Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIV
DVD | Box Set
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The cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 has always welcomed immigrant films with open arms. One can almost imagine a Satellite of Liberty greeting the waves of foreign films seeking a more prosperous life in America. Its inscription might well read, Give me your tired plots, your poor acting, your muddled directors yearning to be schlock-free. It is in this spirit that Volume XXIV presents four of cinemas transplants from Russia, Italy and two from Japan, that simply didnt take. Thankfully, Joel, Mike and their band of robot brothers (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot) alleviate their (and our) suffering by watching these movies with a joyously irreverent stream of higher consciousness. You will have in your hands a collection of passports to laughter. Consider them riffed and stamped by those tormented souls aboard the Satellite of Love. Titles include Fugitive Alien, Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, The Sword And The Dragon & Samson Vs. The Vampire Women.
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Samson vs. The Vampire Women - actually, not that bad for a movie about a Mexican wrestler and terribad vampires. Frank's departure didn't stand out to me, surprisingly. I guess I expected more.
The Sword and the Dragon is a delightful movie - love those Russo-Finnish epics.
Even though I don't like Joel as much as Mike, the whole crew tears these films up very well; the Alien films alone would be worth the set.
Special features are, typical of Shout! Factory, all very fun, including another introduction to the Japanese material from August Ragone, a surprising little documentary interview with none other than Sandy Frank himself, another documentary about El Santo and the Santo films' relationship with film importer K. Gordon Murray, some always-hilarious MST Hour wraps (though Mike sounded a little sick when playing Jack Perkins this time; maybe he had a cold?) and finally, apropos of nothing but much appreciated, two bonus MST3K shorts, including one riffed by Joel and one riffed by Mike. I believe at least one of them, "A Date with Your Family," was previously released on one of the early Rhino sets, but it's great to see it back in print via Shout! Factory.
All in all, this is a fantastic set, and I recommend it highly to any MSTie.
The bonus features are pretty good on this boxed set too. I have to applaud SHOUT factory for doing a great job of putting these sets out. Please keep up the good work.
(Say, that would make a really great commemorative t-shirt...)
The Sword and the Dragon - This appears to be standard Russian fare. (It also explains why Russia lost the Cold War by making such a film.)
Samson and the Vampire Women - Not as bad as The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy and not as weird as Santa Claus. There seems to be some reason that El Santo was re-named Samson but why that happened is anyone's guess. It was a great send-off for TV's Frank.