Posts Tagged ‘MST3K’

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis: The Undead

July 18, 2015

Technically, this is jumping the gun a bit, as “The Undead” has actually been announced for the fall box set. But as with most Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, it’s not tremendously difficult to find it on YouTube while you’re waiting for it to come out. (As always, I encourage you to use your wallet to ethically support talented artists.) But it’s an episode that’s very heavy on hypnosis as a plot device, and actually has a pretty good hypnosis scene, so let’s talk “The Undead”!

“The Undead”, for those of you who’ve not seen the riffed or unriffed versions of the film, is about a psychical researcher (yes, that’s actually what they used to call themselves–the term has fallen so far into disuse that Mike and the bots think it’s a spelling error) with some pretty bizarre ideas about reincarnation. Yep, we’re back on the Bridey Murphy kick again! He picks up a hooker and brings her back to his office to meet a colleague of his, and I really swear this is not the start of one of my stories. He then proceeds to deeply hypnotize her, and I again really swear that this isn’t the start of one of my stories, and regresses her through her past lives until she reaches Ye Olden Times, where she awakens in one of her past bodies where she’s been condemned to death for witchcraft.

But this is where it gets entertainingly crazy–the present version of herself convinces the past version of herself to escape and prove her innocence! She’s been framed for witchcraft by a real witch, who sold her soul to Satan for occult power. Luckily, there’s also a good witch out there who tricked Satan into giving her occult power without selling her soul, who’s made it her business to mess with evil witches. There are all sorts of farcical hijinks, including a point where the present-day hypnotist somehow manages to bodily transmit himself down the reincarnation lifeline and just sort of hang out naked in the past, and can I just remind everyone at this point that I did not write this?

Eventually, they all sit down for a long discussion of what the hell the plot is actually supposed to be, and it turns out that history is on the verge of unraveling thanks to Bozo the Hypnotist and his crazy theories. For the present-self version of the hooker to exist, she has to be reincarnated from the past-self version, and that won’t happen if she doesn’t get executed. (I guess you only get one chance at dying in this cosmology?) But of course, if she dies, she’ll die and miss out on her upcoming life with her dim-witted and gullible boyfriend, who’s been lurching about the plot ineffectually trying to help her and nearly selling his soul to Satan. There’s a long period of shouting, at the end of which the heroine realizes that all her future selves to come deserve their shot on the karmic wheel…because apparently the writer doesn’t really understand the point of reincarnation in the religions where it features prominently…and allows herself to be recaptured and beheaded. Dim boyfriend kills the wicked witch, Bozo the Hypnotist is stranded in the past (because one end of his link is now sans head) and Satan tries to pretend that this was totally his plan all along. Exeunt omnes.

It’s actually a doofily charming movie, but hypnosis is really the mechanism used to get it started and not the focus. If all you want to see is the hypno stuff, watch the first twenty or so minutes (where there is, as I say, a pretty decent hypnosis scene with a kind of interesting induction technique) and skip the rest. If you like cheesy, silly Ye Olden Times movies with Satan and singing hunchbacks and witches of the good and evil/seductive variety (and oh yes, Billy Barty as the evil witch’s familiar/imp), it’s well worth checking out.

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis: Invasion USA

October 7, 2011

Technically, I’m giving away a huge spoiler for the movie “Invasion USA” by including it in this blog, but let’s face it–the fact that it popped up on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” should tell you everything you need to know about whether this movie is the kind of tautly-plotted thriller that deserves to be watched without any details of its brilliant ending getting wrecked by people like me. Yes, this movie involves hypnosis. No, it’s probably not going to turn you on.

But it is present. The film starts with a group of people in a bar arguing about whether the government should have the right to commandeer civilian resources in peacetime, just in case we need to build up a huge army to keep the Commies good and intimidated. Only one person is in favor of it, and just as he’s being sort of vaguely mocked for his super-patriotism (which is odd, because he’s the only person in the movie with a foreign accent…it’s implied that he’s from the Eastern Bloc and escaped to the States…) The Commies attack!

The rest of the movie is a long, slow, joyless march to the death of all the main characters and the defeat of America, and all because we wouldn’t give up our freedoms to the United States Army! Don’t you see? If we don’t give up all our freedoms and turn America into a totalitarian state, the Russians will do it instead! Wouldn’t you much rather be oppressed by good old American men with guns instead of Russkies?

