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Sargassum! Weed Of Deceit!,
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This review is from: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. XVII (The Crawling Eye / The Beatniks / The Final Sacrifice / Blood Waters of Dr. Z) (DVD)"Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XVII" is one of the best MST3K box sets in years! The episodes range from the first post-KTMA episode, "The Crawling Eye," to one of the later episodes, and a personal (if painful) favorite of mine, "Blood Waters of Dr. Z." Shout Factory has also included generous extras that add dramatically to the appeal of the set: I was especially fond of Joel Hodgson's new introductory segment for "The Crawling Eye," and "Crow Vs. Crow" featuring a moderated discussion (with questions and answers) with both voices of Crow, Trace Beaulieu and Bill Corbett. No fan will want to miss it. Along with original movie trailers, a still photo gallery from "Blood Waters of Dr. Z" (which must be seen to be believed,) and four mini-posters, this is a great package.
"The Crawling Eye" (Episode 101) was the first MST3K for Comedy Central. It features a fairly immature look by later season standards, but for it's historical value (and utterly ridiculous premise) it delivers. The host segments and riffing are a bit slow at first (which Hodgson acknowledges in his introduction,) but are nonetheless great. The film stars Forrest "F-Troop" Tucker as Alan Brooks, a United Nations scientist, and Janet Munro as Anne Pilgrim, a psychically troubled but beautiful woman who is being telepathically harassed by a giant eyeball who is crawling up a mountain (the Trollenberg) on its tendrils. This is a great first network episode for MST3K as it really delivers on the ludicrous monster front. In non-MST3K form it can sometimes be found under the title "The Trollenberg Terror."
"The Beatniks" (Episode 415) is my least favorite of the set for several reasons, the two primary ones being that I don't find Juvenile Delinquent films especially interesting, and the "General Hospital" short that comes with it is even more boring. Having said that, the riffing is pretty amusing and the song "Leather Coat" is so memorable it's hard to get out of your head. Eddy Crane (played by Tony Travis) is a petty hoodlum who has a talent for singing, and is (of course) discovered by a Hollywood agent after lunatic-in-chief Mooney (Peter Breck) harasses him and runs into his car (intentionally) at a diner. The dialogue in this film is among the worst of the genre ("I killed that fat barkeep!") and the riffing is brutally on-target.
"The Final Sacrifice" (Episode 910) is a fatty piece of Canadian back bacon above and beyond the usual cinematic cheese seen on MST3K. This one is a fan favorite for it's extremely poor production values, and incurs the wrath of Mike and the Bots against the citizenry of Canada for letting something like this be made. It's an absurd tale of a boy, Troy McGreggor (Christian Malcolm,) trying to understand his father's death. It turns out that his Dad was involved with a Canadian cult called Ziox who once ruled Canada, and now has a plan to return and take over the world. Troy discovers the only map in existence that can enable that world domination in his Aunt's attic, and despite having left him alone for the seven years since they murdered his father, as soon as he gets his hands on the map, machete and gun wielding lunatics are pursuing him.
Troy runs and hides in the bed of the worst pickup truck in Canada owned by our hero, Zap Rowsdower (Bruce J. Mitchell.) What are the chances that Rowsdower is an ex-Zioxist? In a movie made by Tjardus Greidanus, one hundred percent. Troy and Zap get chased all over creation, beaten up, and cross-examined by a guy who sounds as if he has a bullfrog doing helium hits in his throat in a plot to further the whole world domination angle. The plot is incomprehensible, and just incredibly poorly executed. Although I'm normally not a huge fan of movies about cults, this is the Canadian counterpart of "Manos: The Hands of Fate," and is one of those rare synergistic films where the sum of the parts is so much less than the value of the parts themselves. This is a mind-numbingly great episode.
"Blood Waters of Dr. Z" (Episode 1005) is my personal favorite of the four movies. This film, which is known by many alternate titles, most notably "Zaat" and "Attack of the Swamp Creature," is a science fiction film made in Florida on no budget about a crazy scientist, Dr. Leopold (Marshall Grauer) who is spurned by conventional science, and avenges his detractors by turning himself into a walking catfish (the monster catfish is actually played by Wade Popwell) set on world domination. I was particularly amused by the spawning attempts of the creature and the fact that the idiotic sheriff (Paul Galloway) heading the investigation knew that Dr. Leopold was trying to turn humans into walking catfish, but despite the fact that all the killings have Leopold's lab at their center, he never though it was relevant to the investigation. I also loved the nearly constant narration which was necessary as otherwise the actions of the fish would be incomprehensible. The continuity errors are manifold, the acting is strictly sub-high school drama society level, and the concept of a marauding murderous catfish make this one of the greatest grade-Z sci-fi movies ever, and I am thrilled to see it on DVD. As an aside, I own an original VHS copy of "Attack of the Swamp Creature," which is the same film but without all the introductory "Sargassum! Weed of deceit....I love you, sargassum fish!" business. I recommend true battle-hardened B-movie aficionados try this one out without the MST3K treatment if you dare.
This is a great set, and for fans of MST3K or bad movies in general, I highly recommend it.