Archive for the ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Category

MST3K Vol. XXXIX DVD Review: End of the Line

November 12, 2017

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And lo, it came to pass that many years of steady DVD releases of MST3K are ending. That end comes with Nov. 21’s release by Shout! Factory of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX.

Eleven of the beloved cowtown puppet show’s 176 broadcast episodes remain unavailable, and you know the culprit: film rights. But before you get utterly bent out of shape, please know that rights issues are perfectly legal and are common in the TV/movie business. That’s why the original 1960s Batman TV series remained in video limbo for decades until its release in 2014.

But give the heavy thinkers at Shout! Factory this: With only three available episodes for Vol. XXXIX, unlike the usual four, and with 11 episodes taboo, what the hoo, they’ve added a fourth disc collecting all host segments from those 11 shows.

So there, balky movie rights owners. We’ve got three hours of Best Brains madness from those missing programs, at times even including stills and glimpses of the films.

Not only that, but the usual DVD extras, as so often, are special, including Showdown in Eden Prairie: Their Final Experiment and Behind the Scream: Daniel Griffith on Ballyhoo.

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Blu-ray review: ‘The Terror’

May 30, 2016

The Terror

If 1963’s The Terror had been on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show’s movie-mockers would have wryly chimed “The terror!” during its many slow, meandering stretches punctuated by slight frights at best.

But though misnamed and mismanaged (the script is a mess), this nostalgic cheapie from Roger Corman and American International Pictures is satisfying in many ways — especially now, with a beautiful restoration by The Film Detective for reissue May 31 on Blu-ray.

For one thing, it shows where the great Boris Karloff’s career wound down and where the great Jack Nicholson’s career started out.

Horror great Karloff was 76 and ailing, yet gave a robust performance as Baron Von Leppe, a recluse wearing Hugh Hefner-worthy house robes while living in a huge seaside castle with only his servant (Roger Corman stalwart Dick Miller) in early 18th century France. Enter wandering soldier Andre (Nicholson — looking so young!), who seeks an elusive, mysterious, cleavage-brandishing woman he briefly encountered on the craggy, cliff-ringed beach over which the castle looms.

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DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume Two’

May 17, 2016

I’m not sure if out-of-print copies of Rhino’s original Mystery Science Theater 3000 sets “cost as much as a used car,” as box notes said on Shout! Factory’s reissue of Volume One. But it’s still good to see Volume Two also back in print as of May 24, even with far fewer extras than Shout delivered the first time.

Jack Perkins

Mike Nelson as Jack Perkins, host of the “Mystery Science Theater Hour.”

“Take that, third party sellers!” the box notes say this time, as four MST3K programs get new digital life: Cave Dwellers, Pod People, Angels Revenge and Shorts Vol. 1.

While I love shorts compilations (which I often buy from the MST crew now at RiffTrax), Pod People is my twisted favorite of these discs.

Our friends at Satellite News found the flick sleep-inducing, but this low-rent E.T. rip-off (sorry: homage) is oh-so-’80s, my favorite decade to revisit with wry amusement. And what better time to brandish an absurd hatched alien called “Trumpy”?

As for bonus features, the discs for Cave Dwellers and Pod People add Mystery Science Theater Hour “wraps” (intros and outros) for those episodes, running a grand total of 10 1/2 minutes. And that’s it. (The new menus are bare-bones.)

Though that’s not a lot, I’ll take it — especially since these wraps feature MST Hour host Mike Nelson as goofy, toothy, weirdly enthusiastic Jack Perkins (a parody of a real-life TV journalist), a regular in Deep 13.

Here, he fondles electric guitars and giant snakes while he sets up and rehashes episodes, then dazedly roams the set in near-darkness as the credits roll.

By the way, has anyone catalogued how many such wraps have been featured so far on DVD? Thirty MST3K episodes — thus, 60 two-part shows — were made for the reissue series, all from seasons three-five.

These were done to appease TV stations reluctant to air a two-hour episode but open to showing them divided in half as two-part, one-hour episodes.

Hey, anything that gets MST shown is fine with me — along with reissuing OOP  episodes ASAP (welcome to Acronym Theater).

As Lawgiver would say, “Keep ’em coming.”

— Bruce Westbrook

DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXV’-To the Moon

March 16, 2016

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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. (more…)

DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIV’: RIP AIP

November 29, 2015

Warofthecolossalbeast

Two trailers, two Frank Conniff intros running three minutes total and one Ballyhoo featurette? That’s all the extras for Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIV, new Tuesday from Shout! Factory?

Yes, that’s all. But it turns out that’s a lot.

The four-disc set’s sole featurette — on the history of American International Pictures — runs 92 minutes, or longer than many of AIP’s own movies. That makes it the most ambitious documentary of Ballyhoo’s many look-backs at films, filmmakers and film studios for MST’s box sets, and given its many films used on MST, AIP was well worth it.

