#22. Soultaker

22. Soultaker (1990) - Season 10, episode 1001
"You know, it's just not death with dignity if there's an Estevez in the room."

Plot:  A woman is involved in a car crash and she lapses into a coma. While unconscious, she battles an angel for possession of her soul.
Famous for:  Starring that big-faced guy.

"God, he's a catcher's mitt with eyes!"

My favorite riff:  There are SO many great riffs in this episode that it's hard to pick a favorite. But if I had to pick one, it would be the really weird scene in the middle of the movie where Natalie's mom draws her a bath. And then there's all this odd sexual tension going on between Natalie and her mother.

Especially when mom starts peeping through the door at her daughter undressing.

"Ewwwwww, I instantly need counseling."

There isn't just ONE great riff during this scene, there are like ten minutes of just one killer hilarious riff after another.

I especially love how Mike and the Bots fixate on the fact that Natalie is a full grown woman, yet mom is drawing a bath for her and treating her like she's five years old. It leads to some of the greatest MST3k riffs of this era.

Mom (drawing her daughter a bath):  Natalie?
Mike (as mom):  You want Batman Crazy Foam?

And I have to give it up for how many different "Soultaker" puns they come up with throughout the episode.

That's actually the first thing I think of when I think of this movie.

"I call it Gas Taker."

"Leak Taker!"

"Insole taker!"

"Bus taker!"

"Oh, I can't. I'm gonna be a lunch taker."

Comments:  Without question, this has got to be one of the funniest MST3k episodes of all time. Some of the riffs in this one are just BRUTAL. They absolutely rip this movie a new asshole.

"Hi, I'm a tree. Just want to put in a good word or two for nature cause the camera's on me. Thanks for your time."

"Man, that guy's got a small face."

"So... how dead's your kid?"

Soultaker is one of those episodes that would be perfect if you wanted to watch MST3k for the first time. The riffing is hilarious. The movie, while goofy, is pretty well done, and it's actually quite watchable. And as an added bonus, the movie is in color, too, which I have always believed makes an episode more fun than when you're watching an old black and white movie. Simply put, the color, more modern movies just move faster.  

In other words, this is one of those episodes that is super popular among MST3k fans, and it always will be. And for good reason too. It's hilarious.

"Hmm, did the big chin say eight or eight thirty?"

"He's preparing for the mother of all comb-overs."

However, there's a BUT.

And now you'll see why, as amazing as this episode is.... ethically, I will never actually put it in my top ten.

Here's why. The lady who wrote it.

You remember how I said that Soultaker is more watchable than your average MST3k movie? Well there's a reason for that. And the reason is because Soultaker is actually a pretty well known and respected science fiction movie. In fact, when it first came out (in 1991), it actually won "Best New Genre Release" from the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror. This isn't a terrible movie at all, it was actually an award winner!

Soultaker is one of those instances where the MST3k guys took a movie that was actually pretty good, and they cut a third of it out so it would fit better with their time constraints. And then they made fun of it because the story didn't make sense, and because it now contained a bunch of dumb plot holes. And as several people involved with the movie have pointed out over the years, that's not really fair. I mean, it's one thing to riff a movie for being cheap and for having a low budget. But when you cut out a third of the story, and then make fun of the story, that's not really painting an accurate picture of the movie.  

The director of Soultaker even complained about this once in a rebuttal he wrote on IMDB. Here's the link if you want to read it. He makes some really good points.

Soultaker: It's closing time.
Tom Servo: Does that mean that every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end?

To give you an even MORE accurate picture of this movie, Soultaker was originally the creation of a science fiction writer named Vivian Schilling.

She wrote this movie after she had been in a near-death experience in a car crash. And as you can guess, some of Soultaker is fairly personal, based on what she went through with her accident.

Vivian Schilling

So Vivian Schilling writes this movie, and I'm guessing a lot of it is pretty autobiographical. Then she manages to MAKE the movie, with her as lead actor, and a first time director (Michael Rissi) at the helm. And despite the fact that it has no budget whatsoever, and it's incredibly cheap, and it stars a bunch of newbie nobodies, it somehow comes out a hit. It even wins a Saturn Award as best new science fiction movie. Then Vivian Schilling goes on to have a successful career as an author, based on what she managed to do with Soultaker.

Then, a decade later, MST3k takes the movie, they chop it up, they bag on her relentlessly for her appearance, and they make fun of the story that they themselves had cut out.

I don't know about you, but if I were Vivian Schilling, or one of the makers of Soultaker... I'd be a little bit pissed.

"You're dead, Nancy Kerrigan."

And anyway, that's my story, and that's why I always feel bad when I laugh at this episode.

On one hand, Soultaker is hilarious. It's got to be one of the funniest episodes that MST3k ever did. But on the other hand, there are a LOT of incredible cheap shots at the lady who both wrote the movie, and starred in it (and also managed to turn it into a successful writing career.)

Even by Mike-era standards, this is a pretty mean-spirited episode.

Mike: Wait, she wrote this?
Zach (in the movie): You're beautiful.
Crow: Yep, she did write this.

"I know, she takes off the wig and it's Kevin Bacon."

[Zach presents Natalie with a gift]
Crow:  A plastic surgeon! Ready to fix your nose!

Should you feel bad if you laugh at Soultaker? I don't know. All I know is that I do. And that's why... even if this is one of the funniest episodes of all time, I would never put it in my top ten. I just wouldn't feel right about it.

It still makes me laugh though. I'm not gonna deny that.

"Where does that guy even keep his acorns?"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  I love how there is something called "Summerfest", which is apparently the biggest rock and roll festival in the area. Yet because the film had no budget, "Summerfest" is simply thirty extras standing around in a field, holding balloons.  


It looks more like a fucking Mentos commercial

I will never not love the existence of the Summerfest smiley balloons.  

Fresh goes better in life, amiright?

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