Some of the best episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000
have been ones poking fun at badly dubbed Japanese movies brought
over to the
States by producer Sandy Frank.
didn't like the way the show made fun of him, so he refused to let
at MST3K renew the rights once their original agreement had expired. Apparently he no longer
controls the original
films as Shout! Factory was able to license a pair of these little
and present them in Mystery
Theater 3000 Collection XXII.
great news for fans, as Mighty
is a classic episode and Time
of the Apes,
while it's lacking in parts, is still great fun. The collection is rounded
out by a pair of
above average installments of the show making this a great set.
Time of the Apes
(episode 306): "Off to
doom, Mom! See you after school!" -Joel
When the movie Planet
of the Apes was aired on Japanese TV for the first time, the
huge. Naturally a
producer figured he
could cash in, and the TV series Saru no Gundan (Army of Apes)
born. It ran for 26
but then Sandy Frank got his hands on the show and chopped the
down to 97 minutes, releasing it in the US as a feature film, Time of the Apes. It's perfect for the MST
A brother and sister, along with their caretaker, Catherine,
are accidently cryogenically frozen during an earthquake (don't you
that happens?). When
they awake they
find themselves in the far future, where apes rule. Escaping their captors,
the trio heads for Green
where they meet another human, Godo.
With his aid, and the help of a flying saucer that randomly
scare off the apes whenever the humans are in a bind, the group
tries to find a
way back home.
This was an okay episode, but with a movie so horrifically
bad I was hoping for a bit more.
writers seem to have run out of material, which doesn't happen that
so a lot of jokes are repeated with only slight variation. It was hilarious when a
group of ape soldiers
are marching in formation and Crow shouts orders like a drill
face! Crap in hands! Fling crap!" but by the fourth or fifth time
they did a
variation on the 'monkeys throw their feces' joke, it had become
That's not to say this experiment is bad, it's not. It's actually enjoyable to
watch, just not as
even at it could be. The
movie itself is
so bad that it's good, and Joel and the 'bots comments make it that
better. The thing that
really makes this
show is the final host segment where they sing the Sandy Frank Song including such memorable lyrics as
Sandy Frank, he's the source of all our pain... Sandy Frank, Sandy
that people come from trees." It's
that the song got the Mr. Frank so angry that he refused to license
any more of his movies to MST after the original rights expired. That's the reason several
of the better,
early MST3K episodes haven't been available until now.
(episode 314): [Referring
submarine model] "Looks like it's getting kinda low on baking soda"
This is another Japanese TV series that was chopped down
into a feature film by Sandy Frank, and it ranks up there with the
episodes. The plot of
the movie makes
little to no sense (especially the second half) but it involves a
fighting men and woman who crew the submarine/plane Mighty Jack. They're fighting the
Q, whose only aim seems to be the capture or destruction of Might
Jack. First the crew
has to rescue Harold Hatari
who has been abducted by Q, then they face off against the
organization that is
planning to rule the world with weapons made out of "hot ice," water
doesn't melt at room temperature.
water?? Why don't they
just use wood, or
copper, or maybe (if they're really technologically advanced)
This movie was so bad and so nonsensical that it would have
been a hoot watching it without the MST commentary, but with Joel
and his two
robotic companions it's hilarious.
really enjoyed their disgust when a couple of thugs beat up a woman,
smoking scene is a classic sequence that I could watch again and
The host segments are also inspired.
They start off with an ad for Mighty Jack dog
food ("New, from the makers of Mighty Dog and Hungry Jack, come a
combination that can't be beat.")
ends with the song "Slow the Plot Down":
So slow the plot down, ladies
Slow the plot down
Way hey - Slow the plot down
Just scuttle the story and run her aground
We'll try so hard to slow the plot down
The Violent Years
(episode 610): "She
died like she
lived... failing algebra." - Mike
A great short and a hilariously riffed movie make this a
good episode despite some horrible host segments. This Mike-hosted episode
starts off with a
wonderful little short from 1952, A Young
Man's Fancy. Made
to promote the
consumption of electrical appliances, the plot involves a girl,
Judy, who falls
for the guy her brother brings home from college. He doesn't notice her, so
she gets his
attention by using their electric kitchen!
Mike and the 'bots have a field day with this one, which is
easy to do since the set up is so preposterous.
It's especially hilarious when Judy tells her girlfriend that
new boy makes her feel "squishy," and the crew starts jabbing with
that. "I'm squishy and
I need to move on it!"
