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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"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.
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.
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.
Pumaman features what may be the whiniest, most 70s-era "hero" ever put to film — the oddly named Tony Farms, who has some… power. Of some sort. Thanks to the Aztecs, somehow… look, it really doesn't matter. He spends most of his time complaining, wearing sensible slacks and being hoisted by his nether regions in front of a front protected skyline of London on the one day it wasn't covered in smog in 1980.
Untamed Youth has Mamie Van Doren and Eddie "Summertime Blues" Cochran playing a character named 'Bong'. It's a decent outing, but not their best effort. It was one of (if not the) first movie that was not sci-fi themed in the series. Hercules and the Captive Women is another 'meh' film. The guys try valiantly, but I always wind up zoning out during these colorful but boring Hercules films. Sorry.
The Thing That Couldn't Die is another from the Sci-Fi era. Whereas Pumaman came near the series' end, this one was from season 8, and the energy of being on a new network, with a new lease on life is evident in the energy put in riffing and skits. Poor Jessica is touched with a non-specific divining gift. She's "a water witch", among other things, and thinks everything is evil. Evil in the ground, evil trees, evil snacks, evil rhododendron! Evil does abound, but it's second banana to the dolts who populate this late-era Universal stinker. Most of the film is dumb-guy Mike carrying around the head of a long-dead but long-cursed individual named Gideon who seems more "theater!" than "conquistador!" but who am I to judge. One of my personal favorites.
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