Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The past is a simple place, populated by simple people, which explains why last night's MST3K offering was given the admirably direct title 'The Mad Monster'. They didn't specify whether the monster was angry mad or crazy mad, but, in the words of Abe Simpson, it may have been a little from column A and a little from column B.

It's 1942, and mad scientist Lorenzo Cameron, who despite his first name looks about as Mediterranean as Bjork, has rented a country manor with his beautiful daughter (and Judy Garland impressionist) Lenora. Like most rented country manors, the house has a laboratory with two secret entrances, one in a garden wall and one behind a bookcase. Lorenzo passes his time gadding about in his laboratory with as many screws loose as a cheap Ikea bookcase, occasionally chairing imaginary meetings with his former colleagues at the university. The astute viewer may suspect that when your translucent imaginary nemeses think you're crazy, chances are they're right, but Lorenzo is having none of that. His studies into... er... some sort of science that is never really explained... have allowed him to create a serum that will turn an ordinary man into a man/wolf hybrid. His test subject is his slow-witted gardener Petro, who has obviously read 'Of Mice And Men' once too often and taken Lenny as a role model.

Lorenzo's aim is simple; with a lumbering wolf man at his command, he can slaughter his many enemies. He starts, as any sensible man would, with Shirley Temple. Not having Shirley Temple to hand, the monster takes out a little Shirley Temple lookalike. Lorenzo is satisfied that if the mad monster can kill child star clones, it can kill anyone, and so he begins planning his revenge.

His convoluted plan is to drag the slow-witted gardener around the countryside, introduce him to his victims, then by stealth or trickery inject him with the serum, slip out, and let mad science take its course. The cynical viewer may wonder why Lorenzo doesn't just sneak up behind his enemies and whack them in the head with an inexpensive hammer, but mad scientists never do things the easy way. They have poetic souls, and the irony of bumping off one's enemies with a creature that those enemies swore could never exist is too delicious for them to resist. When it comes to ironic retribution, mad scientists have all the self control of a baked stoner in a Dorito warehouse.

The first revenge murder goes more or less as planned, although it does attract the interest of an investigative journalist named Tom, who has come to the town to provide a love interest for Lenora report on the unexpected demise of Shirley Temple. His suspicions are confirmed when the second murder doesn't quite go as planned, and Lorenzo is noted to have been with both men just prior to their deaths.

As the threat of exposure by a weedy, clean-cut young man increases, Lorenzo gets sloppy, and the mad monster gets into the house and goes after Lenora. One things leads to another, the house catches fire (apparently by lightning coming in through an open window and hitting a bottle of turps) and both mad scientist and mad monster perish in the blaze, leaving Lenora and Tom to clutch each other in the garden and reflect on the perils of unethical science experiments, obsessive desire for vengeance, and leaving explosive chemicals next to open windows in a thunderstorm.

It was a very funny episode, especially by the lower standards of the first season, although oddly enough my favourite lines came not from the MST3K riffs but from the movie itself. Such as Tom's comment to Lorenzo when he first sees the laboratory:

Tom: You seem very well equipped.

To which the only possible response is, "Why, thank you."


Blogger MC Etcher said...

"You seem very well equipped" sounds like a greta pick-up line, I'll have to remember that.

12:47 AM  

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