Ever watch a movie that was so bad you actually enjoyed it? Most
people have. If you have friends over and you all start laughing
at this horrible film, it is even more fun. That's what creator Joel
Hodgson noticed when he created Mystery Science Theater 3000:
it can be entertaining to watch people make fun of a bad movie. He,
and the rest of the crew at Best Brains, turned talking during a movie
into an art form, and made a very funny show while he was at it.
Most of you reading this are probably already familiar with Mystery
Science Theater 3000 (or MST for short.) For those of
you who might have missed it, here is the concept in a nutshell:
Joel (later replaced by Mike) is trapped on a satellite in space by an
evil scientist. This mad man (or his mother in the later shows) tortures
poor Joel by forcing him to watch really bad movies. To keep
his sanity, Joel has used parts from the ship to fashion robots, Crow and
Tom Servo, who watch the movies with him. While these movies are
playing, Joel, Crow and Tom are silhouetted at the bottom of the screen
and crack jokes at the movie's expense. It sounds simple, but it
is one of the funniest shows to ever air on television. One of the
reason's for the show's success is the fact that the jokes come form all
over. They will throw in references to pop culture, ancient history,
current events, movies, music (classical, jazz, country or rock,) politics,
famous people, (and not-so-famous people) and just about anything else
you can think of. Some of the trivia they come up with is so obscure
it is amazing.
I have to admit a bias here. I have been a huge MST fan
since the show's second season. I've traveled up to Minnesota one
more than one occasion to tour their studio, and have owned most of the
episodes on tape at one time or another. The fact that episodes are
being released on DVD is great! I eagerly await each new DVD or set.
This fourth boxed set, like the three before it, contains four shows.
None of these programs have not been released to home video before, and
are from later seasons with Mike as the host. Many fans, myself
included, prefer Joel's episodes. They will be disappointed that he is
not in any of these shows. The problem is that the rights to the
movies that were originally shown on MST have reverted back to their
original owners. Since the show was done on a shoe string budget,
the rights to the movies they lampooned were leased for a certain period
of time, they were not bought out right. The time has elapsed for
most of these movies, and Best Brains, MST3K's production company, can
no longer release them legally. That is why all of the episodes in
this set are from the eighth and tenth seasons.
As previously mentioned, this set has four programs, each running about
Girl in Gold Boots Episode 1002:
Austin Powers would have loved this movie. A go-go dancer movie
from the '60's! It all starts when this swinging chick, Michele,
skips out on her drunken father with a drifter, Buzz, who blows into the
diner she works in. They ride out an meet up with another cat, Critter,
who's cycle has broken down. All three head to the hip town of L.A.
where Michele gets a job dancing in a night club and Critter joins that
groovy scene as a janitor. Buzz starts selling smack and puts the
moves on Michele, but Critter likes the bird too. Will love conquer
all? Groovy baby!
The Girl in Gold Boots is an average episode. The host segments
are pretty entertaining, especially the one concerning Crow's new WWBSMD?
bracelet. "What would Buffy St. Marie Do? Down on the planet,
Pearl is being inspected to become an accredited mad scientist.
The movie itself is certainly bad with little redeeming quality, but
the riffs are just mediocre. In general, I think the science fiction
and horror movies lend themselves to being lampooned much better than your
average bad 60's B flicks. Dramas like this one don't have the stupid
dialog, bad costumes and cheap scenery that a bad SF movie does, and that
cuts down on the possible jokes. While the jokes fairly frequent,
they were not as amusing as other episodes. I managed to smile through
the whole episode and laughed out loud several times. Some of the
What the--? Oh, a gun! So that was the record and burning sensation
in my groin.
My father passed away. I stuck his head in the deep fryer.
I'm gonna go get a goodbye slap from dad.
Ah! They're throwing us violently into the next scene!
So long, non acquaintance who inexplicably gave us rides in his dune
Michelle: I'm good at dancing, too.
Crow: Compared to Stephen Hawking.
Not one of their best shows, but a solid effort. It could
have been much worse. Speaking of horrible episodes, that brings
us to the next one in this set.
Hamlet Episode 1009:
A Shakespeare tragedy ripped by the Satellite of Love? Yep.
It's not a pretty sight.
I was actually surprised, and slightly dismayed, when I saw that this
episode was included on this set. It has my vote for one of the worst
episodes ever. It's really sad when the movie that they are watching
is more enjoyable than the comments Mike and the 'bots are making.
The prince of Denmark, Hamlet, returns home to find his father dead.
The king has been murdered by his brother, and is going to marry Hamlet's
mother. Hamlet broods on what to do. Should he kill his uncle?
