Mystery Science Theater 3000: CARNIVAL MAGIC
June 28, 2017 11:35 PM - Season 11, Episode 12 - Subscribe

"Elvin Feltner Presents..." A two-bit magician at a one-bit carnival turns out to have the one thing that could make his act quasi-bearable, a sorta-talking chimpanzee. If animals could talk what would they say? According to this movie, absolutely nothing of interest. Beware guys, this movie is the closest we come in Season 11 to the abysmal category, the realm of Manos, Hobgoblins and Monster A-Go-Go. The carnival itself puts out some serious Pirates World vibes. In subplot news, Kinga reveals her diabolical plan to increase her ratings by marrying Jonah. Oh, and there's a guest appearance by someone you may have heard of: Mark Hamill. Episode 1112 is available on Netflix.

Episode 1112 CARNIVAL MAGIC
MST3K Wikia - MST3K Discussion Board - TVTropes

On Past Magazine's Season 11 list, Carvinal Magic turns up 8th, but it also says it's the worst film of Season 11. Uh-oh.

Movie:
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics N/A, Viewers 0%!) - Wikipedia - TVTropes
IMDB (1981, 2.5 stars)
Directed by Al Adamson. Written by Mark Weston, Bob Levine and Elvin Feltner. Starring Don Stewart, Jennifer Houlton, Howard Segal, and Linda Sherwood and Trudi the Chimp as the voice and body of Alex.

Notes:
Is this movie in Manos territory? Discuss. It seems to give off a good amount of Torgo Radiation. By my reckoning, the bottom tier of MST movies consists of:
  • 107 ROBOT MONSTER
  • 110 ROBOT HOLOCAUST
  • 321 SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS
  • 421 MONSTER A-GO-GO
  • 424 MANOS: THE HAND OF FATE
  • 506 EEGAH
  • 515 THE WILD WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN
  • 603 THE DEAD TALK BACK
  • 606 THE CREEPING TERROR
  • 609 THE SKYDIVERS
  • 612 THE STARFIGHTERS
  • 619 RED ZONE CUBA
  • 621 THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS
  • 812 THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES
  • 822 OVERDRAWN AT THE MEMORY BANK
  • 907 HOBGOBLINS
  • 1005 THE BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z
  • 1006 BOGGY CREEK II: AND THE LEGEND CONTINUES
posted by JHarris (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
On the Wednesday/Thursday schedule of the Shout Factory/Twitch MST3K Marathon, every other episode was on the 'bottom tier' list, allowing me to doze off early in 612 THE STARFIGHTERS, wake up briefly in 619 RED ZONE CUBA, and start the new morning midway into 515 THE WILD WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:05 AM on June 29


Here's a fun trick: when you watch this with someone for the first time, lean over to them every fifteen minutes or so and say, in the style of Ed Wynn trying to be enchanting, "Carnival Maaagiiiiiiiiic!"

I hope nobody out there watched this while in the throes of clinical depression, because man, it needs a warning label or something. It's actually even worse than Girl in Lovers Lane in that regard.

Is this movie in Manos territory? Discuss. It seems to give off a good amount of Torgo Radiation.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like Wizards II is a worse film than this, but it's more watchable, and…somehow less unsettling, despite being pretty undeniably icky.

Carnival Magic does share with Manos that quality of all but one* of the actors visibly wondering if prison time would be better than being in it. (* = Not the chimp, either; I'm referring to the Carnival Warrior-Philosopher Dude.) It's hard to quantify. Radiation is a good way to describe it.

And let's not forget that self-congratulatory parade sequence at the end, the steaming deuce the movie drops on your face just when you thought it was over, which is actually so much worse than Manos's "The End?"

Mark Hamill's song was great fun, though.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:41 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I've rewatched Carnival Magic several times in an effort to understand it. Why is this movie? How is this movie? Was it meant to be a comedy? A family film? A tax write-off? I need to know.

THAT'S ALL FOR NOW
SEE YOU AGAIN IN CARNIVAL MAGIC 2
posted by Servo5678 at 8:06 AM on June 29 [8 favorites]


MST Club!

Every Thursday some of us MeFi MSTies get together to watch an episode (or two) on the internet. You should come with! The site this week is https://www.rabb.it/rodneylives.

