MST3K 11×05: The Beastless Frontier

“His whole life is coffee, kerchiefs, and striped pants.”

The movie: The Beast of Hollow Mountain, which delivers what it promises . . . eventually . . . and then, as Crow(?) complains, not an animal that the word “beast” brings to mind in a western

OK: Hey, I think the riffs are synched now! The bit where someone speaks as the horse, as the horse is bobbing its head, takes good advantage of that.

A lot of great riffs. It’s a very riffable movie, and J&tB take full advantage.

I liked the invention exchange: simple but amusing. The hot water thing is dumb, let’s face it, but it sets up the funny so it’s excused.

One of the recurring host segment themes I like is when the bots get individually creative, and the beanbag segment, where they write their own movies, is a good example (as is the opening segment). Also, the bots just sitting there in beanbags for no apparent reason is an amusing visual, and takes advantage of Crow’s new design. They didn’t really show his legs much in the old series.

Tom’s flight capabilities are used well when he “tries” to fly through the credits.

It stinks: I felt like they were trying too hard to get the hip technological riffs in. LinkedIn, Etsy, and how many others? There were too many to keep the “haha, this is a glaringly anachronistic thing” angle, but not enough to achieve “haha, these glaringly anachronistic things are somehow just a part of their lives” status.

Saaay . . .:I caught on last episode that, during Robot Roll Call, the screen is showing bits of the current movie. I like it. I like it very much.

Most of the bumper bits have just been there. I’m fine with them, they add a bit of style, but right now they don’t do much for me. But there was a funny one this episode.

This movie is a stellar example of why it’s important to structure your story well. For most of its runtime, the movie is about quicksand and drunkards and a rich jerk willing to play dirty to rob the good guy of his cattle, all standard enough in a Western. The plot feels complete in itself, with the alleged beast just a vague rumor off to the side to add some spice. And then suddenly, it turns into a monster movie that just happens to be set in the West . . . and the titular beast turns out to be a dinosaur. Well, first it turns out to be a pair of laughably rubber feet stomping through a swamp, but then it’s a dinosaur.

You don’t change the genre at the last minute without so much as an old man warning “They say the beast is a creature unknown to mankind, a thing from ancient forgotten ages.” Or a mysterious shadow hanging over a stray calf and then pouncing. Some sort of build-up to the reveal. You certainly don’t abruptly change the rules in such a way that it ends up with a cowboy grinning idiotically as he swings back and forth over quicksand, because the characters are so ill-equipped to deal with this new menace that stupid plans are all they can use to fight it. All of this just makes your movie look badly executed.

I do like the waggly tongue, it gives the thing some character.

I got most of the music riffs this time.

The “costumes” host segment is a bit of a twist on the usual meta. The bots often want to play with an idea they saw in the movie, and then the human comes in and wants to know what they’re doing, the bots explain, and wackiness ensues. This time the bots are maddeningly, eerily silent, and drive everyone up the wall. And then there’s the Big Reveal as they enter the theater afterwards. It’s different and I like it, although Kinga could have done with an additional shot to more smoothly progress her breakdown.

Push the button: Another great episode, with more of the new season’s inventiveness.

Next time: Starcrash! And you know who that means . . . !


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