MST3K Vs Gamera: Mystery Science Theater - Vol. XXI
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What could possibly be better suited to the always-quotable wisecracks of beloved SoL captive Joel Robinson and his faithful robot sidekicks, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, than a monster movie about a giant flying turtle? The answer is four other movies about same flying turtle! Behold the first-ever themed collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 classics: all five Gamera episodes from the particularly fertile third season of the long-running cult comedy television series!
Mystery Science Theater 3000's verbal brawls with the much-maligned Japanese monster Gamera--you know, the flying turtle--are included in this boxed set, which buffets the riffing with some impressive and informative extras. The Gamera films were a staple of MST3K from its humble beginnings as Minneapolis UHF programming, and when the Satellite of Love moved to Comedy Central in the early '90s, the American re-edits released by distributor Sandy Frank were among the show's most popular episodes. All five of the MST3K Gamera episodes, culled from the show's third season in 1991 and featuring series creator Joel Hodgson alongside robots Tom Servo and Crow, are included in the set, as are some of the show's most memorable skits: in Gamera, Tom croons a heartfelt tribute to the film's lost pet, Tibby the Turtle, and head writer/future host Mike Nelson turns up as the giant monster himself to reveal the true nature of his relationship with boy hero Kenny, while Gamera vs. Gaos features the cast's aborted presentation of their opera "Gameradammerung," and Gamera vs. Guiron and Gamera vs. Zigra offer the SOL's rousing "Gamera Song" and several berserk variations. None of the MST3K Gamera experiments have been available on home video prior to this release, so longtime fans can finally retire their worn pre-records and enjoy the episodes in glorious, uncut form.
MST3K vs. Gamera includes a trio of enjoyable featurettes that pay tribute to both the episodes and the films themselves. So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K and Gamera features interviews with Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, and Jim Mallon, who recall the show's long history with Gamera and the joys and pains of watching the films; Gamera vs. the Chiodo Brothers is an amusing and nostalgic look at men-in-monster-suit films with Stephen, Edward, and Charles Chiodo, better known as the creators of Killer Klowns from Outer Space; and Gamera Obscura is an exhaustive oral history of the Gamera series, from its cultural origins to its late '90s revival, by Japanese fantasy film expert August Ragone. Mike Nelson's wrap segments as Jack Perkins from the syndicated MST Hour are also included, as are the original Japanese trailers for each film and a quintet of original mini posters by artist Steve Vance. --Paul Gaita
Gamera Obscura: a history by August Ragone
Gamera Vs. The Chiodo Brothers
The MST hour wraps
Original Japanese trailers
5 exclusive mini-posters by Artist Steve Vance
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* 302- GAMERA
This 1965 black-and-white film from Daiei studios in Japan was their attempt to cash in on the popularity of a certain other series of films made in Japan about a giant, mutated reptile. While Gamera may be an ersatz Godzilla to some, he's got his own weirdness to recommend him. A nuclear explosion, what else, awakens a giant, mutated, prehistoric flying, fire-breathing turtle from his icy prison to wreak havoc upon the world. A young boy who is especially fond of turtles develops an unusual bond with the monster. The American dubbing and added scenes make the film seem weirder and goofier than ever. This is a must-see episode for all MSTies because of gags like Tom Servo singing "Tibby Oh Tibby" and Gamera's visit, played by Mike Nelson, to the SOL via the hexfield view screen. MST3K's riffing machine was in full gear by season three and this is a top-notch episode with hilarious jokes all during the movie and terrific sketches during the host segments as well. This is a contender for the list of top ten all-time greatest episodes.
* 304- GAMERA VS. BARUGON
This is a 1966 follow-up to 1965's Gamera. Barugon is a giant, mutated lizard who shoots a powerful beam of energy from his back. He also has "ram-tongue" action. He attacks Japan and Gamera comes to the rescue. It's just that simple and the riffing by Joel and the 'Bots is just that great. The host segment inspired by the film wherein the SOL crew advertise the "5000-piece fightin' men & monster set" is phenomenally well done and funny.