Tonight's schedule:
7 PM ET/4 PM PT: 1112 CARNIVAL MAGIC
8:30/5:30: Intermission - YouTube Potluck
9 PM/6 PM: TBA - 805 isn't on YouTube, we will see if we can find a workaround
posted by JHarris at 12:28 PM on June 29


The thing about Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II is that it has genre tropes to give it SOME structure. It's certainly very, very bad, but everybody knew roughly their places ("I'm a kooky old wizard!" "I'm a hormonal teen!" etc.) and the audience can read the quality and the stereotypes and roughly orient their expectations.

Carnival Magic fails so spectacularly at communicating what it's trying to achieve that it lives in a storytelling space unbound by convention, which is a bit of a kick to watch, in a weird way. The way I look at it, movies like that are difficult to watch 9 times out of 10, but the tenth time is Zardoz.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 2:41 PM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: The tenth time is Zardoz.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on June 29


This is one of those ones I feel like I need a shower after watching.

Also: Why make the ape's damned voice completely unintelligible and almost inaudible? That's your big selling point, make it so we can hear him!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:11 PM on June 29


Yeah, this is going to be difficult to rewatch. Star Crash and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom #1, I look forward to rewatching. Some, I just forgot they existed. This one... Ugh.
posted by isthmus at 11:18 PM on June 29


This is the only new episode I have not watched completely. I find the whole movie so depressing, and there was something off about the talking chimp. This episode gives me the same unwatchable vibe I get from Devil Doll ("Your Cruelty Amuses Us!")

I'd rather watch Manos. Or Batwoman. Or any Coleman Francis movie.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:02 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]




Oh thank God. I was worried I was the only one who heard the ape talking.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 10:14 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


Oh thank God. I was worried I was the only one who heard the ape talking.

Around the time the season originally dropped, I read a rumor that the talking-chimp subplot was a last-minute decision made 100% in post-production. I haven't gone back to do this myself yet, but supposedly if you watch closely, you never see any of the human characters reacting to Alex talking on-screen, only in dubbed in dialogue on cutaways. It does make the whole evil goateed ape researcher plot point harder to explain, but then again nothing else in the movie makes much sense either.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:48 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


You will believe a chimpanzee and sweep a floor!
posted by ckape at 11:04 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


By which I mean
You will believe a chimpanzee can sweep a floor!
posted by ckape at 11:20 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


supposedly if you watch closely, you never see any of the human characters reacting to Alex talking on-screen, only in dubbed in dialogue on cutaways

Oh god, you're going to make me watch this movie again. And with careful attention!
posted by Servo5678 at 12:36 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


"No, honey- the ape is trying to tell you that you should probably be wearing a bra.

Also that the way all three of these much older men behave towards you is completely inappropriate, and that includes your father."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:30 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


This episode is a mixed bag for me. The film itself I can only describe as "dreary," but a couple of the host segments are great. Mark Hamill's appearance was a lot of fun. But the bit that really stole the show was the one where Crow was dressed up as the chimp. I don't know why it made me laugh the way it did, maybe I'm just an easy mark for Crow in a costume, but something about Crow's weird, affectless "Looks like rain...My ankle's sore...Still rainin'" just cracked me up.
posted by MrBadExample at 10:02 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I thought this movie was absolutely hilarious. My 3rd-favorite episode just because of how ridiculously inexplicably bad the movie was.

I read that it was meant as a kids movie, and it certainly seems like one in the way the dialog is written... but it was written by someone who has never met a child. What do children like? Why, obviously, creepy circuses, inappropriate sexuality, monkeys that talk but only in matter-of-fact monosyllables, and a thick layer of depression!

I hope nobody out there watched this while in the throes of clinical depression, because man, it needs a warning label or something.

I did and it actually cheered me up quite a bit. But then again I have a weird sense of humor.
posted by mmoncur at 4:38 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


The murder of this film's director is documented in this episode of New Detectives which I haven't yet gotten around to watching.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:45 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Just to rest Phobos the Space Potato's mind at ease, who was worried of maybe having to hunt up Wizards of the Lost Kingdom's sequel when it was revealed there was one: although this movie promises a sequel "More Carnival Magic" at the end, there is no record of it at the IMDB. I suspect it never got made.

