Today's episode is the first Sandy Frank film I've covered here, "Star Force: Fugitive Alien II". For those who may not know, Sandy Frank ran a production company that distributed TV programs internationally as well as dubbing a good deal of Japanese sci-fi movies, particularly the Gamera films. And believe me, we'll get into those at a later point.
"Fugitive Alien II" is one of my favorite episodes and one of the first I remember recording onto VHS tape and watching over and over. It's been a while since I've watched this episode, so we'll see if it's still as good as I remember it to me. Everybody ready? We've got Blog Post Sign!
Host Segment #1
Crow and Tom Servo are having their weekly ontological discussion about the nature of puppets, and their symbiotic relationship to man. The main topic being discussed is puppet vs. costume. Tom Servo isn't sure which Yoda would be classified as.
Back from break, Joel gives the Bots a brief quiz about celebrity puppets and asks them to identify the genus - or "genius", as Joel said - of each one.
On to the Invention Exchange. Down in Deep 13 The Mads give us Big Noses. Joel wonders what the point is, and Dr Forrester explains they're just really big and to think of everything you could do with them. TV's Frank notes that now he can "brown nose" himself.
Joel presents a Big Head. Tom Servo softly sings a jazzy tune about the Big Head and Joel states that he simply has a big head.
Honestly, neither invention seemed to have a practical point. But I will give the nod to The Mads for this one since Frank used his nose to push the button that sends the movie.
Movie Segment #1
The opening credits start to role. Once the title comes on screen, Tom Servo offers up various other subtitles for "Fugitive Alien II" which are already ready subtitles to other sequels. Of note, the always entertaining "Electric Boogaloo" was part of that list. As upbeat music plays, Joel and the Bots are in high spirits. Crow thinks this might be fun but reality soon catches up with him when he remembers this is a Fugitive Alien sequel. Joel tries to boost their spirits reminding them that they've been through too many Sandy Frank films to let him defeat them now.
The movie begins with... a recap of the events of the first movie. The Bots are none too pleased at having to relive this.
The narration tells us that now Ken, the main character of the series and part of a race known as the Star Wolf, and his comrades - all Earthlings - on the ship Bacchus 3 are off to the planet Saysar to find a secret weapon and destroy it.
Tammy, one of the crew members, bandages Ken's wounds which I figure he received in the fight at the end of the first movie. She voices suspicion about a man named Colonel Yurulin and wonders if they can trust him to assist them once they reach Saysar. Suddenly cut to the Colonel whose mannerisms make Joel come to the conclusion he just took a hit of cocaine as the camera came to him. Yurulin also has his suspicions about the crew of the Bacchus 3, specifically Ken.
Captain Joe calls Ken and Tammy to the rear of the ship so he can Colonel Yurulin can speak to them. As they get up, Ken drops a medallion that Rita, his girlfriend that was killed in the end of the first film when she came to collect a bounty that was placed on Ken's head, used to wear. The medallion's fall is underscored by a jarring chord and Tom Servo identifies this moment as a plot point. Tammy picks up the medallion and starts to ask Ken about it, but he walks off providing no answers.
The crew plots their course to Seysar and Colonel Yurulin mentions the risk of encountering a black hole somewhere on their route. Captain Joe tries to remain optimistic about the situation positing that perhaps being consumed by a black hole wouldn't be a horrible way to die. Everyone else doesn't quite share his same viewpoint. Ken says that it's possible to find a tunnel in a black hole that would allow them to emerge out of a white hole unscathed. It's a tricky maneuver, but it can be done. Ken is asked how he knew about that and says he must've overheard at during a scientific briefing and quickly exits the room.
While walking down a corridor that Crow says resembles someone's throat, Colonel Yurulin catches up with Ken. Yurulin says he knows for a fact that only a handful of Wolf attackers had ever flown through a black hole and lived to tell about it and that he's figured out that this means Ken is a Star Wolf. Ken isn't pleased and begins to throttle the Colonel. The others come to investigate the commotion and Yurulin says he made a sarcastic remark about Earthlings and Ken was right to react as he did. Yurulin then exits, chuckling. Rocky, another member of the crew, says he doesn't like the Colonel and that he doesn't like Ken either. Ken lets him know the feeling is mutual and before the two can snipe at one another any further, Captain Joe is summoned back to the bridge.
