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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2009
This latest terrific set from Shout! Factory includes four more never before released episodes. Two have Joel Hodgson as host and two are hosted by Mike Nelson. Joel episodes are from the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central shows and the Mike episodes are from the Sci-Fi Channel period of the show. Note that show 101 is the first network episode, a MSTie-must-have for sure!

101- THE CRAWLING EYE
This black and white 1958 film was originally called The Trollenberg Terror and based on an ITV serial. This film version stars Forrest Tucker. A weird tentacled alien creature menaces a small town high in the mountains of Switzerland. This is the very first network episode of MST3K made for the Comedy Channel and it's been a long, long time since this one was shown even compared to other episodes of the unfortunately canceled show so many MSTies still have likely not seen this, but everyone should. A lot of things would be changed and improved on the show in coming episodes, but this one gives fans a fascinating window into the show's early development and of course, it's funny! The movie itself used to be a weekend and late night staple on UHF channels across the US and I saw it many times as a child. Needless to say, Joel and the 'Bots make it more fun. There's a call-back to this episode in the final episode of MST3K.

415- THE BEATNIKS (with short: GENERAL HOSPITAL PT 2)
Paul Frees directed this black and white film in 1960. It concerns a young man's attempt to make it big as a recording artist while trying to escape from the grip of his criminally inclined childhood friends. It contains the much loved MST3K catch-phrases "shut up, Iris, shut up I tell you" and "I killed that fat barkeep" along with the song, "Leather Coat" as fans might call it. A highly entertaining episode. MST3K even makes the dismal General Hospital short hilarious. This episode first aired on the Turkey Day 1992 marathon and it's a fan favorite.

910- THE FINAL SACRIFICE
This 78-minute color 1990 film from Canada has a hero named "Zap Rowsdower", an annoying youth who tags along with him, some weird cultists in cheap outfits and not much else. It stars no one and has nothing to recommend it. Maybe that's why it's become a favorite among many fans over the years. Perhaps it's sort of the Canadian "Manos: Hands of Fate"! The writer/director's name is Tjardus Greidanus. In any case, find out what the buzz is about and don't miss this.

1005- BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z
This 1975 horror film is also known by many alternate titles such as "Zaat" and "Dr. Z". It was directed by Don Barton and stars no one and has a cheap monster, but these schlocky horror films always worked well for the MST3K writers and this one is no exception. Of course there's a mad scientist out for revenge against those that scoffed at his ideas, thereby proving them correct when they "said he was mad". Bad monster schlock equals good jokes on the SOL.

Extra features at this time are listed as:

* The Crawling Eye Special Introduction by Joel Hodgson
* Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps on The Beatniks
* The Main Event: Crow vs. Crow at DragonCon `09
* Blood Waters of Dr. Z Photo Gallery
* Original Trailers and Promos
* Mini-posters by Steve Vance
* ...and More Yet To Be Announced!
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on December 19, 2009
Two movies are hosted by Joel and two by Mike. Another noticable change is in "The Crawling Eye," where a different cast member is the voice for TOM SERVO. Here's the info on each episode:

"The Crawling Eye" - Joel Hodgson and the Bots host this 1958 Black & White SciFi movie starring Forest Tucker. This was in the early days of MST3K and Josh Weinstein does the voice for Tom Servo. If you haven't seen the early shows you will definitely notice the difference between Weinstein's deadpan Tom and the wonderful Kevin Murphy who does an emotive and emotional Tom Servo. The movie, set in a mountain resort, is somewhat scarey at times, especially when the fog comes in and nasty things happen to the humans. The ending reveals the real monster and there's even more laughs at how lame it looks.

"The Beatniks" - Joel Hodgson and the Bots host this 1960 movie that stars Peter Breck (from The Big Valley). Oddly enough, it doesn't have one single Beatnik but it does have hoods. One wants to break out of his criminal past because he can sing. He gets an offer that can bring fame and fortune. Stupidity prevails. The short is another segment of "General Hospital." Really boring old soap opera about depressed, boring medical people who you would never want to stick needles in your arm!

