Tulsa TV Memories


The Killer Shrews Last night (12/17/2005), we watched a DVD of Mystery Science Theater 3000's presentation of "The Killer Shrews" (1959). MST3K started in 1988 as a local TV show in Minneapolis.

MST3K's premise: a mad scientist shot one of his less-favored employees into orbit, and now periodically forces him to watch bad movies beamed up to the satellite. The hapless fellow's only defense against insanity is to make fun of the movie with the help of his robot pals (seen in silhouette).

Credits 1 One of the 'bots commented here: "Hmm...Ingrid is Goude, but James is Best."

James is Best known as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on "The Dukes of Hazzard". Another notable role was Billy-Ben in "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Jess-Belle", written by Earl Hamner, creator of "The Waltons".

Ingrid was Miss Universe 1957, so she was very Goude indeed.

Best, Better and Goude? Best, Better and Goude?

"Better" in this scene is Baruch Lumet, father of famous director Sidney Lumet. Sidney directed "Power", Jim Hartz' lone movie credit.

"The Killer Shrews" deserved an Oscar for Most Gratuitous Drinking. Much of the "action" occurred indoors, and the characters frequently toddled over to the bar and knocked back hefty slugs of hooch.

Ken Curtis Ken Curtis is best remembered as Festus on "Gunsmoke". He also co-starred in the series, "Ripcord" (1962), as a professional skydiver with Larry Pennell, who would later portray movie star Dash Riprock on "The Beverly Hillbillies".

I must say that Ken Curtis pulled off a more believable drunk act in this movie than Foster Brooks ever did.

Featuring Gordon McLendon Gordon McLendon pioneered the wire recreation of baseball games on the radio. Jim Ruddle told a story about this on The Sports Page. McLendon also popularized the Top 40 format on his Dallas flagship station, KLIF.

He was executive producer of both "The Killer Shrews" and "The Giant Gila Monster", having bankrolled both productions. "Shrews" was shot in the Dallas area.

Gordon McLendon and shrew Scientist McLendon pets a not-yet-killer shrew.

In the 1950s, he bought land on the outskirts of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and built several drive-in theaters. When the metroplex sprawled out to meet them, McLendon made a killing on the land, which was his plan from the beginning. His fortune was estimated at 200 million dollars at the time of his death in 1986.

Bad shrew This is the most frightening still I could pull of one of the titular stars. The critters were wisely kept in shadow, but it is obvious that they were portrayed by dogs wearing tie-on shrew outfits. Close-ups were accomplished with hand puppets.

The remaining protagonists escaped the hungry shrews by welding several barrels together and duck-walking to the boat. They could have simply lit a match and used their boozy breath to incinerate the pesky mammals.

"The Killer Shrews" can be found on
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 7
from the TTM Gift Shop.

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