Saturday, January 1, 2011

Unseen Turkey Day, Hours 21-22: Last of the Wild Horses (#611, 1994)

MST3KOccasionally there's a MST3K experiment where the host segments are so distinctive and memorable that they pretty much overshadow the movie—so it's a good thing that in this Very Special Episode™ of Mystery Science Theater the movie is the 1948 black-and-white western oatster Last of the Wild Horses, directed by Robert Lippert, the guy who not only directed movies but owned a chain of theaters in which to run them.

Well, that's a good thing. Because Last of the Wild Horses is a pretty mediocre western film, with a good guy and a pretty gal and her invalid dad and the mustache twirling villain and his gang of ruthless minions and one or two drunken comedy relief guys. I think there may be an Aztec Mummy somewhere in there too, but I might be thinking of another film. Anyway, the plot's incidental, because in the end, it turns out to have all been a dream, or a flashback, or a What If?, I dunno.

No, the real attraction of watching the MSTed version of Last of the Wild Horses is of Best Brains playing with the formula of the show guessed it! A Star Trek spoof. When the mads run a dangerous experiement during an ion storm, we're shunted into the Mirror Universe, where good is evil and evil wears a goatee.


Tom Servo and Gypsy are trapped in the evil mirror universe (Tom doesn't think Evil Mike is really all that different from Regular Mike) down in Deep 13 sending films up to the Satellite.


So then, who is on board to watch the cheesy movies? Two guesses:


Yes, Frank and Forrester enter the theater and begin riffing on the movie:


So, for those of you keeping score at home—you are keeping score at home, right? Did you print and cut out your handy reference card?—if Servo and Gypsy are in the Mirror Universe, that means Evil Tom and Wicked Gypsy are in the Regular Universe!


Yes: that means Evil Servo is riffing the movie along with Good Mike and Crow. Which ought to lead to lots of Evil Riffs, but actually Tom exclaims, "Ooh, a cowboy movie!" and gets right into the spirit of things. Later, Mike solves the whole thing using his Alternate Universe Manual and everything's put right.


Of the four theater segments in this experiment, the first featured Frank and Forrester, the second two Mike, Crow, and Evil Tom, and the final segment the usual crew. I wish Best Brains would have had a little more conviction to keep Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff in the theater for at least another segment. It's an interesting dynamic to have only two riffers (for the first time since season zero) and the genial mocking humor of the "Good" Mads is a lot of fun. I don't know the thinking behind the idea, but Best Brains was probably right to keep us wanting more. They'd return to the idea of alternate characters in the theater later in the series (Pearl Forrester in Quest of the Delta Knights and Mike's crude older brother Eddie in Time Chasers), but as fun at those switcheroos were, they were never as surprising and delightful as this first one. Which only goes to prove: the Mirror Universe makes everything awesome.

Mirror Universe

Case in point.

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