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Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6, The
As a MST fan since watching the first season shown on Comedy Central, I look forward to all of Rhino's releases of this great series. This sixth four volume set is the best one so far, presenting three wonderfully wretched movies hosted by Joel and the long awaited compilation disc Mr. B's Lost Shorts.
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.
This set includes the following shows
Episode 406 - Attack of the Giant Leeches:
A Roger Corman produced film that was directed by Bernard Kowalski, who later went on to direct the creepy SSSSSSS and had a very successful career in TV. Since it was Corman though, it was done on the cheap, and the results show it.
This is one dog of a movie. For a film with the word "Attack" in the title, not a lot happens in it. Some giant leeches are inhabiting a lake, killing people and kidnaping others and taking them back to their lair to snack on later. Of course, you don't find this out until the last 1/4 of the movie. The rest of it has to do with a fat hill-billy who's wife is cheating on him, and the local game warden who spends a lot of time wandering around.
Joel and the 'bots do a good job sending this one up, and though it isn't their absolute best work the episode is a lot of fun to watch. Crow seemed to have all the best lines this time around, but there wasn't really a lot to comment on, and that seemed to hamper them a bit. There's a great host segment though where the inhabitants of the Satellite of Love imitate the scene in the movie where the lake gets dynamited by yokels and sing the great song "A Danger to Himself and Others."
Some of the better riffs in this episode include:
Crow: You know, in the future people will pay to see women do this.
"We're getting dragged down by some mysterious source!"
Joel: The plot?
Crow: Let me get into costume and tell you about it. Now, pretend I'm a swarthy pirate.
Crow: Oh, I hate it when they talk during the movie- oh.
Crow: We now return to "Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid", a Troma production.
"You loved her. That's why you chased her through the swamp with a shotgun."
Crow: Well, it's tough love, admittedly.
Episode 511 - Gunslinger:
Gunslinger is another Roger Corman masterpiece. It's a little known fact, but Corman started out directing westerns before moving on to cheap sci-fi and horror movies. His first directing job was on Five Guns West and his second was Apache Woman.
Gunslinger is a quick cheap movie, and Corman's last western. Scheduled to shoot for six days, they went a day over because it rained constantly. Roger was in a hurry to finish this picture, and it shows. Ruined takes are included in the film, which makes the film look even cheaper than it is.
The plot revolves around Rose Hood. When her husband, the sherif, is gunned down, she takes over his job so she can track down the person who was behind his murder. That just happens to be Erika Page, the local saloon owner. She's been buying up land on credit in the hopes that the railroad will come through town. If it doesn't, she's planning on skipping town with as much money as she can steal. To make sure Rose doesn't interfere, Erika hires a gunslinger, Cane Miro, who falls in love with Rose before he learns that she's his target.
For a cheap Corman western, this wasn't too bad. But Joel and the 'bots have a great time with all the goofs and make it even more enjoyable. People walking on the set when they aren't supposed to, an inept barroom brawl, and the ludicrous dialog are all included and made fun of.
This is a good episode, the second to last with Joel as the lead. The riffs are fairly steady throughout the movie, and there are some great jokes. Some of the better lines:
Dr. Forrester: Oh hello boobie. Say, do you wanna make people's heads explode? Sure, we ALL do.
Tom: If looks could kill you'd be so almost dead.
"What do you do night?" (Cane Miro to Rose)
Joel: Rut like a weasel...you?
Joel: This movie is just sitting on my head and crushing it.
Tom (while discussing his funeral): Dignity, schmignity...I want elephants, lots of them!
Tom: Booze, its what's for dinner.
Joel: This is like Silverado, only better.
Crow: Yeah much better.
Episode 404 - Teenagers from Outerspace:
I have always loved this movie. Even before I saw it on MST, there was just something so delightfully bad about the picture that I was drawn to it. This film has absolutely no redeeming values. Even the name lacks the imagination and excitement that B-movie titles usually promised but rarely delivered.
The story of Teenagers from Outer Space (original title "The Boy from Outer Space") is the story of Tom Graeff. He raised the money for the film himself, giving his investors small parts in the film. (Which explains why there are so many small rolls credited at the beginning.) He wrote it. He directed it. He edited the movie. He was in charge of sound and photography and special effects. In short, he did everything. He even cast himself as the town reporter, and gave the lead to his gay lover, David Love.
After the film was completed, Graeff sold his project to Warner Brothers (where it was released as a double bill with the Godzilla movie Gigantus.) Then, he seems to have disappeared. Who Tom Graeff was, and the motivation behind making such a dismal movie, remain a mystery.
