(1967, SciFi, color)
A spliced-together compilation of episodes from scifi puppet show Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Mysterons live on Mars? I think? They don’t like humans, I guess because we’re peeping toms, what with our photographing satellites and all. And also because we apparently opened fire during first contact. Captain Scarlet and his companions Blue and Green must defend the Earth from the Mysterons’ hypnotic lights, but are only occasionally successful.
Tom Servo makes his first appearance in the theater during the second film segment, and the riffing quality immediately improves. With all three cast members present, the simple, obvious comments give way to conversations that let them tease out jokes and introduce running gags. It’s still unscripted and sporadic (at one point, they go to commercial in the middle of Crow’s sentence) and it’s a far cry from what MST3K will eventually become. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to watch the show’s creators figuring out how their show will come together.
Too bad the movie lets them down. Mysterons has the same basic elements and premise as Invaders from the Deep (and is from the same creators) but there’s something missing. The more realistically proportioned puppets are less expressive, and the bizarre zaniness that charmed me in Invaders is absent as well. Instead, Mysterons has a futile, dreamlike quality to it; a depiction of two races driven to conflict simply because they are inscrutable to one another. In the initial voiceover, the Mysterons swear revenge for rejected attempts to make peace, while in the second episode, er, segment of the movie, our human protagonists wish there was some way to contact the Mysterons to make peace with them. I suspect this would make more sense (in a stupid way) if I had watched the series from which this movie was exhumed, but in its current context-free form, it’s merely off-putting and dull.