(Townspeople are singing "Amazing Grace", the second time it's been used in the film)

This song is in the public domain. That's why we used it twice.

  — Tom Servo


The Movie

Synopsis

"I haven't understood anything since McKinley went down."

Jodie Lee Thompson (Michael Berry) is taking a trip to San Francisco from Austin, TX. Stopping at a small town for some supplies, the gas station attendant informs Jodie that there's a killer on the loose, and that a local farmer was recently murdered.

Jodie drives off, and eventually takes a detour through an area where some trees and a small pond are. While having some food, he is surprised to meet a young woman. She tells him that her name is Melissa Strickland (Emby Mellay). Melissa eventually invites Jodie back to her family's walnut farm, where he meets her parents Luther (Lee Amber) and Molly (Yvonne Winslow).

After dinner, Jodie prepares to go to sleep, when he is shocked when a wrinkled old woman with white hair and a badly scarred face appears in his room for a few moments. Jodie tells Melissa, who claims that he saw her Great-Grandmother, Lucinda. When Jodie inquires about her face, she explains that Lucinda was badly-burned as a young girl.

"Wait a minute, the gas station guy forgot to give me my Roman Gabriel cocktail glass!"

The next day, Jodie and Melissa go into town for some supplies. Going into one store, Jodie is surprised that a lot of people are going out of their way to avoid Melissa. Melissa explains that this is because the townspeople say that she is a witch. Jodie finds this laughable and hard to believe.

On the drive back to the farm, Melissa offers to show Jodie where she does her witchcraft from. Going to a small shed, the two talk over what Melissa's witch powers are, when Luther comes by. He doesn't give much information, but Melissa suspects that Lucinda has gotten out of the house again. Feeling something is wrong, Melissa asks Jodie to take her back to the house.

The two arrive in time to see Lucinda having killed a sheriff's deputy, with Luther and Molly trying to restrain her. Melissa manages to calm Lucinda, and has Molly take her inside. Luther shocks Jodie when he takes the keys from his car, and puts Jodie in the barn, handcuffing him to a pipe.

As he is in the barn, Jodie's thoughts return to the gas station attendant who claimed that there was a killer in the area who had killed a farmer recently, and Jodie now feels that Lucinda is the killer.

"You're pretty, you know that?" ... "In a frumpy, Rhoda sort of way."

Melissa comes into the barn to talk to Jodie, who insists that they should have turned Lucinda into the police some time ago. Melissa claims she can't do that, and she has to take care of the family, claiming they are cursed. Jodie refuses to believe this as well.

Later that evening, Jodie is allowed dinner and goes to his room in the house. Melissa goes to the shed, and through her powers, coaxes Jodie to dream a certain dream:

In it, Melissa is a young woman, in the 19th century. She is seated with her sister Lucinda and their parents reading a Bible, when some townspeople come carrying torches, and chanting 'burn the witch!'

The father goes out to see the villagers who claim that a plague has struck their village, but left the Strickland family without any problems. The villagers then say that this is due to Lucinda being a witch, and soon after drag her from the house and burn her on a pyre.

Melissa pleads for anyone to help her, when a strange wind is heard, and a voice asks Melissa if she will accept the devil in exchange for the saving of her sister. Melissa agrees, and is able to put out the fire. She then lays curses upon the villagers who run off. Melissa is then seen untying her sister who has been badly burned.

"Oh, and, go Packers! But mostly, burn the witch!"

Jodie then goes to the shed where he finds Melissa. Through discussion, Melissa explains that she sold her soul to the devil in exchange for saving her sister's life. This resulted in her staying youthful-looking for 127 years, but due to the deal, Lucinda aged and goes through her violent attacks.

Even with everything he is told, Jodie still claims that he can't believe it all, but does love Melissa. Suddenly, Lucinda appears at the door, intending to kill Jodie. Melissa then causes her sister to catch fire, and she and Jodie escape from the shed before it burns to the ground.

The next day, Jodie is given the chance to leave. He promises Luther he will not tell what he saw, but still refuses to believe what Melissa said was true.

"Oh great, now we're both in the clutches of the devil because you wanted 'seconds.'"

Jodie drives off a ways, but then has second thoughts, and turns back. Heading back to the pond and forested area, he finds Melissa waiting there. Jodie tells her that he still loves her, even if the devil is inside her soul. They then make love, and Melissa tells Jodie that his love has set her free.

