terror tapes

Get Over It
  • Get Over It
  • Timothy McVeigh
Play

A message from Timothy McVeigh to his victims. This recording is from the interviews Lou Michel conducted with him in prison to write American Terrorist.

I had no hesitation to look right at them and listen to their story, but I‘d like to say to them, I‘ve heard your story many times before. The specific details may be unique, but the truth is, you‘re not the first mother to lose a kid. You‘re not the first grandparent to lose a granddaughter or a grandson. I‘ll use the phrase, and it sounds cold, but I‘m sorry, I‘m going to use it, because it‘s the truth—get over it.

Final Segment (S02E06)

Wherein TV’s Frank, dressed as a chauffer, sings a tribute to Bela Lugosi’s chauffer/henchman Monk in The Phantom Creeps. In the background, patiently tolerant, Dr. Forrester reads a newspaper.

♪ If chauffeurs ruled the world
It’s what i’d like to see
‘Cause everyone in the world
would take a backseat to me ♫

♫ I wouldn’t have to drive
I wouldn’t have to steer
‘Cause all would bow down before me
in total abject fear ♪

♪ All the gorgeous babes
would worship at my feet
Why, I could have any one of them i want
even Meryl Streep ♫

♫ I have complete respect
for everyone on the planet
Including intellectuals,
even David Mamet ♪

♫ Tell me, why do i have to take
orders from this guy?
I’d like to drop him in a bucket of boiling grease
and watch him slowly die ♪

♪ If chauffeurs ruled the world
It’s what I’d like to see
‘Cause everyone in the world
would take a backseat to me ♫

(sobbing)
♫ If chauffeurs ruled the world
It’s what I’d like to see
But, I guess some other palooka will rule the world
No, not me… ♪

Apparently, Frank’s extensive electrical torture this week was insufficient to deter his insubordination. With Frank overcome by his own emotions, Clayton is once again forced to push the button himself. Also, we note with some delight Dr. Forrester’s sarcastic exhortation: “Push the button, Judy Garland.”

Host Segment 2 (S02E06)

Wherein Joel plays Doctor with his Bots. (Editor’s Note: *clears throat*)

This is a re-enactment of the autopsy scene from the film. Gypsy faints pretty quickly, apparently fairly sensitive to robo-gore. The subject of the autopsy is, as you can see, a vacuum cleaner. 

They do the same bit from the film, where it shows the clock on the wall, and the skeleton on display, to pad out the scene and imply the passage of time… and to show something other than the autopsy itself, which of course 1962 just can’t show.

Shamelessly, we now use the same technique to pad out this post. The second time they do the bit, Cambot catches Crow moving the hands of the clock ahead, ruining the illusion. It may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but this is a truly, deeply clever use of the show, the puppets, the whole medium. The Editor gapes slightly in awe.

Soon, Gypsy recovers from her fainting spell, and, bravely, resumes observing the dissection. It is still too much for her, however.

As Joel finishes removing the “stomach contents” inside the vacuum cleaner bag, Gypsy has hit her limit.

She emits a long groan and falls out of the shot again. This time, we hear a most unfortunate sound and although it’s obvious what we are hearing, Crow feels the need to announce what should be obvious to all: “Gypsy’s Chunking!”

Soon after, Joel goes elbow-deep into the bag in search of more, and both Crow and Servo are overcome as well, fainting. Deep inside the vacuum cleaner bag, Joel finds Movie Sign. This segment is all about the visuals, and we hope you enjoyed them.

Host Segment 1 (S02E06)

Joel & the Bots do a brief commercial for “The Old School.” It’s another one of those segments that centers around a series of illustrations:

This is a funny segment, to be sure, but we question the decision to use an entire host segment presenting the same material that serves as the workhorse through the entirety of this week’s film. We only question this decision in theory; in fact, this segment and the riffing on the same topic are both thoroughly funny. Regardless, it strikes us as an odd choice. There is, perhaps, a faint monotony to this entire episode, for indeed much of the riffing is about the age of the cast. It works, though; the Editor insists that a little monotony can be a good thing. In any case, The Brains were apparently quite taken with the humour inherent in the cast’s apparent age, and inserted this humour at every opportunity.