"The Final Sacrifice" - This one is a MUST SEE!! A favorite among most fans, Mike Nelson and the Bots host this really cheesy movie from Canada. This is the first MST3K movie in the set where Bill Corbett takes over to be the personna of Crow T Robot. A pasty, skinny, nerdy kid who lives with his aunt somehow comes across a priceless map that leads to a lost city. Immediately, a Cult of guys are after him for the map. Apparently all you need to be part of the Cult is a pickup truck, ski mask and black clothing from Walmart. A guy named Zap Rowsdower, who formerly belonged to the Pickup Truck Cult protects the kid. Although MST3K went off the air a few years ago, this one sticks out in my mind, for the homage to CANADA. (I'm Joking). Mike and Crow are singing a somewhat disparaging tune about Canadians. Tom breaks in (dressed like a Mountie) and berates them. He soon has a song of his own but goes waaaaay overboard. He winds up apologizing to the entire population of Canada! The Riffing is hilarious too.

"The Blood Waters of Dr Z" - Mike and the Bots host this awful 1975 movie that would make Ed Wood look like Steven Spielberg. A mad doctor transforms himself into a swamp creature and decides he needs mates. Enter pretty women. The beginning is a lot of voice-over and narration which almost takes up one third of the movie. Really, really cheesy creature costumes and very cheap filming make great fodder for the Crew.

In previous sets, Shout Factory added the funniest animation at the beginning of each episode, where the Bots re-create scenes from the movie. The bonus Mini-Posters were shots from the animation. Shout has added more posters with this set. (Click on the link below and you can see the posters from the previous set) Mystery Science Theater 3000: XVI [Limited Edition]
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VINE VOICEon July 13, 2011
This was the first set of MST3k I bought from Shout Factory. Why? You'll see...

Here's the breakdown:

THE CRAWLING EYE: The first MST episode. Many fans (myself included) had never had a chance to see this earliest of episodes. Turns out we weren't missing much. The movie is about mysterious deaths happening near the top of a mountain, turns out its done by a bunch of huge crawling eyeballs. The monsters are pretty cool. As far as the actual comedy offered up by this episode... well... Joel tells you in the special features that MST3k was a show they kinda had to figure out as they went along. This being the first scripted episode, it really shows. The jokes are few and far between, with nothing being exceptionally witty. If you're a hardcore fan, you'll find the first episode to be a pretty fascinating glimpse into the early evolution of the show. That said, once you watch it, you probably won't revisit it anytime soon. Its just not very funny. They'd be much sharper even by the next couple of episodes, but this one is a total snoozer.

THE BEATNIKS: A 50's rags to riches story that features no actual beatniks. A guy sings in a diner and gets offered a record deal on the spot, can he find fame AND stay leader of his gang of nogoodnicks (including the clearly psychopathic and overacting Mooney)? Does anyone care? Its a pretty goofy movie, which makes for a solid Joel episode. BTW, Mooney killed that fat barkeep.

THE FINAL SACRIFICE: The greatest episode of MST3k of ALL TIME... Anything I can write to summarize this episode would be doing it a disservice. Its seriously that good. I showed it to a friend who very literally laughed NON-STOP from the moment Mike Pipper came onscreen til Mike and the Bots left the theater for the host segment. I thought he was gonna puke or pass out or something, he just kept going. The movie is perfect, the guys are absolutely on fire in the theater, and for once even the host segments are incredibly funny (Canada song, anyone?). If you see this episode and DON'T laugh, seek therapy immediately. This is the very peak of the MST3k experience. Nothing tops it.

BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z: I remember seeing this years ago on the Sci-Fi channel and not thinking it was anything special. Upon watching it again now that its on DVD, I realized I was very wrong, this is a spectacular episode. The movie seems to have been scripted with high hopes yet had no way of effectively pulling it off on such a small budget. Basically, a mad scientist turns himself into a half-man half-catfish (which coincidentally seems to make him swim much slower than a normal human would be able to) in order to traverse the waters of the south, using a ketchup spray bottle of some chemical called ZaaT to transform the normal inhabitants of the lakes and streams into an "army of walking catfish" (which we never actually see and are never brought up again in the last half of the film) to prove to all the scientists who claimed him mad in the past that "they THEY are the ones who are mad!" The fun part about this movie as that Dr. Z and the government ecological team chasing him both seem pretty bad at their respective jobs. The movie moves fast enough and has enough goofy weirdness to it that its fairly entertaining on its own. The riffing Mike and the Bots give it is exceptional, however, and it makes for a very very strong episode.

