By this time, Shout! Factory and adept extras-maker Ballyhoo have spoiled us, which is why a combined 40 minutes of special features on Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXV, a four-disc set due March 29, seem slim.
But that’s not counting inclusion of an 86-minute, non-riffed version of Time Walker (aka Being From Another Planet). And the four featurettes are good, so let’s take a look.
Best of the bunch for me is the nine-minute You Are There: Launching ’12 to the Moon‘. Its interviewee is relative newcomer to these things Jeff Burr, a filmmaker/historian with loads of exploitation flicks (pardon me: horror genre productions) to his credit.
Like me as a film reviewer, Burr gives keeping-it-real mixed notices (yes, some films are bad, but how many films are all bad?) which include bestowing credit where it’s due. His comments are informative and direct, including an observation that 12 to the Moon was impressively a “message movie” though also a “space opera” which was “too serious and, quite frankly, dull.”
Burr also nails production values of this 1960 b&w flick about an international crew reaching the moon in an absurdly spacious ship as “total B unit” for Columbia Pictures, “which was a cheap studio to begin with.” (Hah! Take that, new incarnation as Sony.)
As for Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell, its 12-minute Medieval Boogaloo: The Legend of Deathstalker III is also a single interview, in this case with actor Thom Christopher, who played the Roger Corman movie’s villain.
Christopher recounts with relish making the film in Mexico City, showing wry amusement for its cheesiness but also enthusiasm for the upbeat tone on the set. The actors knew they were making a campy action flick, but went with it, laughing all the way.
“Deathstalker — I feel terrible saying it — is not very good,” Christopher says. Well, yeah. But it was fun making it, and audiences can tell when casts are happy or miserable.
Being From Another Planet (aka 1982’s Time Walker) includes a five-minute Richard Band Remembers: an interview with the film’s composer. The guy has an impressive film pedigree, and he recounts working like recently deceased Titanic composer James Horner did for New World at the time, uncharacteristically recording genre movie scores with full orchestras.
Another Corman concoction is 1958’s Teenage Caveman, in which a 26-year-old Robert Vaughn played an absurdly well-groomed cave “teen.” Even Corman hated the cheesy title, as revealed in the 13-minute I Was a Teenage Caveman, hosted by reliable film historian C. Courtney Joyner.
Also appearing is Stephanie Shane, who was onscreen as a kid in the film alongside her dad, Robert Shayne, and historian Tom Weaver is heard off-camera.
Spoiler alert: It’s noted how the film’s surprise ending predated that of Planet of the Apes, which was similar. Teenage Caveman also is noted as being near the end of American International’s b&w double features. Better days for the studio lay ahead.
I’ve never noted the DVD box’s “liner notes” in a review before now, but these stand out, enticingly reminding us that a “sexy new MST3K” is coming and paying fond credit to the now “old school” riffing of the original show.
There’s also a clever extras sub-menu on the Deathstalker disc, with a funny list titled “Ren Faire Features Today” where only the Boogaloo featurette isn’t crossed out.
What? No Fanny Paddling Pavilion?
— Bruce Westbrook