Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIX
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Ahead of its time in many ways, the beloved comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 used social media before there was social media. Consider: a creative team of actors and writers put on a puppet show and shared with us not just cheesy old movies, but how they felt about them. They sent their show into the ether, hoping to find kindred spirits to join in the fun and pain. The comments were delivered verbally in snarky one-liners called riffs, the spiritual father of funny tweets. The initial popularity of the show mushroomed as fans made tapes and traded them…viral videos before they turned digital. Is it any wonder, then, that the first MST fans were drawn to the burgeoning internet, using it to find each other and share the love? All of the above notwithstanding, this new DVD collection is the only way to own these four never-before-released episodes with fun extras. Relationship status? Its not complicated: fans forever. #MovieSign!
Hercules And The Captive Women
The Thing That Couldnt Die
• New Interview With The Pumaman Star Walter G. Alton, Jr.
• The Movie That Couldn’t Die Featurette
• New Introductions By Joel Hodgson
• MST3K Artist In Residence: Steve Vance
• About Joel Hodgson's Riffing Myself
• 4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
• Theatrical Trailers
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112- UNTAMED YOUTH
This 1957 black-and-white film stars Mamie Van Doren and Lori Nelson as sisters arrested while hitchhiking in a rural town. A corrupt system sends them to a work farm where they are essentially used as slave labor. The movie also includes a brief appearance by early rocker Eddie Cochran (perhaps best known for Summertime Blues). This is one of the last episodes of Season 1 MST3K and it shows, the riffing is getting nice and dense and it's an enjoyable episode in spite of the lackluster drama of a film which has little to offer other than a few well-known cast members.This film is the first of many non-SF/horror films used on MST3K. Great host segments round out this enjoyable MST3K episode. With this episode Season 1 is now nearly complete on DVD with only the Black Scorpion remaining to be released.
412- HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN
This Italian 1961 color film stars body builder Reg Park. The terrific Gian Maria Volonté (For A Few Dollars More, A Fistful Of Dollars) is also in this entertaining sword-and-sandal epic full of monsters and magic. Hercules must venture to Atlantis to rescue his son. It's worth watching just for the movie line, "This day is dedicated to Uranus." Needless to say, MST3K makes some great comedy out of this lively adventure film. Host segments include a Hercules action figure and the history of Hercules presented by Crow. A highly enjoyable episode.
805- THE THING THAT COULDN'T DIE
A 1958 black-and-white "horror" film about a psychic young woman who discovers an ancient and evil undead head on her farm. Even for a fantasy horror film it's a ridiculous premise and the movie is ponderous and drab. Nevertheless, the crew of the SOL have some fun with it and there are some entertaining host segments to break up the film. This is the fifth episode of the show to appear on the Sci-Fi Channel after it was canceled on Comedy Central.
903- THE PUMAMAN
Pumaman (aka Puma Man) is a low-budget Italian film starring no one except inexplicably, Donald Pleasance. An Aztec shaman (Miguel Angel Fuentes) gives a mystical medallion to a young man who then becomes flying super-hero Pumaman. Comedy ensues though it's not always clear if it's intentional or not. A fair amount of the movie was shot in the UK. This movie seems a lot like Greatest American Hero, but the movie was actually released about a year before that show went on the air. It's an incredibly goofy movie. Host segments include Shelli The Nanite messing with Mike Nelson's hair. A fun episode.
Extra features include:
- A new interview with Untamed Youth star Mamie Van Doren
- A new interview with Walter G. Alton, Jr., star of The Pumaman
- Original version of The Pumaman
- "The Movie That Couldn't Die"
- New introductions by Joel Hodsgon
- About Joel Hodgson's "Riffing Myself"
- The Posters Of MST3K
- Theatrical Trailers
- MST3K Artist In Residence: Steve Vance
- 4 exclusive mini-posters by artist Steve Vance
"Hercules And The Captive Women" is a classic Joel-era swords 'n sandals involving Hercules and a beautiful princess, with a nasty cougar-like mother who desires Herc for her very own. It's incomprehensible and of course....yawn...I forget. But this MST3K experiment has the infamous "Lawn Baby" invention exchange, which is kind of twisted and pretty funny.
Experiment 805, "The Thing That Couldn't Die," is another rather obscure Sci Fi era experiment only shown a couple of times. One of the early season 8 experiments are always welcome for DVD preservation. It involves a psychic dude ranch girl...well, nevermind, the plot isn't important. It is the first experiment that has the "Observers", guys in clown makeup that carry their brains (blue of course) in a large dish. They're not as omnipotent as they let on, and we're glad Bill Corbett's turn was funny enough to carry the gag on for the remaining two seasons of the series.
The weakest entrant is experiment 112, "Untamed Youth," a 1950s era Mamie Van Doren-era girl in trouble flick. The production values of season 1 were rougher than in later years, and it's perhaps not as funny in the riffing department. But the skeleton of the format for later seasons (invention exchange, interaction between Joel and the Mads) show the potential they would later realize oh so well.
Extras? Interviews with Mamie Van Doren herself, a grand lady and a great sport. Somehow Pumaman actor Walter G. Alton Jr. was located, and it's great to see some insight in this obscure, very popular MST3K episode. Intros from Joel Hodgon, , and the usual mini posters (I really don't care for these, they never leave the DVD box or anything.)
I had no idea so many of these episodes would be preserved as well as they are, and it's amazing how many people (especially those who grew up never knowing the 1970s) appreciate the humor.
This set has a couple of particularly bad smelling additions. MST3K movies are judged by using Manos, Hands of Fate, as the benchmark for wretchedness. These movies, while bad, do not approach that (thank goodness).
The one standout is Untamed Youth. The movie, is of course, horrible. The only saving grace is that Les Baxter did the music. And even some of the songs here are pretty bad - which is unusual for him. Never heard of Les Baxter? Amazon has a collection of his. And he can be heard on Public Radio on the Retro Cocktail Hour.
Hercules and the Captive Women, The Thing That Couldn't Die and The Pumaman are only watchable in the MST3K form.
The specials in this set are pretty darn good too. I particularly like the interview with Steve Vance, who does the posters as well as a segment that shows those posters.
So, go ahead, grab this set and enjoy bad movies and funny commentary.
When they were only on TV on Sunday mornings, I was working the dog watch shift as a police officer. (I'm long retired now).
I would get home early Sunday morning and look forward to watching the guys before trying to get
some sleep before my next shift.
This set for me is a bit below par. I'll still watch it, but it's not one of my favorites.
I realize they had to work with what they could get.
I just wish they could have had access to any older SciFi movie they wanted, but that wasn't
Don't get me wrong (please no hate comments) I still love watching them.
Let's hope they actually are able to come back again as they are planning.
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