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Film / Ring of Terror

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I Feared Not
—Epitaph of Lewis Moffett

A 1962 "Horror"/"Suspense" movie, about the dangers of college fraternity hazing rituals, which is pretty much notable only for its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (along with an episode of the Film Serial The Phantom Creeps).

Lewis Moffett is a 42-year-old — er, fresh-faced young medical student who wows his college classmates with his amazing fearlessness. He watches an autopsy unflinchingly even as the others are fainting and getting sick, and he effortlessly kills a garter snake which threatens his nookie time with the girlfriend. But Lewis is harboring a Dark Secret: his bravery is a complete fraud. See, when Lewis was a little boy, he was forced to sleep in the same house with his just-deceased grandfather's casket, and as a result developed a secret fear of the dark and/or dead bodies.


Coincidentally enough, the leaders of the fraternity Lewis wants to join have decided to base Lewis' Initiation Ceremony around his supposed bravado: Late at night, Lewis must sneak into the masoleum where the body from the autopsy has been interned, and return with the corpse's ring. Unfortunately for Lewis, a screeching cat and a dead hand hanging up on his coat prove too much for him, and the middle-aged guy with the weak ticker — I mean, the fit young man promptly dies of a heart attack.

There's also some sort of subplot about a couple of overweight college lovers; this quickly devolves into an Overly Long Gag and eventually degenerates into Dude, Not Funny!, and really isn't worth going into here.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.


This film uses the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Targets: Fat people (In-Universe, and presumably out as well); Tiny and Rag Doll, despite being part of the group of friends, are actually a target of the others' laughter, and it's never clear if the others are laughing with them or at them.
  • Cat Scare: Subverted, in that it's the cat scare that actually does Lewis in. Played straight with a tree branch and a tombstone trip hazard.
  • Dawson Casting: Exaggerated with the "22"-year-old Lewis; actor George Mather was twice that age. The other students don't look to be much younger themselves.
    Servo: Son, can you get that-? Oh, right. I'm a college student.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / Embarrassing Nickname: The overweight guy is called Tiny which is only mildly embarrassing, but the overweight woman is called Rag Doll for some unknown but cringe-worthy reason. Their real names are never mentioned.
  • Framing Device: The creepy caretaker.
  • Fearless Fool / Miles Gloriosus: Zig-zagged; Lewis seems genuinely fearless, even watching a (purportedly) gruesome autopsy without flinching; but it turns out that due to a childhood incident involving his dead grandfather, he's deathly afraid of the dark.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Based upon Lewis' Fearless Fool persona, his fraternity sends him to collect a ring from a recently interned corpse.
  • Irony: Given Lewis' exhortation to Betty about worrying too much about what "They" think, it's kinda odd that he does the same himself (projecting a front of fearlessness so others won't think he's chicken).
  • Lost Aesop: Lewis' soliloquy about "They".
  • Overly Long Gag: see Acceptable Targets.
    • "Pu-ma? Pu-ma!"
  • Satellite Love Interest: Pretty much all of them, but Lewis' girlfriend Betty stands out most (mainly because she gets the most screentime).
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Plenty of 'em during the autopsy. Tiny actually faints... twice.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: A rare male, non-romantic variant. An acquaintance of Lewis is killed in a car accident; when Lewis and his buddy attend the visitation (they alone), a stray breeze blows out the candles, revealing Lewis' fear of the dark. As Crow T. Robot points out, it seems the only reason this "character" existed was to die, and that only to establish Lewis' phobia; being horribly mangled in a car wreck ("He must have been going over a hundred miles an hour!") adds a disturbingly mean vibe to it.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Betty comes off as a bit of a nag after Lewis stands her up to attend a late-night class. But after conceding he had no choice (had he missed the class he'd have flunked out), she reveals the real reason she's unhappy with him: his Fearless Fool act. She tries to justify it by observing that his lack of caution could drive him to do something dangerous, but this is couched in a throwaway line and then quickly glossed over. (Of course, she ultimately proves correct, after a fashion.)
  • "Youth" Is Wasted On The Dumb: College hazing is bad.


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