#24. The Painted Hills

24. The Painted Hills (1951) - Season 5, episode 510

"Remember last week, when he was alive? Well, that didn't last."

Lassie must protect her owner from an evil murdering gold prospector.
Famous for:  Being the only MST3k Lassie movie. And also... Snausages.

"You know, his head just doesn't have the structural support for that hair."

My favorite riff:
 Every MST3k episode has at least one riff that makes no sense, but it's so random and comes so completely out of nowhere that I have always loved it. And The Painted Hills, of course, is no exception. Here is one of my all-time random favorites:

"Jonathan's dead and you killed him. I'm gonna tell everybody!!"

Crow: Oh how could you POSSIBLY tell everybody?

Crow (in angry, southern accent): You gonna tell the CHINEEEEEESE?

Comments:  If you asked me to name the single most underrated MST3k episode, I would probably pick this one. The Painted Hills.

It almost never shows up on anyone's list of best episodes, but it's SO solid from top to bottom that I can't understand why. In fact, I honestly think there might never have been a more perfectly-riffed episode than this one.

"That's where Jonathan's butt used to be."

"Oh, they shaved Shep and that's all that's left."

The Painted Hills is (as all Lassie movies tend to be) actually a pretty good movie. Although it's odd how much death and revenge and murder there is in a movie that was theoretically marketed towards eight-year-old girls. I mean, before I saw The Painted Hills, I never knew there was a movie out there where Lassie was a) poisoned, b) revived, and then c) got revenge by committing cold-blooded murder.

Call me crazy, but I'm not sure that's a movie they'd make for children today.

Tommy:  Jonathan! Oh Jonathan! Why'd he have to die?
Joel:  Well, you must have done something wrong, Tommy.

"Oh, the great Lassie's in trouble. Well I've stood in your shadow long enough!"

Tommy:  You a regular parson, Mister Pete?
Pete: Regular?  No, son. Reckon I'm as irregular as they come.
Joel, Crow, Servo (in unison):  Ewwwwwwwwwwww!

All in all, this is one of my all-time favorite Joel episodes. And for years it was my wife's overall #1 favorite episode as well. So if you're reading this list for the first time, and you've decided you want to start watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, well then here you go. Go forth and track down and start with this episode. Don't listen to those monsters who will tell you to start with Manos. Start with this one instead, The Painted Hills.

This is one of those episodes that has just a little something for everyone.

"Wow, that match sure lit up the room."

Also, as a bonus, this is actually a pretty good movie, just on its own. I could totally see kids watching The Painted Hills in the theater back in the 50s, and having a good time. It just feels like a movie that was probably a hit.

And again, that's why it's a crime that it rarely gets mentioned as one of the all-time great MST3k episodes.

"Don't shoot my doppelganger!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  When my brother and I were kids, our favorite TV commercial was the one for a dog treat called "Snausages." We absolutely loved that dumb commercial. Although it wasn't because the commercial was actually any good. We just thought the word "snausages" was hilarious. All you had to do to crack either one of us up was say the word "snausages."

Snausages. Never forget.

So you can imagine my delight, of course, when this episode (The Painted Hills) had not just one "Snausages" reference, it had more than twenty!

Nearly EVERY time Lassie appears on screen, they make some reference to her wanting Snausages. Nearly EVERY god damn time! In other words, if there was ever an MST3k episode that was specifically tailored for someone like me, I mean... this is the one.


"(sniff sniff) Bacon and snausage omelet? What the...?"

Trivia:  Remember how in my Operation Double 007 writeup I said that I love when they reference Indiana Jones and his badass line of "Prepare to meet Kali?", from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?

"Prepare to meet Kali. IN HELL!"

Well here's the greatest "Prepare to meet Kali" riff of them all...

"Prepare to meet Collie!"


P.S.  Definitely track down this episode if you've never seen it before. It's incredible.


Back to Mario's Top 50 MST3k Episodes