Posts Tagged ‘MST3K’

MST3K Vol. XXXIX DVD Review: End of the Line

November 12, 2017

MST3K 39

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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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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DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXII’: Baltimore?

April 10, 2015

mst 32I should have known our ol’ pals at Satellite News would finally get their due on an MST3K box set. Now it’s happened with Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXII, whose four discs’ extra features include “Sampo Speaks! A Brief History of Satellite News.”

How brief? Well, 7 1/2 minutes isn’t bad for “Sampo,” who’s actually journalist Chris Cornell, to guide us down memory lane to the days when MST’s production company, Best Brains, issued its own newsletter named Satellite News.

Yep, I used to get these in the mail. But the cost for 80,000 copies became prohibitive. So Best Brains, knowing Cornell was a sympathetic journalist (a status I also enjoyed with BB over the years while covering them for the Houston Chronicle), asked him to take over under the same name — which he and Brian Henry did, as a website.

The rest, as they say, is history, as Satellite News blossomed with the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, back when MST was an ongoing cable TV staple. And SN is still going strong today, 16 years after the show left the air, by serving staunch fans and promoting the careers of those in the show.

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DVD Review Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition

November 21, 2013

mst box

So often, “anniversary” observations deserve quote marks. I’ve seen movies get anny editions a year before or after their true release date. Similarly, my beloved (and now hapless) Houston Astros marked their 50th anny in their 51st season. (No wonder they’re struggling.)

But in this case, Shout! Factory has it right. Due Nov. 26 is a new five-DVD box set of Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition. And is it truly the 25th anniversary? Well, the set’s due date is almost exactly 25 years after the show’s birth on Minneapolis’ KTMA on Nov. 24, 1988. That close enough for you? (Besides, Nov. 24 this year is a Sunday, and DVDs aren’t released on Sundays.)

Like a previous Gamera collection, this one comes in a “silver(ish)” (as Shout calls it) tin. (Well, it is on the inside.) The four new movies/episodes are Moon Zero Two, The Day the Earth Froze, The Leech Woman and Gorgo. But also enclosed is a fifth-disc double feature of two previously issued but OOP titles: Joel Hodgson’s last episode as host, Mitchell, and Mike Nelson’s first, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. (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…)

DVD Review ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIII’: Dinos and Horses and Fu, oh my!

March 18, 2012

Remember when MST DVDs had NO extra features? That’s so Rhino.

Thanks to Shout! Factory — along with MST’s crew and often Ballyhoo Productions — the Satellite of Love is now lavished with extras on disc — extras which are even more welcome given that they’re new material for a show which ended over a decade ago. Thanks to them, at the least, MST3K lives.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIII is no exception. And since you Misties doubtless have seen the four shows making their DVD debuts March 27, here’s a rundown of their special features: (more…)

DVD Review Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXII

November 15, 2011

Yes, there’s nothing like a thoughtful Christmas gift. And what could be more thoughtful than The Brute Man, The Violent Years, Time of the Apes and Mighty Jack, MST3K-style?

That’s what you’ll get in Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXII, due from Shout! Factory Dec. 6 in a four-disc box set also bulging with lots o’ extras. And since most Misties already know these films — though all four are making their DVD debut — let’s get straight to the juicy new stuff.

In terms of extras, best of these four discs is The Brute Man, which sports another ambitious featurette from Ballyhoo, the half-hour Trail of the Creeper: Making of The Brute Man. Handsomely produced, it’s really less about the movie and more about Rondo Hatton, the disfigured and tragic boogeyman of the film, and how he led a vanguard of new “monsters” for Universal when the studio cooled to its classic fright fiends in the mid-1940s.

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DVD review ‘MST3K vs. Gamera – Vol. XXI’: No shell of past glories

July 22, 2011

Personally, I don’t care if my Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs come in a handsome collectible tin, a plastic sheath, a cardboard case or a fishwrap. I’m happy just to have them. And being a former child, which makes Gamera my friend (ex-friend?), I’m especially happy to have MST3K’s extensive (well, five-film) collection of Gamera episodes via Shout! Factory’s new boxed set — in a handsome collectible tin — due Aug. 2.

Yes, I’m a smarty pants, and I have it early. Sorry. But at least that means I can tip you off to what’s inside.

You already know the movies and their MST treatments. You already know that Gamera was a Japanese man in a rubber suit playing a giant tusked turtle urped up by the earth and battling other bizarre behemoths while selectively being a friend to all bratty, know-it-all, always in the way children in silly tiny-pants outfits. And you already know he did this in the flicks Gamera, Gamera Vs. Barugon, Gamera Vs. Gaos, Gamera Vs. Guiron and Gamera vs. Zigra, all collected here.

But you probably don’t yet know what DVD extras lurk inside — why, just like the flames roiling in Gamera’s belly before belching from his shell’s butt (tail) or arm and leg holes while spinning and flying like a slimy UFO. So you see? You need me after all. Sigh.

Now take notes. There may be a test.

Disc 1, with 1965’s first Gamera, has So Happy Together: A Look Back At MST3K and Gamera. And if you know why it’s titled So Happy Together, then slap your gams with Gamera glee, because you’re right: It’s a reference to great and groovy ’60s So Cal pop-rock group the Turtles and their biggest hit. (Though it was named Happy Together, not So Happy Together, and came out in ’67. You’re right — I am an insufferable smarty-pants.)

The 23-minute featurette blends on-camera solo interviews of the usual suspects — Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Josh Weinstein — with nicely matched clips from the goofy Japanese monster movies.