Even without the MST treatment, this movie is great fun to watch. A corkscrew shaped spaceship, that looks barely large enough to hold the contents of a Big Gulp, much less a team of aliens, drills itself into the ground. Several helmeted aliens emerge, none looking remotely like teenagers. They have come to earth searching for a place to raise their "Gargon herds." The movie's protagonist, Thor (great name huh?) kills a dog, with a cool ray gun that turns people (or dogs) into skeletons. Derek, the hero, is greatly upset by this. He surmises, from the dog's collar, that there must be intelligent life on earth. Derek argues that they should not use Earth for the Gargons, since they would destroy all life on the planet. The others scoff; Derek pulls a gun, and is easily overpowered.
Unfortunately, these extraterrestrials that can span the gaps between worlds, forgot to tie Derek up, and he escapes. The commander sends Thor after him, with instructions to bring him back alive. Using the dog tag, Derek manages to find the owner of the deceased canine, Betty (who doesn't look like a teenager either.) Just by muttering "uhhhh" every once in a while, Derek sweet talks his way into moving in with Betty and her grandfather.
While all this is happening, Thor is in hot pursuit of Derek; killing just about everyone he meets. When Derek hears about all the skeletons popping up in town he figures that Thor's after him. A good chunk of the rest of the film is Derek and Betty trying to stay one step ahead of Thor, and leading up to the climax where Derek has to battle a much talked about, but little seen Gargon. This horror turns out to be.... a dark, superimposed lobster. You have to wonder why a lobster was used. Did Tom Graeff really think that no one had ever seen a lobster before?
The acting is probably the worst ever recorded by a camera for a commercial film. The special effects are laughable, and the dialog stilted. The movie was clearly intended for theatrical release, but it is so lacking in every department that it is amazing that it was ever purchased. Why Warner, one of the larger studios, decided to buy this is a mystery. Graeff must have been some salesman, or maybe the Warner execs bought it on the condition that Graeff put down his camera and never make another picture again.
When you have a movie this bad and let the MST people at it, you end up with a great episode. It's my favorite in this set, and a laugh riot. Some of the better lines:
Crow: Look at that stupid jumpsuit, belted at the waist...
Crow: Oh, yours is nice, though.
"Where are you from, Derik?"
Joel: A place called Studsville.
Crow: Population- Me!
Mr. B's Lost Shorts:
This is a compilation of the shorts that they did before the main feature on some episodes. I've always thought the shorts were superior to the full movies. They are more condensed and seem to have more jokes per minute than the full movies. This set has some fabulous ones included on it.
Mr. B Natural: shown before 319- War of the Colossal Beast: Best. Short. Ever. Ranks right up there with The Story of Home Economics. A sprightly fair instills the love of music into a young boy. Joel and the 'bots are severely effected by the high energy effeminate Mr. B. Great stuff.
X Marks the Spot: Shown before episode 210- King Dinosaur. A short about traffic safety and how not to drive. It was pretty good, but not the best.
Hired Part 1: Shown before episode 423- Bride Of The Monster: The second half of this short is included with the Manos Hands of Fate DVD. Excellent. A man gets a job as a door to door car salesman (!) but is having problems selling any cars. The robots don't give this poor schlub a break.
Design for Dreaming: Shown before episode 524- 12 To The Moon: Mike handles the host job on this film. One of the odder shorts, two people sing and dance around a bunch of GM cars. The jokes aren't as good here as some of the others, but the short itself is so strange, it makes up for it.
Johnny at the Fair: Shown before episode 419- The Rebel Set: Another favorite short. I alway laugh through this one. A young four year old boy is allowed to wander off by his parents while visiting a large fair in Canada. He sees all the sights while being made fun of mercilessly.
Are You Ready For Marriage?: Shown before episode 616- Racket Girls: Mike makes an appearance on this short also. A young couple consult a minister about their plans to get married. A fairly good short. Unfortunately, they didn't include the great skit that was inspired by this short in which Crow tells Mike that he and Servo are going to get married. I wish they would have put that on as a bonus.
The audio on the host segments is very clean, and the riffs coming through loud and clear. They actually do a very good job mixing the audio from the movie in with the actor's comments, adjusting the levels 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 as easy to discern, but that is fairly rare. Some of the movies themselves have audio problems, like the irritating hum during The Gunslingers, but there isn't really anything Rhino could have done about that. Unfortunately there aren't any subtitles.
After watching this show for years on the S-VHS copies that I taped off of Comedy Central when it was first broadcast, I was astonished at how clear it was. My S-VHS tapes are good but this is much better. The host segments are clear and bright, while the silhouettes during the movie are solid black. The quality of the movies themselves leave something to be desired, but they look just as faded and scratchy as when they were first shown on MST3K, which is how it should be.
There are no extras on this DVD set.
Another great set, the best four disc set so far. This almost tops the Essentials set that was recently released. Some great, great episodes and a set of the funniest shorts. If you've always wanted to try out Mystery Science Theater but didn't know where to start, this would be a good set to pick up. DVDTalk Collector's series.