Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection XXXI
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MSTies and bowlers share an enduring love of turkeys. This latest collection of episodes from the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 bowls a perfect game(four turkeys) as comic kingpins Joel, Mike and their robot teammates Tom Servo and Crow riff strike after strike. Not a single instance of bad acting, bad writing or bad filmmaking is spared. This promises to be a Thanksgiving match for the ages and, needless to say, you will have a ball. Whether its ten frames or 24 per second, the snarky anarchy of MST3K will be right up your alley. Oh and as an added bonus this set contains new and exclusive Turkey Day intros by Joel Hodgson. Happy Turkey Day!
The Painted Hills
The Screaming Skull
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXI is yet another great set from Shout! Factory, who have gone out of their way over and again to provide well-produced bonus materials. This volume comes in festive, Thanksgiving-themed tin packaging, making it a particularly nice holiday gift for the MSTie in your life. --Under the Radar Magazine, November 2014
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JUNGLE GODDESS (with Phantom Creeps Pt.1) EPISODE 203
We start out with the beginning of the PHANTOM CREEPS serial, staring Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist. Since parts 2 and 3 have already been released on VOLs 27 and 11, its nice to have the whole story. In the prologue, Joel and the Bots play hide and seek with the universal mystery of Oneness. The invention exchange has Joel inventing a remote control saw, so if you mess up, you're not in danger. The Mads chop off Frank's head, and fuse it with a saxophone. We are also treated to a SOL Infomercial for a phantom creep that can blow up anything, a cinematic effects lesson by Joel concerning the matte effect for a binocular, and finally the two pilots from the film show up on the view screen. The movie itself, is a typical 1948 B&W low budget affair, staring George Reeves (TV's SUPERMAN). A plane carrying an heiress crashes in the jungle. Two pilots (Bob and Mike) are dispatched to search for Greta, and when they find her, she's become the jungle queen for a bunch of primitive natives. Random, but it apparently happened back then. I don't want to spoil the fascinating complex plot devices, but Jungle Goddess falls in love with one of the pilots, and the two return to the USA. The other pilot stays behind, due to a backache caused by "spear-in-spine" syndrome. Overall, an early season two episode, very funny, that has Tom Servo still figuring out how he sounds and moves. Since the Godzilla pictures will never be available due to copyright restrictions, that means Season two is complete with the release of this episode.
THE PAINTED HILLS (with short "Body Care and Grooming") EPISODE 510
This short was previously released with RHINO MST3K box set VOL. 2, on the SHORTS Vol.1 DVD. Its popular and well liked, and if you're obsessive compulsive, you'll like it too. The skits on this show are great as well, with the TONIGHT SHOW parody that has Crow impersonating Jay Leno a favorite of mine. Joel's invention is a subliminal memo machine, while Dr. F uses the cholesterol from Franks heart, to run a generator. (Green Energy--very hip.) The lovable femme fatale GYPSY moderates a debate concerning which girl in the short looks nicer, the sloppy version, or the clean and neat version. Crow's insights into this are hysterical. The other skits include Crow being turned into an ingot of gold (Tom has GOLD FEVER!), term papers get written about the old miner in the movie, and canine vigilante justice is examined--pros and cons. The movie is hokey, and way out of the norm for MST3K. Its a LASSIE movie from 1951, the seventh and last of the series. An old miner 49er strikes GOLD! on the widow Martha's land. A friend of Martha's late husband offers to help dig it out, but kills the old miner 49er out of greed. The miner's best friend, LASSIE, and widow Martha's young son Tommy exact revenge. I've always noticed that the more bizarre the movie, the better the riffing. And for me, Joel and the BEST BRAIN crew were consistently spot on at this point in the series. Even tho I hate westerns, this episode rocks.
