Experiment #102: The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy w/ Moon Rocket

Season 1
MST3K Story: Dr. Forrester is preparing for his trip to the Mad Scientists Convention and Dr. Erhardt warns him against blowing the convention up again this time. (Dr. F counters that he only did that twice; the third time he used incendiaries so it just burned quickly.) When they contact the SOL, Joel shows off his airbag helmet, with the Mads countering with the Chalkman, a nails-on-chalkboard device. After a demonstration of Deep 13’s new security system that leaves both scientists injured, they send the movie; this time, with an episode of a serial before the main feature. When they get out of the theater, Joel and the Bots find that the SOL has been covered by “Demon Dogs”, strange skeletal space canines, whose presence is proving a danger to the ship. Tom convinces the others that he can reason with the creatures, but due to his fire hydrant-inspired design, the results are disastrous (and as icky as you might think). Eventually, the leader of the dog people, Enoch, comes on board the SOL and explains that they had traveled across the vastness of space to do worship to the “giant bone” and to bury it on the Moon. Apparently, they were tricked by the SOL’s dogbone shape and were not expecting it to be inhabited. Despite Joel and Enoch’s attempts to make peace, things don’t go well. Crow acts insultingly towards Enoch and Tom is still upset over the Demon Dogs’ earlier behavior. Things really go south, though, when Gypsy shows up and eats Enoch. Joel then decides to send Crow out to talk to the Demon Dogs, since he’s the only one who looks remotely like Enoch, but they are not fooled and treat Crow much the same as they did Tom Servo. As they watch the end of the movie, a Demon Dog makes its way into the theater, driving them out. They emerge to find that the SOL has been overrun. Joel decides to jettison a giant ball-shaped piece of equipment and the Demon Dogs give chase. All seems fine until Tom Servo reminds him that playing fetch usually involves chasing and then bringing back. Joel seems unhappy with the results of the experiment, but the Mads are satisfied.

Moon Rocket Story: Mr. Henderson, a powerful government official, informs Commando Cody and his team that a series of mysterious explosions seem to originate from the Moon. Cody investigates, tracking down and capturing the alien ray gun being used by the agents of the Moon operating on Earth. Once the Moon connection is confirmed, Cody decides to take a rocket and investigate the Moon directly. He and his team land on the Moon and Cody uses his rocket suit to find the aliens’ headquarters, where he is caught in a trap by Retik, the leader of the Moon.

The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy Story: Dr. Eduardo Almada brings together several of his fellow scientists to explain his most recent experiences. He had recently put his wife, Flora, under hypnosis and discovered that she had a former life as Xochi, a maiden during the times of the Aztecs. Xochi had been in love with a man named Popoca and, despite her vows of purity and destiny to be sacrificed to the gods, they broke Aztec law and tried to run away together. For their crimes, he was sentenced to being mummified alive and she was put to death. Using the knowledge obtained from Flora, Dr. Almada had led a small expedition into the temple and acquired a cursed breastplate from Xochi’s remains. When he returned later for a necklace needed to translate the inscription on the plate, he found that he had awoken the mummy of Popoca. The mummy followed Dr. Almada to his home and kidnapped Flora, thinking she was Xochi. But Dr. Almada and his friends were able to rescue her. Unknown to Dr. Almada, one of his fellow scientists, Dr. Krupp, had become determined to steal the Aztec treasure. First, he kidnapped Flora and forced Dr. Almada to translate the hieroglyphics on the Aztec treasure. But his plans were ruined when the mummy arrived and rescued Flora and the doctor. Krupp managed to escape and next hypnotized Flora, using her mental connection to the mummy to locate it. Although Dr. Almada realized what Krupp had done, he could not deduce why Krupp had not tried to steal the treasure. He explains to his fellow scientists that five years have passed since that time and there has been no sign of Krupp. But clues lead him to deduce that Krupp is working on a plan that goes beyond mere treasure. In the past five years, Krupp has found a way to bring dead tissue back to life. He has used this knowledge to build a “human robot” that he believes will allow him to conquer the world. As a test of his robot’s power, he sets it against the mummy of Popoca. The two monsters clash and the robot seems to be overpowering the mummy when the police arrive and shoot the control device out of Krupp’s hands. The mummy is then able to easily destroy the robot and Krupp. Flora gives the treasure back to the mummy and he returns to his eternal rest.