And in the end, of course, it turns out that Vaguely Foreign-Sounding Guy is a hypnotist, and the cast never actually left the bar. The whole thing was a hypnotically induced fantasy designed to shock them into understanding how serious the Communist threat could be, if they were imaginary hallucinations of a paranoid disordered mind and had no weaknesses. Therefore, um…profit?

It’s a lousy movie, but it’s well riffed and contains “A Date With Your Family”, one of the top three shorts MST3K ever produced. (“Father feigns eating, draws Junior out, then disowns him!”) Try some, won’t you?

MST3K vs. Hypnosis: Operation Double 007

July 28, 2011

This movie is actually one of the more perversely famous films that the MST3K crew tackled over the course of their long career of films (some of which, like this one, dealt with hypnosis and thus caught my attention a little bit more than usual. I’m abandoning the “Volume One, Two, Three”, etc, because they’ve long ago stopped being in chronological order.) It’s a spy film starring Neil Connery, and if you think that was just an accidental bit of synchronicity then you don’t know that the film was also released with the title “Operation Kid Brother”. Several other Bond actors, such as the woman who played Moneypenny, the man who played M, and the villain from ‘Thunderball’ round out the cast…

But you’re understandably more interested in the hypnosis. Hey, who wouldn’t be?

The hero of the film, played by Neil, is a talented surgeon and expert martial artist who also just happens to be an amazingly talented hypnotist. That’s right, this is one of the few films where hypnosis is a tool of the good guys, not the villains. And unfortunately, this means that he rarely takes advantage of his talents for selfish reasons, instead choosing to hypnotize bad guys so he can disarm them and hypnotize young women to help them uncover repressed memories of the bad guys’ plans. But there are some scenes of him hypnotizing young women, if you’re really looking for that sort of thing, and the riffing is excellent (it’s a late Joel episode, where he’d really hit his stride.) This one isn’t out on DVD yet, but it’s not hard to find online.

So feel free to grab some generic cola, some store-brand chips, and enjoy this Bondian-esque-ish film!

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis, Volume Six

May 29, 2011

Last week, I talked about “The She-Creature”, but I didn’t really talk about it, if you get my meaning. I just sort of mentioned in passing. This week, I’ll delve into the whole thing in a bit more depth. But, y’know, not too much more, because this is just a blog entry, after all. It’s not like I’m writing “War and Peace” something.

“The She-Creature” is a movie that’s actually kind of interesting, from a strictly sociological perspective. It captures a particular zeitgeist, of an era when the belief that past lives could be experienced through hypnosis was widely discussed and very popular thanks to the famous case of Bridey Murphy. (Ignore the bits about how the debunking has been debunked. The problem with an encyclopedia that anyone can edit is that, well, anyone can edit it.) Pretty much everyone knew about “past-life regression” back then, and that informed the movie in a big way. As a result, you get a film about a Sinister Hypnotist(tm) attempting to use past-life regression to summon an evil monster, and a heroic parapsychologist (the Roger Corman movie “The Undead” is another film with a heroic parapsychologist, a pretty rare trope as far as film is concerned) who tries to stop him. (Oddly, the parapsychologist is also presented as a skeptic, despite seeming to have full and accurate knowledge of all the same techniques the bad guy is using.) It’s actually kind of cool to see how films of a particular era synthesized the fears and fascinations of that era into fiction, even if they’re not exactly “high art”.

That, plus the hypnokinky elements, are pretty much the only things you’ll find interesting about “The She-Creature”. The script is dull and plodding, everyone on screen should have one of those little “NOT AN ACTOR” subtitles under their names, and the monster…okay, by the standards of the time, the monster’s not bad. Not very “She-Creature”, but not bad. But it’s about the best element of a story that’s too long, too repetitive, and contains about 100% too much Lance Fuller. But there are plenty of hypnosis scenes if you like that sort of thing (but come on, who among my readers would actually like to watch two guys dueling for hypnotic control of a beautiful woman?) and the riffing on this episode is top-notch. The “Lance Fuller School of Not Acting” sketch is worth tracking down the episode for all on its own.

