- Some decent acting for this kind of movie
- The stock footage is interesting
- You get a bit of India in your safari movie
- The comic relief isn't very funny
- The stock footage use is endless
- The plot isn't too interesting or new
In depth and mini reviews of movies with a sprinkling of nostalgia and film music musings.
Professor Lockart (Charles B. Pierce) or Doc grabs his prize student Tanya (Serene Hedin), the shirtless Tim (Chuck Pierce) and the whiney Leslie (Cindy Butler) after a sighting of the Boggy Creek creature is made, and heads into the Arkansas swamps. Doc provides some narration over some of the more popular tales of the Boggy Creek beast, before they make camp and start their hunt. The monster is revealed, seen first by the guys, then the gals. Then they decide to head down river to meet up with Old Man Crenshaw (Jimmy Clem) one of the must repulsive characters in MST3K history. Turns out Crenshaw knows quite a bit about old Boggy - more than he lets on. "And the Legend Continues...”
Don't believe the title, this movie is actually the third film in the "Boggy Creek" cycle. The first film "The Legend of Boggy Creek" is actually considered a decent little low budget monster romp made in 1972. It was followed by "Return to Boggy Creek" in 1977. Now Charles B. Pierce directed the first film and actually put quite a bit of effort into it. "Return" was made without his help and is considered a poor sequel. I guess Pierce was upset by this (even if "Return" did star Dana Plato), so he made an official sequel!
I'm guessing that Pierce also had a bit of an ego inflation since 1972, because his 1985 feature has all the markings of a man who thinks he knows best. He knows that his son will be the perfect actor for the part of Tim, and that the girls in the audience will want to see him without a shirt. He knows that if there was ever a heroic figure, that Charles B. Pierce is that figure. His character of Doc gets all the heroic scenes. He is wise in the world. He wants to understand the creature, not harm it (even though he waves a rifle at it a few times). He snaps into action, with his teeny tiny shorts, whenever the women-folk are threatened, or Tim wets himself. He also barks orders to Tim - a lot. Yes, truly this is the vision of one man, a man with big ideas and a big ego. It reminds me of Arch Hall Sr. and his film "Eegah", where he also foisted his son on us. Coincidence that both men named their sons after themselves?
Pierce seems conflicted in the type of movie he is presenting (seems to be a theme this season). The movie opens with long and very pretty shots of the Arkansas swamplands. Pierce provides thoughtful narration about nature and the Boggy Creek Legend. You might think that you are watching a documentary. Even the creature is shown in as naturalistic a light as possible. Then you get a quick cut to a college football game with hundreds of screaming fans. And that's a bit closer to the type of movie you'll be getting.
The rest of the film attempts to balance the mystery of the creature with the horror of finding him. The story gathering sequences should serve the purpose of keeping us guessing. Is the Boggy Creek creature dangerous, or is it merely curious about humans. But Pierce bungles the approach by sapping the suspense from scenes with bad camera work, silly acting and poor use of the creature. By the time we get to the hunting sequence (which makes it sound more exciting than it is) we don't know if we should be afraid of the creature or afraid that Doc is going to kill it.
The final sequence of the story really makes no sense. The entire party has seen Boggy and thus fulfilled their quest - to see the creature first hand. They didn't bring and cameras so they have not real proof that they did see it, but hell, that was their own fault. But for no real reason they seek out more stories about the creature. This leads them to Old Man Crenshaw, the mountainous, hairy backwoods man. Now, this character is so amazingly horrifying, I don't mind the trip, but logically there was no reason to go there. Of course, this gives Pierce a chance to show his keen intellect, not only in dealing with the hillbilly, but also in deducing that Crenshaw has something to hide.
So what about the other elements of the film? Well the acting goes from average to pretty weak. The worst is actually poor Chuck Pierce as Tim. He delivers his lines with little emotion and seems to take his shirt off at a moment's notice. Both he and Doc run around in tiny shorts that leave little to the imagination, a true horror film for just about anyone. The girls are pretty bad too, overacting and generally not behaving like students of anthropology. They are both pretty in a very 80's kind of way. And if you like to see women sliding around in the mud, then this is the movie for you.
The creature is not a bad looking costume to tell the truth. The actor in it is forced to move rather stiffly, and its face has little movement. There is also a Little Creature that turns up later in the film. Again, the costume isn't bad, but the way it is filmed doesn't do much help things out. It appears in broad daylight and too often, making its limitations very clear. Still we've all seen worse.