MST3K segments written by Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson and Josh (J. Elvis) Weinstein
MST3K segments director unknown

Moon Rocket written by Ronald Davidson
Moon Rocket directed by Fred C. Brannon
Moon Rocket music by Stanley Wilson

The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy written by Alfredo Salazar and Guillermo Calderón
The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy directed by Rafael Portillo
The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy music by Antonio Díaz Conde

MST3K Guest Cast: Jim Mallon (Enoch)

Moon Rocket Cast: George Wallace (Commando Cody), Aline Towne (Joan Gilbert), Roy Barcroft (Retik), William Bakewell (Ted Richards), Clayton Moore (Graber), Peter Brocco (Krog), Robert R. Stephenson (Daly), Don Walters (Mr. Henderson)

The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy Cast: Ramón Gay (Dr. Eduardo Almada), Roda Arenas (Flora Almada / Xochi), Crox Alvaredo (Pinacate), Luis Aceves Castañeda (Dr. Krupp), Jorge Mondragón (Dr. Sepúlveda), Arturo Martínez (Tierno), Emma Roldán (Maria), Julián de Meriche (Comandante), Ángel Di Stefani (Popoca, the Mummy)

LogBook entry by Philip R. Frey

Notes: Joel starts the episode out ‘Bot-less. We don’t see them until the first theater segment.

This episode marks the first appearance of any kind of “short” being used because the main film isn’t long enough to fill the time slot.

The Demon Dogs that show up in this episode could be seen during the opening credits of the KTMA season, but never appeared on the show itself.

When the guys cheer the robot and boo the mummy during the opening of the main feature, they display the pro-robot bias that would be more prominent in later years.

Moon Rocket is the first episode of the serial Radar Men from the Moon, which featured the first appearance by the character Commando Cody. (A fact the serial takes pains to point out.) The basic costume and character of Cody were adapted from an earlier serial, King of the Rocket Men. These serials (and several subsequent, related productions) have provided inspiration for many varied productions over the years.

  • Dave Stevens’ comic character, The Rocketeer was inspired by the Republic “Rocket Men” and was adapted into a film in 1991.
  • Cody also inspired the name for a 1960s/1970s country rock band called Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.
  • Perhaps the best known of Cody’s progeny is the character of Commander Cody, a clone trooper in the Republic army seen in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and both the film and television versions of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • The rig used to simulate Cody’s flying was first developed for The Adventures of Captain Marvel, a 1941 Republic serial considered by many (myself included) to be one of the finest serials ever made.

    George Wallace worked steadily from the early 1950s until just before his death in 2005. He worked a lot in serials, B movies and television, including appearances on Dragnet, Death Valley Days, Maverick, The Bionic Woman, Remington Steele, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Film work included the groundbreaking film Forbidden Planet, The Towering Inferno, Multiplicity and Bicentennial Man.

    Aline Towne’s career began in 1950 with small roles in B pictures. She appeared in TV shows like Racket Squad, Adventures of Superman and Lassie. Unlike the leading man, she returned to her role for the Cody sequel, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. Late in her career, she turned up in an episode of The Incredible Hulk and her last appearance was in an episode of Airwolf in 1985. She passed away in 1996.

    Roy Barcroft first appeared in the early 1930s, playing countless small roles in science fiction and western serials and B movies such as Dick Tracy, S.O.S. Coast Guard, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and The Phantom Creeps (serialized throughout season 2 of MST3K). In the 1940s, he began to get larger roles, until he settled into playing higher profile heavies (though not always the main villain). He returned for Sky Marshal, playing several roles. The advent of television didn’t slow him down, as he transitioned easily, playing parts on shows such as The Adventures of Kit Carson, Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Spin and Marty and The Adventures of Champion. (Those 1950s audiences sure liked adventures.) In the 1960s, he appeared on The Rifleman, The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason, Bonanza, The Lucy Show, Death Valley Days and Gunsmoke. He passed away in 1969.