The navigation team has spotted a meteorite that wasn't on any chart. Captain Joe takes the controls and instructs Ken to blow the meteorite up with the ship's lasers. He is more than happy to do so while Joel and the Bots sing a brief fanfare - possibly a reference to the theme from "Love, American Style" - as the meteorite blows up bringing us to an ad break.
Movie Segment #2
Back from break, Rocky gets paranoid and threatens to kill Colonel Yurulin. Captain Joe calls him off saying they need to Colonel to get them to Saysar. Yurulin is escorted to the brig but protests that they need him up front to help navigate them to Seysar. He shouts that soon they'll be passing by Dimeter Star and that if they get too close, it'll set the ship on fire. As Rocky walks back through the ship he starts groaning as if sick.
Back on the bridge it looks like the internal "tenperature" is increasing. Ken sees they're coming close to Demeter Star and mentions it's nowhere on their course charts. He now realizes they're nowhere near Seysar and have just been drifting. Captain Joe tells Ken to correct their course, but the controls have been rendered immobile by Demeter Star's magnetic field. Captain Joe summons Rocky to the bridge and we see Rocky and another crew member acting rather sickly. Suddenly, the controls are working again and Ken attempts to pilot the ship away.
Rocky stumbles onto the bridge looking like Hell. Captain Joe checks on the other crew members who are looking and feeling the same way. Captain Joe says they're just feeling the after-effects of the ultra-high speed they needed to use in order to pass through the black hole and gets them some medication. One of the crew asks Captain Joe if he'll be OK since he went through the black hole too, and he insists he'll be fine.
Colonel Yurulin is still yelling from his prison cell saying he has something important to say, but no one responds.
Ken tells Captain Joe he thinks it would be best if they left the area as quickly as possible. Just then, some engine trouble occurs and all sorts of ominous red lights come on and flash. Captain Joe begins feeling the after effects of the earlier black hole travel and this sends Ken into a panic. He heads back into the crew's quarters to try and awaken Dan and Rocky, but to no avail. He then hears Colonel Yurulin yelling and goes to see what he wants.
Ken says they have no time for him, but Yurulin stops him by saying they can't get near Demeter Star since it is on the verge of exploding!
Captain Joe gets up in the cockpit and begins to lurch around, rather drunkenly. Tom Servo refreshes our memories by telling us that Captain Joe was portrayed as "quite the drinking man" in the first movie. Servo then says he's kinda feeling the same way Captain Joe is, but just shrugs it off. Ken comes back to the bridge to tend to Captain Joe and we see he's brought Colonel Yurulin with him. Yurulin explains the situation to Captain Joe, emphasizing that Demeter Star is going to explode. And then, Tom Servo's head explodes! Holy crap! What just happened?!?! Everybody, out of the theatre!
Host Segment #2
Sirens are blaring! Lights are flashing! Tom Servo is dead! Crow can't stop impersonating William Shatner! Joel has Crow fetch a defibrillator! Tom Servo has a near-death experience but recovers! Commercial sign! Now I can stop typing all of these all exclamations!
Movie Segment #3
Ken heads to the engine room and attempts to fix something, I think. Crow derides the wiring system calling it "Cheap, Japanese crap." Captain Joe calls Ken and then promptly passes out. Ken then calls Colonel Yurulin and asks him to check on the captain. Colonel Yurulin makes his way to the bridge and moves Captain Joe to the back and takes over the controls.
