Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XIX
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You are cordially invited to step aboard the stranded Satellite of Love as its crew continues its ongoing assignment of viewing (and mocking) the most . . . ahem . . . misunderstood . . . films of all time! Join hosts Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson as they celebrate the very first and only 19th DVD box set of the hilarious cult phenomenon Mystery Science Theater 3000 with their loyal, albeit morally misguided, crew Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and, of course, Gypsy! Episodes include: Robot Monster, Bride of the Monster, Devil Doll, and Devil Fish.
The set is still a must-buy, especially for Robot Monster an early high point in the series. Highly Recommended. --DVD Talk, 10/26/2010
New Introduction By J. Elvis Weinstein
Larry Blamire Reflects On Robot Monster
Brand-New Featurettes On Bride Of The Monster And Devil Doll
MST3K: Origins And Beyond:CONvergence 2009 Panel
4 Exclusive Mini-Posters
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ROBOT MONSTER (1953, MST3K Episode 107). You’ve probably heard of this one: the film where the predatory alien, the “Ro-Man,” appears as a helmeted diver in a gorilla suit. (“Where’s Charlton Heston when you need him?” asks one of the robots.) I like to ask myself if the movie, which regularly hits “worst-of” lists, would be any less deplorable if the antagonist had worn a less ridiculous costume (yes, a little). Even so, it’s still a preposterous film made only slightly less preposterous by the trick ending. Riffing is all at the Satellite of Love, and overall it’s a strong episode.
BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955, Episode 423). Of all Ed Wood’s legendarily bad movies, this is one of the Ed Woodiest. I’ll quote from an online episode guide: “Mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff lives in a remote swamp while attempting to create an army of atomic supermen in his lab. He performs experiments on intruders and feeds his enemies to a pond-dwelling octopus.” Need I say that the rubber octopus was salvaged from an earlier movie? With Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson, both of whom are well known to the gang at the Satellite of Love. Preceded by Part One of a Chevrolet instructional film from 1941, “Hired,” which advocates selling cars door-to-door. The riffing betrays a total lack of respect across the board, which is what these films deserve.
DEVIL DOLL (1964, Episode 818). Dum-dum title for a not-so-bad British thriller. An evil ventriloquist worms his way into high society with the idea of (spoiler) capturing souls to put inside his German-built dummy. The offbeat theme inspires free-range lampooning from the Satellite-of-Love crew (“Mortimer Snerd in: Fatal Attraction!”; “Sieg heil! Oh, wait. That’s over, isn’t it?”) I enjoyed this one very much, though truth be told the film could stand on its own.
DEVIL FISH (1984, Episode 911). This “wholly amateurish” (TV GUIDE) Italo-French co-production, also known as MONSTER SHARK, has neither the talent nor the budget to compare to its obvious inspiration, Steven Spielberg’s trend-setting JAWS. Handsome American Michael Sopkiw has the lead here, but although the rest of the cast has been dubbed, and are playing Americans, they don’t move or act like Americans. Heck, they don’t even smoke like Americans. This dated bit of exploitation is a sitting duck for the SOL crew and anything is fair game: “Its underwater speed is more than thirty knots.” -- “Are those Don Knotts?” The best way -- in fact, the only way -- to endure this not-so-well aged cheese is in the MST3K treatment.
All in all, a good solid package. I appreciate the fact that the price has come down.
ROBOT MONSTER: From the first season, this movie is highly regarded among fans of awful, inept films, usually ranking right up there with Ed Wood's PLAN 9. I had never seen ROBOT MONSTER (MST version or otherwise) til I bought this set and I must say it's definitely deserving of its fame as one of the worst movies of all time. The monster is a guy in a Gorilla suit wearing a divers helmet. He's Ro-Man, one of the Ro-Men from the planet Ro-Man (yes, the movie specifies exactly that). His mission is to kill the last remaining human family on Earth so his race can inhabit the planet Earth. Ro-Man sets up shop (which includes a bubble machine on a wooden desk and a wood framed viewing screen which he uses to communicate with his superior Ro-Man) in a cave, then wanders around trying to find the family even though the hole in the ground that they live in is RIGHT NEXT TO HIS CAVE!!! All this is exceptionally silly stuff, though the film does get dark in places when Ro-Man kills a little girl, then captures and attempts to rape the older daughter of the family. Even though its barely an hour long, the movie is still massively padded; you'll see "dinosaurs" fight endlessly at the beginning and end of the movie, as well as countless scenes of Ro-Man walking around the desert scrub, looking rather like Yogi Bear as he waddles about. I've seen the worst movies MST has ever took on (MANOS, MONSTER A-GO-GO, THE CREEPING TERROR, WILD WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN, the Coleman Francis Trilogy, etc.), and ROBOT MONSTER is about as bewildering as they come. The first time I watched it I just turned off the DVD player while scratching my head, wondering what the heck it was that I just saw. Being a first season episode, this one has slow riffing, and two COMMANDER CODY shorts to compensate for the brief runtime of the movie, but honestly those things don't matter one bit this time around. You'll watch this one just for the insanity of the film itself. Its seriously that odd of a movie.
BRIDE OF THE MONSTER: Its an Ed Wood movie. Its an Ed Wood movie that features an aged Bela Legousi, Tor Johnson, and that fat guy that's missing a finger from TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE. If you've seen PLAN 9 you'll find a similar, lovably inept approach to BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. You get people rolling around on a motionless rubber octopus as its "attacking" them, tons of stock footage of animals, a guy stuck in "quicksand" that he just hops right out of, a deeply inaccurate stand-in for Bela (featuring platform shoes!), and a nuclear explosion where the surviving characters muse philisophically while standing mere feet away from the blast. Its almost too easy for Joel and the bots. Really, a stellar episode, though with all that the movie has going for it, how could it not be? It also has the first part of the HIRED short, which is quite fun, though I felt the 2nd half was slightly funnier.
DEVIL DOLL: This Sci Fi era episode features a movie thats actually not that bad for what it is. Its set in England (or, as Servo puts it, the "land of jug-eared, chinless, stomach-eaters.") and is about a ventriloquist named the Great Vorelli and Hugo, his evil, sentient dummy. The movie is atmospheric to a degree and the story is competently told. That said, the movie IS paced a little slow, but there's still plenty to make fun of, from all the potshots directed at the British to the dour, serious tone Vorelli has throughout all his performances (he's hired to ENTERTAIN, isn't he?!). The back and forth riffing Mike and the Bots provide for Vorelli and Hugo is awesome, starts at the movie's very first scene, and never lets up from there. This is also the episode where Servo transfers his soul into a Toaster Strudel, so the last quarter of the film has a rectangular shadow bobbing around next to Mike in the theater. It all makes for a truly excellent episode.
DEVIL FISH: Another good Sci Fi episode. Its kinda a Jaws rip-off about a proto-shark, which is a gravely skinned shark with octopus tentacles, apparently. The movie itself reminds me of WEREWOLF in that its very very 80's, stars many obviously European people despite being set in America, and attempts a serious tone while having way too many goofy characters to actually be taken seriously. DEVIL FISH also has some soap-opera antics going on which fuel the riffing fires as well. Like BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, this movie just has too much weird stuff going for it to be a bad episode, and Mike and the gang really do a great job with it. Another great episode.
So you get 3 excellent episodes, and a fascinating season 1 ep with this set. All 4 dvds don't have any glitches or tape hits either, so its clear, easy veiwing the whole time. A very good box set, one any fan shouldn't be without.