* 308- GAMERA VS. GAOS
Gamera was successful in his first two outings so the studio followed up again the next year with Gamera Vs. Gaos in 1967. Gaos is a flying reptile with a wedge-shaped head that shoots high-powered laser beams. Gamera and Gaos chase each other around in a series of monster fights throughout the film. Highlights of this episode include the "Gameradamerung" staged by Joel and the 'Bots, the arts and crafts host segment and the final host segment in which they try to come up with a list of other ways to kill Gaos. Again, Gamera inspired the writers at MST3K to do some of their best work, this is hilarious from beginning to end.
* 312- GAMERA VS. GUIRON
This 1969 Gamera film follows the adventures of some young children, two boys and a girl, who discover a flying saucer has landed near their homes. The two boys climb aboard and the ship kidnaps them off to a distant planet. No one will believe the little girl who is left behind. Gamera follows the spaceship and attempts to rescue the boys. The alien planet is inhabited by two attractive alien women who want to eat the boys' brains. They also use their control over the giant monster Guiron to defend their planet from other monsters like Space Gaos and eventually, Gamera. The film features the obligatory fights between actors in rubber monster costumes. Again, the host segments are some of the best ever in the show's history, with Joel and the 'Bots singing the "Gamera song" and then Michael Feinstein (played by Mike Nelson) singing it in Deep 13 in the final host segment.
* 316- GAMERA VS. ZIGRA
Gamera returns in 1971 to take on an alien monster called Zigra. Zigra attacks Earth's moon base then comes to Earth spreading destruction in an attempt to dominate the planet. As usual, small children are involved and are an integral part of saving the Earth with help from our eponymous hero, Gamera the fire-breathing flying turtle. Oh, and one of the children really likes Coca-Cola. Episode highlights include the scale model of Gamera and the different ways to sing the Gamera song. Though some of the writers have complained about how much they hated these movies over the years, you wouldn't know it from watching this or any other Gamera episode of the show. This one's as funny as all the others and that's really saying something. This episode nicely ends the MST3K foray into the world of Gamera and leaves you wishing there were more.
The extra features for this set are:
* So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K and Gamera
* Gamera Vs. The Chiodo Brothers
* Gamera Obscura: A Brief History by August Ragone (author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters)
* Original Japanese Trailers
* 5 limited edition mini-posters by artist Steve Vance
* MST Hour wraps for "Gamera" and "Gamera Vs. Guiron"
* This special deluxe edition comes in a collectible tin box.
I also bought the recent Shout! Factory deluxe releases of the old Gamera films. The films all look just gorgeous in their original widescreen formats, with prints that are beautiful, clean and razor sharp. The English dubs (in some cases, both the AIP TV dubs and the infamous Sandy Frank dubs are available some films!), as well as watching them in their native Japanese language with English subtitles. NOTE: the first two films (GAMERA, GAMER vs. BARUGON) are only available in Japanese with English dubs, so if that's not your cup of tea, be forewarned.
MST3K & GAMERA... the ultimate match that was made in heaven! 5 full stars!!!!!
This was a revelation, and while I'm still a Mike fan, between this and volume 20, I can now more easily see why so many are hardcore Joel fans.
I usually give breakdowns of episodes for these box sets, but this time around, I don't think its needed. They all feature a giant turtle named Gamera who, along with other monsters, wreck up Japan. The set starts out great and gets funnier and funnier culminating in GAMERA VS. GUIRON which is now in my top 10 favorite episodes, and is just behind THE GIRL IN LOVERS LANE as my favorite Joel ep. There is just so much going on in that one. The little kids, the brain eating aliens with southern accents, the absolutely horrific dubbing job ("Hello! Thank you!"), Officer Cornjob, Gamera swinging on the gymnasts beam, the little old-faced girl... I could just go on and on and on. So incredibly perfect.
Absolutely one of the best box-sets you can get for MST3k, no question. Buy it now.
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WAY TO PRICEY. Not worth it. I suggest people look at other sites or retailers before buying here.