A mad scientist attempts to drive his captive, Mike Nelson, insane by forcing him to watch B-Movies. This episode's feature is "The Beginning of the End" (1957, 76 min.) - An enterprising journalist investigates the story ... more »of giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She struggles to save the city of Chicago, despite military resistance in their efforts to cover-up.« less
"One of my favorite MST3Ks: a great example of the mid 1950s "atomic monster" genre, with laughable special effects. Giant mutant grasshoppers attack the mountains and deserts of central "Illinois," before moving on to destroy Chicago by crawling up picture postcards of the Wrigley Building and being lured into Lake Michigan by electronic grasshopper mating calls made by a young Peter Graves ("Hi, I'm Peter Graves. Tonight on 'Biography'..."), ironically the nuclear scientist responsible for the whole giant-mutation thing, not to mention his deaf-mute assistant Frank's gruesome dismemberment and death at the chomping mandibles of one seriously big mother of a locust. America's finest fighting force (the Illinois National Guard) is powerless against this giant hopping threat. Another 1957 monster classic from infamous science fiction filmmaker Bert I. Gordon, the undisputed master of movies about giant animals attacking California cities masquerading as the midwest. Don't miss the riveting post-opening credits scene: an apparently endless car-approaching sequence (Mike: "Folks, we'll start the movie as soon as our ride gets here."), and the incessant, earsplitting, marching-band music soundtrack. An early Mike Nelson episode, it's a great example of classic MST3K: bad sci-fi flick, hilarious riffing on the film by Mike and the bots, including a *seriously* weird host segment where rubber grasshoppers attack postcards Mike just happens to have lying around. I actually saw this one week before I moved to Chicago, which is all-but-destroyed in the movie, and it seriously creeped me out for a while, though I've never been able to drive by Champaign-Urbana without looking over my shoulder for giant grasshoppers."
Grasshoppers crawl across postcards, and MST3K is there
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hello. I'm Peter Graves. Granted, my Peter Graves impersonation works much better when you can actually hear me do it, but you can't talk about MST3K's hilarious send-up of The Beginning of the End without following in Crow's footsteps and doing constant Peter Graves impressions. This is classic MST3K, the fifth experiment featuring Mike Nelson as the human test subject on the Satellite of Love. Those of us Joel loyalists who feared for the future of the show needn't have worried, as Mike took his new role in front of the cameras and flew with it. He was, of course, helped greatly by movies such as this one. Any Bert I. Gordon film featuring music by Albert Glasser was basically made to be riffed, and Mike and the Bots really have at it here.
The film itself features gigantic locusts laying waste to the state of Illinois, and the finest military force in the world finds itself thoroughly licked by the onslaught. Of course, things don't start out with a lot of excitement. This is a Bert I. Gordon movie, after all. The very first shot after the opening credits shows us a road with a vehicle approaching in the distance - way back in the distance, so far back you sit there and sit there wondering if anything is actually going to happen before you even spot the car. Then, Gordon throws us right into a big mystery; it seems the town of Ludlow, Illinois, has been destroyed, its population of 150 vanished into thin air. The National Guard's there, but they aren't talking, not even to famous journalist Audrey Ames (Peggy Castle). As the story begins to emerge, though, she joins up with Dr. Wainwright (Graves), a local entomologist, and quickly discovers that it's all Wainwright's fault. He's the one who was growing all the radioactive super-sized vegetables, which proved to be quite appetizing to locusts, and now there's a bazillion of the little buggers grown to immense size and destroying everything in their path. Surprisingly, the military folks don't immediately embrace this story of a plague of gigantic locusts, but they soon learn just what they are up against - and fail miserably when they try to take the critters out. Emerging out of the, ahem, world-famous Illinois mountains, the horde of mega-locusts make a, ahem, bee-line for Chicago - apparently, the locusts are Cubs fans who just can't take bear the thought of another season without a pennant. Perhaps the very fate of humanity rests in Peter Graves' hands, and his ultimate solution involves giving a locust a lie-detector test. Run for your lives!
Once the locusts get to Chicago, Bert I. Gordon goes a little crazy showing grasshoppers crawling all over postcards (I mean, buildings). There's no way the guys at Best Brains could have resisted riffing such a film. The fun doesn't stop in the theater, either. Poor naïve Mike sneaks an unscheduled peak at the Mads in the middle of the film - and it's not pretty. You also get Tom Servo's unique one-man comedy show inspired by The Beginning of the End, the unveiling of Dr. Forrester's super-comfy Re-comfy Bike, and - best of all - a little production of Crow's screenplay all about Peter Graves' years at the University of Minnesota. All of this comes together to make experiment # 517, The Beginning of the End, one of the MST3K commercial releases you really shouldn't do without."
A fine episode of MST3K...next time on "Biography."