Ken has finally fixed the engines and tells Colonel Yurulin to take control of the ship. Yurulin tells Ken that nothing is still working and to try again. After finally getting the ship to function again, Ken calls back up to the bridge but we see Colonel Yurulin passing out as he's feeling the effects of the extreme heat now as well. As Ken hurries to the bridge, a piece of horn-driven music that's been lovingly dubbed "The Fugitive Alien Song/He Tried To Kill Me With A Forklift" begins to play. Tom Servo sings along with the action on-screen while Joel & Crow join it at the chorus with "He tried to kill me with a forklift!" (Forklift Chorus Count: 1)
Electricity sparks through the bridge and revives Captain Joe somehow. Colonel Yurulin tells Captain Joe the engines are working again and they've got to steer themselves away from Demeter Star. As Captain Joe takes the controls, Servo sings to us about the crew's condition. (Forklift Chorus Count: 2)
Ken fiddles with some more stuff in the engine room and gets the cooling system to work. He returns to the bridge and urges Captain Joe and Colonel Yurulin to shift the engines to full thrust, successfully piloting them away from Demeter Star. Ken celebrates by yelling they did it. Crow: "We did it! We killed 20 minutes of movie!" The rest of the crew slowly revives as they live the exploding star in their wake and we get an ad break.
Movie Segment #4
Bacchus 3 is finally approaching Seysar, but are asked to hold their position and await further instructions before landing. Colonel Yurulin tries to contact Seysar in hopes that it will get them some clearance quicker. But the powers that be state that there is no Colonel Yurulin on their officers' roster. Things become rather tense on the ship and Yurulin finally comes to the realization that the crew is not on a trade mission but is after the secret weapon. This is all too much for Crow who wonders what is going on. Fighter ships come after Bacchus 3 and this is eerily reminiscent of a scene in the opening credits which prompts Tom Servo to yell in horror, "It's starting over!" Captain Joe is done with waiting around and begins the approach to Seysar while giving the order to counterattack the fighter ships. Tom sings about Ken's enthusiasm at shooting down the enemy ships (Forklift Chorus Count: 3)
The crew persuades Colonel Yurilin to lead them somewhere suitable for an emergency landing. Yurulin leads them to a treacherous area known as The Devil's Desert. The landing is about as smooth as you would expect. Captain Joe tells the crew to inspect the ship in order to figure out how much damage they've taken and we're sent to an ad break.
Host Segment #3
Joel and the Bots do a live commercial for the Captain Joe action figure, the world's first alcoholic action figure. You can have an intervention with your other toys like Ken, Barbie and Donatello of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Tom Servo: And remember kids, if Captain Joe refuses to deal with the issues you can always try to kill him with a forklift. (Forklift Chorus Count: 4) And on the note of attempted vehicular manslaughter and a quick disclaimer by Crow, we have Movie Sign!
Movie Segment #5
Captain Joe orders Rocky and Tammy to stay behind while the rest of them set out in search of the weapon. Rocky refuses and pulls a gun on Captain Joe. He dares Rocky to shoot him and Rocky follows through! But it was just a knockout dart, Captain Joe should be fine in an hour. So now with the balance of power shifted in Rocky's favor, the rest of the crew head out into the desert.
Captain Joe attempts to contact Rocky and Joel has had it with Crow's imitation of Rocky the Flying Squirrel in response to every time someone says the name. Colonel Yurulin and the rest of the crew of Bacchus 3 are marching up a large sandy hill when suddenly the Colonel stops and dives to the ground. Crow seems to think it's because he's spotted vegetation that resembles corn. In actuality, he's spotted a watchtower in the distance. Yurulin says he'll approach the watchtower and create a diversion for them so they can advance. This proves to be false as he sends the solider in the direction of the Bacchus 3 crew members, much to the surprise of no one.
Colonel Yurulin ascends to the top of the watchtower and shoots the Seysar military from there. Oh, good, he is on the crew's side. I was so worried for a moment.
Back on the ship, Captain Joe hopes the mission is going well and tells Tammy they have to move the ship somewhere else before the next sandstorm. Tammy giggles and agrees. They get ready to take off and Tom sings about it. (Forklift Chorus Count: 5)
Back to Bacchus 3 crew who are now disguised as Seysar soldiers. They're finally approaching the secret compound that houses the weapon, even though they think it doesn't look like much from the outside.
