Mystery Science Theater 3000: ROCKET ATTACK USA, with THE PHANTOM CREEPS, part 2
February 4, 2015 7:54 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

(1960, Color, Cold War, Propaganda) "From another continent... DESTRUCTION!!! PANIC!! ...before the Rocket Strikes! You'll live, MAYBE!!!" Heroic spies fail to stop the Soviet Union from launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. A movie that reminds us that fearmongering in the media has been with us for a long time. Of particular note, Daddy-O informs us that director Barry Mahon went on to make adult films, then kids movies. He made, believe it or not, the infamous, legendary Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. YouTube (1h38m) First shown October 27, 1990.

Satellite News - Daddy-O

Note: Annotated MST3K has yet to cover this episode.

IMDB (1.4 stars)
"A cold-war propaganda film, released not too long after the launch of Sputnik, intended to rally public support for an anti-ballistic missile program. Based on the assumption that Sputnik is gathering intelligence for the Soviets, a spy is sent to Moscow to determine just how far along their missile program is. Surprise, surprise; Sputnik gave them all the data they need to build one nuclear missile, which is ready to launch against the U.S."
Directed and (it is assumed) written by Barry Mahon. Starring Monica Davis, John McKay and Phillip St. George.
posted by JHarris (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favs, as it was on the tapes I took to college.

Kremlin Krank Calls are the best gag, imho.
posted by stevis23 at 8:02 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Charles Beesley wrotes in the incredible Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film:
An amazing low-budget feature with tacky sets, great stock footage, and a romantic subplot. United States Intelligence sends spy John Mackay to obtain Sputnik secrets: The Soviets retaliate by launching a nuclear missile against New York. Manhattan is leveled. "Don't let this be--the end" is the final title card. With Monica Davis, Dan Kern, and Edward Czerniuk. Davis and Mackay also appear in Mahon's The Dead One.
As for the episode, here's the reflections of the Stealth Brain, the underrated Paul Chaplin:
Servo's head was redesigned because it was possible to do so. It was never considered as a permanent change.
The elderly blind man walking down the street and suddenly exclaiming "Help me!" was such a queer moment that it began our tradition of showing brief clips from the movies after our end credits. We call these little tidbits "stringers." They're one of my favorite things about MST. The selection of each stinger is typically a haphazard process, done at the last-minute prodding of our editor Brad; but it's oddly exhilarating to find a perfect five-second clip.
The Phantom Creeps is inwatchable and unfollowable. My heart breaks when I think of my dad and his little short-pantsed pals sitting in some darkened movie house, beaten down by the Depression raging without, struggling to wring pleasure from these dreary images on the screen. The poor kid, working thirteen hours a day at the coal plant like he did, then stumbling on down to the Bijou and with his trembling fingers handing over what few tiny pennies he could afford--those precious coins that weren't needed for little sister's medicine--and then, weeping, crushed, his pathetic soul denied the simple escape it craves as he's forced to sit through yet another wretched chapter of The Phantom Creeps.
Then again, maybe he liked it. You know my dad.
And "TV's" Frank Conniff added, from a sidebar:
Remember how in Rocket Attack USA the truck driver guy (played with charm and panache by Art Metrano) made such a big deal about how he was going to spend ten bucks on a tie to take his wife out? And then, at the end, after the explosion, we see the tie burning by the side of his truck? I'm sure the filmmakers thought that that was going to be the most devistating image in the film. The viewers were supposed to go, "Oh, my God! The tie! That tie that Art Metrano was going to wear on his date with his wife has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb! How ironic! How devastating! Well, I didn't even notice the burning tie until about the sixth time I'd seen the film. It has to be said that this is a failure on the part of the filmmakers. For one thing, the only people who are going to watch Rocket Attack USA six times are MST3K writers.
For anyone out there who doesn't think that the Hollywood blacklist was a bad thing, just remember this. While Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner Jr. and Dashell Hammett were rotting in limbo, the makers of Rocket Attack USA were free to make their film.
Host segments:
Pre: Servo gets a "robot haircut," which lasts for two or three episodes.
Invention exchange: Joel: Gypsy are the Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair. Mads: Water Foozball.
1: Joel explains the cold war with artist's renderings. It involves a lot of puppets.
2: Civil Defense Quiz Bowl!
3: Joel is met on the Hexfield with his Russian counterpart Sari Andropoli, played by Mike.
Post: Joel and the bots angrily complain about the movie to the Mads.
posted by JHarris at 8:19 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Post: Joel and the bots angrily complain about the movie to the Mads.
Well, considering it was aired right in the middle of the time that the Soviet Union was collapsing (and 3 weeks after the official re-unification of Germany), I would expect maximum complaining, maximum snark and at least some irony... "oh, that thing in cargo bay four we scooped up last month? sputnik."
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:36 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Barry Mahon went on to make adult films, then kids movies. He made, believe it or not, the infamous, legendary Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny

posted by hellojed at 8:44 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

the infamous, legendary Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny
available in its entirety on YouTube
(yes, Rifftrax has done it)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:50 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

In Soviet Russia, Necktie burns you!
posted by valkane at 4:12 AM on February 5, 2015

Poor Paul never gets any love. I wonder what he's up to these days?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:03 AM on February 5, 2015

I wonder what he's up to these days?
Sadly, not much. Warning, do NOT look up "Paul Chaplin (II)" on imdb ("Actor, BATFXXX: Dark Night Parody (2010)")
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:47 PM on February 5, 2015

Ah! Okay, here's the sync-video room:

Show at 7 PM Eastern, which is like in 40 minutes.
posted by JHarris at 3:20 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for showing up everyone! Other than me and cambot (who's one of valkane's machines) we got eight other viewers tonight, a new record I think!

We may not have an episode next week, or it might end up being Friday instead of Thursday, because I'll be out of town for part of it. I'm going to still try to get the Fanfare post up by Wednesday, and hopefully will be able to give you more information then. The next episode is 206 RING OF TERROR. Puma? Puma!
posted by JHarris at 8:41 PM on February 5, 2015

Thanks for hosting; I'm glad I caught the last part! I wrote an ode to the various Space Mutiny nicknames to celebrate MST3K viewing day yesterday.
posted by ilana at 9:15 AM on February 6, 2015

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