Zappa Refs on MST3K

Finalized October 2001, with one update (ep 705) in August 2007 and another (ep 815) in April 2012.

At last, here it is - the definitive, complete list of unquestionable Frank Zappa references that have been made on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV show. I've watched every episode closely, and listened repeatedly to every Zappa album (it's a way of life), and should I happen to have missed anything, I've had dozens of people email me to make suggestions and corrections. So I can say, with some certainty, that the following list contains every comment that Mike, Joel, the 'bots, the mad scientists or anyone else on MST3K ever made that is unquestionably a reference to Zappa.

Those who have been here before may be asking "Hey, you didn't get rid of the insanely long list of everything that could remotely be considered inspired by Zappa, did you?" Nope, the complete list is still around, and still includes the names of everyone who contributed to it.

And now, the list of definites:

KTMA episode 19 - "Hanger 18" - towards the end of the movie, some music being played in the UFO the scientists are studying must remind Joel of the Zappa song "Yo Cats", because he suddenly sings "Your career will take a thud, unless you kneel and..." He then seems to realize that he can't finish that line on TV, and Servo (Josh Weinstein) also realizes it and taunts Joel by saying "and what?" A couple minutes later, when the UFO investigator tells the military man in charge that he'll be held personally responsible for the safety of an astronaut, Joel again sings "His career will take a thud..." After a pause in which you can practially hear Josh thinking of a "clean" next line, Servo follows up with "Unless he sits and drinks a bud".

206 - "Ring of Terror" - At the very beginning of the movie, the camera pans past an unreadable sign on a brick column, and Joel (before he's even in his seat), says "Hey look at that Tom, it says...", then both Joel and Tom in unison say "Centerville, a real great place to raise your kids up" (a line from Zappa's movie 200 Motels).

209 - "The Hellcats" - during a close-up of two bikers in a bar, Crow says "Look, it's Flo and Eddie." Those were the stage names taken by the singers from the Turtles when they joined Zappa's band The Mothers of Invention.

213 - "Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster" - While the film's characters wander around on an island looking for something, Crow comments on the soundtrack: "We've gotta find that rhythm combo. Sounds like the Mothers of Invention".

301 - "Cave Dwellers" - when the character of Thong is introduced, Servo says "Played here by Jimmy Carl Black of the Mothers of Invention."

310 - "Fugitive Alien" - Near the end, an alien who looks like a cross between an Arab and a Native American gets a close-up. Servo says "It's Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group." and Joel adds "Yeah, from the Mothers".

312 - "Gamera vs. Gurion" - When one of the evil space women shaves a kid's head, Servo says "Hey..." and then Servo and Crow say together "Weasels ripped my flesh! Rzzzzzz!" Weasels Ripped My Flesh is one of the last albums put out by the original Mothers of Invention.

317 - "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" - during the opening short, "The Home Economics Story", when a home ec. student holds up a garment, Crow asks "Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?" and Joel adds "Watch those huskies...". The poncho line is from "Camarillo Brillo" on the Over-nite Sensation album, and the huskies line is from "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" on the Apostrophy album (see 422, below, for more info). [Many thanks to Bruce Bowman for pointing out a long-standing error in this entry.]

324 - "Master Ninja 2" - when a long haired guy jumps out of a jeep, Joel says "It's Jimmy Carl Black!".

402 - "The Giant Gila Monster" - during the Stupid Jerk, er, um, Soda Jerk host segment, the 'bots use some "teen lingo". Crow says "Solid gone, Jasper!" and Servo follows up with "Hungry Freaks, Daddy!", which is the name of a song on Zappa's first album, Freak Out.

405 - "Being From Another Planet" - as a girl named Suzy runs down a hallway trying to escape from the title character, Servo asks "Suzy Creamcheese, what's got into you?" Suzy Creamcheese is a semi-fictional character who appears on a few early Zappa albums.

406 - "Attack of the Giant Leeches" - When the leeches are shown, Servo says "The leeches are just guys in fancy ponchos". Crow says "They're not leeches, they're scientologists!". Joel adds, "They're Sears ponchos" (see entry for 317, above).

