Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXII: (Space Travelers / Hercules / Radar Secret Service & San Francisco International
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They were four total strangers, with nothing in common, except themselves.
A space drama, a sword and sandals epic, a 50s spy film and a TV pilot about an airport. Before the experiment was over, they broke the rules and made us cringe in ways we never dreamed possible. In this 32nd collection of episodes from the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow spend detention aboard the Satellite of Love with a breakfast club of cheesy movies. To our everlasting good fortune, though, they endure the punishment by delivering a steady stream of wisecracks, and its definitely some kind of wonderful.
Dear Dr. Forrester, you see these movies as you want to see them, in simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what our space captives found out is that each one of them has bad acting, a sloppy script, questionable direction and some music. We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice eight hours of our time for whatever it was we did wrong. Thank you, we had a blast.
Radar Secret Service
San Francisco International
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What is not good, and not debatable, is that they want forty dollars for a quad of four crappy movies. It does not help that the mst3k phoned in two of them. Come on guys. Not all misties are millionaires. This set should go for 20 bucks max.
Space Travelers, episode 401
Originally titled Marooned, this retitled version from Film Ventures was the first episode of season four. It's a 1969 color film with an all-star cast including Gregory Peck, Gene Hackman, James Franciscus, Richard Crenna and David Jansen, yet it's a fairly dull film with lots of stock footage shots. The riffing on this one is terrific and is punctuated throughout by Crow (Trace Beaulieu) doing a killer Gregory Peck impression to deliver many of his jokes. The host segments are all winners in this one too. Fantastic jokes throughout along with an MST3K rarity, a major motion picture. Don't miss it!
Hercules, episode 502
This 1958 color film starring Steve Reeves started the sword-and-sandal craze by Italian film makers and it's certainly better than most of the knock-offs that followed including its own direct sequel, Hercules Unchained which was also done on MST3K. Hercules arrives in Iolcus and falls in love with King Pelias' daughter, Iole. To win her Hercules must complete a series of tasks including joining Jason on the voyage of the Argo. Though it was episode 502 it actually aired first at the beginning of season five. Like all the Hercules films done on the show it's fun and more action packed than the sequel, though cuts were made for time meaning that sometimes the continuity of the movie suffers a bit. Highlights include Crow's one-man show of the Match Game and the updated constellations sketch.
San Francisco International, episode 614
A 1970 TV movie starring Pernell Roberts, Clu Gulager, Van Johnson, Tab Hunter and David Hartman, it's a fair TV knock-off of the Airport theatrical series of films that was also a pilot for a TV series. Pernell Roberts was replaced by Lloyd Bridges when the show became a series. This melodramatic movie has both a main plot about thieves and a subplot about a kid in crisis in a stolen plane. It's just as exciting as it sounds. Host segments focus on an Urkel running gag for some reason and Torgo makes an appearance too.
Radar Secret Service, episode 520
This is a 1950 black-and-white crime drama produced by Robert Lippert (Lost Continent, Rocketship XM, Jungle Goddess, King Dinosaur) so you know you are in for a low-budget film with lots of padding. The film is so dull the Mad Scientists dub the effect of it as "Hypno-helio-static-stasis", a successor to "Deep Hurting". The plot focuses on G-men tracking a stolen uranium shipment. You'll recognize at least one actor in the film, Sid Melton (The Danny Thomas Hour, Green Acres and a lot more), he was the comic relief in Lost Continent. It's quite a bit duller than the other Lippert films used on the show, but the short, Last Clear Chance, about railroad safety is a lot of fun. The host segment making fun of the short, "Why don't they look?", is definitely an episode highlight.
- New Introductions by Frank Conniff
- Barnum of Baltimore: The Early Films of Joesph E. Levine
- Marooned: A Forgotten Odyssey
- A Brief History of Satellite News
- MST-UK with Trace and Frank
- Theatrical Trailers
- 4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
Episode 401, SPACE TRAVELERS (1969), is the only MST3K movie so far to have won an Academy Award (VIsual Effects). Originally released by Columbia as MAROONED, it is a story about three Apollo-type astronauts trapped in their space capsule due to malfunctioning retro-rockets. Despite a nearly all-star cast (Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman and James Franciscus in the capsule; Gregory Peck and David Janssen at Mission Control), and a then-hefty ten-million-dollar budget, the movie was not a success for the studio. (The moon landing having already taken place, Americans showed a strong preference for the real thing.) Despite the stars' salaries and the special effects, SPACE TRAVELERS is a boring affair though Joel and the bots do their best with it.
Next up is Episode 502, HERCULES (1958), the first Hercules movie to star Steve Reeves and many would say the best. This one hews closest to the myths of Hercules falling in love with Iole, daughter of Pelias and going in search of the Golden Fleece. All this machismo with almost every day "a big, brawny, hairy, glistening, two-fisted, manly day" makes for zesty fun and great satire, and after all Steve Reeves isn't too hard to look at. The S-O-L crew has great fun mocking it in a somewhat affectionate vein.
The third selection is Episode 520, RADAR SECRET SERVICE (1950), pure shlock from the golden age of "B" pictures. The Secret Service has somehow refined radar to the degree it can not only track solid objects on the ground, but yield television-like images of what's going on. (A government that could obtain visual images of its citizens -- preposterous back then if not now). This was only Mike Nelson's eighth episode as botmeister, but the crew do extremely well, finding humor and provoking laughs from things that would simply bore most of us.
The fourth movie, and in some ways the weakest, is SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL (1969), a pilot movie from the high age of Universal made-for-TV movies. Pernell Roberts manages the huge metropolitan airport and has to contend with the ego of a subordinate (Clu Gulager) and typical made-for-TV dilemmas like a bad guy (Tab Hunter) trying to smuggle a box of illicit cash from one plane to another, and a misunderstood pre-teen (Teddy Eccles) who happens upon a small single-engine plane with the keys in it. (I doubt that security was that lax even in the Sixties). This is Roberts' only appearance in the SFO series, since NBC insisted Lloyd Bridges take his place. The riffing is fun if not exactly outstanding, as Mike, Crow and Tom Servo jibe perceptively over changed times and Hollywood stock figures.
If I had to give these Mistie movies individual stars, I'd say four stars for the first and last entries, five for the two in the middle. But one thing pushes me towards five stars for the whole collection: the 1959 short "Last Clear Chance" that precedes RADAR SECRET SERVICE. Commissioned by the Union Pacific Railroad to urge safety on the road (and especially at railway crossings), it's surprisingly chipper in tone as an aggrieved State Trooper lectures a farm family about avoidable highway deaths he has seen in his career. The family seems to have nothing better to do than sit around drinking iced tea and humoring the lawman. Of the family's two sons, one drives an English roadster (as if!) and has a creamy girlfriend with a stylish convertible ("I've got life in me, Big Daddy!"); the other has just received his driver's license ("Hey, my Advocate's here!"). What could go wrong? Mike and the bots have a great time hashing up this time-capsule piece, which was quite popular in its day with schools and community groups.
I do not own a lot of these "roman numeral" collections, but I think this is one of the better ones.
Most recent customer reviews
Hercules is a stand out MST. The Match Game skit is brilliant for Crow.
Radar Secret Service - another great one.Read more