Should he kill himself? He broods some more. He drives his
girlfriend crazy and she kills herself. He broods some more.
Then the fifth act arrives, and nearly everyone dies. Shakespeare
wrote some amazingly beautiful prose, but it is extreamly easy to preform
it poorly, as this movie shows.
This movie was orginally film in 1960 for German TV. It was then
dubbed in English, and heavily edited to fit into MST's time slot.
Even with these things in it's favor, Mike and the robots couldn't come
up with funny jokes. This episode was just a failure. Not because
the movie was good, it wasn't, but because it was not suited to being made
fun of. Hamlet is a tragic play dealing with weighty issues, and
comedy just doesn't mesh with that.
The guys gave it their best shot, but it wasn't any where near good
enough. The dialog was very good, even if the delivery wasn't.
When the 'bots riffed on one of the lines, it just came out stupid and
juvenile, not funny. For example, take this line:
Hamlet: I see a cherub...
Crow: In thy nose.
Sound like something that would be whispered in a junior high English
There were a few amusing lines but not nearly as many as in the other
episodes. Some of the better ones:
This place could use a shrub, or, hell, even a stick would
cheer it up.
Danish clowns: The damp, smelly, silverfish infested basement of the
Is there a word in the English language he hasn't said?
Well, Mike, this has convinced me not to kill your dad and marry your
This show just didn't work. It is unfortunate that this show
was chosen over other shows that Best Brains still has the rights to.
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Episode 822:
This movie is a cross between The Matrix, Blade Runner, and that Super
8 mm movie you made with your friends when you were 12. In a futuristic
society totally controlled by large corporations (the Blade Runner part,)
Aram Fingal (Raul Julia) is a computer clerk who manages to hack into the
forbidden "cinemas." Instead of working, he spends his days watching
movies, his favorite being Casablanca. After a couple of weeks they
finally notice that Raul is doing no work what so ever, and sentence him
to 48 hours of "doppling." That is where they extract his consciousness
and insert it into an animals body, in this case a baboon. I'm not
sure why that is supposed to make him not want to watch movies any more,
but that's the theory I guess. In any case, when it's time for him
to leave the monkey, they can't seem to find his body due to a clerical
error. So they transfer his mind into the master computer.
While inside, he fashions a reality for himself (the Matrix part) based
on Casablanca. Yes, we get to see Raul Julia doing his impression
of Humphrey Bogart playing Rick. He does it very badly. Anyway,
for some stupid reason a technician named Appollonia James is supposed
to interface with the computer and keep track of Fingal. While
she's doing this, the CEO of the large corporation that runs the center
doesn't like what Aram is doing while in the computer, so he enters it
and spends the rest of this confusing and bad movie (like your Super-8
movie all those years ago) chasing Appollonia and Aram.
When you first start watching this movie, it seem okay. It was
made by PBS in Canada, so I cut it some slack. It didn't have a high
budget, so the special effects were bad. I could even live with the
dumb futuristic names they gave everything. But the more the movie
progressed, the more I realized that this film was truly awful. I
mean really outstandingly horrid. The plot is laughably stupid, the
acting half-hearted at best, and the dialog atrocious. A lot of it
just didn't make any sense at all. And that was before they started
the Casablanca-in-the-computer story line. What were they thinking???
Mike and the bots do a great job cutting this movie to ribbons.
The jokes are consistently funny throughout, with some huge laughs in places.
Some of the best lines:
When Raul Julia starts to watch Casablanca: "Never show a good
movie in the middle of your crappy movie."
While the credits are rolling at the end, Mike, frustrated that he can't
understand much of this incomprehensible movie, calls technical support
for some help. This is an classic bit, truly inspired. It's
one of the best gags from the later seasons.
So, aging lesbian nuns run the future.
You know, with this digital technology, the suckiness comes through
with great clarity.
I finally killed my virtual pet!
Eraserhead was easier to follow than this movie.
I guess this movie was kinda like watching Casablanca while having a
small child use your groin as a punching bag.
The host segments were good. Not great, but good.
Pearl holds a pledge drive for 'Public Pearl Television' and on the Satellite
of Love, Tom and Crow order a pet monkey over the internet who runs wild.
A strong show from the later seasons that will keep you smiling throughout.
Space Mutiny Episode 820:
A spaceship that has been traveling for generations to settle a new
planet runs into trouble with their own security force, the Enforcers.
The Enforcers want to take control of the ship and land on a nearby planet
instead of continuing on to their original destination. To this end,
the sabotage the ship and then start an all out mutiny.
This is a great episode! The host segments are very entertaining.