The real monster is Crenshaw. It's rare that you suspect you may smell an actor through the televisions screen, but Clem is that actor. He appears to be nude except for his ratty overalls barely hanging on with one strap. What parts of him aren't covered in hair, are covered in a film of grime. His beard and hair looks crusty and yet oily at the same time. He wears a tiny bandana that one of the riffers refers to as a broccoli rubber-band. If that's not what it is, well I'd be surprised. His tiny eyes are shrewd but not bright. If this man is an actor, he's really damn good. If not, than I think Pierce just had Clem play himself - and that my friends is a horrible thought.
This episode is a nice step up from the downer "Blood Waters of Dr. Z". But it shares a lot of similarities with that film. Both take place in the south. Both deal with monsters and people hunting them. Both feature bodily fluids. But at least "Boggy Creek" injects some humor into its film. Sure its lame humor, but overriding message is not one of despair and dreariness. I don't think Pierce would have stood for that. Instead it’s actually optimistic at the end. And maybe that optimism makes the riffing work better.
Because the energy is back and the laughs return with it. I think part of the fuel is Pierce himself. He comes off as such an obnoxious blowhard, and when you see he wrote, directed and produced this film, well you can't help but unleash a little on it. That's what Mike and the bots do, attacking the film and Pierce with plenty of jokes, and some of them not too nice.
The flashbacks and stories get particular attention, mostly because they are so badly filmed or handled. The first couple are so blurry that it's difficult to see whets happening. Later ones are so badly set up and executed that you can't help but mock them. Then there is the dreaded outhouse sequence, one that Bill Corbett said had to be edited because it was too noxious. Mike and the bots have a great time with these sequences.
But it is Old Man Crenshaw that the best material is saved for. Much like Torgo from "Manos: The Hands of Fate", or Eegah, here is one character that so captivates the crew that they just go to town on him. Some of the riffs get pretty down and dirty, something that seems to come up a lot as this season progressed. But everything about Crenshaw is made to be mocked, from his goat to his senseless capture of The Little Creature. The ending of the episode is top notch with some of the funniest material of the season.
It's not all gold, there are some slow spots here and there. Mostly these arise during the hunting sequence with his basically Doc and Tim wandering around the swamp and the girls at the camp. Luckily the flashbacks and stories are dotted throughout the film and that helps things. And when all else fails you can mock the tiny tiny shorts Tim and Doc wear [shudder].
The host segments are entertaining, with some high points. Things start off with Mike and Crow starting a Cub Scout den. Poor Tom can't fit into the outfit, so he dresses as a Brownie. When Pearl shows up, she's got a new plan for taking over the world. It involves potato batteries. Naturally Bobo screws it all up. At the first break Mike and the bots use flashbacks to help Mike remember why he was on the bridge in the first place. Each flashback is blurrier than the last. The next break reveals that Pearl was inspired by the movie and decides to turn Castle Forrester into a tourist destination, using Bobo as "The Creature". Observer sings a folksy song about The Creature. The next break Tom starts a corporate empire based on whittling. He's such a nut. After the movie ends, Crow lights a bunch fires just like Crenshaw. Back in the castle Pearl has her first customer, but things go wrong when "The Creature" shows up and acts decidedly un-creature like.
This is a good episode to pop in on a hot summer day, so you can feel like you are in the Arkansas swamp with the team of crack researchers. There's plenty of laughs in this one and while it never really escalates into the upper tier of episodes, it's worth checking out.
I give this episode three little creatures out of five.
This episode is available in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 5
A movie with solid groundwork ends up getting lost in the execution. As a result, the shortest of the Bond film feels like one of the longest. While the film does perform as a nice cap to Casino Royale it comes across more like an extended coda than a fully realized Bond film.
Dr. Kurt Leopold (Marshall Grauer) is grouchy because his peers think he's crazy. So he turns himself into a fishman (Wade Popwell) so he can prove them wrong. Um... OK. Guided by a huge planning wheel he begins to terrorize a small town in Florida. Sheriff Krantz (Paul Galloway) brings in some outside help from Rex (Gerald Cruse) a marine biologist, and INPIT Agents Martha (Sanna Ringhaver) and Walker (Dave Dickerson). But can these four mismatched heroes do anything to cleanse the "Blood Waters of Dr. Z"?
