea in his new painting, opting instead to depict Crow throwing kittens into a meat grinder. Gypsy alerts them that the Satellite of Love is being pulled to a new planet by an unknown phenomenon which creates a temporary additional Tom. The SOL is now in orbit around the planet of The Observers, where Pearl and Bobo are also shown to have landed. The Observers want to observe her experiment and have set their guests up with pleasant accommodations. The Observers then secretly discuss their plans to dissect and display Pearl and Bobo in their museum.
  • Segment 2 One of the Observers come to the SOL to observe in person. He annoys and insults the crew, so they eject him from the ship, sans brain.
  • The Observer observing in person

    Segment 3
    The gang plays Risk until they are interrupted by Finnegan, manifested from Mike's memory by the Observers. However, Mike insists he doesn't know the obnoxious visitor, who beats him up. Crow wants Mike to think of Adrienne Barbeau so the Observers will manifest her; Mike mishears Crow and thinks of Roman Emperor Hadrian, who beats him up. Mike finally thinks of Ms. Barbeau, who beats him up.
  • Segment 4 Crow debuts his new documentary, Crow T. Robot's Bram Stoker's The Civil War. His facts are far from straight and the credits are longer than the documentary.
  • Final Segment Servo and Mike plot to scare Crow by using Servo's disembodied head. The wig gives way as Mike thrusts the head forward; confusion ensues. On the planet, Pearl prepares for bed while haranguing the Observers. Bobo is quickly disabused of his assumptions about the sleeping arrangements.
  • Stinger The Observers present their brains.

MST3K cast

Regular cast

Guest cast

Trivia

Goofs

  • Upon seeing Jessica's necklace on Gideon Drew's skeleton inside the casket at the end of the film, Servo asks "How'd that get in there?", as if this represents a continuity error in the film. Gordon can be seen throwing the necklace into the casket as Drew is forced into it, though the action is not prominently featured.

Callbacks

Running Jokes

  • Jokes abound about the "trade rat" in the tree where the holy symbol is found.
  • Servo twanging out the musical riff from The Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica" every time someone calls the character's name.
  • "There's a thick, yellow stain on my back brace!" and several other variations sung to the tune of "There's a bright golden haze on the meadow", which is the first line of "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", the opening song from the musical Oklahoma!.
  • Flavia's odd pronunciation of 'treasure' ("TRAY-sure").
  • Spoofs of Flavia's name.
  • Adding dialog for Gideon's head, using the voice of Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.
  • Making the historian hot for Flavia.

Quotes & References

  • "THE BIG VALLEY!"

The Big Valley is a Western TV series from the late 1960s.

  • "The Strom Thurmond Story!"

Strom Thurmond (1902–2003) was a military officer, attorney, judge, and politician who served for 48 years as a United States Senator from South Carolina. At the time of this episode, he was the oldest and longest-serving senator in the U.S. Senate.

  • "They've beamed onto the planet O.K. Corral!"

A reference to the Star Trek episode "Spectre of the Gun", in which Captain Kirk and some of the crew are imprisoned in an illusion of Tombstone, Arizona on the day of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, a 30-second shootout between lawmen and a group of outlaws called the Cowboys. It is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West.

  • "Looks like somebody's mama let him grow up to be a cowboy... let him play guitars and drive them old trucks, didn't let him be doctors and lawyers and such."

A parody of the first stanza of "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys", a country song made famous by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

  • "Squeaky, we gotta leave, come on!"

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was a member of the Manson family and attempted to kill President Gerald Ford in 1975. The cult's primary residence was Spahn Ranch, a movie ranch in Los Angeles County, California.

  • "This is an early version of The Milagro Beanfield War."

The Milagro Beanfield War is a 1988 film based on a novel of the same name. The film tells of one man's struggle as he defends his small beanfield and his community against much larger business and state political interests. It's strongly concerned with farming and water rights.

  • "Why can't I just bend spoons with my mind like everyone else?"

Spoon bending is a common trick in stage magic. Since the 1970s, it has become strongly identified as a common way for alleged psychics/telekinetics to prove that their powers exist. The practice is strongly associated with mentalist Uri Geller.

  • "Sonny Corleone, dude."