Movie Segment #6
As the crew approaches the compound, Colonel Yurulin notices some strategically placed posts. Throwing a tree branch between them reveals that the compound is surrounded by a deadly ray. Ken uses his super strength to toss Colonel Yurulin and the rest of the crew over the barrier and they proceed ever closer to the secret compound which now turns out to be located underground. After ambushing another group of Seysar soldiers and stealing their ID tags, the group makes their way into the secret compound.
They make their way through the underground caverns while being filmed rather strangely. Crow identifies it as "Crotch cam!" After what seems like an eternity of walking, they finally reach the weapon. I can't really describe it since it resembles a bunch of crystals, lights and tubes. Ken thinks he could easily destroy it by himself but is told that have to take care of it slowly and carefully, "In an effort to completely bore the audience", adds Crow.
They finally reach the secret weapon and Crow says it looks like a "Super Tom Servo", and I have to agree that there is a bit of a resemblance. Ken plants a time bomb and they group begins to make their escape.
Movie Segment #7
A piece of music begins to play over the loudspeakers in the compound and Colonel Yurulin freezes on the stairs. Crow quips, "They're playing my song!" He's not that far off, Yurulin tells them the song playing is the Seysar Anthem and everyday the song is played at this hour and all the soldiers stand at attention renewing their allegiance to their homeland. Ken thinks this will make for a perfect time to escape since everyone will be distracted by the Anthem, but Yurulin does not budge having gone into an almost trance-like state hearing the song. Colonel Yurulin decides this is the perfect moment to become a patriot and runs back to where the weapon is being stored, presumably to defuse the bomb. The guard on duty tries to keep the Colonel from entering the room, but is forced to gun him down after Yurulin refuses to listen to the guard ordering him not to go in.
Back on the ship, Tammy and Captain Joe wait pensively for the rest of the crew to return. Tammy tells Captain Joe she's worried but he reassures her that the men are professionals and everything should be fine.
Meanwhile, the Seysar army have gotten word of the infiltration and are pursuing the crew of Bacchus 3. Dan, one of the crew, gets trapped between two laser walls and urges one of the other crewmen to go along without him. When Ken learns of the situation, he volunteers to go rescue Dan. Will he be able to do so before the bomb goes off? He'll certainly try. Speaking of Dan, he's now being tortured are two members of the Seysar army are trying to get information from him. But being the good soldier he is, Dan says nothing. Instead choosing to moan in pain while being tortured.
Captain Joe and Tammy are moving the ship out of the desert. As they do so, Rocky and Billy emerge from the compound and reappear on Tammy's radar screen much to her relief. Billy blames himself for Dan's capture but Rocky reassures him that if anyone can rescue Dan, it's Ken. Just then, Bacchus 3 comes flying into view.
Ken has made his way through the compound and finds Dan, rescuing him from his tormentors. Rocky and Billy make their way to the ship. Rocky says they have five minutes until the bomb explodes and they need to take off now. Tammy asks where Ken and Dan are, but Rocky merely repeats the importance of them leaving now, completely "skirting the whole Ken issue."
Ken is carrying Dan as they make their way back out of the compound, stopping occasionally to gymnastic fight with a troupe of guards he encounters on the way.
Back on the ship, Captain Joe says there are now three minutes left until the bomb goes off and Tammy tries to persuade him to wait a little longer while Joel and the Bots exit the theatre. Right before we get the theatre door sequence, Ken and Dan emerge must to Tammy's delight.
Host Segment #4
It's the "Fugitive Alien Song Medley"! Joel & the Bots have added lyrics to many of the recurring musical themes found in the movie and sing them for us. Easily one of my favorite musical moments in the entire series.
(Forklift Chorus Count: 7)
Movie Segment #8
The bomb goes off and destroys the weapon. Crow laments, "They blewed it up before we even found out what it was." Tom Servo asks what the plot here was and Crow responds, "Plot?" Various things continue to blow up for about two minutes, and I begin to wonder if Michael Bay was influenced by this movie.