    William Bakewell is another long-working actor, starting in 1923 and appearing in over 175 productions by the time he left the business in 1975. In later years, he appeared occasionally in documentaries commenting on people with whom he had worked. His career included all manner of material from a small part in Gone with the Wind to Louis XIV in The Iron Mask to episodes of Dick Tracy, Sea Hunt and Love, American Style. He appeared on all three of what MST3K refers to as the “Hooterville Trilogy”: The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. In 1934, he even sang a song on the soundtrack to You Can’t Buy Everything. Bakewell died in 1993.

    Clayton Moore is best known, of course, for his portrayal of the Lone Ranger on television from 1949 until 1957. He also portrayed the character in various guest appearances and in film incarnations in 1952 (The Legend of the Lone Ranger), 1956 (The Lone Ranger) and 1958 (The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold). In a career that dates back to 1937, his other roles included Jesse James in two films, the lead in Ghost of Zorro and the title character in Buffalo Bill in Tomahawk Territory . Following the cancellation of his show, Moore continued making public appearances as the Lone Ranger until the production of a new film version of The Legend of the Lone Ranger caused the copyright holders to force him to stop for fear of confusion in the marketplace. After the dismal failure of that 1981 movie, Moore was allowed to return to appearing as the Lone Ranger until his death in 1999.

    Peter Brocco appeared in almost 250 productions from 1932 until his death in 1992. Again, his career ran the gamut. Grabbing a handful at random, we find The Lone Wolf in Mexico, House by the River, Francis Goes to the Races, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Captain Midnight, Adventures of Superman, I Love Lucy, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Monkees, The Odd Couple, Banacek, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The A-Team, etc. Notable genre appearances include the original Star Trek, Lost in Space, Bewitched, Mission: Impossible and Twilight Zone: The Movie. Late in his career, he worked with Danny Devito on three films: Throw Momma from the Train, The War of the Roses and Other People’s Money (his last film).

    Robert R. Stephenson started working in 1934 with a small part as a guard in Operator 13 and continued until 1966 with appearances on Honey West and Perry Mason. Along the way he made over 130 film and television appearances in productions such as White Heat, The Gal Who Took the West, Four Star Playhouse, Maverick and The Lucy Show. Most of his work was in small “henchman”-type roles that went uncredited. He passed away in 1970.

    Say what you want about the actors in the movie serials, but they were a hardy bunch, who kept plugging away no matter what winds blew through the industry.

    Ronald Davidson had a long career at Republic, writing or co-writing many successful serials such as S.O.S. Coast Guard, The Lone Ranger, three of the Dick Tracy serials, Adventures of Captain Marvel, Spy Smasher, Perils of Nyoka and King of the Mounties. He made the move to television with Republic, but only worked on a few shows such as The Adventures of Dr. Fu-Manchu and Frontier Doctor before his death in 1965.

    Fred C. Brannon had a relatively brief career as a director, beginning in 1945 with The Purple Monster Strikes. He then worked steadily until his death in 1953. In that time he directed almost forty serials including The Crimson Ghost, The Invisible Monster, two Zorro serials and two featuring Frank & Jesse James. After his death, several of his serials were re-edited into features for television, including Radar Men, which was re-released in 1966 as Retik, the Moon Menace.

    Stanley Wilson was a regular composer for Republic, starting in 1947 with Twilight on the Rio Grande and worked mainly on westerns. Key entries include King of the Rocket Men, Radar Patrol vs. Spy King and Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders. He continued into the TV era, composing for shows like Wagon Train, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Virginian. He concurrently worked as a music supervisor or music director on many films, serials and shows, including the film used in episode #415 – The Beatniks. He worked up until his death in 1970, with his final material appearing in the 1972 release The Manhunter.

    The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy is a sequel to the 1957 films The Aztec Mummy and Curse of the Aztec Mummy . Significant portions of this film are made up of footage recapping the events of the two prior movies.

    Most of the cast of the film made multiple appearances in low-budget Mexican films throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, with many being also holdovers from the first two “Aztec Mummy” films.

    Actor Arturo Martinez also appeared in the film MSTied in episode #113 – The Black Scorpion.

    Producer and co-story writer Guillermo Calderón also produced the film used in episode #521 – Santa Claus.

    Notable Riffs: “My shorts are never boring.”
    “Man, the Moon looks just like Arizona, you guys!”

    Moon Rocket original release date: 1952
    The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy original release date: 1958, as La Momia azteca contra el robot humano