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MST3K Recap: 1109, YONGARY

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1107

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

Korea has never really been a big kaiju kind of place. About the only even remotely recent effort has been a remake of this week’s experiment from 1999, and 1985’s notorious Pulgasari, which is chiefly remembered for being a North Korean effort to impress the world with their cultural prowess. Since this chiefly consisted of kidnapping the director and his wife for eight years and forcing them to make movies, this went about as well as you’d expect (2016’s documentary The Lovers and the Despot gives the lowdown, but how has this not been made into a movie already?). Anyway, point is, Yongary is pretty much Korea’s “official” kaiju by default. This week’s experiment brings us the original from 1967, and it is very much in the classic mold for giant monster movies of that era.

We open on the SOL, where Jonah & the ‘bots are discussing their dreams. Are there electric sheep? You bet there are. Jonah has created a miniature desk designed specifically for flipping in moments of anger. The Mads have decided to go into advertising for a new brand of coffee. It’s good coffee, but…let’s say the name could use some work.

Movie sign: a newlywed couple’s honeymoon goes down the drain when the groom has to blast off in a rocket to do recon on a sudden earthquake. Why this requires a rocket is left as an exercise to the viewer. Anyway, it turns out the “earthquake” is moving in a beeline straight for Seoul. No fair guessing what’s causing it. Anyway, there’s the usual stomping around in a cardboard city, then our heroes discover that it doesn’t like ammonia. The day is saved, and the honeymoon is back on.

In the first host segment, the gang discuss famous astronauts and their playlists. Apparently Sally Ride was into Spandau Ballet. That, I did not see coming. Also, Crow seems to be developing a sycophantic streak. They didn’t mention Chris Hadfield, which is a bit of a pity. Turns out he’s something of a Barenaked Ladies fan (seriously, give it a listen).

In the second segment, Tom pitches his new theme club: “Yongary Nights”. Based on a scene from the movie, it gives the youth of today somewhere to cavort and have one last hurrah before being trampled by a giant horned Godzilla ripoff. A perfect night out, for some people.

In the third segment, the issue of children and giant monsters is brought up–seriously, what is that? You get a giant monster, you get a little kid. It’s like it’s a law or something. Anyway, the gang speculate about who their dream monsters would be. Crow has poor taste in role models.

After the movie, the ‘bots are upset over the monster’s prolonged death scene. Seems the only way to cope is with a song. It’s not a bad one, a tad brief. Enough to get the Mads to reconsider their evil ways…for about five seconds.

Yongary is somewhat unusual as these movies go, as the English dub (by our old friends at American International) is the only version known to be in existence. It seems when they sold the movie to AIP, the production company sent everything they had, including the original negatives(!). Thus, the original Korean version joins 1933’s Wasei Kingu Kongu (a sort-of parody), 1938’s King Kong Appears in Edo, and 1962’s Bulgasari (the original of which the North Korean film mentioned above was a remake) on the honor roll of  monster movies that are considered lost. Much as we laugh at them, it’s sad when a film disappears forever. Even the not-so-good ones deserve better.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck will light a candle tonight in memory of all the heroic cardboard buildings and toy tanks that have perished in the service of cheesy movies. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

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