In fact, “goofy” seems to be a mantra of this discourse, as our snickering but appreciative heroes note that Gamera movies, in effect, became MST’s “biggest film franchise.” (Conniff likens him to “a recurring character” on the show.) Beyond the five network episodes in this set, that turtle love also dates to MST’s early KTMA days when such cinematic slush lay mouldering in the station’s vaults and was snatched up by the burgeoning movie-mocking crew.

After this fun stuff (always good to see these guys), the disc also yields five minutes of MST Hour wraps for the corresponding two episodes (good to see Mike Nelson, too, since he’s missing from the interviews) and Gamera’s original Japanese trailer (a nice touch,  with the weirdness of Japanese dialogue and graphics).

Disc 2 has another 23-minute featurette (hmmm . . . designed for a half-hour telecast with ads?) called Gamera Vs. The Chiodo Brothers. It gathers the three low-budget exploitation flick special effects whizzes (how would that look on a business card?) for a lively discussion of rubber-suited monster effects –their pitfalls (it’s hot as hell in there, you can’t move, you sweat like a pig and it stinks) and their wonders (they somehow look “real” compared to today’s clearly-from-cartoonland and can-only-be-artificial CG).

The Chiodos rightly credit their childhood infatuations for sparking and sustaining their monster mash obsessions, noting that they wouldn’t like Gamera flicks so much if they hadn’t seen them when they didn’t know any better to be unimpressed. They also gamely play out a docu-style “reality” as their den set shakes, rattles and rolls to periodic tiny quakes which turn out to be — well, you saw Jurassic Park and its cup of quake-shaken water, right? It wasn’t from a quake, was it? And we quaked in fear!

Best tidbit of the session: How do you keep a rubber monster suit from stinking after a day of sweaty shooting? You spray it with Vodka. The alcohol kills the bacteria. You see? You learn something every day. Tell the kids!

Disc 3 takes the bold step of having a 30-minute (not 23-minute) featurette, this time a one-angle shot of one guy, fanboy and author August Ragone, who delivers Gamera Obscura: A History. It may seem dull at first, but his scholarly stories ripple with detail, including his talk of an aborted try by the same studio to use live rats on miniature sets for a monster movie (uh, that didn’t work) before trying an endearing giant turtle to save their bacon. (How’s that for a mixed-species metaphor?)

Good info. Still, some stills or clips would have been nice — rights be damned!

Oh yes, you also get original Japanese trailers here and on the other discs, as well as more MST Hour wraps on Disc 4 for Guiron.

There, is that enough, apart from the usual mini-posters from the movie casings and the newly animated menus with Crow and Servo? Or is the on-screen material itself not enough entertainment for you? Well then, how about that handsome collectible tin? It sure beats a slimy turtle’s shell for housing your gamut of Gamera.

Still not satisfied? Then be like the Chiodos, and make your own miniature rubber turtle suit to house them. You may not even need any Vodka.

Sure, that sounds goofy. I’ve been watching Gamera movies, ya know, so give me a break. Besides, just like Daiei, the big boy’s little studio, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

‘Mystery Science’ movie finds ‘Island’ on DVD

May 18, 2008

Long out of print, Mystery Science Theater 3000 — The Movie is back, thanks to a DVD reissue by Universal. This is the film that the Best Brains gang made between the sixth and seventh seasons on Comedy Central, leaving a truncated seventh season in its wake. I’m not sure it was worth the trade off to get a 75-minute “movie” instead of another dozen or so two-hour TV episodes, but it is a kick seeing a bit higher production values for the Deep 13 and SOL segments, which don’t feature the departed TV’s Frank or Joel Hodgson but do feature Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy and the usual suspects in fine form.

It is a bit odd seeing 1955’s This Island Earth mocked as an allegedly bad movie. In fact, it was fairly top-flight sci-fi for its day. But as Mike and company have shown in Rifftrax, a movie needn’t be bad for them to have fun making fun of it.

One quibble is that the disc has absolutely no extra features. For such a short production, a little bit would have helped, even if only Earth’s original trailer. But at least a cherished MST3K chestnut is back on the fire, where it certainly warms my heart.

 

MST’s old crew looks — well, old — but we love ’em

March 18, 2008

Yes, we all get older, but we aren’t all on television or DVD, which are unforgiving media. So it was a shockerama when I saw Joel, Dr. F and TV’s Frank of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s early days pop up as much older men in a brief extra bit for Rhino’s new single-disc DVD for MST3K‘s spin on The Giant Gila Monster, also used as a replacement disc for the revised MST3K Collection Volume 10.2.

They’re still funny guys, and Trace Beaulieu looked almost unchanged as Dr. Clayton Forrester. But Joel Hodgson as Joel Robinson and Frank Conniff as TV’s Frank looked the way they should look for men significantly older than the last time we saw them in MST garb: older. And I don’t fault them for that. It just takes some getting used to. (I, of course, still look as young and handsome as I did when MST‘s first season aired almost 20 years ago.)

Aging aside, their little sketch about losing the rights to Godzilla vs. Megalon and replacing it with The Giant Gila Monster is a stitch, including the part about being on the “honor system” to take your Godzilla disc and dispose of it “properly.” Right — like on eBay, where copies of the Volume 10 set in its original form are selling for big bucks.

I also love the animated menu for Gila Monster, one of Rhino’s best ever. And the movie is perfect MST fodder. Also, it’s so good to see the old (oops — former) SOL and Deep 13 gang back, doing their thing against screen-capture backdrops of the old (oops — former) sets. MST lives! And don’t you forget it.