However, this comes with a price: having freed Melissa, she has now begun to age to what she really is, and will now die. Jodie then calls upon the devil, and gives his soul for Melissa, returning her to her youthful form, and now sharing in the curse that has fallen over the Strickland family.[1]

Information

  • Robert Easton, who played the leader of the angry mob in the flashback, had earlier appeared as a cantankerous redneck in The Giant Spider Invasion.
  • Despite popular belief, the film was not directed by Tom Laughlin, who was often credited under the pseudonym Don Henderson. The director was actually Donald Henderson, who was credited as Don Henderson.
  • On the opening title card and closing credits, the text has stock footage of flames matted into it.
  • When Satan tempts a character, the corresponding actor's voice beckons them to join him.
  • The film's Italian title is L'Ossessa: i raccapriccianti delitti di Monroe Park, which translates to The Obsession: The Horrific Crimes of Monroe Park. The film has no scenes set in Monroe Park.
  • Members of the film's crew play the villagers who try to burn Lucinda.
  • One of the film's alternate release titles was Pitchfork.

The Episode

Host Segments

"Here we come a-wassailing!"

Prologue: Tom and Crow are out caroling for Wassail, with severe financial penalties if Mike is unable to deliver said Wassail.

Segment One: Mike finds a loophole in the song in that it doesn't specify the condition of the Wassail, but their antics are interrupted when they learn that Pearl has gone on vacation and hired Steffi the babysitter to look after things. She's not quite prepared for the strangeness and treats everybody like small children much to torment of Bobo and Brian.

Segment Two: A very sweaty Mike learns that walnut ranching is harder than one would expect, while Tom has taken up pecan farming with much better results.

Beez McKeever as Steffi

Segment Three: Yet again, Crow is influenced by the movie and believes he is a witch, a fact borne out of his ability to survive the test of being buried under rocks. Acting as a voice of reason, Mike points out his survival is due to his nature as a robot, but ends up making things worse when he suggests that Crow could just as easily be a frog.

Segment Four: Tom's Grandma attempts to pitchfork Mike. Tom points out that he can distinguish between his grandmothers by their desire to commit murder.

Mike tries walnut farming

Closing (Segment Five): Crow believes that he has sold his soul to Satan and will soon gain unworldly powers, but Mike discovers a typo - Crow has instead sold his soul to "Stan", a CPA (or Certified Public Accountant). Down in Castle Forrester, Steffi attempts to read Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, but Brian is a little overtired and Bobo still insists on being a bad dog.

Stinger: Melissa advises Jody that "This is where the fish lives".

MST3K cast

Regular cast

Guest cast

Trivia

  • Like all the R-rated films shown on the show, it was edited for time and for content, including the scene where Lucinda stabs the policeman in the neck and the end sequence where "Grandma" goes partially topless.
  • Mary Jo Pehl was absent from this episode as she was traveling to L.A. to shoot segments featuring film critic Leonard Maltin for the next episode of MST3K.

Callbacks

Goofs

  • Crow cracks a joke as the shack burns in the movie, and his mouth continues to move for a moment after he finishes talking.

Unusual Credits

  • Steffi can be heard repeatedly hitting Bobo with a newspaper while he tries to explain he wasn't barking.

Running Jokes

  • The many allusions to Satan/The Devil; including other entities, symbols and titles representing him.
    • Mike: "There he goes. So long, foul deceiver."
    • Crow: "Bon voyage, odious spinner of lies!"
    • Tom: "Hasta luego, Maverick-driving Kludde!"
  • Various jokes about Jody's car being a Maverick, which was fairly new around the time this movie was made.
  • Melissa and her family growing walnuts on their farm, which is referred to as a ranch in-film, and how it's played up like running a livestock ranch.
  • Fish-related riffs made in response to Melissa's quizzical line, "This is where the fish lives!"
  • Many references to the 1970's.
    • Mike: "Oh-ho, what with all these gas crises and Watergates I needed a good laugh."
    • Tom: "This looks like a nice private place to practice streaking."
    • Tom: "Dum dee dum dee dum... You know I was just thinking... that Gerald Ford is rather clumsy."
    • Crow: "Well, keep on trucking, I guess! Guess you'll do your thing, and I'll do mine. Yep, Whip Inflation Now!"
    • Mike: "You catch Kotter last night?"

Quotes & References

  • Wassail

Wassail is a beverage made from hot mulled cider and spices, drunk traditionally as an integral part of wassailing, a medieval Yuletide English drinking ritual and salutation.