An Amusing Anecdote

May 21, 2011

Lady Ru’etha and I are in the midst of watching ‘The She-Creature’ on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I wanted to make sure She saw this one because it’s got a freaking metric ton of hypnosis (it’s an old black-and-white movie made during the whole “Bridey Murphy” recovering-past-lives-through-hypnosis craze, something about which I will talk more in a future blog entry.) And it features use after use after use of one of the MST3K gang’s lovable catchphrases, shouting “SLEEEEEEEP!” a la Bela Lugosi in Bride of the Monster. Any time there’s an over-elaborate, drawn-out hypnosis sequence, they short-circuit it with a shout of “SLEEEEEEEEEEP!”

Lady Ru’etha suggested (jokingly) that the two of us should go to a signing by one of the MST3K actors (probably Kevin Murphy, who did the majority of the shouts.) She would ask him to try the “SLEEEEEEP!” shout on me, which he would no doubt obligingly do…to no effect. Then She would look at him and say, “Hmm, I think I know what I’ve been doing wrong.” Then She’d turn to me and shout, “SLEEEEEEEEEP!” Having previously made sure it was a trigger, of course.

Thankfully, She’d never actually do it (because it would actually work.) But it was quite funny to hear.

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis, Volume Five

March 9, 2011

You know, it just occurred to me that in my last MST3K post, I mentioned that there were two hypnosis-themed movies in the last boxset, but I never got around to talking about the other one! I hope I didn’t leave anyone hanging. (You know, anyone with access to the Internet but not any ability to use a search engine.)

In any event, the other episode in question is the Season Eight flick “Devil Doll”, which is a movie that’s pretty heavy on the hypnosis (if light on thrills.) It centers around a sinister stage hypnotist/ventriloquist named “The Great Vorelli”, who manages to combine the two most popular “sinister entertainer” tropes into one neat package. Anyhow, a reporter who wants to write a puff piece on Vorelli’s act (which does involve some hypnosis sequences, surprise surprise) accidentally brings his girlfriend to Vorelli’s attention, and Vorelli decides that she’s a wealthy heiress and he’s an evil hypnotist, and comes to the natural conclusion. He hypnotizes her (in a scene that I have to admit is pretty good…he entrances her with a glass of red wine, and the actress goes blank and glassy pretty convincingly) and insinuates himself into her life. Meanwhile, the reporter is investigating Vorelli’s background and finds out that his dummy has the same name as a former assistant of Vorelli’s. One who died. Oh, and did I mention that the dummy is wandering around killing people?

In the end, the reporter manages to show up at about the same time that the problem is taking care of itself, which I suppose technically makes him the hero, and Vorelli winds up getting some poetic justice. It’s the sort of movie that feels like it would be black-and-white even if it was in color, but there’s some great riffing, a few good hypnosis scenes, and decent sketches. I recommend it.

MST3K vs. Hypnosis, Volume Four

November 14, 2010

Another new “Mystery Science Theater 3000” boxset has been released, and it’s got not one but two movies with elements of hypnosis in ’em! This time out, I’ll focus on the Ed Wood anti-classic “Bride of the Monster”, which features Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist who is creating a race of super-humans, starting with Tor Johnson and a giant octopus. The fact that the sum total of his success in creating a race of perfect people is a big dumb Swedish wrestler and a killer octopus would discourage me, but not Bela. (Although there are hints in the movie that the Loch Ness Monster is his work, too, and it’s hard to be sure whether he created Tor Johnson or just modified him. So maybe he can blame his raw material.)

There’s not a lot of hypnosis, and absolutely no explanation of the hypnosis there is; I guess Ed Wood just took it as a given that any mad scientist worth his Tesla coils could also hypnotize women. But there are a couple of scenes where the plucky young girl reporter is trying to be irrepressibly nosy and spunky, only to have Bela Lugosi wave his hand at her (in a gesture that shows he’s double-jointed or quite possibly triple-jointed in a number of different parts of his hand) and says, “SLEEEEEEEP!” And lo and behold, the girl reporter’s eyes get all glassy and her voice gets all muzzy and she slowly reclines back onto the bed into a hypnotic sleep. Then, in a later scene, he summons her back in a pretty dress. The implications of all this are left to the imagination, of course, which may explain why so many science-fiction fans grew up to have such perverted imaginations. 🙂

Oh, and it’s also one of the funnier Joel episodes of the series, with a great short (“Hired!” Part One) and some neat extras. But it’s the hypnosis stuff that you’re looking for, so the least I can do is tell you where to find it.

