Jack 'City Slicker/Batman' Palance turns up in this, the crudest Charlie's Angels rip off (why? why?) featuring, and no I kid you not, a schoolteacher who decides to destroy the local drug Cartel becuase one of her children got beat up trying to steal drugs from the dealer. We feel for him. She hires a group of 'women' (read breasts) who drive around in whats meant to be a cool van. Dispicable film, yet hilarious.
'How much Keefe'..Miles O Keefe stars in this, a confusing (is it a sequel? whats with the opening and closing credits? a handglider? whaaa?) naked romp which contains only bare chested hunky manbloke Miles (who once played tarzan, wow!) O'Keefe. A brilliant subject for the MST3K treatment; try to contain your shrieks as Ator appears in his handglider. Did I mention all the O'Keefe?
Think ET, think that big mammoth from sesame street, think Alf from that programme 'Alf' and you have the Pod people. kind of. its cack, foreign and very funny.
In the 1950's people were outrageous. Witness their obsession with fitting in, normalness and cruelty, along with a big sack of male oppression in these 'information' films telling us that the happiest way to live is to conform to 'The Man'. Comedy gold even before the MST3K crew get their hands on it.
In case you're new to the world of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K for short, that's what us fans -- "Misties" -- call it), this is the famous TV show where a silhouette of a man and two robots in theater seats provide running commentary for some of the worst movies ever made. The ninety-minute episodes are scattered with sketches and songs and amount to some of the smartest, most pop-culture savvy, side-splitting comedy ever made.
This DVD contains three episodes, plus a compilation of short subjects from different episodes. The episodes cover a wide spectrum: two are from early in season three, when Joel Hodgson was the host and the show was just kicking into high gear. The third is from late in the sixth season, when the show had developed a much more slick and sarcastic approach with host Mike Nelson. People new to the show will get a good chance to compare the styles of the show. Personally, I love both, but they are quite different. The Shorts are brief films that the host would sometimes make fun of before the movie. Originally, they watched episodes of old movie serials, but when those quickly became tiresome, they turned to educational, commercial, and industrial filmstrips (you know, those annoying things you had to watch at school assemblies in sixth grade?). They contain some of the funniest riffing in the series, and are favorites of the fans.
Here's what's on this collection:
ANGEL'S REVENGE. Episode #622. A 1978 film originally titled "Angel's Brigade," this is an hysterically awful rip-off of the TV show "Charlie's Angels," only it's worse, if you can imagine that! A group of attractive and not-so-attractive women decide to wage war on L.A.'s drug dealers by dressing in white jump suits. The female leads (including Playboy Playmate Susan Lynn Kiger) are horrendous actresses, but what's really embarrassing is the presence of well-known guest stars slumming at the pits of their careers: Jack Palance, Jim Backus, Pat Butrum, Alan Hale, and in a depressing performance, Peter Lawford. Poor Peter appears to have been drunk for the entire filming. Mike and the `Bots have an absolute field day making fun of the relentless 70s style ("Entertaining was a lot easier in the 70s!") and the poor, unfortunate guest stars ("Do you think Peter knows where he is?"). This is one of my favorite Mike Nelson episodes, and it's the best disc in this package.
CAVE DWELLERS. Episode #301. This film was originally released in 1984 as "Ator the Invincible" and then as "Blade Master" on video. It's a sequel to "Ator the Fighting Eagle," and is one of many cheap-o copycats of "Conan the Barbarian." This stinker stars Miles O'Keefe as beefy warrior Ator, who also knows lots of sciencey stuff (like how to manufacture a hang-glider in two minutes with just sticks). Ator travels to the Ends of the Earth to stop some John Saxon-like villain from obtaining some vague object with a funny name that might do something really bad. Or whatever -- the film is just fantasy of the worst kind. It's so cheap there are no special effects, and the only monster is an immobile velour snake. This is first episode of season three, and this is really when the show entered its golden phase. Joel and the `Bots have some good times here, especially at the outlandish finale, and there's a hilarious parody of the movie's opening credits. A good episode, and the start of great things.
POD PEOPLE. Episode #303. The poor dubbing in this film automatically marks it as foreign, but since it's obviously trying to pass itself off American, it's tricky to figure out where it was really shot. Mystery over: this is a 1983 Spanish film called "Los Nuevos Extraterrestres," released in America as "The Unearthling." It's an awful attempt to copy "E.T." and combine it with a horror film. Aliens that resemble miniature two-legged versions of Snuffleupuggus from "Sesame Street" invade the mountains. A high-pitched little kid befriend one of the aliens, Trumpy, while the rest start killing people for no reason. There's an awful pop band on a trip (their performance in a recording studio is one of the highlights of the episode), some poachers, and a dysfunctional family up in a cabin. None of it fits together, but Joel and `Bots create some classic running gags. It's the perfect kind of film for the MST3K treatment. You'll love their re-creation of the incomprehensible "song" performed by the band in the move. ("It stinks!")