I've already collected a good number of things for YouTube Potluck this week. Just warning you guys, I'm bringing my Z-game. (The opposite of an A-game.)
posted by JHarris at 7:38 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


More Carnival Magic went through a long and tortuous journey and after extensive changes was finally released as Die Hard.
posted by ckape at 7:51 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


Markov was rewritten as Hans Gruber, naturally.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:15 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


although this movie promises a sequel "More Carnival Magic" at the end, there is no record of it at the IMDB. I suspect it never got made.

I assumed that the second movie would literally just be all of the unused footage from the first Carnival Magic, since it's pretty much just generic documentary footage of a carnival interspersed with soap opera walk-and-talk segments featuring the same five characters. I figured that the filmmakers had come up with enough "plot" (such as it is) for two movies, and just shot everything at the same time. If so, there's a chance that footage might still exist somewhere...
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:42 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


If so, there's a chance that footage might still exist somewhere...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:42 PM on July 3


I think this one got more out loud laughs from me than any of the previous. All the SOL bits were gold.
posted by rodlymight at 10:59 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I assume the Hamill cameo and Kinga-Jonah plot stuff was added on to this episode because the actual film would be just too fucking dreary to sit through otherwise. I mean, good lord, this is rough, even with the riffing.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:06 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I mentioned this when we were watching the "movie," (the conglomeration of depressing footage anyway) but I thought I'd preserve for posterity the fact that, after I saw this for the first time (why did I watch it a second time?) I actually had a dream about it wherein Carnival Magic had been turned into a Broadway musical, complete with a fully-realized Playbill design.

-The car chase was a big tapdance number
-The evil scientist and Kirk had a duet called "If I Could Get My Hands On Him," but the scientist was talking about the monkey and Kirk was talking about Markov
-Markov had a big solo number called "Markov Unchained"
-There was a chimpanzee rap that was mostly unintelligible
-The cops definitely had a comic relief number

I sort of lost the thread at that point, but I'm guessing it was a worse flop than Carrie.
posted by ilana at 12:19 PM on July 4 [10 favorites]


-The evil scientist and Kirk had a duet called "If I Could Get My Hands On Him," but the scientist was talking about the monkey and Kirk was talking about Markov

That is a fantastic idea for a villain song duet.

Also, I'm totally on board with Strange Interlude's theory that the talking monkey aspect was added in post. Maybe the amazing thing about Alex was originally supposed to be the way that Markov can order him around and he reacts appropriately ("What does he do?" "Whatever I tell him to."), which makes it clearer why Kirk in particular is so threatened -- because that's more or less exactly what Kirk's act is -- but then somebody decided that it wasn't special enough to explain completely turning the carnival's fortunes around.

Which also explains something else, namely why the fuck the vivisectionist wants Alex and not, like, a Francine Patterson-like animal psychologist. If Alex is just a slightly-more-intelligent-than-usual chimp, then sure, examine his brain to figure out what makes him slightly-more-intelligent. But if he actually fucking talks, you could learn way more by, you know, talking to him.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:36 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I am able to suspend a lot of disbelief for this movie but I draw the line at being able to learn anything from talking with Alex.
posted by ckape at 2:13 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


I actually had a dream about it wherein Carnival Magic had been turned into a Broadway musical, complete with a fully-realized Playbill design.

Does "Girl in Car" get her own song?
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:43 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Markov had a big solo number called "Markov Unchained"

My unconscious is not nearly this clever.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:31 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


I think that, because of how inexplicably dull and horrible this one was, it was a stand-out for me. Also, the guys reacting to the chimp doing menial tasks killed me.
posted by codacorolla at 7:27 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that gag was pretty good.

Also, I just had a thought: with the stupid "missing link" stuff the doc talks about, what are the odds this was originally about bigfoot or something? Maybe the chimp was originally supposed to have some kind of additional costuming to look less like a plain old chimp and more humanoid, but they couldn't get that to work because, well, it's a fucking chimp. So they replaced the bigfoot thing with the chimp being able to talk.

WHY CAN'T I STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS DEEPLY STUPID MOVIE.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:34 AM on July 7 [4 favorites]


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