ReviewsTelevision & Film


Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1107

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There seems to be a thing about Edgar Rice Burroughs stories where on paper they look like they would be the ideal movie material, yet they somehow rarely come off. It may be his flights of fancy: lost worlds of dinosaurs and giant six-limbed Martian warriors can be a bit of a challenge to bring to the big screen. Really, it seems his Tarzan series made it easily to the silver screen precisely because the premise was so simple. Otherwise, we get things like 2012’s not-that-bad-honestly-but-still-flopped John Carter of Mars and…well, this.

We start off this episode with a celebration: it’s Gypsy’s birthday! In fact, it’s all the ‘bots’s birthdays! Why not. Sadly, the good times can’t last, and it’s time for the invention exchange. The SOL crew present M. Night Shyalaman’s Living, a lifestyle magazine where every article has a twist (just so long as it isn’t the one from The Village, that’s all I’m saying). The Mads present the Elder Pump, which…uh…well, it pumps…elders? That sounds about right. This leads to–wait for it–a shocking twist they’ve been building up to all season. OK, hands up who didn’t see that coming?

To the movie. As mentioned, this is based on the Burroughs book of the same name. Our heroes are civilians sunk by a German U-boat who then turn around and capture same, but due to sabotage by the German crew and allied ships continually firing on them for some reason they wind up at the lost island of Caprona, which is chock full of dinosaurs, jungles, neanderthal tribes, all the usual stuff a well-seasoned traveler has come to expect from these kinds of places. In the end, the Germans try to double-cross them and escape in the sub, but it gets blown to smithereens, leaving two survivors to wander the land, hoping for eventual rescue.

In the first host segment, the SOL crew parody the characters on the submarine, with Gypsy roped into playing the periscope. Unfortunately, their little game attacks a giant robotic squid. Luckily, he’s a good sport about it once the mistake is cleared up.

In the second segment, the SOL gang mull over what a dinosaur would taste like, prompting Deep 14 to launch “Mesozoic Ranch”, a Dinosaur BBQ joint with its own catchy jingle and a suspiciously familiar logo. Unfortunately, the allosauruses escape, as they do, and everybody runs off in a panic. Easter egg: check out the reference to the Dino Hotel of Lakewood, Colorado, aka the Best Western Denver Southwest. This place is actually real, and were a major sponsor of the Kickstarter.

The third host segment has Crow trying to find out when he’s supposed to turn into a human. Jonah can’t quite bring himself to explain the reality of the situation, but is saved when Crow explains that he really doesn’t want to anyway and would Jonah please turn that option off? Jonah, needless to say, is willing to go ahead and do that thing.

After the movie, Jonah hurtles a bottle into space explaining his predicament in the hopes of being rescued. Naturally, it winds up going straight to Moon 14, where Max is (briefly) delighted at the prospect of a pen pal.

The movie is primarily of interest due to its featuring Doug McClure, an actor who appeared in over a hundred movies and TV shows over his career. There was also a sequel, The People that Time Forgot (1977), also based on the original Burroughs follow-up novel. There is in fact a third novel in the series, Out of Time’s Abyss, but this does not appear to have been turned into a movie yet. All three books are now in the public domain, incidentally, so if you want to read them, you can pick them up (along with quite a bit of Burroughs’ oeuvre) at Project Gutenberg here.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is waiting for them to make a movie version of The Efficiency Expert. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

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