All in all, this is an easy buy for fans. Sure, THE CRAWLING EYE might only appeal to the hardcore Misties, but the other three episodes are all very good in their own right. Personally, I can't thank Shout Factory enough for getting me a DVD of THE FINAL SACRIFICE. It wouldn't matter what else was a part of the box set, I'd gladly buy it for that episode alone.
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on January 22, 2010
Just wanted to say Shout Factory has done an AMAZING JOB. Each one of their MST3K sets has had an outstanding mix from various MST eras and it seems as though the ratio of great to mediocre episodes is MUCH better than with that ***other*** company. And they seem to be coming out with regularity-- every 90 days or so, it seems.
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Introduction

When the twentieth anniversary box set of MST3k DVDs was announced, there were two omissions in particular which seemed to irk a vocal minority of fans. MST3k's first episode seemed to be an obvious inclusion and fans had long wanted to see THE FINAL SACRIFICE. That box set did not contain those episodes, but this one does. As they say, better late than never.

THE CRAWLING EYE (1958)

Here it is, at last. The first national episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Until now I had never actually watched this one. I was looking forward to seeing how they explain the premise of the series, but it turns out that most of the information is intended to be conveyed only in the opening theme song. I did like that they never bother explaining why they do the invention exchange. And I couldn't help but chuckle when Joel says "This is the last time," when carrying Tom Servo into the theater. Joel and Mike would carry Tom into the theater for the next ten years.

As Joel points out in the (newly filmed) introduction, the riffing is slower than what MST3k would do in later seasons, but it seemed to be a little quicker and livelier compared to other first season episodes (THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY or THE CORPSE VANISHES). Still, a lot of opportunities for jokes are missed. For example, characters in the movie repeatedly say "Just like..." and then pause; I kept waiting for a "Sister Ray says..." The MST3k characters themselves aren't fully developed yet (despite having one season at a local Minneapolis station under their belts). Dr. Forrester seems to be the only fully complete character.

Truthfully, I wouldn't mind seeing this one tackled by Joel Hodgson's current Cinematic Titanic. The quick gag they do based on Forrest Tucker's name in the final episode of MST3k ten years later (where they briefly watch this movie again) is probably as funny as any riff delivered here.

The film itself is a fairly typical 1950s sci-fi B-movie. It felt to me like a Patrick Troughton era episode of Doctor Who minus the character of the Doctor. It features the absolutely ludicrous shot of a gigantic eyeball speeding around a mountainside which would enter into MST3k's opening credits and (as Joel points out) give an instant visual shorthand as to the types of movies Joel and the bots would be subjected to.

THE BEATNIKS (1960)

I had not seen this episode of MST3k before getting the DVD, but I had previously seen the original movie itself and been outraged by the lack of beatniks in a movie called THE BEATNIKS. The movie is fairly dull and unoriginal. Most of the plot points are signposted well in advance so there really isn't anything to get overly excited about. I honestly wouldn't describe the riffing and gags as anything more than an average outing for Best Brains, but it's a solid, fun episode.

An episode of "General Hospital" is included for your convenience.

THE FINAL SACRIFICE (1990)

A fan favorite for years, it's great to finally get this one on DVD (especially after a representative from Shout! Factory had once declared in a fan interview that it was unlikely that this movie would ever see the light of day because of legal/rights issues). This is really a fun episode to watch because the underlying film is a wonderful combination of fresh-faced enthusiasm mixed with utter ineptitude resulting in enjoyable ridiculousness.

BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z (1975)

I watched this episode when the Sci-Fi channel first aired it. I hated it. I know I recorded the episode on VHS, but I'm not sure I ever watched it again. I thought the movie itself was so bad, so slow, and so painful that the jokes and the riffing couldn't manage to make it watchable. Literally my only memory of this was a guy dressed as a human-sized catfish walking up and down the same flight of basement stairs seemingly hundreds of times.

