Monday, August 25, 2014

806 - The Undead

First Broadcast - 4 pm Saturday, March 8th 1997
Excellence Level: Silver
Movie Pain: Medium - I enjoyed this one.
Riffing: STAY! and watch for some good steady quipping
Skits: Livia bit is good, the rest are poorly executed

The Undead tells the story of 2 researchers who hypnotize a woman back to a past life. In that life she is accused of witchcraft and faces the prospect of meeting death at the end of an executioners ax. Can she escape, or will she make a noble sacrifice?

Arguably this is Roger Corman's most ambitious MSTed movie, and while it's cheap, and stumbles over its own logic. It does feature characters and dialog that struck my fancy. Mel Welles steals the show with his colorful turn in the role of the addle minded grave digger Smolkin - Allison Hayes smolders as the evil seductress Livia and Pamela Duncan as Helene resonates a warmth and grace that has you caring for her plight.

As to the work over "The Undead" receives from the BBI is solid and steady. Highlights include a funny gag where a bust of Ben Franklin offers its sage advice. And of course, Corman's B-Movie brain farts are noted with glee -"My glasses popped on" says Servo during one error in the continuity-

The one really weak area is in the Host Segments. It's not that they are bad in concept but that they stumble in the execution. Servo testing higher than an Observer is a great idea. But the end results are less than stellar. The skit drags on and on and finishes with an embarrassingly cheesy chase sequence that had me groaning. Likewise, the end skit with Bobo's sandwich goes on forever, by the time they reach the (obvious) punch line, I just didn't care anymore. The best skit was the quickest, a visit from the witch Livia.

Host Segments
Intro: Mike explains things, but it's really confusing so the bots make him go back to the beginning. Segment 1: The Observers conduct intelligence tests and Tom proves to be smarter than Brain Guy. Segment 2: Servo joins the Observers. Segment 3: Crow guarantees it and Livia pops on board and shape shifts beyond her control. Segment 4: Digger Smolkin's album of hits. End: Crows and imp and Servo talks Mike into dressing up like Leonard Malten. Bobo eats a brain. Stinger: Just Observers. But if I picked one: Digger Smokins great line, "Welcome to my flesh farm". The BBI staff would have probably gone with, "STAY!"

Notable Riffs
"When I touch you" - "I think about myself. No, no, no, wait... that's..." - Hypnotist/Crow
"This is how Anthony Quinns wife must feel" - Crow
"Her breath smells like fancy fest" - "Oh your tongue, it's like sand paper" - Crow/Mike
"We need a flow chart for this movie" - Mike
"We're after the same thing" - "Uh, your after hair, right?" - Scientist/Mike
"Peter Pan, Antichrist" - Mike
"Ah, sell soul, rent it back, get a big tax break." - Crow
"And I get to lick the ax!" - Servo as imp
"Meanwhile in the better but more confusing story..." - Mike
"Corman's theory of directing: light and get away." - Crow
"Go, Sir Sack of Door Knobs." - Crow
"I am Nimrod from the future!" - Mike
"Oh God, Imp batch!" - Crow
"I've never known more about what isn't going on in a movie." - Mike
"Satan's gonna be peeved at the turn out, but he didn't do any mailing." - Crow
"Sir Bob of Packwood." - Crow
"Sir Gull of Ble." - Crow
"So, you can't bring clothes back through time, ok." - Crow
"There goes a deeply mediocre man." - Mike
"You know, Smolken's naked sometimes, Mike" - Servo

Riff Explained
"A couple seconds of the iguana" - Mike
Mike's riff references the Tennessee Williams play "Night of the Iguana". Which is the story of a hard drinking, defrocked Priest working as a tour guide in Mexico and tempted by three women. The movie version (1964) was directed by John Huston and starred Richard Burton in one of his best performances.

Stuff & Nonsense
Corman used one exterior, a 1930s home in Beverly Hills that was known as the Witch's Cottage. He had to frame the shots in such a way so that the other houses in the neighborhood wouldn't show up in the movie. The interiors where filmed in an abandoned supermarket on Sunset Blvd.

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