This is a 70's version of a 50's style monster movie. You got your typical mad scientist who feels wronged that his peers call him crazy. So he continues his "crazy" experiments to prove them wrong - which of course only cements the fact that the guy is nuts. MST3K has featured a few movies with these plots such as "Mad Monster", "Bride of the Monster" or "The Unearthly".
The familiar plot makes things pretty easy to script. You've even got the scenes where the heroes use their own science to track and find the monster, even whipping out the old standby Geiger Counter to detect the radiation that the monster throws off.
What make's this movie bad beyond your typical monster movie issues (bad monster suit, overacting, silly pseudo-science) is the lack of tension or thrills or anything to generate "horror" in the audience. Director Don Barton falls into a trap that many movies from the 70's do - pacing and mood.
Editing and basic structure are the main problems with pacing here. The movie opens with a ridiculously performed voice over while we are shown footage of ocean animals (provided by the helpful folks at Marineland in Florida). The long languid shots of the ocean animals does nothing help the pace. We then cut to Dr. Leopold staring out at the ocean and watch as he wanders into an abandoned beachside complex. Over all this a folk song plays. Yeah you read that right. Could this movie start out any slower and more boring? Actually it could, check out "The Incredible Petrified World".
When Leopold finally turns into the fishman, things get slightly more interesting. Oh and he's never referred to as "Dr. Z". Turns out that this movie has gone through a ton of name changes. It was originally called "ZAAT", based off the formula Leopold uses to create the fishman. Other names include "Dr. Z.", Legend of the Zaat Monster", "Hydra" and "Attack of the Swamp Creatures". As I mentioned the fishman suit looks ridiculous. It has fur on it. Poor Wade Popwell stumbles and trips quite a bit in it. While it looks nothing like a fish, it does seem to work underwater. The Gillman from "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" could take this guy out with one webbed hand tied behind his back.
The pacing continues along its slow and meandering way. There are attacks, but the build up is handled in a very clumsy manner. The hunt for the creature is dull. The finale cuts from a guy reading, to fishman carrying a girl through a swamp, to another guy stumbling in a swamp and back through - several times in a row. Wow. Even the 50's monster movies would at least have one scene where the tension worked. But in this movie, not a single scene is scary.
The other issue is the overriding dreary dourness of the film. There is a mood that permeates many 70's films, one that drains the fun right out of them. The film stock is grainy and dark. The lighting leans toward orange and brown. The acting is bored or flat. The climax of these film ends with nearly every character dying or left in some form of despair. This film fits all those criteria, draining even the funnier moments of life.
There are some bright spots. The voiceover continues through the film and it's always good for a laugh. I love Leopolds enormous planning wheel. It's like a Franklin Covey planner for a mad man, with pictures of those who wronged him, and key points (such as finding a mate) relegated to sections of this huge pie chart. The devices that he uses to make fish people is pretty silly looking, and makes obnoxious sounds. You also get some cute girls in bikinis and wandering around in their underwear so that's a plus for male viewers. The music is horribly used, blaring when something of no consequence is occurring. When it is electronic, it drives the viewer insane with it's droning and groaning. Someone take the Moog away from the composer! There is also an attempt to make our default hero, Walker, use a silly amphibious vehicle. It looks like something a toddler would be pedaling around on their front lawn. Handled correctly this chunk of 70's malaise is perfect for Mike and the bots.
But I know we're in trouble when the host segments outshine the riffing. Things start off with Crow taking up chewing tobacco. He hasn't got the spitting part down yet. Before the film starts Pearl experiments by withholding love from Mike and the bots. Crow turns out to be very susceptible to love deprivation. At the first break, Crow hides in the rafters to provide overblown voiceover for Mike. It's as scary as it was in the movie - so, not at all. In the next break, Mike and bots try some fishing. This sketch is a nice throwback to some of the Frank inspired Comedy Central host segments. For the final break, the bots are convinced that nudity helps any scene in any movie. Mike disagrees. To prove the point Bobo and Observer perform a scene from "Glengarry Glen Ross" in the buff. This proves nothing, other than Bill is willing to do a lot for a laugh. After the movie ends the bots come up with other carrying cases you can use to transport items (its based off a nonsensical sequence in the finale). Pearl has turned Bobo into a mar-monkey. Wow!
