#15. Teenagers from Outer Space

15. Teenagers from Outer Space (1957) - Season 4, episode 404
"When we return to our planet, the High Court may well sentence you to TORTURE!!"

Space Teens come down to Earth, and attempt to turn it into a breeding ground for the fearsome Gargon creature.
Famous for: The fact that "Gargon" apparently just means "Lobster."

"You've GOT to be kidding me."

My favorite riff:  The lobsters are the standout, of course. That's the thing that everyone thinks about when they think about Teenagers from Outer Space. They remember those dumb lobsters.

"It's a roooocked lobbbbbster!"

But that's not the ONLY great running joke in this episode.

Don't sleep on all the callbacks to poor dead Sparky the dog.

Betty:  Sparky's dog tag! Where on earth did you find it?
Tom Servo (as Derek): Well, after caving his head in with a shovel... I, uh...

"You know, this little dog's become quite a tourist attraction around here."

Betty [gasping]:  This couldn't be Sparky!
Crow [as Betty]:  Sparky had skin!

Even though the lobster jokes and the dead Sparky jokes are hilarious, there's actually one riff in this episode that I love even more than those ones. And for some reason, it's probably the dumbest and the simplest riff of them all. I don't know why, but I always find simple, blunt jokes like this next one hilarious.

In any case, here's one of those simple little MST3k lines that makes this episode so awesome.

[During a particularly tense scene in the movie, the doctor is leaving the house]

Betty: This is it, Derek, that's Doctor Brandt there. He looks like he's leaving!

Thor (angrily): Stop him! Block his path!!

[They block his path]

Crow (as the indignant doctor): Heyyyyyyy, you blocked my path!

Comments:  For years, Teenagers from Outer Space was my favorite MST3k episode. In fact, when I first started introducing people to this show that I loved so much, back in the 90s, I always used Space Teens as my big final episode showstopper. THIS was the episode I wanted to build them up to watch at the end.


Well mostly, because I have never met a single MST3k fan alive who doesn't love this episode. Teenagers from Outer Space (aka, the Story of the Lobsters) has been a beloved MST3k classic for nearly thirty years.

Captain: WE are the supreme race! WE have the supreme weapons!
Tom Servo: WE have the supreme pizzas!

"Menopause can feel like a speeding car chase."

"Hey, it's a tube of Crest. He must be a Cavity Fighter!"

Is Teenagers From Outer Space the funniest episode of MST3k? No, not really. It's more cute and earnest than laugh-out-loud funny. At least most of the time. But damnit there's just something about it that has always made me love it.  

I don't know what it is that makes me episode this movie so much. Maybe it's the sense of small town Americana that permeates every frame. Maybe it's all the jokes about TORTURE. Maybe it's the fact that the "teenagers" are all clearly in their mid-thirties. It's hard to say.

Whatever it is, this is WITHOUT question the episode that I have watched more times than any other episode in my life. And because of that, there's no way I will ever drop it out of my top fifteen. I mean, for god's sake, Teens from Space is the one with the lobsters. Who doesn't love a movie about lobsters??

Derek:  You... are not familiar... with the focusing disintegrator ray?
Joel (as Betty):  Yeah, my aunt has one.

Dr. Brandt:  It's no use. I was too late. They're gone.
Joel:  I wasn't the fifth caller.

Even though the show evolved, and got a lot funnier later on, I will always consider Teens from Space to be the best episode of the first four seasons of Mystery Science Theater. I also consider it the third best Joel episode ever, behind only Eegah and Mitchell. And that's why... whenever I post on a MST3k message board... I always use the same username.

In honor of this episode... on every MST3k message board, I'm known as "SpaceTeens."

"Wow, really old teenagers from outer space."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  Oh, you know, just a little thing called TORTURE!


Trivia:  There's actually some pretty interesting trivia about this movie, that not a lot of people know about.

Teenagers From Outer Space was written by a guy named Tom Graeff, who had a fairly infamous career as one of the first openly gay directors in Hollywood. In fact, this whole movie is basically just a love letter to Graeff's boyfriend at the time, an actor by the name of Charles Robert Kaltenthaler ("ohhhh it's the great C.R. Kaltenthaler" from the opening credits).

Graeff wrote this movie as a showcase for Kaltenthaler, who acted under the name "David Love."

And of course, because it was written for him, Love/Kaltenthaler then starred in it as teen dream Derek the alien.  

David Love, aka ohhhh the great C.R. Kaltenthaler

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a sweet gesture between two guys who were in love with each other eventually turned nasty, when they broke up right before the movie was released. And from everything I've read online, they never spoke to each other again. And what is FASCINATING about this story is the fact that C.R. Kaltenthaler apparently just dropped completely off the face of the Earth after that. His family claims they haven't heard a word from him since 1962. No one, to this day, has any idea what the hell ever happened to ohhhh the great C.R. Kaltenthaler.

Oh yeah, and Tom Graeff also starred in the movie himself (under the pseudonym "Tom Lockyear") as Joe the reporter.

In my opinion, Teenagers from Outer Space has one of the most fascinating histories of any of the MST3k movies. Because seriously, where are you, ohhhh the great C.R. Kaltenthaler? Whatever happened to you? Did the lobsters get you?

And also... grandpa wants to know... do you need a room??

"Killed in Vietnam."

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