Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. XIV
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(Feb 03, 2009)
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From 1988 to 1999, the crew of The Satellite of Love skewered bad movies and in the process made them masterworks of comedy. Now comes their awe-inspiring 14th collection of the most hilarious episodes from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Join Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot as they supply their own playful brand of commentaries on some of the most misunderstood masterpieces of cinema : Mad Monster, Manhunt in Space, Soultaker, and Final Justice.
* Brand new interview with Soultaker star and mst3k favorite Joe Estevez
* Brand new interiew with Final Justice star Greydon Clark
* Mike, Tom and Crow on the espn show Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker
* Original Mad Monster trailer
* 4 limited-edition mini-posters
Aside from reminding audiences just how unique and hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 was, the comedy series' 20th anniversary in 2008 also kicked off a new round of DVD releases, the latest of which is compiled in Volume XIV. Longtime fans of the Peabody Award-winning show should be pleased to see that the set's four episodes are split evenly between original host and creator Joel Hodgson and his replacement, head writer Mike Nelson. Joel rides herd on one of the earliest MST3K episodes, Season 1's B&W chiller The Mad Monster, which also features writer J. Elvis Weinstein as both the voice of Tom Servo and Dr. Lawrence Erlich, assistant to Trace Beaulieu's Dr. Forrester. It's an enjoyable episode for hardcore fans and collectors, but nowhere near as polished as the work done by the original core lineup--Hodgson, Beaulieu as Crow and Kevin Murphy as Servo--in Season 4's Manhunt in Space, a grisly mash-up of episodes from the '50s TV sci-fi series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. It's by no means a classic from the Hodgson era, but definitely contains its shares of laughs and even some quirky host segments (the movie prompts an amusing debate on the use of the word "space" as a modifier). The Mike Nelson episodes, produced after the show shifted over to The Sci-Fi Channel, are equally solid efforts. Soultaker undergoes a punishing barrage of riffs from Mike and the 'bots, and even features brief cameos from Hodgson and Frank Coniff as the much-loved TV's Frank. Final Justice puts Joe Don Baker--star of the MST3K favorite Mitchell--in the line of fire again for a mostly funny show that focuses largely on the star's beefy physique. Though none of the shows are high water marks for the series, you're likely to find more laughs and creativity here than on most of the sitcoms plaguing the airwaves, and as such, are worthwhile investments for veteran MiSTies and first time viewers alike. The four DVD set includes all four complete episodes, as well as several extras – a slightly smaller batch than the 20th Anniversary Edition set, and less historically important, but entertaining all the same. Soultaker star Joe Estevez and Final Justice director Greydon Clark (Black Shampoo) show what good sports they are about being drubbed by the show in brief interviews, while Mike and the 'bots reunite for an all-too-brief session of zingers on a 2005 excerpt from ESPN's Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker. A trailer for Mad Monster rounds out the set. -- Paul Gaita
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103- Mad Monster (with short: Commando Cody And Radar Men From The Moon - Part 2)
This season one gem features George Zucco and Glenn Strange in a 1942 film about a mad scientist that turns humans into monsters by injecting them with the blood of wolves. Even in 1942 this was silly, rehashed horror fodder from better movies. George Zucco's usual decent acting helps make this at least amusing. Glenn Strange often played monsters in films of the time. The short is perhaps the funniest part of this episode. Joel and the 'bots always struck comedy gold when making fun of Radar Men From The Moon in several season one episodes. This episode also features the hilarious sketch where Tom Servo (Josh Weinstein) makes a pass at a blender!
