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Red Zone Cuba (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

4.4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 26, 2002)
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$68.71 $6.73

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Editorial Reviews

If Coleman Francis had never existed, he would have been invented by the writers of MST3K just for the perverse enjoyment of ridiculing him. Here the director of the jaw-droppingly inept The Beast of Yucca Flats tries his hand at a jailbreak film, which takes a surreal veer into an American invasion of Cuba apparently hampered by military budget cuts ("Once all seven of them are in place, the invasion really begins") before ending up in an American tungsten mine. Why? Who knows, but the bots have a ball skewering the film with some of their funniest comments ("I want to hurt this movie but I can never hurt it the way it hurt me") and Mike Nelson becomes so disturbed he turns into Carol Channing. Believe it or not, costar John Carradine rasps out the theme song "Night Train to Mundo Fine" (which was the film's original title). --Sean Axmaker

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Coleman Francis
  • Directors: Joel Hodgson, Coleman Francis
  • Writers: Joel Hodgson, Coleman Francis
  • Producers: Coleman Francis, Anthony Cardoza, Charles F. Harter
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Rhino Theatrical
  • DVD Release Date: March 26, 2002
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000062XFL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,482 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Red Zone Cuba (Mystery Science Theater 3000)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Some important people in Hollywood obviously lost some bets; that is the only way I can possibly rationalize the fact that someone let Coleman Francis write, direct, and star in this incredibly lousy movie. Francis lumbers through this movie like a zombie-a very lazy zombie. His penchant for close-ups is probably explained by a desire to show as little of the set as possible. He doesn't even bother about making smooth transitions between scenes; he just cuts each one off and jumps immediately to the next one. Of course, bad movies make for great Mystery Science Theater 3000 experiments, and this is no exception. While Mike and the Bots add a lot of humor to the viewing of Red Zone Cuba, even they are powerless to mute its incredibly boring and bewildering effects on the viewer. When the best part of the movie is John Carradine's singing, you are in trouble. Carradine also apparently lost a large bet; unlike everyone else in this movie, he at least has at least a semblance of a reputation in the industry, and his "guest appearance" is totally unimportant and generally unexplainable.
Here's what might be the plot if Red Zone Cuba had one. Coleman Francis' character has apparently broken out of prison, and he ends up tagging along with two of the most uninteresting characters you would ever meet. When you are on the outs, running from the law, and in need of money very badly, where do you go? Why, to a secret training camp where a handful of men are planning to invade Cuba and take up where the Bay of Pigs invasion failed, of course.
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Format: DVD
Here is yet another example of an excellent non-science fiction MST3K episode.
Here's the deal:
After an opening credit sequence featuring John Carradine belching out the theme song, Coleman Francis stars as Griffin, an escaped felon who teams up with two illegal tire-changers named Cook and Landis. After they bond over beans and coffee, the trio decide to join up with the local army to invade Cuba. They hire a rather uncharismatic fellow named Cherokee Jack ("I'm Cherokee Jack") to fly them to the military base. After the absolute worst training session in history, which consisted of wrestling, climbing a rope and jumping off a cliff, the impressive force leave for Cuba. The riveting beach landing scene is a close second to Saving Private Ryan's as far as intensity goes (uhhh...not really). As the invasion force of 8 guys gets picked off one by one by the Cubans, led by a faux-Castro in the worst fake beard of all time, Griffin, Cook and Landis are captured along with their injured "friend" Sergeant Justine (Chastain, actually). They have to spend time in a little shack with "Viva Cuba" scrawled on the wall (so you know it's really Cuba), and all the while watch their fellow soldiers get paint thrown in their faces. After an ingenius plan to strangle the guard that gives them a bowl full of water, the guys escape and fly in a plane back to good ole US of A, leaving Justine behind. When they get back home, they track down Justine's wife, who rather naively gives them directions to and offers to help them with the plunder of the family's tungsten mine. Cook and Landis are captured by the cops, Griffin and Mrs. Justine are shot, and Justine himself makes a triumphant return, only to find his dead wife in the back of a pick-up truck. A dark, dark movie, is this one.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Oh, man. This is a painful one. Production values worse than Manos. Plot less coherent than The Hellcats. Coleman Francis. And theme song sung by John "Oh, to be blessed with such an instrument" Carradine! I personally love this movie, as it is THE worst example of film production I have ever seen, but it isn't for have to work up to this one....if you can watch Manos and Hobgoblins back to back, you are ready to try this one. Do not use sharp implements after viewing.
Interestingly enough, I recently had the opportunity to speak to Mike Nelson. I asked him which were his most and least favorite episodes were. He said this was, by far, his least favorite because "It's basically watching three guys in a room talking for an hour." He is, of course, correct. This is why you must be prepared for the stench that is Red Zone Cuba.
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Format: VHS Tape
I would have loved to see _Red Zone Cuba_ straight up, no sillouette. The "invasion" scenes rival some of the better work of Monty Python. And the Castro look-alike! "I'm Cherokee Jack!" The movie alone would have you paralyzed with laughter.
But then you get M&TB to sit in front of it and you are in for some kind of treat. It was no problem for them to get good riffs out of this one: the riffs came gently and easily, amplifying Francis' spectacle to the nth degree. I was reluctant to laugh as much as I had the need to for fear of missing another comment. This is one of my favorites to be sure. Thank you Coleman Francis, and thank you MST3K!
P.S.- Is it just me or in Red Zone Cuba has Mike not yet found his niche yet in the SOL host segments? Instead of the Mike of the Sci-Fi years whom we could always expect a focused personality from, late S5 Mike is kinda foggy-headed and aimlessly goofy. But then again, replacing Joel had to take some guts, and if Mike hadn't yet found his place in the show I can understand that. But "it's just a show, I should really just relax!"
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