Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 12, episode 5 recap: Killer Fish


As The Gauntlet begins to wind down on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the latest experiment is the piranha thriller imaginatively titled “Killer Fish”.

As the invention exchange is underway on Mystery Science Theater 3000 Jonah presents Alchemy Glue, a magical glue that stops working through lack of belief.  To prove it right Crow calls the invention complete nonsense.

Kinga on the other presents the Time Travel Oven which sends food forwards and backwards in time to reduce the time spent actually cooking.  Max ends up ruining things by going too far in both directions.

Now let’s see what “Killer Fish” is made of.

In the leading man role, we have Lee Majors as jewel thief Robert Lasky.  In case you’re wondering what state his career was in to compel him to say ‘yes’ to this movie, it was shortly after his run on The Six Million Dollar Man came to an end but still a couple years away from returning to TV with The Fall Guy.  Admittedly, the film was made by Majors’ production company but really that just raises further questions.

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There’s also Karen Black who plays Kate, the girlfriend of the movie’s criminal mastermind Paul Diller (James Franciscus).  Karen Black was also a fairly prominent actress in the 70s earning an Oscar nomination for Five Easy Pieces.  “Killer Fish” was made in 1979 though, so make of that what you will.

Oddly enough the film also has former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini in a supporting role.

Now with movie sign out of the way, we open with Lasky and his den of thieves hired by Diller pulling off a daring jewelry heist.  Despite this supposedly stealth mission including a massive explosion, they get what they came for in a bunch of priceless emeralds.  Lasky and his crew stash the loot in a makeup case at the bottom of a reservoir for safe keeping.

As the rest of the thieves try relaxing after the heist Lasky meets and takes an interest in a model named Gabrielle (Margaux Hemingway).

Unsurprisingly, some of the henchmen try to pull a double cross and retrieve the jewels.  Since the movie is called “Killer Fish”, you can imagine why this doesn’t work out too well for them.  As Lasky and Kate witness their deaths, Kate quickly figures out that Diller killed them by secretly filling the reservoir with piranhas.  As it turns out Diller didn’t fully trust the henchman (can’t imagine why) and put the piranhas in as a fail safe. Kate accuses him of murder, though he understandably points out their deaths, while gruesome, only happened in the first place because they tried double crossing them.

With Lasky, Kate and Diller now the only members of the heist that are still alive, Kate and Diller also decide to go to retrieve the case.  Kate dives down and despite some close calls and a near panic attack at the sight of the now skeletal corpses, she is able to bring the case back unharmed. The bad news is they make their venture back just as a massive rainstorm starts and have to hitch a ride on the boat of the folks running Gabrielle’s photo shoot which also has Lasky aboard.

Things take another turn for the worse as a nearby dam breaks and which throws the boat around enough to leave them stranded just shy of the shore and the boat is starting to sink.  Also in the least shocking twist of all, the boat is now right smack in the middle of Diller’s piranha nest (whoops).

As some of the less important characters start to get picked off, they’re able to find a life raft which Diller commandeers alone at gunpoint.  As Diller very slowly makes his escape, this betrayal enrages Lasky enough to swim after him. Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be a poor plan since Diller just smacks him with an oar a few times forcing Lasky to swim back to the boat with a bunch of piranha bites for his trouble.  In the process though, the piranhas also sink the raft killing Diller and seemingly taking the jewels down with him.

A helicopter shows up to rescue the survivors and while most movies of this type would end it there this one keeps going.

Kate is visited at the hospital by the police who return the makeup case to her.  Not sure how the cops knew to give it to Kate but whatever. When she manages to open it up later however, she discovers the jewels have been stolen by Lasky.  Apparently, Kate anticipated this though and already took out half the take beforehand which Lasky seems to accept. And on that rather confusing and kind of pointless note, the movie ends.

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While Jonah, Servo and Crow have been suffering through the movie, Kinga and Max have been trying to fulfill an odd request.  In the last episode, Dr. Erhardt informed them that Dr. Forrester had wanted the song “Idiot Control Now” to play during the scattering of his ashes.  The Mystery Science Theater 3000 faithful might remember this as the song written for the season 3 episode Pod People.  Their assistant Synthia is able to recreate the song in liquid form and Kinga is all too happy to take credit for the new discovery.

The Gauntlet now has one movie to go but with Ator, the Fighting Eagle closing things out, it probably won’t get any easier.

What did you think of this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!