  • "Grandma Kramer!"

Kramer is a character on the TV show Seinfeld who has a propensity for bursting into his neighbor's apartment unannounced.

  • "The last days of Edgar Winter."

Edgar Winter is a rock musician known for his pale complexion and long platinum-blond hair.

  • "With Screwtape on kettle drum! Wormwood on harpsichord!"

Screwtape and Wormwood are two fictional demons from The Screwtape Letters, a Christian apologetic novel by C. S. Lewis. First published in February 1942, the story takes the form of a series of letters from Screwtape, a Senior Tempter, to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter.

  • "Okay, Crow, I'm putting you on Clu Gulager alert."

Clu Gulager is an actor whose career reached its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mike's joke is derived from the film's period-specific look. He also plays Mr. Christensen in Master Ninja I (Experiment #322) and Bob Hatten in San Francisco International (Experiment #614).

  • "The vineyards of Ernest and Julio Satan."

E & J Gallo Winery is a winery and distributor headquartered in Modesto, California. It was founded in 1933 by Ernest Gallo and Julio Gallo, and is the largest exporter of California wines. E & J Gallo Winery is the largest family-owned winery in the United States.

  • "What do you get when you fall from grace? You only get cast into perdition!"

Tom is parodying "I Will Never Fall in Love Again", a 1968 song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David which was covered by various artists including Dionne Warwick and Bobbie Gentry. In Christian theology, perdition is a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and impenitent person passes after death.

  • "Hasta luego, Maverick-driving Kludde!" "Yeah... uh... Kludde?" "Yeah! It's Scottish... I looked it up."

A Kludde is a mythical creature that has a wolf-like appearance and often attacks children. While it is sometimes used as an allusion to the Devil, the myth originated from Belgian and Dutch folklore rather than Scottish.

  • "Wait a minute, the gas station guy forgot to give me my Roman Gabriel cocktail glass!"

Roman Gabriel was an NFL Quarterback from 1962–1977. He is notable for being the first NFL quarterback of Filipino-American descent.

  • "Thank you, Lurch!"

The overture being played is somewhat similar to the theme of The Addams Family adaptations. Lurch is the family's imposing butler who plays the harpsichord.

  • "I'm gonna get out my guitar and practice 'Sister Golden Hair.'"

"​Sister Golden Hair" is a 1975 song by the band America.

  • "Wow, I'm the first one at the Rainbow Gathering."

The Rainbow Gathering is a gathering of "hippies" in an outdoor environment. It's sort of like Burning Man, only without the fees or desert locale.

  • "But the trees can't help their feeling, if they like the way they're made..."

"But the oaks can't help their feelings/If they like the way they're made" is from the 1978 song "The Trees" by Rush.

  • “I'm not going back, Jim.”

Although Spock never actually says this, it's a reference to the Star Trek episode “This Side of Paradise” wherein Captain Kirk and the whole crew land on a planet that's so awesome even Spock can let his hair down a little.

  • "You're pretty, you know that?" "In a frumpy, Rhoda sort of way."

Rhoda Morgenstern is the frumpy best friend of the lead character, Mary, on the popular 1970s TV show The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda.

  • "Hello, Jodie." "Or should I call you Buffy?" "How's Uncle Bill?"

Buffy Davis and her Uncle Bill are characters from the 60s–70s TV sitcom Family Affair. Jody is the name of Buffy's twin brother.

  • "Herbert von Karajan is not pleased with that."

Herbert von Karajan was an Austrian conductor who was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 34 years until his death in 1989.

  • "You like me too, don't you?" "In a Ron Palillo sort of way, sure."

Ron Palillo portrays Arnold Horshack on the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

  • "Hey! Beelzebub, Kali, and Lucifer!"

Three separate entities alluding to Satan. Beelzebub was originally a deity under the name Ba'al whose name meant "Lord of the Flies." Lucifer is another such deity with his name meaning "the morning star." Both names are used to describe the Devil. Kali on the other hand is separate from all this, as she is a Hindu deity representing death and destruction.

  • "They've got a signed copy of the Necromonicon [sic]!"

The Necronomicon, also referred to as the Book of the Dead, is a fictional grimoire (textbook of magic) appearing in stories by the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and his followers.

  • "Excuse me, I think I left a Sustacal back in the corner there."

