Mystery Science Theater 3000: RED ZONE CUBA
March 1, 2017 2:33 PM - Season 6, Episode 19 - Subscribe

aka "Night Train to Mundo Fine" Oh god, we're HERE. John Carradine tells us (and sings!) about Griffin, who "ran all the way to hell." Griffin is who we follow, with two accomplices, as they engage of a series of pointless adventures, including participating in the Bay of Pigs (which is only the middle of the movie) and trying to muscle into a lucrative tungsten mine. With short Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance: Think tall! Talk tall! Stand tall! Walk tall! This film, another of the absolute worst MST ever did, offers an almost physical level of pain. It should be watched by diehards only, who will love this episode. But don't introduce newbies to the show with this one, or you might scar them. Good luck everyone. Against my better judgement, here is the episode on YouTube. (1h31m) Premiered December 17, 1994.

Episode 619 RED ZONE CUBA
Satellite News - Mighty Jack's Episode Review - War of the Colossal Fan Guide - Annotated MST3K - Under-appreciated riffs from Films, Food and Fandom

Short "Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance"
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
IMDB (1949, 1.6 stars)
Directed by Arthur H. Wolf. Written by Margaret Travis. Starring Herk Harvey, Chuck Lacey and Prof. E.C. Buehler.

Movie "Red Zone Cuba"
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt - Rotten Tomatoes (Critics: N/A, Viewers: 10%, somehow) - Wikipedia
IMDB (as "Night Train to Mundo Fine," 1966, 2.6 stars)
Directed, written and starring Coleman Francis. Also starring Anthony Cardoza and Harold Saunders.

I have to say it again: Think tall! Talk tall! Stand tall! Walk tall! The short is one of a series of six shorts made by Centron on the subject of speaking. MST did another of them back in episode 313, as "Speech: Using Your Voice."

When I think of how punishing this movie is, I think of young Hogarth Hughes from "The Iron Giant," who, when showing off for Dean, shouts "This one's for professionals only!," then jumps into a lake. That's not what reminds me of Red Zone Cuba though. What reminds me is what happened afterward.

There are so many things fundamentally wrong with this movie. I kind of feel bad for director/writer/star Coleman Francis, who eventually may have met an ingominous end. According to Wikipedia:
Francis died in California on January 15, 1973 at the age of 53. Though arteriosclerosis is listed as the official cause of death, Cardoza says Francis' body was found in the back of a station wagon at the Vine Street Ranch Market with "a plastic bag over his head and a tube going into his mouth or around his throat".
Also about Francis, Kevin Murphy is quoted on the same page as saying:
Coleman Francis uses edits like blunt instruments. He uses blunt instruments like blunt instruments. His major themes are death, hatefulness, death, pain, and death. He looks like Curly Howard possessed by demons from Hell. He tried to pass off Lake Mead as the Caribbean Sea. His films have the moral compass of David Berkowitz.
Things to watch for:
  • John Carradine's singing
  • Cherokee Jack!
  • The return of Petey Plane
  • "I always wanted money." "If we stick together, maybe we could get money!"
  • "Water... Sick man..."
  • "Griffin ran all the way to hell with a penny and a broken cigarette." (thunderclap)
posted by JHarris (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Most impenetrable of the Coleman Francis trilogy.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 PM on March 1, 2017

I once got interminably lost/delayed between trains and you can guess what song was in my head the whole time.

Is this the most explicitly political movie that MST3K ever did, what with fake Fidel?
posted by Countess Elena at 8:01 PM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

This truly is Coleman's Forrest Gump.

Which would make Beast of Yucca Flats Coleman's Night of the Hunter, and Skydivers Coleman's…uhm…Macbeth?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:22 AM on March 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cherokee Jack. Now there's a name to conjure with. Like maybe conjure up some cigarettes and black coffee.
posted by valkane at 3:43 AM on March 2, 2017

I am the dark spectre of food. I sensed there was mail.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:53 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

On a recent episode of the 'Movie Sign with the Mads', Coleman Francis was identified by Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu as a director who is worse than Ed Wood. (Another director in that select group, according to Trace, is Michael Bay.)
posted by jwgh at 6:07 AM on March 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is this the most explicitly political movie that MST3K ever did, what with fake Fidel?

Honestly, the word "explicit" is troublesome. We're still talking about other-country politics here, even if it's a country that's been troublesome to US foreign policy. The movie itself is pretty neutral about why the Bay of Pigs happened. It presents it mostly as something for Griffin and his cronies to do on the way to Mundo Fine, so to speak. It's just a place to have happen a meandering second act.

The Russo-Finnish movies were made under solid communism, that says something at least about that system (that something being, here is a safe topic). The Starfighters is jet-white and practically an advertisement for the military-industrial complex. Beyond that level, MST tended not to do political movies, although honestly I can't name many movies in this category of filmmaking that are political. You'd think there'd be tons. Maybe there are and they're just off my radar.
posted by JHarris at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anyway, so --

Every week, we in MST Club have a shared viewing, over the internet, in a chatroom. You should watch it with us. It's tonight (Thursday) at 6 PM Eastern Time, 9 PM Pacific, at:

We usually find some interesting things to put in both before and after the show. Last week valkane found the ludicrous post-apocalyptic fantasy movie "She," where the titular pronoun and Her vaguely co-aligned entourage visit the many Disneylands of the wastes. Who knows what abysmal wonders will turn up this time?
posted by JHarris at 10:53 AM on March 2, 2017

Is this the most explicitly political movie that MST3K ever did, what with fake Fidel?

I remember nothing about either one, but MST did "Rocket Attack USA" and "Invasion USA." It seems likely that they were more explicitly political than RZC. But it might be the most explicitly political movie that wound up being a *popular* episode of MST!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:27 AM on March 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Starfighters starred Robert Dornan who went on to become a right-wing TV talk show host and a Republican congressman from an L.A. area district. That colors any discussion of the film's politics.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:11 PM on March 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

This movie is valuable on several levels. "I sensed there was mail," remains a useful phrase in many situations, and we could always stand to have a reminder that tungsten probably doesn't look as cool as we thought it might when we were in Cuba.
posted by Scattercat at 3:07 AM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Rocket Attack USA is pretty much an feature-length advertisement for not falling behind the Russkies in the ability to obliterate the enemy's civilian population with a missile.

It is one of my favorites, though maybe because it was on the tapes I circulated at college.
posted by stevis23 at 8:03 AM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

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