Captain Joe congratulates the crew on a job well done and we suddenly cut to "Kabuki Darth Vader" telling some minions about Valna Star having completed a weapon that could destroy the entire universe. And just as quickly, we cut back to the crew of the Bacchus 3 landing on another planet. Ken has a minor freak out spotting someone whom he thinks resembles his mother. Suddenly, they are besieged by soldier and engage in a laser fight that ends almost as quickly as it begins. Once the smoke has cleared, the crew escort a young woman to see her father, the inventory of the potentially universe destroying bomb. The inventor entrusts a roll of microfilm to Captain Joe that has the plans for the bomb on it saying that no matter what happens to him, the plans must not fall into the wrong hands.
As they leave, Ken sees the woman he thinks is his mother again. Ken takes off to follow here and the rest of the crew are cornered by the soldiers who attacked them earlier. They tell the Bacchus 3 crew that they have orders from their headquarters to bring them in. Captain Joe's not having it and they fight back and apparently escape.
Ken is following the woman across a field as a spaceship comes into view. Ken realizes it was a trap set for him by General Halkon, the make-up wearing ruler of his home planet, Valna Star.
Suddenly we cut to the rest of the crew who have apparently joined back up with Ken. Ken tells them it was a scheme thought up by Halkon and has the woman who was posing as his mother explain the rest. We never get a full explanation, but everything's so damned confusing by this point that it's probably for the best. Ken says he has to return to Valna Star in order to fight and defeat Halkon once and for all. Captain Joe insists that the Bacchus 3 crew come along in order to serve as backup if need be
Movie Segment #9
General Halkon learns that Ken has arrived on Valna Star and with the crew of Bacchus 3 as reinforcements. Halkon tells his soldiers he wants them all dead or else they will pay with their lives. Just then, Ken bursts in and confronts Halkon. Halkon says he knows Ken doesn't have the courage to kill him because he taught him everything he knows. Ken refutes this statement saying he learned of a different way to live, a life of good and he's come to stop Halkon once and for all. Just then, one of Halkon's minions enter to attack Ken, but his shot for his efforts. But not before Halkon slashes at Ken with the katana he's wielding.
Just then. Bacchus 3 comes literally crashing through Halkon's building. Joel and the Bots surmise that Captain Joe's drunk behind the wheel again which explains the bad flight job.
Ken and Halkon are now fighting on a rooftop. Halkon attempts to kill Ken by throwing his sword, but the woman who impersonated Ken's mother jumps in front of him taking the killing blow. Halkon attempts to escape in a spaceship and Ken gives chase in one of his own. While Tom Servo gives us one more rendition of the "Forklift song" (Forklift Chorus Count: 8), Joel wonders where he'd seen this interstellar dogfight before. Tom Servo poses the suggestion, "Oh, I don't know. A long time ago in a galaxy far away, perhaps?" And yes, Fugitive Alien is a big made-for-Japanese TV Star Wars rip-off. Nowhere is this more apparent than a scene where a group of ships fly by in a moment very reminiscent of the Death Star trench battle.
Ken shoots down Halkon, presumably killing him. We can only hope.
Back on Bacchus 3, the crew is excited about returning to Earth. Ken, not so much. He tells the crew he is going to return to Valna Star. Now that Halkon had been defeated, he believes he can make it a better place for everyone. Everyone says their good-byes and Joel and the Bots cheer as the movie ends because "We have closure!"
Host Segment #5
Crow and Tom Servo are looking through Leonard Maltin's movie guide, wondering if they can find some suggestions for films that the Mads could send their way. Joel talks them out of it stating that the Mads can be pretty territorial about the movie selection and sending process.
Joel and the Bots then brainstorm who they'd combine into making the ultimate evil being, after deciding that Halkon's character was like a combination of things people would find evil, like Nazis and mimes. Then some letters are read and we head back to Deep 13.
The Mads are still wearing their big noses. Frank sings a song about loving baby ducks, much to Dr Forrester's embarassment, and uses his nose to push the button sending us to the end credits.
Ken tells us he's fixed the ship and has got it all working again.
I love this episode! Plenty of quality riffs to be found everywhere. And the awfulness of the material just made it all the easier to mock. Definitely check this episode out; 5 out 5!
Thanks again for reading. I'll be back next week for another look at another MST3K episode. And this time, it'll be free of Sandy Frank. So until next time; Push the Publish button, me!