407 - "The Killer Shrews" - when a "Shrew" bites a character, Crows says "Weasels ripped my flesh!" and Joel adds "Rzzzzzz". Another reference to the Zappa album of that title, which features a drawing of man shaving his face with a weasel, which is making a "rzzzzzz" noise as it tears the skin off his face.

409 - "The Indestrucible Man" - during the "Undersea Kingdom" short, when the character Unga Khan is introduced, Servo says "Looks like Jimmy Carl Black", and Crow says "the Indian of the group" (which is JCB's famous quote from the We're Only In It For The Money album). Later, during the main movie, there's a shot of the LA skyline that prompts Joel to say "Whoa, Centerville, a real great place to bring your kids up" (see 206, above). And yet more - during a shot of an old car, Crow says "We can crash in my Nash" and Servo says "Cruising for burgers", references to the songs "The Air" and "Cruising for Burgers" on the album Uncle Meat (thanks to Gary aka Faultline from alt.fan.frank-zappa for pointing out that the Nash reference is actually from "The Air" - I originally had both attributed to "Cruising").

410 - Hercules Against the Moon Men - Joel's invention at the beginning of the show is something called the "Super Freak Out". The "Poopie Tape" (a half-hour video of outtakes available from Best Brains) shows Servo singing "Kanzus, Kanzus, doot doot doot!" during this scene, which is what made me decide that it's definitely a Zappa ref.

412 - "Hercules and the Captive Woman" - during a strange dance scene, Crow says "They're dancing to Uncle Meat by Frank Zappa", and Servo adds "Sounds like Dog Breath in the Year of the Plague" (a song from the album Uncle Meat) and sings "Fuzzy dice and bongos..." (lyrics from "Dog Breath").

414 - "Tormented" - A strange reference to the song "Penguin in Bondage" during the final host segment: Joel says that they should think happy thoughts to "shoo away all those dark, smelly images that are knirping for moisture." ("knirps for moisture" is a line from the song).

417 - "Crash of Moons" - When the character Rocky draws a diagram and says "Now assume this is the space station", Joel adds "and assume this is a ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch." (Ship Arriving... is the title of the Zappa album that includs the song "Valley Girl".)

418 - "Attack of the (the) Eye Creatures" - about two thirds of the way through the movie, the soundtrack inspires Servo to sing "fuzzy dice and bongos, fuzzy dice! La la la la la!" (see 412, above)

419 - "The Rebel Set" - The name "Theo Bikel" is written on a sign outside a coffee shop, causing Joel to say "Theo Bikel? This must be 200 Motels" (Theodore Bikel plays the role of the Devil in Zappa's movie 200 Motels). Later, some vibes play on the soundtrack and Servo comments "Tell Zappa to turn the music down. Ruth Underwood wants her vibes back" (Ruth was the percussionist for the Mothers in the early to mid 70s).

422 - "The Day the Earth Froze" - during a shot of a blizzard, Crow says "Watch out where the Huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow" (see 317, above).

423 - "Bride of the Monster" - when a big, old car appears on the screen, Servo sings "We can crash, in my Nash" (see 409, above).

424 - "Manos, the Hands of Fate" - It's noted that a painting of "the master" looks like a "Frank Frazzetta of Frank Zappa". Also, when the family's pet poodle first appears on screen, Servo says "the poodle bites, the poodle chews it" (a line from the Zappa song "Dirty Love").

506 - "Eegah!" - When a mummy that looks like it's wearing a poncho appears on screen, Crow asks "Is that a real poncho, or a Sears poncho?" (see 317, above.) Also, when the lead male character calls for the lead female by yelling "Roxy!", Servo responds "And Elsewhere!" (Roxy and Elsewhere is the title of a live Zappa album from the mid-70s).

508 - "Operation Double 007" - after I had written this one off as not having any FZ references in it, Spider Gecko emailed the following to me:
>In the scene where Alpha (I think) of THANATOS is describing their evil
>magnetizing plot, he mentions something about a dynamo, and
>Joel quickly says "Dinah Moe Humm."

514 - "Teenage Strangler" - Near the beginning of the movie, a girl says "Did you hear something?" and Mike (referring to background music) says "Sounds like Ruth Underwood." (see 419, above.)