I know I sound like a broken record, but energy is often a key point to making an episode go from good to great. But in cases where the movies are very slow and dreary, energy in the riffing is a necessity. The movie itself can be too painful, and without a team alive with energy it will actually make the episode fail. That's exactly what happens here.
With a show so dense with jokes and comments, some of them have to hit, just by law of averages. But when the laughs come infrequently you know you're in trouble. I was surprised how limp and lifeless the riffing is in this one. The movie provides the goods but Mike and the bots don't really go after the movie in the way they did in previous and future episodes. The Sic-if Channel years are known for harsher and more aggressive jokes than the Comedy Central years. Now I love many shows from the Comedy Central years. But I've noticed that for a movie like this, you need aggressive jokes that attack the film.
Mike and the bots seem relaxed in this episode and for the most part the jokes they do make just don't click. Things pick up a bit near the end, when the fishman is heading back toward his lair. The little buggy that Walker drives is good for some lines, and the Sherriff’s final battle is good. But really it’s too little too late. I wonder if the crew thought that the movie was so bad that the laughs would come by themselves (and it's easily possible), or if the impending cancellation of the show affected the riffing. Either way, the dreary movie overwhelms everyone, including this viewer.
For me, the 70's films can be difficult, but very funny episodes. "The Incredible Melting Man" from season 7, "Parts: The Clonus Horror" from Season 8 and "The Touch of Satan" from season 9 are all good episodes. Even Joel's swan song, "Mitchell" from season five is classic stuff. But in this case Mike and the bots can't pull it off, and we have one of the weakest episodes of the entire series. My advice, skip this one and if you're in the mood for a fishy monster flick, check out season 8 offerings "Revenge of the Creature" or "Horror at Party Beach".
I give it one planning wheel out of five.
This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater Collection Volume XVII.
Michele (Leslie McRae) was born to dance. When Buz (Tom Pace) meets her, he offers to take her to Los Angeles to meet his sister Joanie (Bara Byrnes), who can make Michele into a star. Since her life is going no where as a waitress, she joins him. Along the way they meet Critter Jones (Jody Daniels) a free spirit with a guitar and a gentle attitude. But Los Angeles changes everything. Michele may be a star, but her boss is an oily drug lord. Buz, who was on a criminal path to begin with, joins right in with his own caper. Only poor Critter sees the danger, but his love for Michele may not be enough to save her. You see, the lure of drugs, bongos and oily men may be enough for this "Girl in Gold Boots".
What you've got here is a movie that tells your typical rise to stardom story in a very 1968 kinda way. On an interesting side note, this movie has an almost identical plot to the infamous "Showgirls" of 1995. Girl wants to dance. Girl gets to dance. Dancing nearly destroys here. Girl meets good guy. They escape. The big difference (aside from the fashion and slang) would be the budget. "Showgirls" was multi-million dollar mess. "Girl in Gold Boots" has a much smaller budget and at least it can use that as an excuse.
The basic story isn't bad, not original, but not bad. It's just all the little strange touches that pop up. Buz is the main issue here. When we meet him, he seems like the dangerous rebel type. I think we're supposed to like him - not sure really since Mr. Pace plays him like a jerk the whole time. I think Buz is a mini story - of a corruptible character brought low. Michele is the opposite, all naive and full of joy and then turned onto the dark path, before she is rescued by Critter. The trick is Buz and his story take up a lot of screen time. He gets involved in a caper late in the film and we get to see all of it. What this has to do with Michele's story is beyond me. It affects her in an indirect way, but there is no need to show the planning of the caper and the execution. Buz isn't the love interest, he's just this odd third character that gets too much screen time for his plot importance.
Critter would have been a better focal point, but he's not that interesting. He gets to sing some songs while strumming on guitar. He gets to fall in love with Michele. And he gets to say all kinds of silly/meaningful dialogue. But in the end we don't get to know him too well. His big revelation, that he is a draft dodger, may have been included to add a bit of bad boy to his role. But it only makes him look like a putz. So Michele can pick Critter the putz, or Buz the sociopathic loser. Um... yeah.
Michele doesn't come across as the brightest bulb in the box. Part of it is McRae's acting, but the role is pretty badly written as well. Michele is supposed to naive, but she acts more like a very young child, than a sheltered young woman. Her interaction with oily sleazy Leo (Mark Herron) just seals the deal. This guy just looks like trouble, and when he talks and oozes up to her, you just know he's up to no good. But Michele buys right into his lines. If she's that dumb, it's hard to feel sorry for her fate. Oh and I don't want to sound rude, but McRae isn't a very good dancer, so its really hard to buy that she is the star attraction anywhere.