Mike is talking about "dudes" as in "dude ranch"—city folk coming to the country to play at being cowboys for a while. William Reynolds, the actor who played Gordon (the character being referred to) could pass for Italian, though he never played a character like the violent son of a Mafia leader (such as Sonny Corleone of The Godfather).

  • "Jessica..." "Ever since we pulled you out of that well..."

Jessica McClure, widely known as "Baby Jessica", fell into a well in her aunt's backyard in Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987, at the age of 18 months. It took 56 hours for rescuers to successfully free her. The story galvanized worldwide attention and was later featured in the 1989 ABC television movie Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure.

  • "Gonna see Miss Liza... gonna go to Mississippi..."

"Gonna See Miss Liza" is a work song sung by a chain gang in Woody Allen's film Take the Money and Run. The scene can be viewed here.

  • "It looks medieval!" "...on yo' ass!"

A reference to a line spoken by Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. It referred to cruel, torturous punishment.


References to songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (See Running Jokes above).

  • "Jessica..." "Can we scare you to death?"

A reference to the 1971 horror movie Let's Scare Jessica to Death.

  • (wolf howls) "Werewolves of London..."

"Ah-hooo, werewolves of London" (repeated) is the refrain of Warren Zevon's song "Werewolves of London".

  • "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

A quote from a 1970s margarine commercial.

  • "We'll bury the body where none will ever find it." "...Under Larry Wilcox's career!"

Larry Wilcox was the co-star of the series CHiPs.

  • "I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie....and I was the star of that movie...."

Referring to lyrics from the song "Spill the Wine" by the band War.

  • "I'll put on a big stack of Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and Jill Sobule albums."

Musicians Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang identify as lesbian, and Jill Sobule identifies as bisexual.

  • "Have you ever seen The Children's Hour?"

References a play by Lillian Hellman, later adapted into a movie. The story deals with two teachers at a boarding school who are accused of lesbianism.

  • "Do you like Amanda Beardsley? I sure do!"

Tom seems to be mis-remembering the name of actor Amanda Bearse (known for her roles in the film Fright Night and the TV show Married... with Children) who came out as a lesbian in 1993.

  • "Bob Dole, ma'am. Where's the outrage?"

In the waning days of the 1996 Presidential campaign in the US, Republican candidate Bob Dole became increasingly agitated about his low poll numbers. He publicly asked "Where's the outrage?", due to his dissatisfaction at losing to incumbent President Bill Clinton, whom Dole viewed as morally compromised. This became a running gag through the remainder of the episode.

  • "You'll get my gun when you can pry it out of my cold, dead fingers."

Paraphrasing a slogan used by the National Rifle Association, popularized by former NRA President Charlton Heston.

Memorable Quotes

[The movie opens with the title: The Thing That Couldn't Die.]
Servo: The Strom Thurmond Story!
MikeCouldn't die or wouldn't die?
Crow: Shouldn't?
[Jessica demonstrates her dowsing talent by telling the guests where to find Linda's missing watch.]
Jessica: You can find the watch in a trade rat's nest.
Servo: A trade rat?
Jessica: Look at the base of oak tree beside Linda's cabin.
Servo [as Jessica]: …in Maine.
Mike: You know, the country needs skilled trade rats.
[Linda puts the found watch up against her ear.]
Mike [as Linda]: The rats put in a new crystal!
Linda: It still runs.
Servo [as John Cameron Swayze]: John Cameron Trade-Rat.
[Later, Gordon gives Linda a charm he found near the watch.]
Gordon: Here, I polished this for you. We found it in the trade rat's nest.
Mike [as Gordon]: He had a little tool and die shop down there.
Servo [as Gordon]: I think I got most of the rat droppings off it.
[Flavia hears a noise outside the window.]
Flavia: What's that?
Crow: Eh, it's just those trade rats working the night shift.
[Boyd the ranch hand slouches around.]
Crow[singing] There's a thick yellow stain on my back brace!
[The final shot of the movie, a zoom in on Jessica's necklace and cleavage, fills the screen.]
Crow: The whole movie was leading up to this shot.
Mike [as Announcer]: Brought to you by the Breast Council.
Servo [as Announcer]: Buy breasts where you work or bank!

Video releases

MST3K DVD Cover


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