It's followed by The
Violent Years, a film penned by Ed Wood.
An 18 year old girl, Paula, has parents that give her
their time. She acts
out by getting a
girl gang together and robbing gas stations.
Soon their fence turns them on to even bigger thrill: destroying U.S. schools
for a foreign
The movie rails against teen age delinquency and takes
itself way, way too seriously, which gives Mike, Tom, and Crow a lot
for riffs. The best
scene is where Paul
and her gang come across a couple making out (without much
Lover's Lane. ("Oh,
girls rob the couple,
taking the guys' wallet and the girl's sweater.
Then Paula orders that girl tied up... and to rip her skirt
into strips to
bind her. They then
take the man off
into the forest and rape him (off camera of course.) The whole time Tom and
ecstatic. "Dr. Forester
has sent us a
truly great movie!" and
"Wow! What a great
Unfortunately, the host segments run the gamut from average
to lousy. On the bad
side there is Tom's
parody of A Star is Born where he gets in front of a microphone and
cried for 2
minutes (really, that's all he does).
The best was the bit the Mads did in the middle of the show
launched a new radio station, "Frank" with the slogan "Turn your
crank to Frank." The
slogan was funny, but they hammered it
into ground by repeating it over and over.
Luckily the movie itself makes up for the lacking host
The Brute Man
(episode 702): "Ahh,
creeping has just turned into wandering" - Mike
The episode starts off with a short, The Chicken of Tomorrow.
Made in the 50's, the film talks about how advances in
on large farms will make poultry and eggs cheaper and more plentiful
future. They gloss over
conditions that the birds have to live in.
MST shines best when they're riffing shorts, and this one is
The feature in this week's experiment, The Brute Man, is actor Rondo Hatton's last film (you
recognize the name but you'll recognize the face). This movie is so bad that
after it was
finished, Universal sold it to poverty row studio PRC and let them
Rando plays a serial killer dubbed The Creeper (not, as you
would expect from the title, The Brute).
He's tracking down the people who knew in college whom he
blames for his
deformities. Well... and
anyone else he
happens to feel like killing. While
from the police he hides in the apartment of a blind piano teacher
starts to fall for her. Is
enough to stop him from killing?
This is another great episode.
The feature is an odd duck... part revenge
flick part misunderstood deformed guy movie.
The only problem is that just when you're feeling sorry for
he kills someone who was totally innocent, like the pawn broker
offense is to ask The Creeper to pay for the item he wants. The jokes are constant and
the level is
pretty high throughout, and they pick up on the dichotomy of the
script. There are some
great lines that had me
laughing pretty hard, such as when The Creeper gives his girl a
Crow quips "It's a View Master."
jokes throughout make this a great episode.
Each of the four episodes comes in its own slimcase, and all
five are housed in a slipcase.
The audio on the host segments is very clean, and the riffs
coming through loud and clear. The audio during the movies are
though the films soundtracks leave a little to be desired. There's
distortion in a couple of cases but nothing major. They actually do a very
good job mixing the
audio from the movie in with the actor's comments however, adjusting
so that both the riffs and the movie can be heard. Of course there
are a couple
of times when one or the other isn't easy to discern, but that is
fairly rare. There are
After watching this show for years on the copies that I
taped off of Comedy Central when it was first broadcast, I was very
how clear it was. My S-VHS tapes are good but this is much better.
segments are clear and bright, while the silhouettes during the
movie are solid
black. There were a few videotape defects in one of the episodes (The Brute Man) but the rest
I'm pleased that Shout! is including some nice bonus
features with their MST releases.
set has some cook extras. First
are introductions by August Ragone to both Time
of the Apes and Mighty
explains about the origins of the two series and the films. There's also the MST Hour
wraps for the
The Violent Years
includes interviews with Ed Wood's wife Kathy Wood and his
Delores Fuller that are interesting if you're a Wood fan. They run for 18 and 24
and I'm really glad that Shout! included them.
Finally, The Brute Man
some great stuff: an
Mary Jo Pehl who discusses the writing of the episode, a 30- minute
on Rondo Hatton and specifically his final movie, Trial of the Creeper:
of The Brute Man and another docu on MST,
The Making of MST3K
1997. That's all great
the Hatton biography.
With only one weak installment, this is a fantastic
set. I never thought
I'd see Mighty Jack
on DVD, and the other episodes are icing on the cake. With some excellent bonus
items, this is a
no-brainer. Highly Recommended.