Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
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For those of you who have one (or possibly 30 now) of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 collections, please skip to the third paragraph.
Welcome new friends. Youve heard about this show, possibly read an article in a magazine or seen it referenced on some other show you watch: but what exactly is it? Basically, its a show about a guy and his two robot friends aboard a space ship who are forced to watch old, cheesy movies by mad scientists. To get through it, they make wisecracks during the movies, a comic call-and-response. It was on TV for ten years. Theres a feature film, too. Thats the gist of it. You know enough now. Read on.
Okay, were back on for four more of you know what, with you know who getting all kinds of nutty. Enjoy.
The Black Scorpion
Outlaw (Of Gor)
The Projected Man
It Lives By Night
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Top Customer Reviews
113- The Black Scorpion
This fun little 1957 black-and-white monster film features the stop motion animation of King Kong creator Willis O'Brien. An earthquake releases monstrous sized scorpions on New Mexico and it's up to a heroic few to stop them. The main character, Hank Scott, is played by Richard Denning who went on to play "Governor" on Hawaii Five-0. The story is a bit dull, but the monster sequences are entertaining. Host segments feature one where the 'Bots put on a puppet show and another where Gypsy is a giant scorpion. The 'Bots also discuss stop motion animation with Joel. This is the final episode of MST3K season one and with this all of season one will have been released on DVD. This was also Josh Weinstein's last episode.
519- Outlaw (Of Gor)
This 1988 sequel to Gor stars no one of note except inexplicably, Jack Palance. The movie is based on the series of Gor sword-and-sorcery novels by John Norman which one could say are inspired in their main concept by the John Carter of Mars novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs to say the least. An Earth man finds him transported to another planet where he becomes a sword wielding hero that must rescue a princess and such. If it sounds familiar it definitely is and this Gor book film adaptation is not nearly as good as the sadly overlooked adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter from 2012. Nevertheless the Gor series of books have a huge following so it's no surprise that a movie or two got made from them, though not particularly good ones. A huge amount of the dialog in Outlaw Of Gor seems to involve people shouting the name of the hero, Cabot, dozens of times. The film is surprisingly entertaining though because it is at least not slow and the poor script quality, mostly mediocre acting, colorful sets, and numerous action scenes do add up to amusing fare. Costumes are exceedingly scanty for both male and female actors which inspired one of the funniest MST3K host segments ever, the musical number "Toobular Boobular Joy". This really is a must-see and must-have episode for all MST3K fans.
901-The Projected Man
This 1966 British color film is about a scientist who tests a matter transmitter on himself. The experiment goes horribly wrong and turns him into a mutant that can kill with a touch. The movie is relatively dry and unexciting and there's certainly nothing new even at the time about the premise of a scientist experimenting on himself and accidentally becoming a lethal monster in the process. The film is passably entertaining, but nothing more. This episode introduces Castle Forrester in the host segments. In another host segment Crow acquires a death touch like the guy in the movie.
1010- It Lives By Night
This 1974 color film also goes by the title, The Bat People. A doctor gets bitten by a bat in a cave and slowly transforms into a bat creature. This turns out to be bad for his marriage and other aspects of his life. The only noteworthy cast member is Michael Pataki, who played J.C. in another MST3K film, Sidehackers (Five The Hard Way). Pataki was also in The Trouble With Tribbles episode of the original Star Trek and in one episode of the Star Trek: The Next Generation. He's one of those talented actors fans find in both really good productions and in some terribly bad ones, which brings us back to It Lives By Night. It's a slightly different twist on the the endlessly remade vampire and werewolf premises and it seems to be an odd mix of the two. Why does being bitten by a bat turn a man into one? People do get bitten by bats occasionally and that does not happen! The movie is short on explanations and it's hampered by its low budget. Host segments include MIke and the 'Bots testing out new mustaches.
Extra features include:
- Stinger Of Death: Making The Black Scorpion
- Writer Of Gor: The Novels Of John Norman
- Director Of Gor: On Set With John "Bud" Cardos
- Producer Of Gor: Adventures With Harry Alan Towers
- Shock To The System: Creating The Projected Man
- Extended Trailer For "The Frank"
- Theatrical Trailers
· Four Exclusive Mini-Posters by Artist Steve Vance
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.
So what makes this different from any normal episode? Well, first of all it's set between the sixth and seventh seasons (right after the departure of TV's Frank and before Pearl joins as a regular), so Doctor F has the bad guy side all to himself. Fortunately, Trace is more than capable of making his every moment on screen a blast (there's even a funny "mini-origin" monologue that starts the film off to catch everyone up to speed). The set is finally expanded here and we get to see more of the ship finally. But, strangely enough, this is actually SHORTER than any of the episodes you see on television. This was done because the studio was afraid people who weren't familiar with the show would get bored in the theater--but of course, why would they go see it if they weren't familiar with the show in the first place?
The movie they choose to riff is "This Island Earth", which I always thought wasn't such a bad film anyway. However, Mike and the Bots do manage to squeeze in some great lines throughout. Definitely worth the time!
One small warning: they do use a few more colorful words here than they did on television. Not often by any means, but they sneak a couple in here and there.
I'm so glad we're finally seeing this gem return to DVD! Don't know what brought it on, but thank you!