THE SCREAMING SKULL (with short "Robot Rumpus") EPISODE 912
Here we are in the SCIFI years, at Castle Forester with Pearl, Bobo and Brain Guy. The opening involves Tom Servo's metamorphosis into a "Beautiful Butterfly" (and butterflies are free to fly, fly away, bye bye). Meanwhile, the Castle Forester crew dance around in Penguin costumes, attempting to degrade the SOL trio. It backfires, naturally. Other skits involve two clay blobs in a mini puppet show that parodies the Gumby short, I love the next comedic interlude, which has Tom Servo attempting to scam a telephone operator for the free coffin advertised at the beginning of the movie. (As a promotional gimmick, when SCREAMING SKULL was released, they promised a free funeral if you died of fright during the film.) We also see CROW as a disembodied skull, that terrified Mike. The short is a Gumby cartoon, that was a popular Claymation character back in the 1960s-70s. Since it involves robots, Tom and Crow understandably identify with their fates. As for the movie, its a low budget crime drama from 1958 staring John Hudson. SCREAMING SKULL is a blatant copy of Hitchcock's REBECCA. You have two newlyweds, Jenny and Eric. Eric's first wife, Marion, died under mysterious circumstances. Since Jenny is filthy rich, and has a psychiatric history, Eric attempts to scare her to death by showing her a --get ready for it--a screaming skull. (thus the skit with the Crow skull scaring Mike.) The movie is typical melodrama for the period. As far as MST3K episodes go, its middling. Personally, I'd have rather SHOUT released "Space Children" from season 9, but no doubt they shall in the fullness of time.
SQUIRM (with short "A Case of Spring Fever") EPISODE 1012
The opening involves a safety check on the SOL. Castle Forester meanwhile, is hosting "THE FAIR", a diabolical plot to take over all the county and state fairs all over the world. Crow wants to enter his 5000 pound pig to the livestock competition. Other skits involve a satanic sprite that grants the wish of the Bots, causing Mike to disappear. Another one has Tom turning into a Southern Belle, complete with 1862 green velvet gown. In another, Mike electrocutes a worm in an attempt to create a mutant like in the movie. As for the episode content, the short is pretty odd. A sprite that looks like a spring makes all the springs in the world disappear. Chairs sag, watches don't run, and other apocalyptic disasters occur from "NO SPRINGS". The movie is a gross out classic from 1976 (and in color). SQUIRM used to be played on TBS all the time late at night during the early 80s. The MST3K version has been edited for content, ie all the really gross stuff was removed. The film's setup involved a bad storm that knocked down power lines, which fell on watery mud. This electrocutes the worms in the mud, transforming them into monsters. What else? So the bloodthirsty worms invade a little Georgian backwater town, burrowing into the skin of the townspeople to kill them. The townspeople run around, looking for ways to prevent the monster worms from turning them into a human mulch pile. This is the next to last episode for MST3K, Even tho I notice the delivery tended to become a bit formulistic by this point, the episode is solid, and consistently funny. After all, what's NOT funny about Killer Worms?
Overall, another fun-tastic box set of MST3K classics. Even tho we are getting a collector's tin, I honestly cant rate this box set as high as the GAMERA box, or the excellent 25th anniversary box, with the bonus episodes. For fans new to the series, I wouldn't recommend this as a first purchase. Even tho every episode is strong, I'd be hard pressed to refer to any of them as all time fan favorites. When you buy every box set, you accept what they release. When SHOUT announces the Bonus Features, I'll tag it onto this review.
With a big budget movie what better way to make it than have Mike, Tom & Crow review one of the classic Universal Monster movies in This Island Earth? It was also a great way to bridge the gap between the Comedy Central owned seasons and the Sci-Fi Channel owned seasons.
This movie is purchasable, re-watchable, and most importantly...quotable! It will make you want to give Uncle Scrotor a great big hug!
'Prince Of Space' video quality is VERY bad on this set. Buyer's beware! I think this may be a defective product release from Shout Factory, unfortunately. I'm going to send an email to their customer service team about it. So disappointing as I've been waiting for the re-release of this volume for years.