Mystery Science Theater 3000: Xiv [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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MST3K: Making unwatchable movies essential viewing From 1988 to 1999, the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 skewered B-movies from their extraterrestrial orbit. Now the revolving crew of the Satellite of Love returns in this awe-inspiring collection of their most hilarious episodes. Join Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot as they supply their own playful brand of commentaries on some of cinemas most misunderstood masterpieces. This time around the team give their best cinematic critique on the worst movies made throughout the decades: Mad Monster (1942), Manhunt in Space (1956), Soultaker (1990) and Final Justice (1985). Special Features: Interview with Soultaker star Joe Estevez Interview with Final Justice's Greydon Clark Mike, Tom and Crow on ESPN Classic's Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker Original Mad Monster trailer ///NTSC REGION 0///
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Vivian Schilling was 22 when she wrote the screenplay for and starred in Soultaker. She's a better actress than Sandra Bullock and I'd rather watch an entertaining 'bad" movie like Soultaker than watch a supposedly "good' movie like James Cameron's Avatar. Vivian Schilling is now a novelist and has gone on to do some interesting film projects.
The bonus interview with Joe Estevez reveals him to be an unpretentious, likable guy with a sense of humor about his career in b-movies. He is the only person from his famous family I'd actually enjoy meeting.
Manhunt in Space is lots of fun. The spaceship sets are like something from a high school play. The Mads and their beanbag pants are hilarious. The old black and white General Hospital short before the movie is interesting to watch from a historical perspective.
Mad Monster is an early MST3K experiment. J. Elvis Weinstein was the obvious weak link in the early episodes, possibly because he was still a teenager at the time. His Dr. Larry "Curly Howard impersonation" makes me cringe and his Tom Servo is lifeless and dull. Watching these early episodes really highlights how much comedy firepower Kevin Murphy and Frank Conniff brought to the show when they replaced Weinstein. The Mad Monster disc also has some annoying extras from other shows Shout Factory was trying to promote. I'm glad they stopped doing that on the later sets.
Now if only Vivian Schilling and Joe Don Baker would make a film together...
Mad Monster, Show 103, is the third MST3K played on the Comedy Channel, before it was renamed Comedy Central, and also has a episode of Commando Cody And The Radar Men From The Moon. It is one of those I missed. MST3K was brand new and it took a few weeks before people started to turn on the TV every week to watch. Like most of the first films, Mad Monster is in Black and White, a bad sci-fi film about a scientist who finds out how to turn men into monsters. Well, in this case a werewolf. But funny enough that wolf looks more like a coyote. But why nitpick on the small stuff?
Manhunt In Space, Show 413, was also one of the shows I, somehow, missed. It comes with a General Hospital episode. Both the movie and the short are in Black and White. The movie is in fact a television series in which some of the episodes were spliced together to make a full movie. There are everything from Space Ghost references to one reference to Daleks! They also talk about Cold Light, which I thought came from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and I learned to never open the hatch without peeking out a window first.
Soultaker, Show 1001, is a very famous episode within the cult that is MST3K. Not only does it have Joe Estevez, who also starred in Werewolf, and Robert Z'Dar, who was in Future War, in the film, but TV's Frank and Joel both come back to make a appearance on the show. Such love and warmth. Too bad the film is so bad. But that's good! Because bad films are Mike and the Bots' bread and butter.
They have a interview with Joe Estevez on the DVD.
The last episode in the set is Final Justice, Show 1008, starring Joe Don Baker. Mike and the Bots have a ton of fun with this film. "Hey, you going to finish that?" The movie is full of lovely ladies, gun fights, a chase with Joe Don Baker going after a Maltese mob member dressed up as a Monk. Or is it a member of the Italian Mafia? Lots of food jokes. In fact tons of jokes all about either Joe Don Baker or Maltese men. The writer, producer and director is Greydon Clark. They even have a interview with him on the DVD!
The set came with cool mini-posters - I got an extra Soultaker poster by accident! A must for any library of MST3K or any collection of bad movies.
This set includes 4 episodes I had never seen: "Soultaker", "Final Justice", "Manhunt in Space", and "Mad Monster". There are also interviews with Greydon Clark and Joe Estevez, and the episode of "Cheap Seats" that featured Mike and the 'Bots. The quality of the episodes is good, although "Final Justice" had a lot of momentary flickers where a few white blocks would flash on screen, I presume as an artifact from the digital transfer. As we get 4 long episodes (about 1 hr 35 mins without commercials) I don't mind the price tag so much, and I like that the DVDs are packaged individually.
However, the packaging on these new Shout Factory volumes is just plain bad. The conceit of having Crow and Tom in 50s-era movie posters is a cute one, but wore out its welcome quickly. The posters you get with the set are just prints of the covers of the individual DVD packages, and they are poorly executed and cheap looking. The disk menus are also pretty bad, with some weird digital renderings of Crow and Tom moving their heads randomly while they sit in one spot. I would much rather see an unanimated screen shot than this freaky stuff.
It's easy to compare these designs unfavorably to the old Rhino sets, but I'm certain that even if I didn't have better Rhino sets to compare it to, I'd still find the design lacking.
103- Mad Monster (with Commando Cody/Radar Part 2) Definitely a curiosity, AFAIK this episode hasn't been seen on TV in maybe 15 years or so. There was somewhat of a moratorium on Season 1 during the early- to mid-90s period, only lifted for a very brief period in 1995. A lot of this episode is nascent MST3K, and not very polished, but it does offer a view of the evolution of the series. Quite bluntly, there is a lot of dead space and it's not funny in places, but still a worthwhile investment of 90 minutes.
413- Manhunt In Space - this is the reason to spend your hard-earned cash on this set. A hilarious episode from MST3K's Joel-era Comedy Central heyday, and little-seen for over a decade without trafficking in gray-market bootleg video copies. Has a "General Hospital" short (actually a 15-minute vintage episode from the 1950s), and the main feature is a typical 1950s television space opera. There is a typically insane invention exchange (beanbag pants)
1001- Soultaker Where 103 "Mad Monster" is rough, this is MST3K in its most polished form. There's a ridiculous sci-fi/horror movie at its core involving grim reapers and one of Martin Sheen's relatives. However, the reason this episode is great is the temporary return of two former MST3K performers and writers, TV's Frank and Joel. The host segment subplot involves malfunctions on the Satellite of Love, and a mysterious visitor trying to make contact and fix the problem. Frank shows up as a Soultaker, much in the same fashion that goofy characters from the movie would show up at the end of the episode in the Comedy Central era. Recommended, and it's great that we have this on DVD.
1008- Final Justice Maybe a bit of a disappointment, only because this episode aired very frequently towards the end of the series. Still, the Joe Don Baker jokes inexplicably never wear thin. An incomprehensive and inconsequential plot involving a Texas lawman's manhunt from the southwest to Malta are a perfect backdrop to vicious riffing...the host segments are only ok, I could do without hearing "Goosio" again for the rest of my life.
In summary, can't speak for the Shout Factory packaging and extras, but the episodes themselves are worthwhile and great to have archived in DVD.