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 05/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""I'm Peter Graves. This week on Biography, the story of how I defeated a horde of radioactive mutant grasshoppers who invaded Chicago.""The Beginning of the End" (episode #517) is a typical episode from the Mike Nelson years of the classic TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000": in other words, it's hysterical, satiric, and pop-culturally sharp from beginning to end (even when the End is just Beginning!). The movie itself isn't horrendously awful -- certainly not on the level of some other flicks screened on the program, like "Eegah!" and "Manos: The Hands of Fate." But it is the perfect kind of stuffy, quickly slapped together "B" Atomic horror movie of the 50s that people associate so closely with the show. And at this point Mike and the `Bots were firing on all cylinders, and the comedy is non-stop. Mike had only recently taken over the role as host from Joel Hodgson, and it is with this episode that he finally seems completely at ease with his role.If you're unfamiliar with this amazing comedy show (known as "MST3K" to fans), here's what you need to know: a human (Mike Nelson or Joel Hodgson) and his two mechanized pals, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, appear in a silhouette of a theater seats projected in front of a bad movie. The three hosts provide sidesplitting commentary to the film, filled with popular culture references and smart-aleck bitterness. The movie-watching sequences are occasionally interrupted with comedic sketches and musical numbers, making for an all-encompassing comedic experience: a humorous puppet-show sitcom with cynical wisecracks that turn rotten movies into fabulous entertainment."The Beginning of the End" was released in 1957 by independent director-effects technician Bert I. Gordon, who rivaled Roger Corman in this period as the top creator of `B' science-fiction cheapies. Gordon was obviously trying to copy the success of the classic giant-ant movie "Them!", only with giant grasshoppers instead. The film's tagline is a classic of ridiculous overstatement: "So Big...we had to coin a new words for it...NEWMENDOUS!" It's all downhill from there, folks.Peter Graves plays the stock scientist character who discovers that the recent vanishing of an Illinois town was caused by giant locusts, who mutated after they consumed some of his radioactive-treated plants in his laboratory (good one, Peter!). He and perky female reporter Peggie Castle try to warn the military in time, but soon the flightless locust plague descends on Chicago. Can anything stop them? Well, yes, since they're obviously just normal-sized grasshoppers optically matted over the footage, an effect that never looks good and lacks the magic and fun of stop-motion or suitmation techniques. Some of the effects are unbelievably rotten, such as the scenes of grasshoppers climbing Chicago "buildings" that are obviously just postcards or large photographs with real grasshoppers walking on them (the grasshoppers keep "stepping off" the building). The MST3K boys have great fun with this gag, doing a sketch where they have grasshoppers attack various postcards: Oldenberg IN, The Beatles, Earl Hines, etc. Graves manages to do very little in the movie except tell the military all the things they CAN'T do, instead of offering any real suggestions.The wisecracks are great, as usual for this season of the show. It's especially fun listening to them make cracks about Peter Graves as host of "Biography," Albert Glasser's hysterically overblown musical score, and the grasshoppers `touring' Chicago. ("Hey, we're in the famous Loop now, Harry!") Between segements, Crow puts on a play based on Peter Graves's life at the University of Minnesota, all done in his "Biography" voice ("I'm Peter Graves, and I'm in the right class.")As a dubious `bonus,' you can watch the un-cut version of the film on the flip side of the disc. Well, it's not that awful a film, but there isn't any reason to watch it without the MST3K commentary once you've experienced the comedy and laughs of this all-around fine episode. Recommended for newcomers and long-time fans alike. It's typical of the show during the excellent fifth season and shows Mike easing into his new role and the program format changing toward its more sharp-tongued and fast-moving later seasons."
Any MST3K is a classic,but this is slightly average
William F. Parrish | Atlanta | 07/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When introducing,Mst3k to DVD,it seems to me that Rhino could've chosen better episodes foe it's initial batch,like "Manos: The Hands Of Fate",or "MItchell" istead of this good but not classic episode.But,I'll take what I can get,because ANY episode is worth having on DVD,with the great picture and sound,plus the original version of the film.This episode features a typically laughable Peter Graves showcase,this one about GIANT GRASSHOPPERS who seem to have a insatiable attraction to POSTCARDS.Hearing his smooth,unctious recitations of the absurd dialogue,you realize he was born to host cable bio documentary shows.Mike and the 'bots have a grand time with 'ol Pete in the host segments,with Crow presenting his screenplay for The Peter Graves Story,which focuses on his years at the University of Minnesota,and includes the line "I'm Peter Graves" over 400 times.Servo is non-plussed.This isn't among the very best MST3K's,but it is of coarse a must-have for devoted fans."
MST3K Fans SIT UP AND LISTEN
William F. Parrish | 05/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can you say about a deaf/mute growing giant tomatoes in Peter Grave's "lab". A feisty, brash reporter complete with cell phone in her 1950 Buick convertible calmly reporting an entire city annihilated by blood seeking insects. Chicagoans enjoying a day at Lake Michigan only to be chased away by 10 foot grasshoppers. (apparently car phones were "in" in the 50's while early warning systems were "not in service". Only the "Bots" and Tom can put the right "spin" on these scenes....and in true MST3K form, manage to get everyone ROLLING on the floor with tears of laughter. The first MST3K for our "collection"...and what a GEM! BUY THIS!"