SHORTS, VOL. 1. These come from many seasons, and all are great. Tom Servo does a joking intro for each one. "The Home Economics Story" (from episode #317) is a 1950s film for high school girls that encourages them to study home economics in college, implying that they aren't destined for anything other than being housewives. "Junior Rodeo Daredevils" (from episode #407) tells how a group of kids in a tiny town set up their own rodeo, and then broke all their limbs and snapped their spinal chords -- all in good fun! "Body Care & Grooming" (from episode #510) informs college students how to spend all their time grooming their hair and skin, because people will only like them if they're pretty! "Cheating" (from episode #515) tells the tragic story of Johnny, who cheated and rose to power, and then fell into the pits of despair not unlike a Kafka novel. "A Date with Your Family" (from episode #602) is the best of the bunch: a nightmare about the perfect 50s family having a perfectly repressed 50s dinner. The riffing here is as sharp and satiric as anything ever done on the show. "Why Study Industrial Arts" (from episode #609) is the reverse of "The Home Economics Story," encouraging young men to risk sawing off their limbs in shop class. And finally, "The Chicken of Tomorrow" (from episode #702) explains breeding techniques to create meatier chickens. It's very depressing.
(In a bit of a mistake, two of the shorts are already available on other DVDs: episode #609, "The Skydivers" is on the first Rhino DVD collection, and Episode #515, "The Wild World of Batwoman," is available as a single DVD, so you might have already seen two of these shorts.)
This is another awesome collection from Rhino. There's more laughs here than you'll find in a year's worth of Hollywood comedies. A must for MST3K fans and newcomers alike!
Here are some quick comments on each of the discs:
ANGELS REVENGE: From the moment the disco music powers out of your speakers on the opening DVD menu, you should know exactly what to expect. This is the story of a cheap Charlie's Angels rip-off that increases the number of angels, but decreases the number of coherent plot points. Yeah, ponder that for a moment. Anyway, this is a delightfully awful movie with a surprisingly high number of celebrity cameos, including Jack Palance (as a drug kingpin's right-hand man), Alan "The Skipper" Hale (as a disco singer's vaguely sleazy manager), and Jim "The Millionaire" Backus (as the head of a right-wing militia). One wonders what hideous bet was lost on the set of Gillian's Island that forced two of its stars to appear. One wonders what on Earth the 70's did to Jack Palance to make him decide to star in this. A multi-ethnic plethora of busty babes rounds out the cast. Despite the title of the film, none of the Angels get anywhere near top billing. A middle-aged, male Hollywood executive's idea of what a feminist movie would look like.
CAVE DWELLERS: This is the sequel to some other lousy film, and the lengthy flashback to that picture in the beginning of this turkey makes it out to be just as painful and bizarre. The back cover of the DVD Boxed Set doesn't even bother giving a plot summary, because there really isn't one - just some muscled guy wandering through a forest for an hour and a half. This is a film that would be a really, really painful experience without those soothing fellows down in the corner of the screen.
POD PEOPLE: This ranks as one of my favorite MST3k episodes. A movie that's unbelievable goofy combined with the hecklers at their wittiest. The host segments to this one are a riot, and all directly mock the main feature. I laughed, I cried, I rewound and laughed and cried some more. I really think this is one of the sharpest commentaries that the MST3k gang recorded, so this is something not to be missed.
SHORTS, Vol. 1: The short instructional films that the Satellite of Live crew occasionally tackled often resulted in some of their funniest material. These short features are hilarious enough in their own right, but when they get the MST3k treatment, they're even more painfully funny. Tom Servo hosts: The Home Economics Story, Junior Rodeo Daredevils, Body Care & Grooming, Cheating, A Date With Your Family, Why Study Industrial Arts? and The Chicken of Tomorrow. Rest assured that they are indeed as frightening as their names would have you believe.
The small print on the back of the Boxed Set informs us that "the production elements required to include the films in their original format were not available". A pity, since a lot of MST3k films make for hilarity even without the commentary. But still, this shouldn't come as a major disappointment, since it's Mike/Joel and the 'bots rather than the dubious, cheesy films that make these Boxed Sets must-buys, although I must admit to a very sick desire to see the uncut version of POD PEOPLE.
As other reviewers have noted, these DVDs don't include the uncut versions of the movies that were included in the first collection. But that hardly seems to matter. The real MST fan has always been more interested in the host's and the bots' reactions to the films than in the films themselves. And while that may encapsulate some film fans' objections to MST in the first place, it doesn't take away from the greatness of the show or the value of this collection. If you don't already have these episodes on video from Rhino or on your own carefully-hoarded tapes made so long ago -- or, heck, even if you do! -- this is a great set to add to your MST shelf.