The Three Stooges in Orbit concluded a tape FULL of Stooges shorts, including two of my favourites: Booty and The Beast and Three Little Pirates. Once the final short (involving pleasant hula dancing) was over, the Columbia logo immediately came up again to fade out into creepy music and an eerie background of deep space. Accompanying this music is a narrator, who in serious tone, recounts the history of the search for extra-terrestrial life on Mars. In a prior edition of VHS Memories about The X-Files, I expressed my deepest fear of being in alien contact. Regardless of that, I still enjoyed watching Howard, Fine, and DeRita’s escapades in helping a silly professor perfect his flying submarine and prevent invading Martians from stealing it.
Here’s the odd part: it wasn’t the main Martians themselves that scared me. Ogg and Zogg are awesome, flat-headed guys in capes who secretly liked 50’s twist music. They sort of resembled the Frankenstein Monster, a character I grew up with and regarded as a cool brute from Universal. So if Ogg and Zogg didn’t make Eddie Spaghetti tremble in fear, who or what the heck did? Simple; it was the Martian-spy butler!
Emil Sitka (who some fans say was the fourth Stooge) plays wacky Professor Danforth, an eccentric old man in the process of fine-tuning his latest invention: a flying submarine-tank. Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe have been kicked out of their hotel-room for breaking the “no cooking” rule but find luck: a newspaper ad for a room to rent and home-cooking allowed! Once entering Danforth’s mansion, we immediately see that the butler is not all excited for these new tenants. His ploy is to spook them so bad, that they’ll run away so he can continue to steal the submarine plans and schematics for Mars.
Wearing a gruesome mask, that I can only describe as a potential candidate for Freddy Krueger, the Butler emerges from a hidden doorway in a bedroom fireplace. Its quite the comedic scene involving swapping himself with Larry in the bed and then eventually scaring Curly Joe half to death but at a young age, that mask was very frightening. Recently watching the film I noticed something new during one shot where the Butler in disguise is hidden under a blanket pretending to be Larry: looking closely at the mask, you can notice the eyes shift creepily around. Its incredibly subtle to where I don’t know if they’re actually moving or not.
Don’t get me wrong; I adore this film. While it may not be as traditionally violent as the early Stooge shorts (by the time Joe DeRita was the third member, Larry and Moe were in their mid 60’s and their earlier work was considered too violent for kids), its easily considered the BEST of the Three Stooges films, including the latest reboot/remake/whatever the hell you want to call it. Its one of the few horror/sci-fi stories that the boys took part in (the most known would probably be Spooks!, a 3D short made earlier with Shemp) and is essentially their “Meets Frankenstein“.