So I'm as shocked as anyone to find that this episode turned out (over ten years later) to be my favorite disc in the set. Sure the whole movie is populated with a parade of characters who have no last names (or in some cases no first name either), and, yes, the main character's evil scheme is the most illogical, implausible attempt at villainy that the movies have ever seen. But somehow now I am able to laugh at the sheer madness of it all rather than being overwhelmed and depressed by it. The riffs from Mike and the bots are an example of the cast and crew really at the top of their game, mixing pop culture references and observations, managing to puncture the film's attempted pretentiousness seemingly without breaking a sweat.

Stinger

Another strong effort from Shout! Factory. Can't wait for the next one.
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on December 21, 2009
March 2010 will be another big day in the lives of many MST3K fans where Shout Factory releases the next Volume of MST3K titles. And it is quite the set.
Looking at these titles (lots of OMG hit the MST3K fan base)

EPISODE 101 - THE CRAWLING EYE - Forest Tucker (F-Troop) stars in an atmospheric scifi low budgeter against giant eye creatures that hide in a cloud. They either rip the heads off humans or take control of them to do their evil bidding. They are linked to Janet Munro who plays a telepathic of sorts. This is actually a really good movie (at least to me) and it is credible. Due to the low budget the effects are sub-par but the story has a lot of atmosphere & creepy moments ..and saving the monster until the end was a great idea.
This episode is indeed the VERY FIRST episode of MST3K on Comedy Central. It is a very important title to own as only the KTMA season is older. Season 1 gets mixed rants and raves but this was pretty high on the old Rhino Poll due to its historic important. The episode itself isn't up to the usual Season 2 & up standards but it is still fun to watch..
On a personal note I am 100% THRILLED that this has finally made it on DVD in the MST3K version. I own the Wade Williams/Image widescreen DVD of this and I really find this movie to be enjoyable on a cold winter day. Its underrated if you ask me.
Joel Hodgson did an introduction on this before the movie which to me is just more icing on the cake. Having seen the Joel interview, I really love it..very insightful and more historical MST3K information. Speaking of Wade Williams, this may have opened the door to more of his titles get on MST DVD

EPISODE 415 THE BEATNIKS - This is one of those cheesy (JD)juvenile delinquent movies that were popular in the 1950s. The story is simple. We have this gang of hoodlums and the leader Eddy Crane (played by Tony Travis) can sing , of which a talent agent recruits him for the chance to become a rich and famous recording star. A gangster headed for stardom ? Unfortunately for him , his gang will not let him move on , holding him back. The good in Tony's character becomes dominant, but his gang just wont let go of him. Like the line in the movie, they have a hold on him. Most notably on this is Peter Breck as Mooney, the gang's psychopathic member who gets kicks out of stabbing people. He has some really rich dialog ( " I killed that fat Barkeep!!") & is great when he really loses it. Listen to Tony when he sings "Leather Coat" and other musical melodies..A gangster musical ??
This was another great episode from Season 4 with great riffs and segments that will knock your socks off. Servo as Eddy Crane is fantastic, just fantastic..as is Crow as Mooney
This also comes with a short - General Hospital, for those that like Soap Operas this ones for you
This is the disc that has Crow vs. Crow with Trace and Bill discussing the trials and tribulations of handling all the Crow puppets that were used..it is very insightful..

EPISODE 910 THE FINAL SACRIFICE - Yes , for real. Originally announced as a title that would be extremely unlikely to get the rights to release as the films' owner did not want it on DVD in an MST3K Volume. According to Shout Factory, he was simply offered more money and money does talk. So here it is..# 2 on the Rhino Poll and fans are still jaw dropping that it is here. Shout really aims to please..This is the one that contains the infamous Rowsdower. It is basically about a cult of Satanists called the Ziox who want to take over the world, starting in Canada. This has some funny chase scenes, a man who sounds like one of Jim Henson's muppets from the Muppet Show. Hey it gets a 1.5 on IMDB so we have a classic in the works. By the show's 9th Season everyone involved in Seasons 1-4 save for Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Mary Jo Pehl had left. This is a very VERY popular scifi channel episode and this title made the set for quite a few MST3K fans out there...