There are a lot of songs in this movie, and most of them have a typical sound of the late 60's. You've got a mix of Beatles-sequel sound, Go-go music for the dancing sequences, bongo playing, and of course the folksy ballads courtesy of Critter. None of them are god awful, but most are non-descript. Some provide some unintentional laughs at the odd lyric combinations.
Mostly there are the odd sequences such as the whole dune buggy on the beach scene. I think it's supposed to show how much fun Buz, Critter and Michele are having on their journey, but it occurs so suddenly and is so odd that you can't help but laugh. Later Michele smokes a joint at a party and does a very strange little dance to a bongo player's rhythm. The whole party sequence is bizarre and well worth seeing. Then there is the Haunted House club. It's got a monster behind the stage that shoots smoke from his nostrils and has glowing eyes. There are bats, skeletons and all kinds of crazy things all over the place. It's hilarious and kinda kitschy all at the same time. I doubt any performance here would catapult anyone to the big time. At least it's more realistic than Club Scum from "Hobgoblins". And finally there is the scene where Bara Byrnes has a huge breakdown and screams, "I want my pretty mind back!" A great acting moment in the MST3K cannon.
With this episode Sci-Fi Channel finally loosened the restriction on the type of movies that MST3K could tackle. And so they went to a genre that had served them well in the past - teens in peril. Much like The Beatniks, I Accuse My Parents or Kitten with a Whip, this type of movie has plenty of good material to riff on, and it offers a nice break from the constant sci-fi/horror/fantasy output of the past couple years. It also gives us songs that Mike and bots can improvise with.
This is one of my favorite episodes of this season. There is so much good material here that it really makes me wish that Sci-fi had let them attack this kind of film earlier. From our opening moments in the restaurant known as "Eat", to the grand finale with Critter and Michele rocking out on the beach before he is shipped off to Vietnam there are plenty of laughs. Buz and his delinquent tendencies provide all kinds of opportunities. Tom Pace looks to be in his mid 30's, yet people keep calling him "young man" or "kid". In addition he has a peculiar accent that the guys keep mocking. Every time Buz is on screen, there's lots of comedy - especially the whole "elf" moment.
Between Critter's goofy songs and Michele's attempts at dancing, it's hard to say which is funnier. Aside from the afore mentioned party scene, Michele graces us with several dances at the club. Combined with the hit song "Girl in Gold Boots" and her back up dancers - well it's a sight to behold; one that the movie shows you about three different times. I guess they were proud. Then there is the hilarious scene where Critter sings a love ballad while images of Michele appear behind him. Mike and the bots use it to the full advantage offering commentary by Michele's ghostly floating head.
Then there's Leo and his gangsters and the whole caper plot. Wow, the amount of oily sleaze on display here is pretty impressive. Lots of great riffs on Leo's whole demeanor and his 60's slang. And when he shares the screen with Buz, well it's comedy gold really. From top to bottom, the movie provides solid laughs and more than a few fall down funny comments.
The host segments are pretty funny as well. The show starts with Crow answering the question, "What would Buffy St. Marie Do?" Pearl then reveals that she's not a fully accredited mad scientist. An inspector is sent to verify her insanity - this results in electric shocks and a latex hump. The first break has Crow reenacting Buz's confrontation with the bikers. Mike gets to play the biker. The next break, and this time Crow is inspired to dance like the women in the movie. Mike is visibly disturbed. For the next break Mike is inspired and sings a folksy love song - just like Critter. And this causes the disembodied head of Crow to appear over his shoulder. When the film concludes Mike and the bots are all dressed like oily sleazy Leo. Pearl's experiment is considered a failure until Observer appears... I can't say much more other than this segment shows just how far the crew at Best Brains will go to make you laugh. Bill Corbett, you are a brave man.
With that said, this is an easy episode to recommend, especially if you enjoy these types of films. MST3K often had a blast with teens in peril flicks, and it was nice to have one more before the show ended it's run. Not a big surprise that it turned into one of the best episodes of season ten.
I give it five gold boots out of five... but then again, I'm just a child.
This episode is available in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Volume 4.