This illustration shows the bleachers, where the aged student body can relax in the style of recliner favored by the elderly. Joel, Tom Servo (whom Joel adresses as Thomas), and Crow take it in turns to list the features and amenities of the Old School campus. These are all focused on safety, accessibility, and your standard jokes at the expense of the elderly. None of it is overly mean-spirited, just references to blue rinses and hip surgery and the names of a few fairly ancient celebrities favored by the ancestors of 20th Century Americans.

Afterward, Joel & the Bots begin going over the actual curriculum offered at the Old School. They don’t actually read all of these aloud, so we will list them for your convenience, saving you the effort of squinting at the inadequate pixels on offer above and below. 

OLD SCHOOL CURRICULUM

Department of Health Studies

-102 Blue Rinses
-121 Corn Sanding
-213 Intermediate Crankiness
-355 Laxative Symposium (Lab)
-410 Walker Workshop
-500 Hearing Aid Maintenance

Department of Geriatric Behavior

-111 Napping
-241 Soup Slurping (Discussion and Lab)
-312 Television as a Drug
-456 Advanced Nodding Off

School of Social Skills

-534 Seminar: Advanced Check Paying and Tip Shorting
-556 Remembering Your Name
-600 Sex Without Heart Failure 

Nice. They conclude with the fact that The Old School guarantees acceptance to anyone over the age of 50. Right before that tantalizing offer, Joel & the Bots recite the school motto in unison: “Porcelanum Semper Epidernum”, which they translate as “Let’s get rid of those annoying liver spots!” The Editor suggests “Skin forever porcelain” as a literal translation, in the spirit of things, but notes that in truth these are nonsense pseudo-Latin terms, other than Semper of course, which is still fairly common in the 21st Century, for a Latin word. 

Joel asks Cambot to play some music from the film in the background at the start of this segment, and (with the commercial break removed) the transition back to the film is uncannily seamless. All that comes between is the brief reprise of the theme song used as background music for the bump after the commercials, seen above. As it happens, the scene in the film immediately following Host Segment 1 has this same music in the background. We are reasonably certain this is by design, rather than happenstance, but the effect is unique. Ordinarily, the Host Segments function as almost a refuge or escape from the film, or a breath of fresh air, to put it another way. The simple addition of music from the film creates the illusion that Joel & the Bots have stepped beyond the Silhouette and entered the film briefly, somehow. The effect is enhanced if you, as the Editor often does, “watch” this episode with your ears more than your eyes. As much as we love to watch MST3K, in the literal sense, we also find that it makes for most agreeable background noise.

All digressions aside, we like this segment, but we find it peculiar. The Editor sincerely hopes you find these peculiarities more interesting than the actual content of the Segment, as he does. It is funny! Don’t misinterpret our peculiar fascination. The material is fairly simple, however, and we find all this far more interesting.

Host Segment 3 (S02E06)

It is with some considerable melancholy that the Editor now offers you the final installment of Good Thing/Bad Thing. There will be no further offers of RAM Chips in exchange for a good thing and a bad thing about the movie.

In this final game, Servo and Crow struggle to come up with anything good about the movie, but make valiant effort to subliminally influence Joel to give them a RAM Chip anyway. They do this by simply saying ‘RAM chips’ as many times as possible, and whispering it occasionally while Joel is talking.

In the end, Joel denies them their RAM chips, awarding one only to himself, which he gives to Gypsy. Somewhat chastisingly, Joel informs Servo and Crow that the only good thing about Ring of Terror was that it was really short. We are inclined to agree. 

But wait! It’s not over yet! The film is over, so Joel goes to read a letter, but the Mads interrupt to inflict their surprise helping of Bela Lugosi and The Phantom Creeps. Joel & the Bots seem quite shocked and groan to express their dread.

Ring of Terror (1962 - USA)

Put the silhouette of theatre seats behind you for a moment and look at this film. Try not to die from fright. If you’re wondering, my friends, we’re here to tell you that it is indeed possible to die from fright. However, there is nothing particularly special about the fear emotion in this situation. You’re not really dying from fright, you’re dying from the effects of adrenaline on your heart. Fear is not a necessary element in the equation. It could just as easily be any other emotion you can feel strongly; you could just as easily die from excitement or anger.