413- Manhunt in Space (with short: "General Hospital" - Segment 1)
This 1954 TV space adventure will have you in stitches. The effects are less than state-of-the-art even for the day, although they were so expensive they contributed to the show being canceled! Rocky Jones is a square-jawed fisticuffs wielding spaceship pilot with REALLY goofy sidekicks, including Winky, a young man who acts like a kid, and Bobby, a little kid that acts all grown-up. Then there's short-skirted Vena, his bright female crewmate that gets treated like, well, like women were mostly treated in the US in 1950's TV. Finally, there's elderly and brilliant Professor Newton, who in spite of being a genius, makes just enough miscalculations to get them into real trouble. Joel and the 'bots offer endless riffs about anything and everything during this one, it's terrific fun. Host segment highlights include the "space modifiers" sketch and the 'bots playing soap opera after the General Hospital short. Somehow, MST3K manages to make the dull-as-dishwater paced General Hospital short really funny as well. Personally, I love this episode. Rocky Jones and other similar rocketship space adventures always worked well on the show. They are lighthearted fun and the writers wrote hundreds of great jokes for all of them.
This 1990 hokum about souls trying to get back to their bodies while evading the angel of death, who is also an angel of mediocre acting, is entertaining only because MST3K is making fun of it. Wait till you see the wooden acting of Joe Estevez and the huge-headed Robert Zdar. Calling their performances funny is an understatement; you have to see this to believe it. This episode of MST3K features guest appearances by creator and former host Joel Hodgson and former writer and performer Frank Conniff.
1008- Final Justice
This Joe Don Baker film from 1985 is a decent episode from MST3K's final season. Once again, Joe Don plays a cop who "doesn't play by the rules", another bad Dirty Harry rip-off anti-hero character. It's basically Mitchell with location shooting in Malta. There are some pretty girls, dumb action sequences, lots of violence, continuity errors, and a somewhat predictable ending. As usual, the MST3K writers have a fairly easy time making fun of the film's action "star". Note that the film's writer and director, Greydon Clark, was also responsible for the film Angel's Revenge shown in episode 622 of MST3K.
Extra features on the DVDs include:
* A new interview with "Soultaker" star Joe Estevez.
* Mike, Tom and Crow's appearance on ESPN Classic's "Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker."
* An interview with "Final Justice" writer and director Greydon Clark.
Mad Monster, Show 103, is the third MST3K played on the Comedy Channel, before it was renamed Comedy Central, and also has a episode of Commando Cody And The Radar Men From The Moon. It is one of those I missed. MST3K was brand new and it took a few weeks before people started to turn on the TV every week to watch. Like most of the first films, Mad Monster is in Black and White, a bad sci-fi film about a scientist who finds out how to turn men into monsters. Well, in this case a werewolf. But funny enough that wolf looks more like a coyote. But why nitpick on the small stuff?
Manhunt In Space, Show 413, was also one of the shows I, somehow, missed. It comes with a General Hospital episode. Both the movie and the short are in Black and White. The movie is in fact a television series in which some of the episodes were spliced together to make a full movie. There are everything from Space Ghost references to one reference to Daleks! They also talk about Cold Light, which I thought came from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and I learned to never open the hatch without peeking out a window first.
Soultaker, Show 1001, is a very famous episode within the cult that is MST3K. Not only does it have Joe Estevez, who also starred in Werewolf, and Robert Z'Dar, who was in Future War, in the film, but TV's Frank and Joel both come back to make a appearance on the show. Such love and warmth. Too bad the film is so bad. But that's good! Because bad films are Mike and the Bots' bread and butter.
They have a interview with Joe Estevez on the DVD.
The last episode in the set is Final Justice, Show 1008, starring Joe Don Baker. Mike and the Bots have a ton of fun with this film. "Hey, you going to finish that?" The movie is full of lovely ladies, gun fights, a chase with Joe Don Baker going after a Maltese mob member dressed up as a Monk. Or is it a member of the Italian Mafia? Lots of food jokes. In fact tons of jokes all about either Joe Don Baker or Maltese men. The writer, producer and director is Greydon Clark. They even have a interview with him on the DVD!
The set came with cool mini-posters - I got an extra Soultaker poster by accident! A must for any library of MST3K or any collection of bad movies.