Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Final Sacrifice (1990) – MST3K Review

Troy McGreggor (Christin Malcolm) is a little curious about his father. After digging around in his attic he finds evidence that his father was involved in some kind of strange treasure hunt. Before you can say “ski masks”, a bunch of cultists storm Troy’s home and chase him. But help is on the way in form of pudgy, down on his luck, but looking good in his mullet, action hero – Zap Rowsdower (Bruce J. Mitchell). Rowsdower takes Troy under his wing reluctantly, and Troy’s gonna need all the help he can get. You see, evil cult leader Satoris (Shane Marceau) has plans to make one of our heroes The Final Sacrifice.

Movie Review
Found out recently that this film was a student effort that somehow got a release on the direct to video market. I’m not surprised in the least. This movie has an extremely low budget and it shows. From its zero budget visual effects to the script with more holes in it than a screen door – every thing about The Final Sacrifice is bottom of the barrel.

OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but when you’ve got a chase scene involving a kid on his bike and a bunch of goons in a car – and the goons can’t catch the kid, well that means they couldn’t afford another car or the screenwriter/director Tjardus Greidanus had other things on his mind.

Maybe he was wondering if anyone was going to buy the name Zap Rowsdower.
The acting is about what you’d expect for a student film. Malcolm was a skinny nerdy looking kid playing a skinny nerdy looking kid. So he’s believable at least. Like almost everyone in the film, he overacts, but in a way it’s believable. I mean, he is being chased by cultists that could be Mexican wrestlers gone to seed.

Mitchell goes for the gusto as Rowsdower. He plays the burnt out reluctant hero well enough. Some of the action scenes don’t quite work out so well, since Mitchell isn’t in the best of shape. But he gives it a good try. Shane Marceau as Sartoris chews the scenery with the best villains in B movies. Some of his lines are certainly ridiculous, but Marceau goes for it. Usually with comic results, but at least he’s trying.

Last but not least is the scraggly craggily Ron Anderson as grouchy hermit Mike Pipper. The man sounds like Yosemite Sam and could have stepped right out of a western as the half crazed prospector. He injects the movie with some life, as well as the large chunk of exposition he is forced to give. I love it when an actor like this just throws caution to the wind and plays the part in cartoon character mode. It’s why I love bad movies.

What else is there to say? You’ve got bad sets for the ruins. Honestly they look like they were cobbled together out of cardboard, 2x4’s and clay. The action scenes range from hilariously under choreographed to badly filmed. The dialogue is groan worthy, and the plot needed a lot more tightening. The editing really hurts the film, especially with the endless scenes at the beginning of Troy going over his father’s papers in the attic. In a way I feel bad for picking on The Final Sacrifice, because it is only a student film. But at the same time – it’s just a bad movie.

MST3K Review
I was surprised to learn that this film was released in 1990, because it looks very 80’s. And as you know, I love a good cheesy 80’s flick. For me these often turn out to be some of the funniest films to watch with or without MST3K.

It’s mostly the characters that provide all the riffing fodder in this episode. Troy is such a skinny little guy that Mike and bots just go for him right off the bat. They add little grunts and sighs when he lifts napkins, opens doors and just walks in the woods. Poor Troy also seems to have a bit of a lisp and a high pitched voice – so that adds fuel to the fire, especially after he says “Rowsdower” in an especially breathy way during a camping scene.

Mike Pipper’s Yosemite Sam character is also a source for comedy, with his crazy voice, and crazier eyes he’s a gold mine. And his unique look even carries over into a host segment. Sartoris with his black trench coat, goth make-up and exceedingly deep voice is almost funny enough without riffing, but Mike and the bots love to put words in his mouth and it’s a good time.

But the true running joke in The Final Sacrifice is the character and name Rowsdower. The minute his name is mentioned Mike and Bots turn it into a running joke, turning all kinds of things into Rowsdower accessories, or just saying his name during an action scene (reminding me a lot of the same riffing technique used in the season five classic Mitchell). Some people find the whole “Rowsdower” running joke to be done to death, but I think they do it just enough to keep it funny.

The movie is Canadian and that just opens the door for all kinds of jokes at our Northern neighbors expense. Much like they did with the British earlier in this season and the Japanese in the previous season – some of the jokes get a little too mean. They’re funny, but they aren’t PC at all. I do notice that in the years on the Sci-fi Channel, this kind of humor increased quite a bit. I find I have to be in the mood for it, and I’ll enjoy it. But this time it seemed a bit too much, especially when it oozed into the host segments.

Speaking of which, the show starts off with a power outage on the Satellite Of Love and Crow and Tom try their hand at some looting. Then Pearl decides to take over the world, one human at a time. It doesn’t start out too promising. Tom Servo attempts to sing an Ode to Canada and things get real mean – real fast. Inspired by Zap’s mullet, everyone in the show comes down with “Hockey Hair” – even Brain Guy! Mike is immune to hockey hair, because he had it during the 80’s and when you’ve had it once you don’t get it again (that’s good news for me!). Instead he comes down with Grizzled Old Prospector’s hair. The show wraps up with Crow and Tom starting their own cult and Pearl nearly taking over her first person.

The first couple times I saw The Final Sacrifice I loved it. But watching it again this time, I felt that it takes a while to really get going. The scenes with Troy digging in the attic take a lot of time, and Mike and Bots really start running thin on riffs. It isn’t until Rowsdower makes his appearance that the energy comes back and the laughs are steady. As I mentioned the Canada bashing bothered me a bit this time too – so I can’t give the episode top marks. But it is a good one.

Four Zap Rowsdower’s out of five.

This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XVII.

For those that are curious, I included the picture that does not show the Troy or Rowsdower featured in the film, and they changed the title to something a little more Indiana Jonesey. It was just too cool not to include.


  1. Zapp Rowsdower is one of the best characters ever!

  2. You speak the truth. If a sequel is ever made it should be all Rowsdower all the time!