Sustacal is a supplementary drink for people who need extra nutritional support, especially the elderly.

  • "Who is it?" "S'me!" "Is Captain Hook there?"

The way Jodie quickly says, "It's me" sounds similar to that of Mr. Smee, who was either Captain Hook's first mate or boatswain in the various versions of Peter Pan.

  • "I haven't understood anything since McKinley went down."

William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

  • "Aw, now a withered old Billy Zane is gonna come in and give her a withered old Coeur de la Mer."

Referring to the scene from the 1997 James Cameron film Titanic wherein Caledon Hockley (played by Billy Zane) puts the necklace with the jewel Coeur de La Mer around the neck of his fiancée Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Kate Winslet). The shot of Lucinda sitting at a mirror bears some resemblance to the shot of Rose receiving the necklace.

  • "She turned into Cecilia Bartoli."

Cecilia Bartoli is an Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano opera singer and recitalist with an unusual timbre.

  • "Back to being Swifty Lazar."

Irving Paul "Swifty" Lazar was an American talent agent and dealmaker, representing both movie stars and authors. He died in 1993, aged 86.

  • "Uh, hi! You see any other Village People?"

Village People is an American disco group known for its on-stage costumes, catchy tunes, and suggestive lyrics. Their most popular songs were released in 1978 and 1979. Those hit singles include "Y.M.C.A.", "Macho Man", "In the Navy", and "Go West".

  • "She's going to buy a whole bunch of Proctor and Gamble products."

P&G was the subject of an urban legend alleging promotion of Satanism.

  • "She gives him $15.55 just so she can get $6.66 back in change!" "Hey! The odometer is all 6's!"

In modern popular culture, 666, also known as the number of the beast, has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the Devil.

  • "You know, if she had another one of these, she could be Melissa 'Two-Sheds' Strickland." "Aw, now she's Melissa 'No-Sheds' Strickland."

A reference to a skit from the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Whither Canada?" in which an interviewer obsesses over whether or not a famous composer nicknamed "Arthur 'Two-Sheds' Jackson" actually owns two sheds.

  • "Lesson: Never ask Kelsey Grammer to get your clothes out of your car."

Kelsey Grammer is a TV actor who got into a car accident while intoxicated in 1996. He was also charged with drunk driving in 1987.

  • "You been hittin' the booze?"

Mr. Keitel, leader of the lynch mob which attempts to kill Lucilla, is played by Robert Easton, who starred in The Giant Spider Invasion and uttered that line to his wife at one point in the film.

  • "I am a friend and companion of the night..."

This speech is a paraphrased version of an excerpt from H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Horror at Red Hook", which you can read here. “O friend and companion of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs and spilt blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals, Gorgo, Mormo, thousand-faced moon, look favourably on our sacrifices!”

  • "Hold on, I'm getting a call from Margot Adler."

Margot Adler was an American author, journalist, lecturer, Wiccan priestess, and New York correspondent for NPR. Adler wrote Drawing Down the Moon, a 1979 book about Neopaganism. Her second book, Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution, was published in 1997.

  • "It's that witchcraft, wicked witchcraft."

"'Cause it's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft" is from the 1957 song "Witchcraft", popularized by Frank Sinatra and written by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

  • "Poopdeck Pappy gettin' all upset here."

Poopdeck Pappy is a character featured in the Popeye comic strip and animated cartoon spinoffs. Created by E. C. Segar in 1936, the character is Popeye's father, who is between the ages of 85 and 99.

  • "Man, never let Edie Sedgwick borrow your lake cabin."

Edie Sedgwick, who appeared in several films directed by Andy Warhol, was severely burned in 1966 after falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

  • "Oh, and uh... don't join Al Pacino's law firm."

In the 1997 thriller The Devil's Advocate, Al Pacino plays the Devil as the head of a New York law firm.

  • "We're back at the beginning; this film is a Möbius strip!"

In mathematics, a Möbius strip, band, or loop, is a surface with only one side (when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space) and only one boundary curve. An example of a Möbius strip can be created by taking a strip of paper and giving one end a half-twist, then joining the ends to form a loop; its boundary is a simple closed curve which can be traced by a single unknotted string.