518 - "The Atomic Brain" - About halfway through the episode, the soundtrack features a xylophone run just as a female character looks up in puzzlement, causing Mike to say (in a falsetto voice) "Did I hear Ruth Underwood?" (see 419, above.) Another section of the soundtrack prompts Mike to say "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask", which is the title of a song on Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh album.

523 - "Village of the Giants" - This episode featured a song called "The Greatest Frank of All". It was originally written to be about TV's Frank, but this episode first aired just after Frank Zappa died. So the song was replayed over the closing credits, which ended with a picture of Zappa and a "FZ RIP" caption instead of a stinger.

601 - "Girls Town" - At the beginning of the movie, a guy is attacking a girl and rips her dress, which makes Crow say "A weasel ripped my dress! Rzzzz!". (see 312, above.) A couple minutes later the opening credit song has the line "Mind your Ps and Qs" and Crow says "Why does it hurt when I P&Q?", which is most likely a reference to the Zappa song "Why Does it Hurt When I Pee" from the album Joe's Garage.

610 - "The Violent Years" - During a pojama party scene, Crow says "Po-jama party people". I would mark this as a "possible" ref, but something about the way he says it makes me sure it's a reference to the Zappa song "Po-jama People" from One Size Fits All.

616 - "Racket Girls" - When the character Peaches (a big, big girl) is introduced, Servo says "Peaches...EN Regalia!", which is the title of the opening track of the Zappa album Hot Rats.

621 - "Beast of Yucca Flats" - at the beginning of the host segment following the second short, Mike and Servo are playing chess and Servo is quietly singing "Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back..." (see 412, above.)

622 - "Angel's Revenge" - Just past the one hour mark, there's a section of the soundtrack that prompts Servo to sing "fuzzy dice and bongos...la la la...???...fuzzy dice and bongos" (if anyone can figure out what he's saying in the ??? section, let me know). Then he leans over to Mike and whispers "Frank Zappa". Mike leans back and says "Yes, I know" (see 412, above).

704- "The Increadible Melting Man" - Towards the end of the movie, the soundtrack inspires Crow to sing "Fuzzy dice and bongos, fuzzy dice!", and Servo continues "La la la la". (see 412, above).

705 - "Escape 2000" - unbelieveably, after this page sat on the web as "Finalized" for almost six years, I got an email from Michael Ferrari who pointed out a Zappa reference that everyone had missed all these years. At the very end of this episode, after the movie's credits have run and Mike, Crow and Servo have left the theater, at the tail end of the door sequence, as the last door is closing, you can hear Crow singing "...and pasting and pooting..." from "Let's Make the Water Turn Black". After just a few words, Mike enters and Crow stops singing to ask him where Tom is. It's very faint, and it's partially covered by the sound of door #6 closing, but it's there. Just for the heck of it, I even documented it with an MP3 file.

802 - "The Leech Woman" - Servo sings "Movin' to Montana soon, gonna be a mental toss flycoon" along with the soundtrack, then hums a bit of Uncle Meat. The "Montana" line is a reference to the Zappa song of that title on the Over-Nite Sensation album.

808 - "The She Creature" - When the evil Dr. Carlo Lombardi is putting his unwilling assistant into a hypnotic trance, he says "I'm going to give you substance..." and Crow adds "...and my Zappa boots."

815 - "Agent for h.a.r.m." - Joe Blevins sent me the following:
> Tom hums a bit of the"Uncle Meat" theme. It's when they're all making fun
> of the background score of the movie.
This page was "finalized" for over a decade without this reference because I couldn't find the bit of the episode that Joe was talking about. Then I started converting my MST3K tapes to CD-R, and eventually got to Agent for h.a.r.m. This time the hummed bit of Uncle Meat jumped out at me - I don't know how I could have missed it before. It's near the end, a couple minutes before the last commercial break - Crow starts humming along with the movie soundtrack, which sounds vaguely similar to Zappa, and then Servo clearly hums part of Uncle Meat.

904 - "Werewolf" - when a character examines the werewolf scratches across his back, Mike says "Ow, weasels ripped my flesh again!" (see 312, above.)

The "Shorts" tape - includes the "poncho" ref from "The Home Economics Story" short (see 317, above).

"Poopie" (outtakes) tape - includes the Super Freak Out and Kanzus references mentioned in episode 410, above.


Return to Bob's home page