Recap: Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 09 E 12 The Screaming Skull

Okay, who turned up the heat on the hot tub?

Films watched: Robot Rumpus (short) and The Screaming Skull

"Remember folks, if you die of boredom you do not get a free coffin. Sorry."
Crow T. Robot, Mystery Science Theater 3000

Notable for being the last MST3K that ever aired on cable TV, when its rerun contract with the Sci Fi Network expired on the end of January 2004.

The Segments:

Prologue
  • Servo changed into a beautiful butterfly! His proboscis grosses out Mike though.

Segment 1
  • Mike finds Servo back to normal, but the proboscis is still there. At Castle Forrester, Pearl urges Mike, Crow and Servo to put on their penguin costumes. They put on their animal costumes, but reveal the futility of Pearl's prank.

Segment 2
  • Traumatized from today's short, Crow and Servo show Mike their clay world, where well meaning robots are oppressed by quirky clay mounds. As the two Bots break down from the clay mounds' prejudice, Mike makes a note to Pearl, for her to go easy on the Gumby shorts.

Segment 3
  • Crow and Servo crank call the film's distributors for their free coffins, but their plan goes too far ahead as Servo ends up ordering one.

Segment 4
  • Crow scares Mike as a screaming skull, but Mike goes overboard with fear.

Segment 5
  • The coffins arrive at the SOL, which Mike signs for a unwilling Servo. Bobo, in a monkey costume, calls Mike and the Bots for his urgent message, but receives their disapproval. He gets shrinked by Brain Guy for his trouble.


The presentation of Robot Rump as examples of:

  • Blooper: In Universe, Mike calls out the tip of Gumby's head being on the wrong side (viewer's left instead of right) at the Clokey Production vanity card.
  • Brain Bleach: The ending of the short cause Servo and Crow to go into Heroic BSOD.
    Servo: AHHH! They hung his head! Oh...
    Crow: Now I'm ready for years of powerful Adlerian therapy, Mike.
    Servo: They hung his head. Oh-oh, this is worse than Se7en! (moans)
  • The Chew Toy:
    Mike: (as Gumby) Hey, you can throw things through dad! I'm gonna get an anvil.
  • Groin Attack:
    Mike: (as Gumbo) Thank goodnes for internal genitalia.

  • Naked People Are Funny: During Robot Rumpus it was never an issue in any of the Gumby series, but MST3K brought it up.
    Narrator: But on this day, something unexpected happened.
    Mike: Gumby was nude.
    • And later when they first see Gumbo:
    Servo: So he just goes to work starkers?
  • Oh, the Humanity!: "Oh, in the name of all that is clay!"
  • Running Gag: Pokey taking a dump during Robot Rumpus.
  • Shout-Out: To Wallace & Gromit and Davey and Goliath in the short, and to Fiddler on the Roof during the film.
    • After Gumbo has a wrench thrown through his body and it heals itself, the crew gasp loudly, then Servo says "liquid metal!"
    • When Gumbo says to Gumby in a James Earl Jones-like voice, "There's only one way to stop that robot now.", Servo follows with, "On CNN."

