#44. Teen-Age Strangler

44. Teen-Age Strangler (1964) - Season 5, episode 514

"And he didn't steal no bike, neither!"


Plot:  A small town in West Virginia is terrorized by a killer that has been murdering teenagers. Only the local teen gang can help solve the crime.
Famous for: One word: Mikey

Mikey. Seen here, leading up to the wedgie.

My favorite riff:  I know this is mean, but the best riff in the movie is pretty much any time they take digs at poor Mikey. And they do it a LOT. It would be impossible to pick out one favorite Mikey riff, because there are just so many hilarious ones.

"The Amish kids beat me up again!"

"Oh, it's a note... (reading)... Please knee this kid in the groin."

Comments:  Hey look, another dirt-cheap regional horror movie!  This one is set in West Virginia, And, well, it's not really a horror movie, as much as it is a bunch of locals starring in a teen movie about juvenile delinquency. But hey, it's still a lot of fun. And it was definitely one of the most popular episodes of the early Mike era. And of course most of that is because of the character Mikey, who was memorably (and sadly) played by local West Virginian... and first-time child actor... John Humphries.

Mikey (center), in between beatings

It's funny, I've watched Teen-Age Strangler more than ten times at this point. And if you asked me what happens in the movie I honestly have no idea. I just remember that there's a dance scene at some point, And then some people get strangled. And then it's really just a bunch of filler scenes to kill time until Mikey shows up again, and then Mike and the Bots can start ripping him a new asshole. That's honestly the entire point of the movie. And then basically just rinse and repeat.

"I think they found Waldo."

"Pansy gram!"

Not surprisingly, this was the only movie that John Humphries (Mikey) ever starred in. Which makes sense, when you realize it was clear he A) had no idea what the hell he was doing, and B) he was not actually a trained actor. But I have to give the guy credit for trying, at least. Even though the MST3k guys absolutely murder him in this episode, he was a good sport about it afterwards, and he never actually held any grudge. In fact, he even embraced his fame as Mikey the walking dweeb after the episode came out. John Humphries was a featured guest at the very first MST ConventioCon, held back in 1994.  

Because of the inherent goofiness of this movie (and because Mikey himself showed up at the very first fan convention), Teenage Strangler has always been one of the most popular Mike episodes. And I definitely say it deserves it. This episode is hilarious.

"Uh.... is he giving birth?"

"Oh god.  He's at ten!"

"Push, Jimmy, push!  Come on!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  You know, it wouldn't be a proper teen movie from the 60s, without an attempt to market a new dance song smack dab in the middle of it. Hence the scene where Mary (from Mary and Jack) stands on the counter at the local teen deli, and she sings "Yipe Stripe!"  

And yes, I think we all remember where we were when Yipe Stripe! knocked the Beatles off the charts back in 1964, and it immediately rocketed right to the top of the charts.

Oh wait, it didn't? Well fuck me.

Well then I guess you'll only know this song from the movie.

They don't all become winners, you know.

"Stop singing! You're standing in my biscuits and gravy!"

Trivia:  Teen-Age Strangler was originally released in 1964 as "Terror in the Night."  It was largely ignored during its initial run, but after MST3k revitalized interest in it, it was finally given a "proper" premiere in Huntington, West Virginia thirty years later, in 1994. The premiere turned out to be a big hit, and was attended by several surviving cast and crew members. Nowadays the movie actually has a pretty fair cult following.

Oh, and then, finally... there's this:

John Humphries had never acted before doing this film. He has since said that he took his acting cues from Jo Canterbury (his co-star) who he knew had some Off-Broadway acting experience. So as her performance became more teary and shrill in the movie, so did his.

Mikey overacting. As usual.

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