It starts with Crow and Tom complaining about how old Mike's set of encyclopedias
are, which describe Hitler as "a fairly stabel veteran from the great war"
and states that "someday we hope to harness fire to serve mankind."
Down on Earth, Pearl and her cohorts are being held prisoner in an ancient
Roman dungeon. They try to get Mile to help them escape.
The movie is so mind bogglingly horrid that it is perfect for the show.
The story makes no sense, the acting is wooden, and it has really
bad special effects. (With the exception of the shots of the
exterior of the spaceship which come directly from Battlestar Galactica.
Mike and the bots never mention this. I assume there was a reason
they didn't, since the jokes would have been very easy. "Hey, they're
fleeing from the Cylon menace too!")
The guys start riffing at the opening credits and just don't let up.
Some great lines are in this movie.
As the "starring" card appears in the credits, Tom chirps "I
have my doubts that this movie is starring anyone..."
All around good episode. Those who claim that none of Mike's episodes
are as funny as Joel's should watch this one.
When person who was killed in a previous scene is shown working at her
desk, and one of the 'bots comments "I think its really nice of you to
give that dead girl another chance."
During an exciting *yawn* laser battle Mike advises that "They shouldn't
have set their phasers on miss."
Wall-mounted keyboards... it must be the FUTURE!
It seems that randomly blowing up things is not a good strategy in a
You know, a lot of people have compared this scene to the climactic
chariot scene in Ben Hur. Yeah, you know, they usually say, 'Ben Hur was
really good. This movie totally sucks.'
When the captain learns about the mutiny: "Bring me my warrior
The quality of the movie was aptly described by the two robots:
Servo: Boy, you know, a retarded jellyfish would make a better
movie than this.
Crow: A severely impaired box turtle with a very busy schedule,
just give him a camera for a day, he'd come up with something better than
Mystery Science Theater has great replay value. (Oh, okay, except
for Hamlet.) There is so much going on in these shows, that
they are wonderful to watch over and over. Every time I watch them
I hear a joke or see something new that I hadn't seen before.
That makes these sets an excellent value.
The DVDs are packaged in a die–cut cardboard box
with a clear plastic disc announcing that this is set four glued to the
front. The four DVDs are in a fold out sleeve with a still from each
movie under the clear plastic disc holder. I don't like the
plastic disc on the slipcase. It is easily caught on adjacent DVDs
when filing this set on a shelf. Not nearly as cool as the gimmicks
on the boxes for the other three sets. Inside the set, there is an
insert that has chapter stops for all four movies. Other than the minor
quibble about the glued disc, it is an attractive set.
The audio is presented in digital stereo with little use of the soundstage.
There are no subtitles, and it would be great if they were an option.
Sometimes it is hard to hear the riffs when there is dialog in the movie
at the same time. If there were subtitles you could easily determine
what everyone was saying.
I wish Rhino would have included a 5.1 or at least 3.0 mix. It
would be effective to mix the movie through the center channel (since virtually
all the movies the view are in mono) and then have Mike and the robots
come out of the front channels. I'm sure that this would be a lot
of trouble, but the results would sound great.
As for the quality of the sound, Mike and the 'bots sound pretty good.
Occasionally, as I mentioned, the movie will be louder than they are, but
it was like that when these were originally shown on TV. Just about
all their comments are clear and easy to hear. The soundtrack to
the movies themselves are a different matter. Many of the older films
sound a little rough, but that adds to their charm.
All four episodes are in full screen as they were originally shown.
These discs look very good. The host segments are clear and the colors
bright. Sometimes a little too bright, but I think that was the look
they were going for. As with the audio, some of the movie's video
is not very good. But these are supposed to be bad movies, with bad
prints. If they were restored, it would take some of the fun out
Unfortunately, Rhino did not include the original non-MST versions
of these movies as they did on the first set. That was a very nice
addition, that I was hoping they would continue, but it seems like they
have abandoned the practice.
There are very few extras on these discs. The Girl with Gold
Boots has a trailer and a TV spot, but it is the only movie where those
All of the shows have a short introduction by Mike Nelson. I was
a little disappointed in these. I was hoping that he would talk about
the filming of the episode, or why they chose the film that they did.
Kind of like the Brian Henson intros on the Muppet Show discs.
Instead he told a couple of (lame) jokes about how bad the movie is and
that was it. A missed opportunity.
Overall, a nice set of shows. I'm always happy to see more MST
on DVD. Though Hamlet stinks, Space Mutiny more than
make up for it. I have no idea how long Best Brains will have the
rights to these shows. I do know that they won't have them
forever and unless they pay some bucks to renew them these discs will go
out of print. Hardcore MST fans should run out and get this set while
the gettin's good. For casual fans I'd give the set a solid Recommended