Memorable Quotes

[A farmer is walking his cow into a barn.]
Farmer: Mercy, if... if you'd come in like the rest of them...
Servo: Mercy?
Farmer: ...there wouldn't be all this… this chasing.
Mike [as Mercy]: Yeah, milk me.
[The farmer is repeatedly stabbed with a pitchfork.]
Mike: The American Gothic people take revenge.
. . .
[Fade to table of people laughing]
Crow[as if one of them were telling the last scene like a story] And then he died!
[all laugh]
[A very ancient, wrinkled woman with long hair (Lucinda) barges through the kitchen door and falls to the floor.]
Servo: Grandma Kramer!
Mike: A kabuki actor's been hit!
. . .
Luther: What happened? What have you done?
Servo [as Lucinda]: I stayed in the tanning booth for a whole decade!
Servo: Emby Mellay? That's not a name, it's a bad Scrabble hand.
[Jody chats with a gas station attendant, a small-town oddball cliché on two feet.]
Attendant: That'll be six dollars, even.
Crow [as Attendant]: Oh, and an extra dollar for the aliens in my head.
. . .
Attendant: See, the way I got it figured, this job was done by one of them fromokaidal maniacs, and we ain't got none of them around here.
. . .
Jody: Yeah, well, nobody needs a fromokaidal maniac hanging around.
[Jody drives off.]
Servo [as Attendant]: Is that right? I should check my dictionotomy.
[Over a shot of the forest]
Mike[singing] But the trees can't hide their feelings if they like the way they're made...
Crow[stern] Mike, stop it now.
Mike: ...Sorry.
Jody: This your pond?
[Lengthy pause]
Crow [as Jody]: You can take your time, it's a tough question.
Melissa: It belongs to my father.
Jody: Oh, does your father mind if people skip rocks across his pond?
Servo [as Melissa]: As long as you don't hit his favorite frog.
[Another pause]
Melissa: I don't think he's mentioned it before. That your car?
Jody: Yeah.
Servo [as Melissa]: Mind if I skip rocks across it?
[Jody catches up to Melissa, who stares out over the creek.]
Melissa: This is where the fish lives.
[Mike and the Bots snicker loudly]
Jody: Why did you run?
Servo [as Melissa]: 'Cuz this is where the fish lives.
Melissa: I felt like it. I really wanted to fly, but I couldn't do that, so I ran.
[A pause.]
Mike [as Jody]: You're kind of an idiot, aren't you?
[Jody and Melissa draw together in a serious kiss.]
Crow [as Jody]: This is where my tongue lives.
[A police car passes the car Jody is driving]
Mike [as Barney Fife]: I'm telling you, Andy, there was a demon in the car!
[At the general store, Melissa's total comes to $8.89]
Crow: She gives him $15.55 just so she can get $6.66 back in change.
[In Jody's 19th-century dream, a mob of townspeople gathers with torches and pitchforks, chanting "Burn the witch!"]
Mike [as townsfolk]: Oh, and "go Packers" too, but mostly burn the witch.
. . .
[Father Strickland is reading from the Bible (Job) to his family.]
Strickland: "The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days..."
Servo [as Strickland]: ...said Madeleine.
Strickland: "...and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor..."
Crow [as Strickland]: Tsch. Bunch of crap.
Strickland: "A dreadful sound is in his ears."
Mike [as Strickland]: It's Paula Cole, I think.
Strickland: "In prosperity, the destroyer shall come upon him."
[Strickland sees Lucinda fidgeting.]
Strickland: What is it, child?
Young Lucinda: I thought I heard something.
Strickland: Pay attention to the word of God.
Servo [as Strickland]: For He loves you, and He may KILL you if you don't.
Strickland: "Yeah..."
Crow [as Strickland]: "...team!"
Strickland: "...the light of the wicked shall be put out..."
Mike [as Strickland]: "...by ten-thirty…"
Strickland: "...and the spark of his fire shall not shine."
Servo [as Daughter]: Just take the old-fashioned photo, Dad!
. . .
[The mob of townspeople approaches the house, still chanting "Burn the witch!"]
Mrs. Strickland: What is it, David?
Crow: It's people saying "Burn the witch". Are you deaf?
Young Melissa: Papa, what is it?
Crow[irritated] People saying "Burn the witch"! Do you have any deductive powers at all?
[Townspeople are singing "Amazing Grace", the second time it's been used in the film.]
Servo[singing along] "This song is in/ the public domain/ that's why we used it twice."
[Lucinda has just murdered a police officer with a hay hook, while Melissa tries to comfort her.]
Servo [as Lucinda]: I meant to ask him in for pie; I don't know what happened!

Video Release


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