Mystery Science Theater 3000: FUGITIVE ALIEN   Rewatch 
July 11, 2020 9:52 AM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Rewatch! Sunday-- Ken is a Star Wolf, a member of a ruthless band of space raiders from the planet Valna, who unexpectedly develops a conscience and saves an Earth woman and sun from a comrade. He is labeled a traitor and is force to team up with hard-drinking earthling Captain Joe and his crew on the old spaceship Bacchus III. I love this episode. The movie is goofy but watchable (and as Joel and co note in the sequel, the music legitimately rocks), the jokes are funny and on-point, and in a series filled to overflowing with memorable moments, gives us several great ones, culminating in the classic lyric: "HE TRIIIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT!" Olé! Previously Below the fold, some comments about the movie.

Fugitive Alien is one of those pieced-together movies assembled from a TV series. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is no stranger to these, and in every one, their mockery is justified. But sometimes I wonder if, in this case, before it was chopped up and stitched back together by one Sandy Frank, there might have been something there, something that, at times, shines through the editing and dubbing?

The original Star Wolf show was one of those many many science fiction media properties released on the heels of the original Star Wars, a record-shattering cultural phenomenon that continues to warp our culture (and, obviously, others) with its outsized influence. I've seen shots from the last episodes that outright put protagonist Ken in Han Solo's outfit; this influence cannot be denied. It turns out the show is based on a US-American series of novels, The Weapon From Beyond, The Closed Worlds and World of the Starwolves, by Edmund Hamilton.

Ken's one of those often-encountered Japanese media protagonists, the troubled, formerly-evil loaner who becomes a Good Person. But the other characters are iconic in their own ways. Captain Joe (which is close to his Japanese name) has a certain appeal, a man who drinks and takes dangerous missions because of the death of his family at the hands of Ken's old friends the Star Wolves. Rocky (again?) and Tammy aren't also-rans to fill out the cast but have personalities, which is more than we can say for remaining crew member, That One Other Guy Who We Don't Really Know. There's also side character Irulen, whose side is uncertain to the end, and has a burst of conscience that goes the opposite way of Ken's (in the second movie), where he abandons the mission he's on with the crew and tries to get them caught! And in this movie, Ken's girlfriend dies in his arms, but still thinking ill of Ken! Touches like that, and bright perky young Tammy's expressed desire to die in a blaze of glory, those are the little moments that both make you kind of do a double-take, and elevate this show above just being a plain ol' space opera. Ken has problems.

I've seen episodes of the original (although not dubbed or subbed, so I didn't get much out of them), but the opening and closing sequences, at least, are great. I've made a FPP about them before, although some of the links have decayed. Here's one that still works, containing several pieces including the famous "Forklift Song." Sadly, the awesome closing theme is very hard to Google for, since Big G assumes anything you search for involving the words "Star Wolf" has to refer to a Nintendo game. Here's a piano arrangement. The music was written by Yuki Hide, who composed music for a number of tokusatsu shows, including "Japanese Spider-Man," and sadly passed away in 1998.
posted by JHarris (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"HE TRIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT" is one of those things that I will periodically hear in my head until the day I die, I think.
posted by jordemort at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Not to derail, but it was like the 45th time I watched Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid when it dawned on me Lucas had stole Han Solo's look from Kris Krisstofferson as Billy The Kid. Minus the hat, of course.
posted by valkane at 8:06 PM on July 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

MST Club, Sunday social distancing edition, is happening tonight (Sunday) at 7 PM Eastern (4 PM Pacific), at The Sunday edition is a bit different now, the episode begins right at 7!
posted by JHarris at 3:28 PM on July 12, 2020

Sunday shows have been getting fewer people lately, so we may go back to just Thursdays soon. It's just me and Snake right at 7 this week, so we'll probably save the episode for later today, maybe at 9.
posted by JHarris at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2020

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