MST3K Review: The Hellcats (209)
By Matt Jones Tuesday, 15 May 2007

1. The Movie: Good/Bad

Okay, so I probably shouldn’t be giving this episode two ratings. But I kinda backed myself into a corner with the guidelines I made, so I’m shit outta luck. I call the movie in this episode “Good/Bad” because the movie itself is almost schizophrenic. One the one hand, you have the “plot”. Because this episode is edited to hell(hell, this was apparently one of those “grindhouse” movies back in the day), the freaking plot is almost non-existant. To be honest, a lot of it is hypothesis of mine after watching this episode multiple times. So here goes:

PLOT: The Hellcats are a biker gang that likes to get high and have a good time. They run drugs from Mexico to some big boss guy who likes to have oily dudes around him. The movie starts at a funeral for one of the Hellcats, who apparently was working with the cops (who just happen to be there to fill us in on this backstory) and was about to rat them all out. Turns out this is the brother of Ross Hagen (Monte, the main character) and the wife of Linda (who Ross makes out with, which is kinda weird to make out with your dead brother’s wife not one week after he’s dead). Monte apparently was in the Army, and has lots of moments of speaking of peace, but he agrees to inflitrate the Hellcats to take over for his brother and try to bring the drug ring down. He succeeds in winning them over, becoming the leader of the crew with some stupid tractor pull, and makes out with other women in the gang. When a trafficking expedition goes wrong, the cops start to get evidence on the Hellcats and the big boss man starts to make his moves. It all ends with the Hellcats winning, the big boss man getting his come-uppance, and Monte eventually loving hi motorcycle (big fucking whoop).

So, this plot sucks, it makes no sense when you watch the episode, and frankly, the plot slows the movie down by it’s complete idiocy. So why the Good/Bad? Because there is everything else that has nothing to do with the plot. It’s the crappy songs, drug-induced idiocy of the gang, and the five minute interludes of nothing but riding motorcycles that makes me like this episode. It sets up comments from Joel and the Bots perfectly. Which leads me to….something other than the riffing. (Damn transitions.)

The Host Segments:

Okay, weakest part of the episode by far, one of the weakest bunch of host segments in the season.

SOL Invention Exchange – Sign language translator. This is actually pretty funny and a good idea. Joel does his prop magic to create a sign language translator. Speak into the funnel, and it automatically translates your words into sign language! GOOD IDEA! It also references older episode, like Sidehackers (202).

Deep 13 Invention Exchange: None. Oops? No invention exchange. But the hobby hogs from Wild Rebels (207) are back because, of course, this is a biker film. Hilarity ensues.

This episode has “flashbacks” to older host segments, which is funny in theory. In theory that they are mocking flashback episodes from a normal sitcom, it is funny. In reality, it’s watching funny you’ve already seen. What’s even more confusing, they flash back to Season 1, which has a different set and a DIFFERENT VOICE FOR TOM SERVO! WTF? It’s really not funny. But what is funny…(yay transitions!)

The Riffs:

A lot of people think that Joel and the Bots didn’t do such a good job with this episode. I couldn’t disagree more. I really like this episode’s riffing. It’s almost a perfect slice of the laid back, take your time with the jokes style of delivery that personified Season 2 and, to an extent, Season 3. Though the true Golden Age of MST3K began with Godzilla vs. Megalon (212), this episode shows what they do best: make fun of the film, have personality and criticize each other’s riffs (they really become self-aware of their riffing in this season), don’t force too many jokes where they don’t belong, try their best to get through the episode with a light spirit by the end, and one of the big things that MST3K eventually gave up: reference previous episodes. I watched this episode on tape before I had seen all the other Season 2 episodes that came before this one. Once I downloaded and watched those old episodes, it was like a new light was cast on the jokes. They reference not only the older biker episodes, but lots of other episodes from Season 1 and Season 2. It might seem like a small thing, but it leads to a greater appreciation of EVERY episode when you are reminded of that episode later on. It makes the series a whole, instead of just individual episodes, strung along by the premise. Some might not notice or care, but it makes a big difference to me.

All in all, I’m giving this a Good, because the film is schizo on the quality and the host segments are weak, but in my opinion, once you’ve watched the previous Season 2 episodes, you’ll agree that the riffing helps this episode out tremendously and it really is the “forgotten episode” in terms of riffing quality.

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