Playing off the absurdly long title of one of the four AIP films in this set (The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent), the retrospective is named It Was a Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The AIP Story.

Laced with vintage clips and recent interviews of film historians and filmmakers — including Roger Corman — the story is classic Hollywood stuff, putting AIP’s birth and growth in historical perspective: Baby Boom teens with wheels and rock music wanted rebellious film fare made for them. You could say AIP pandered, but didn’t any studio trying to make a buck?

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DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume 1’: Reprise to please

August 30, 2015

MST Vol. 1Oops. Out of print copies of Rhino’s Mystery Science Theater: Volume 1 may not be fetching $200 or so now that Shout! Factory is obligingly reissuing the four-disc set Tuesday for a more modest price. But even if you have the original, you may want to pick this up.

Yes, there are extras — a good many, in fact, starting with the “bumpers” between commercials which were omitted by Rhino. Beyond that is a fetching array of material from our friends at Ballyhoo, and a theatrical trailer for The Creeping Terror.

In fact, its disc is crazy for Creeping. There’s much more for the so-bad-it’s-good-in-an-Ed-Wood vein el cheapo monster mash in which a walking carpet terrorized teens. To wit: an extended trailer (seven minutes!) for The Creep Behind the Camera, a 2014 film about making the ’60s movie — or, more precisely, about its oh so dark creator, actor-writer-director Art Nelson, aka Vic Savage, about whom “creep” is an understatement and a relative compliment.

There’s also a 17-minute panel and Q&A for the film at the 2014 Screamfest in Los Angeles, hosted by MST’s own Frank Conniff.

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DVD Review Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIII: No Harm, No Foul

July 12, 2015

mst 33 dvdI never know how Shout! Factory determines which MST3K episodes to group in boxed sets. All I know is that the latest, Volume XXXIII (due July 28), is top-heavy with films from the stuffy, repressed, often repugnant ’50s, those being Daddy-O, Teen-Age Crime Wave and Earth vs. the Spider.

The sole ’60s rep is the faux-groovy spy romp Agent for H.A.R.M. It’s also cheap, but hey, at least it’s in color and has bikinis.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate ’50s flicks, which can make for merry movie mocking. But one can only take so many blurry, black-and-white shots of 30-year-old actors pretending to be teen hep cats by smoking cigarettes. Of course, that’s why we have Mike, Joel and the ‘bots at our side.

And in this case, loads of bonus features. In fact, I count around an hour and a half of extras — the length of an MST episode.

So let’s get on with it:

The Daddy-O disc has a 9-minute Beatnick Blues: Investigating Daddy-O. The usual film historians recount its creation, along with good old Roger Corman. They peg the film as more of a crime drama than a typical AIP youth exploiter with hotrods, alleged hipsters and crappy music pretending to be rock. Then MST Hour Wraps round out our look-back.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie on Blu-ray Sept. 3

June 12, 2013

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Get ready for “this Blu-ray mirth”: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is coming to Blu-ray Sept. 3 from Shout! Factory.

Not only that, but the 1996 MST3K theatrical release is getting some juicy extras, including a making-of featurette called “The Making Of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie: The Motion Picture Odyssey.” (It appears to lose a colon in there somewhere.) There’s also “This Island Earth: 2 1/2 Years in the Making”; deleted scenes; and the original trailer.

There should be plenty of deleted scenes, since Universal mercilessly chopped up the original cut of the film to make it a mere 75 minutes for theaters. And the MST movie’s making-of featurette should be interesting, since this in some ways was such a departure from the TV series (and wound up limiting MST’s Season 7 to a handful of episodes in the process).

This Island Earth, from 1955, isn’t a bad film, but it is from the same era and genre often mocked by Mike and the ‘bots. Look for Russell Johnson in a supporting role — the same actor who became “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island a decade later.

And look for this Blu-ray come September.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

 

 

MST3K XXVII DVD Lineup: Attack of the Deadly Slime Giants

April 8, 2013

villageofgiants6You heard it here first — I hope: Shout! Factory has announced the lineup for the DVD set Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXVII, due July 23. And it is:

Rocket Attack USA,  The Deadly Mantis, The Slime People and Village of the Giants (above).

Each will be new to DVD.

Bonus features will include Chasing Rosebud: The Cinematic Life Of William Alland. That producer for Universal creature features also was touched upon in the latest boxed set regarding The Mole People, and here it’s for The Deadly Mantis. (more…)

MST3K Vol. XXIV DVD Review: Vampires and Wrestlers and Dragons — Oh My!

July 13, 2012

SEE! TV’s Frank follow Torgo to Second Banana Heaven! HEAR! Dr. Forrester plaintively sing “Who Will I Kill?” WINCE!  As producer Sandy Frank talks the biz of show-biz like he’s opening a chain of laundromats!

We’re talking Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIV, Shout! Factory’s latest four-disc foray into uncharted MST DVD waters, due July 31.

I came. I saw. I’ve assessed the extras. And here they are for you. (more…)