EPISODE 1005 BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z (also known as Zaat) this is another great sci fi channel episode. This is where Dr. Leopold becomes a killer Catfish. Yes a walking catfish that kills people. This also scores a 1.5 on IMDB which has something in common with Final Sacrifice. There is so many weird sounds in the Dr's lab, and I 'LOL' when Servo starts to hum them (A Servo tradition) and just a lot of zero budget acting and schlock going on that is just funny to watch. This is 1970's regional sleaze at its very best. Filmed in Florida which is known for having grade Z films shot there..

All in all, this set is just dynamite. Nothing really low on the old Rhino Poll, in fact most being on the upper tier of the poll. Even those who don't collect MST3K volumes may pick this up with all the great titles in this..and yes there are bonus features :

BONUS FEATURES
The Crawling Eye Special Introduction by Joel Hodgson
Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps on The Beatniks
The Main Event: Crow vs. Crow at DragonCon `09
Blood Waters of Dr. Z Photo Gallery
Original Trailers and Promos
Mini-posters by Steve Vance
And there is supposed to more goodies still added to this set...

Between this set having some great episodes and some of the bonus features announced I have to give this easily my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. No MST3K fan should pass this up because it is a solid set of fan favorite episodes. Plus Shout Factory has achieved a high level of greatness with their other sets. The effort and quality of their sets has been outstanding & surprising to say the least.
Shout Factory has done a fantastic job with all of their previous releases & I fully expect this to be just as good as their other sets.
This could possibly be the best set yet in terms of episodes selected (even if there is no figurine). If they continue like this we will all get sets that contain episodes we've wanted for years :-)
Thank you again Shout Factory ! Keep up the great work !
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on January 23, 2013
I have been an MST3k fan for my entire life and was so happy to see this box set for such a low price and even more excited to see that it had The Final Sacrifice with the greatest thing to ever come out of Canada Zap Rowsdower!
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on April 16, 2010
Do you need to hear any more? One of our two heros is a pudgy, beer swilling slob named Zap Rowsdower. The other, an effeminate nerd who spends most of the movie saying, "Rowsdower?" Plus, the bad guys wear ski masks and . . . tank tops? Any fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, laughing or Larry Csonka will want to add this to their collection. A must have.
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on August 15, 2012
My father purchased this box set of MST3K for me on my 11th birthday, and I've been watching it over and over again ever since. Here are my reviews of the films they "riffed".

The Crawling Eye (1958): A film about a giant tentacled eye that terrorizes people on a mountain top. * Star.

The Beatniks (1964): A member of a beatnik gang plans on starting a singing career, but his extremely annoying friend gets in his way. ** Stars.

The Final Sacrifice (1990): A boy wearing a red sweater meets a drifter named Rowsdower and they try to figure out who killed the boy's dad, find a lost city, and get pursued by an evil man named Saitaurus. *** Stars.

Zaat (A.K.A. Blood Waters Of Dr. Z) (1971): A mad scientist turns himself into a fish that looks like an amphibious warthog. **** Stars.

I highly suggest getting this if you have the money to get it.
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on May 22, 2010
It has been a few years since I purchased a box set. My daughter and I recently decided to order a new box. I introduced her to MST 3000 via DVD when she was a little girl and she has always gotten a big kick out of the Bots.
We were pleasantly surpried as to the better quality of everything since SHOUT replaced RHINO. We really liked the graphics and the CGI images of the bots in the menu.

We rated BLOOD WATERS OF DORCTOR Z as the best in the box set. "Remember when you flushed me down the toilet!!!" That was a great line. It was a truly hilarious movie and one of the best we have seen.

We felt THE FINAL SACRIFICE was next in line. it had numerous great lines of humor. Well worth watching."Can somebody get this caterpillar off my lip" was a great line in this one.

THE BEATNIKS--It was funny but not in line with the above two movies. if you like the early 60's hoodlum type movies--it might be your cup of tea.

THE CRAWLING EYE was the one I really wanted to see because it was, I think, the first movie done or one of the first. Joel and the team were new and it showed. They had stretches where they barely made comments and they were feeling their way along. I started with MST 3000 box sets where they were well established and had their style really rolling. However, It was good to see them from the beginning so that I can appreciate them more in later productions.
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