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis, Volume Three

April 14, 2010

I’ve pretty much abandoned any pretense of chronological order here, but on the other hand, I’m tackling one of the biggies (and not just as measured by title length): “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies”. This is, to my mind, one of the all-time best episodes in terms of pound-for-pound humor value; the riffs are some of the best they’ve ever done. (Mike’s delivery on “Oh, dear. He should not frolic” is, in and of itself, worth the cost of the DVD.)

In terms of hypnosis…well, let me just quote Lady Ru’etha here. “I think this is the first hypnosis scene I’ve ever not been turned on by.” There is plenty of hypnosis, as our, um…hero? I guess, yeah. Our hero, Jerry, is hypnotized by a giant spiral disc and programmed by an evil fortune-teller to murder everyone who knows about her secret den full of zombies. There’s lots of shots of Jerry (as played by director Ray Dennis Steckler) staring into the spiral and getting hypnotized while the fortune-teller drones endlessly on about “look into the beautiful spinning wheel, see how the light travels…” et cetera et cetera. (As Crow puts it, “Alright, lady, you’ve hypnotized the crap outta him!”) But yeah, unless you find slope-browed guys who look kinda like Nicholas Cage and skanky women with giant fake moles attractive, even the two really long hypnosis scenes probably won’t do much for you.

But dang, is it funny. “I think what she’s trying to say is…SLEEEEEEEP!!!!!”

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis, Volume Two

December 9, 2009

Sorry if I’m jumping way ahead (from early Season One Mystery Science Theater 3000 to early Season Five) but it just came out on DVD, so you might be thinking about walking into your Best Buy and picking this up.

The latest volume (XVI) of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs from Shout Factory features an obscure little 80s post-apocalyptic movie called “Warrior of the Lost World”, which has some great ideas but has the kind of execution that inevitably results in a movie being watched by puppets. In specific, this particular post-apocalyptic world is run by the late, great Donald Pleasance, using…yep, you guessed it, mind control.

Pleasance’s dystopian utopia seems to be accomplished through a mixture of a big brainwashing table, on which he zaps the free will out of his subjects, and a regimen of drugs and endless reinforcement over the loudspeaker. (For some reason, his brainwashed subjects watch an S & M version of Cirque du Soleil while taking their reinforcing drugs. It’s all a little bit weird.) For those of you who are into that sort of thing (I know, surely not anyone who reads this blog!) there’s a scene where Pleasance straps Star Trek star Persis Khambatta to the table and zaps her until she’s staring vacantly into space with a blank expression on her face. (Which is yummy, although I think I’m the only person in the world who thinks she’s sexier bald.)

After that, there’s lots more of other characters doing other things, but you do get a scene right near the end where Pleasance tries to make the brainwashed Khambatta shoot the heroes. Which just goes to prove the single most important point about evil megalomaniacs in action movies: They’re all morons. Forget about the resistance movement, Donald! Just pick a half-dozen favorites, find a nice spot in the countryside, and retire with them! 🙂

Obviously, the mind control in this film is entirely fake, and bears no similarities to anything you could do with hypnosis. It doesn’t even call itself hypnosis. But on the other hand, it’s a fun, goofy movie with a lot of good riffing, and yes, you get to see Persis Khambatta get turned into a blank-eyed slave. If that ain’t worth your time and money, I don’t know what is.

MST3K Vs. Hypnosis

July 31, 2009

One of the things that doesn’t often come up on this blog is that I’m a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and its spin-offs, “Cinematic Titanic” and “Rifftrax”.) It’s a fun way to enjoy bad movies, the riffers are great comedians from my neck of the woods (I’ve sometimes said that in order to get every single joke in MST3K, you do have to be a Minnesotan) and of course, bad sci-fi movies tend to have hypnosis scenes. So I’m watching my extensive collection from the beginning…and so far, I’m one for one on hypnosis sequences.

Currently up: “Robot Vs. the Aztec Mummy”. The heroic professor uses hypnosis on his wife, Flora, to regress her to a past life where she was an Aztec priestess (past-life regression is a big theme in cinematic hypnosis; lots of movies, especially the old ones, remember Bridey Murphy quite well and use her as an inspiration.) The villain, the Bat, also uses hypnosis on Flora, summoning her from a distance, commanding her to seek out the titular Aztec Mummy for him, and then post-hypnotically commanding her to forget. (So yes, nice scenes of a blank-eyed girl walking around in a nightgown. You know, if you like that sort of thing.)

More later, perhaps…