We mention all this in the light of this week’s film’s thrilling* conclusion. Startled by an adorable kitty, the film’s protagonist unintentionally snags the hand of a corpse with his clothing, causing it to move unexpectedly. In response, he clutches at his throat and drops dead. 

Aww, sorry friends, did we spoil the ending? The Editor regrets to inform you that we have no regrets. The ending is basically the only thing that happens in this film. Our man Moffitt, the protagonist, is attending a very confusingly depicted medical school. For an hour, or a bit less, he circles the drain with his friends. They appear aimlessly in scenes which seem to have little to do with one another other than the fact that they are next to each other in the film. Imagine a very young child telling you a story wherein every sentence begins with the phrase “and then.” The protagonist has a nightmare, the protagonist attends an autopsy, the protagonist is socializing with friends, and eventually, the ending rolls around. It’s an extremely benign film, wherein very little happens.

We begrudgingly admit that the autopsy scene is almost interesting. We find it interesting to consider how little is actually shown in the scene, in terms of both the autopsy itself and the students’ reactions to it. At this time, in 1962, the simple notion of vomiting is too extreme and disgusting to even allude to, so the reactions are limited to fainting and leaving the room. Reluctantly, we might be convinced to admit that leaving the room implies vomiting, but it does so very, very mildly. 

This is our point exactly: for this film, in its time, simple vomiting is too extreme for anything but the mildest implication, yet this scene is primarily concerned with presenting the gastrovascular dissection of the human body. What could be more distasteful than the complete dissection of a human being? Well, bless them, they went for it. In fact, all you really see in this scene is the clock on the wall, the skeleton on display, and a sheet that supposedly conceals a corpse.

Okay, enough dissection talk. Remember bright sunshine, fuzzy animals, and happy things, my friends, and please forgive us for the dark diversion. We must also address the peculiar institution depicted in this film. Many, many jokes are had at the expense of the cast and their apparently advanced age, far beyond what one might reasonably expect from college students. However, The Editor has considered the idea that these students are engaged in some form of post-graduate study, well on their way to being real doctors, and could well be expected to be a bit older than your average autumn freshman. 

Not so fast, though! What about the remedial plot of the film, such as it is? We see our cast concerned with fraternity initiations and dance parties, living in dorms, and doing things that one tends to associate with the undergraduate, ‘college’-in-all-caps-on-a-t-shirt lifestyle. Thus, at the end, we have no conclusion. This strange school full of peculiarly aged students in inexplicable and follows no logic other than that which was dictated by the screenplay.

So, back to that ending. It’s Mister Moffitt’s Fraternity initiation to steal the ring from the man the students saw dissected. His hand, featuring this ring, is shown falling out from under the sheet as the corpse is wheeled away post-dissection. This is the only real hint of the corpse we ever see in the autopsy scene, in fact. Anyway, they send Moffitt into the mausoleum to snag the ring and prove his manhood. An adorable kitty named Puma startles him and, as we already described, he snags the dead man’s hand and scares himself to death. Honestly, we believe credit for this kill should go to Puma.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention Puma’s owner. This film, as an obvious form of padding, makes use of a storytelling device called a “Frame Story.” Think of the old guy reading the book to Fred Savage in the film The Princess Bride, or think of any novel you’ve ever read that started with a scene where one character starts telling/reading a story to another character or characters. Well, now, stop thinking about that stuff, because this frame story isn’t like that. It doesn’t add anything to the presentation, nor does it provide any interest unto itself. It goes like this:

The graveyard keeper goes looking for his wandered-off kitty. He shouts its name in iconic fashion (”Puma? Puma?”) and eventually finds it. Then, wandering back, one of the gravestones sparks his memory for no apparent reason and he starts rambling about the story of the dead man interred below. This man, Moffitt, was our protagonist, the medical student who was scared of the dark, didn’t want to admit it, then got scared to death by a kitty. 

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