This set contains two episodes with show creator Joel Hodgson as host and two with head-writer Mike Nelson as host. The former are from the Comedy Central era of the show while the latter are from the Sci-Fi Channel era. These are four solid episodes that fans thought might never be on DVD, so Shout! Factory has again done an excellent job of securing the rights to the films to ensure fans can add these to their collection.
MOON ZERO TWO, Episode 111 James Olson and Catherine Von Schell star in this 1969 UK color science fiction film that is really just an old western about miners set in outer space. A group of criminals want to salvage a valuable asteroid by crashing it into the moon and the only place to do it unobserved is on another miner's claim, so they dispose of the miner. They hire a salvage team (headed by Olson) to get them the asteroid, but unknown to them the missing miner's sister (Schell) hires the same salvage team to help her find her brother. It's kind of a fun and lively movie with great sixties style music. Years later Catherine Schell would drop the "Von" from her stage name. Host segments include a moon landing pageant and Crow and Tom fight over the women in the movie in zero gravity. This is a rather enjoyable episode with a quite watchable movie.
THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE (with short: HERE COMES THE CIRCUS), Episode 422 This 1959 color Russian-Finnish movie is based on the Finnish folk tales set down in the Kalevala by Elias Lonrot and the original title was "Sampo". A sampo is a magic forge that produces salt, flour and gold. Apparently editors in the 1960s thought the Finnish folk tale was confusing to Western audiences so they chopped so much out of the film that it makes virtually no sense at all. This is similar to the hatchet job they did on the tale of "Sadko" by turning it into The Magic Voyage Of Sinbad. Anyway, the story revolves around the hero Lemminkäinen battling the evil witch Louhi to rescue the kidnapped maiden Annikki. This American dubbed version of the movie is goofy fantasy fun and worked extremely well for MST3K. The short is also not to be missed as every short about circuses made fun of on MST3K turned out really funny. Interestingly, Joel and the 'Bots talk over the explanation of what a sampo is during the film, then make hilarious speculation about what it is for the rest of the episode. Both the movie and the short get related host segments. This is a must-see and must-own episode of the show.
THE LEECH WOMAN, Episode 802 This black and white sci-fi horror film from 1960 concerns an endocrinologist seeking to keep his wife forever young by taking serum from the pineal gland of younger women to do so, a process that is fatal for the victims. This movie was a staple of UHF weekend "creature feature" programming back in the 1960s and 1970s. This was only the second episode to air of the new Sci-Fi Channel version of MST3K so Bill Corbett is still settling in with his portrayal of Crow. It's an entertaining episode using a fairly well-known low-budget Universal Studios film. The movie can be a little tedious in parts, but Mike and the 'Bots make it fun.
GORGO, Episode 909 Some UK film makers created their own Godzilla-like color film in 1961 and called it Gorgo. Eugène Lourié directs this decent "kaiju" type monster film about a large dinosaur-like creature captured and put on display in the UK under the name, Gorgo. When an even larger parent monster comes looking for the baby Gorgo she gives London the same treatment that Godzilla gives to Tokyo. Gorgo is a pretty good movie of its type for the time which makes for an enjoyable episode of MST3K. Like the Leech Woman, Gorgo used to be on UHF TV a lot back in the 1960s and 1970s and its nice to see what MST3K does with another relatively well-known film. This episode aired only twice on Sci-Fi Channel before an apparent rights dispute forced them to stop showing it, so it's fantastic good news for MSTies that Shout! Factory was able to get the rights to release this episode. Don't miss it!
Extra features include: - The box of DVDs comes in a 25th Anniversary Collector's Tin - Bonus double-feature DVD with MST3K episodes Mitchell and The Brain That Wouldn't Die (which have been out of print for a while) · Last Flight Of Joel Robinson · Life After MST3K: Mary Jo Pehl - MST Hour wraps for The Day The Earth Froze · 3-Part Documentary Return To Eden Prairie: 25 Years Of Mystery Science Theater 3000 · Ninth Wonder Of The World: The Making Of Gorgo (MST3K Edition) · Leonard Maltin Explains Something · Original Trailers · 4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
This must've gone out of stock right before I placed my order, so no idea when I'll get it. But I have seen all the movies included in this 25th Anniversary set and it is definitely worth the price of admission for several of them. The Leech Woman, Gorgo, Mitchell and The Brain That Wouldn't Die are all top notch episodes of the show. It's also a pretty rounded set of movies, with selections from all the eras of the show, plus the two bonuses showcasing Mike's first two episodes aboard the SOL.
While this version does not include the collectible tin, it also doesn't have that $100+ price tag. Frankly, I'm OK with that. Not only does this include all the movies from the tin, but the same extras that Shoutcast has been lovingly adding to each release, including the mini-posters. You get your four standard release movies PLUS Mitchell on DVD again and The Brain That Wouldn't Die (or Couldn't Die?) for the first time on disc as well.
It's hard to believe that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is this old, but it also goes to show how classic comedy ages well while the trendy comes and goes. The "Mystery Science Theater 3000 25th Anniversary Edition" comes either in conventional packaging or in the deluxe limited-edition tin, which I purchased. Either way, it's a great assortment of MST3K humor from across the ages.
I have to say my favorite movie in the collection is the goofy space western "Moon Zero Two" which is trippy and hilariously dated; that it's a perfect target for the MST3K treatment is immediately obvious from the animated opening credits. I was also fond of "Gorgo" (with an especially funny cameo from Leonard Maltin!) which I don't think is a bad movie of the giant monster genre, it's just so British in its demeanor that it stands in great contrast from most of the kaiju films. "The Leech Woman" is another classic, and one I hold especially dear: I actually named my favorite cat "Neil" after the protagonist, mostly because of his constant summoning by name (watch it and see; it's a great recurring joke). "The Day The Earth Froze" is a crazy Finnish fairy tale about young love between Lemminkäinen and Annikki which is constantly confounded by a witch, foreshadowing the wonderful "Jack Frost" four seasons later. It's one of the loonier plots to grace an episode of MST3K, and brings us the long-lasting mystery of the sampo. If you have to ask "what's a sampo" you need to watch the episode immediately!
A bonus disc presents "Mitchell", Joel Hodgson's last episode, and "The Brain That Wouldn't Die", Mike Nelson's first, along with an excellent short about that transition. Speaking of extras, Shout Factory has done a great job with this package: there are extras on every DVD and they are uniformly excellent, interesting, and relevant: particularly good is the multi-part special "Return to Eden Prairie: 25 Years of Mystery Science Theater 3000".
If you are a fan of MST3K this is an indispensable package; if you don't know much about MST3K this is a great collection to sample...or sampo!