The presentation of The Screaming Skull as examples of:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: invoked Mike sees Mickey the groundskeeper as a dangerous serial killer masquerading as a simpleton. Servo throws it back in his face.
    Crow: C'mon Mike, how is he any different than you?
  • Complexity Addiction: Pearl's plan to embarrass Mike and the Bots is really a badly-thought-out and lame plan on Pearl's part.
    "All we had to do was call fifty-three costume shops to find one that had three penguin costumes, reserve them eight months in advance with a huge cash deposit, then pay a balance of eight hundred and ninety-nine dollars per costume to rent them for an hour, then put them on, then wait until you guys woke up and finished breakfast, then call you and make believe that we had set up an appointment for you all to wear penguin costumes, and then... you fell for it! It was so simple!"
  • Creator Breakdown: In-Universe. After seeing the short, Crow and Servo spend a host segment doing a skit about poor innocent robots being victimized by obnoxious clay creatures. They can't even finish it because they're so distraught.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Discussed.
    Mike: You know, have people wised up to hiring people like this?
    Crow: Oh c'mon Mike, how is he any different from you?
  • Epic Fail: Pearl's penguin prank, as described above. She desperately tries to save face, but Bobo and Brain Guy are resigned to it.
    Brain Guy: (sobbing) We're so stupid!
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: "In the name of all that is good and decent, gentlemen, put on your penguin costumes!"
  • Faking the Dead: In order to try to scam his way to a free coffin, Servo calls up the film's distributors and claims that he his friend died while watching it. He panics and tries to back out, but ends up having to pay shipping both ways on his coffin (on Mike's credit card).
  • Forced Perspective: A gratuitous shot of Bobo being held in Brain Guy's fist, as punishment for dressing up like an ape.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Jenny: (referring to the book she's reading) It's called Beast in the Jungle.
    Servo: It's about what to expect on my honeymoon.
  • Gone Horribly Right: During a host segment, Crow has set himself up like a screaming skull in order to scare Mike. One little "scream" sends Mike into screaming hysterics. Worse, Mike (still screaming) gets a hold of a bat and then a golf club...
    • Then they calm him down by convincing him it's just Crow pulling a prank. Only for Crow to perform another little "scream", sending Mike into screaming hysterics again and swinging the golf club, taking the top of Servo's head in his panicked attack.
  • Jump Cut: During the movie, there's a very noticeable skip in the film stock, causing Servo to dub Jenni's voice: "The film broke and it was horrible!" as she fearfully runs into Eric's arms.
  • Kubrick Stare: How Mike and the Bots react to Bobo's failed prank.
  • Metamorphosis: In the first host segment, Tom Servo has become a beautiful butterfly! By the second segment, he's back to normal.
    Servo: I'm still a beautiful butterfly, Mike. I've just had a few unfortunate happenstances, such as my wings being torn off in an industrial accident. Well that depressed me, so I ate a lot of Mallomars and gained all the weight back, but I was soon feeling better and went back to work. But alas, someone turned on the Extruder while I was cleaning it, and my bottom two pairs of delicate butterfly legs were ripped from me. Again depressed, I hit the Pecan Sandies - hard - and gained my remaining weight back in my remaining arms. My arms, by now in a metabolic frenzy, started to leech fat from my antennae, which made them so thin as to be invisible. But I am still a beautiful butterfly, Mike, and butterflies are free to fly... fly away... high away... bye-bye...
    • Almost normal.
    Servo: (brightly) But I still have my proboscis!
  • Obligatory Joke: When the skull rises from a smoky pond,
    Mike: You guys might be tempted to make a "Smoke on the Water" here, but I urge you to refrain.
    Crow: Okay.
  • Offer Void In Nebraska: Crow's response to the disclaimer at the film's start. "Offer void in Utah, Florida, and Arizona. Taxes and acquisition fee not included. Must take delivery of dealer's stock."
  • Pun
    • As Mickey is in the greenhouse,
    Mike: He's growing pot!
    Crow: Wow, did you see that!? He just threw that stool at him. That was a hard stool. He should have at least used some stool softener.
    Mike: Okay, okay!
    • Later:
    Mike: Now that's a real dead head.
    Servo: Oh, Mike...
    Mike: Well, it is.
  • Running Gag:
    • Referring back to the movie's promise of free burial services if you die of fright while watching it.
  • Screaming Woman:
    • When Eric hears Jenni's screams
    Crow: Oh great, she's play her Yoko Ono albums.
    Mike: I think the title was supposed to be Screaming; Skull.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The skull's knocking is compared to Gandalf and Martin Luther.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: At the title card,
    Crow: Yep, when you think shocking horror, you think German oom-pah music!