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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX

Shout Factory // Unrated // November 21, 2017
List Price: $59.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted November 19, 2017 | E-mail the Author
The Movies:



It's a bitter sweet day for Mystery Science Theater fans...
Shout! Factory has released the last (probably) collection of
episodes from the original run of the show. While it's great that
three new episodes (and a disc of bonus material... more on that
later) are out on DVD, it's sad that there are eleven installments
that have never been released, and probably never will be, because
of copyright issues. Still, these three shows from the Mike years
are solid, and the set, rather aptly, includes the very last
episode.



The shows included in this set are:



Experiment 601 - Girls Town:



Mike (referring to Mel Torme): He's like a youthful Jabba
the Hut!



This first episode from season six features the installation of the
Umbilicus, a tube that runs from the Satellite of Love to Deep 13,
and allows items to be sent between the Mads and the SoL. It's a
nice addition to the show and it will be used for the rest of the
Comedy Central run of the show for various gags.



The movie itself, which is pretty lame in and of itself, does have a
pretty impressive cast. It stars Mamie Van Doren, Mel Torme, and
Paul Anka, there are brief appearances by Harold Lloyd Jr and
Charlie Chaplin Jr, and there's even a performance by The Platters.
Unfortunately none of them can save this movie from the dull and
plodding, not to mention predictable, script.



One evening Fred (Torme) takes his date to the local make-out spot
when they see his friend Chip trying to rape a girl. They laugh
gently to themselves... good 'ol Chip is always up to some mischief.
Fred doesn't think it so funny when he discovers that Chip has died,
falling off a cliff after his date pushes him away.



Having caught a glimpse of the girl, Chip falsely thinks it was
Silver Morgan (Van Doren) who had defended herself. Silver, being
out of jail on probation, is brought in for questioning and though
she has a solid alibi, she's given the choice of going back to jail
or being remanded to Girls Town, a home run by nuns for young women,
mostly orphans, who are at risk. There she has run-ins with the
other girls, but things get worse when she discovers that it was her
kid sister who was with Chip on the fatal evening and that the law
and Chip's gang are both looking for her.



This musical/drama had a bit of potential for being a great
installment of MST, but it ends up being just so-so. There's not a
lot that Mike and the bots can say during the several songs that pop
up, and the film doesn't have that ludicrous element that makes for
the best riffing. It's alright, but not better than that.



Experiment 623 - The Amazing Transparent Man with the short
Days of Our Years:



Crow: So, the leading causes of accidents are joy, sex, and
old age??



The short, made by Union Pacific to promote safety among their
workers, shows three examples of people who were careless and caused
an accident. Mike and the bots have a great time with this, pointing
out the ridiculous nature of some of the setups. This was a very
good short.



The feature itself was decent too, but not a classic. The story
revolves around Joey Faust, an expert safecracker, who is broken out
of prison by a mad villain, Paul Krenner. Krenner has a Nazi
scientist working for him to perfect a ray that will make people
invisible, and with that Krenner can create an invisible army that
can take over the world. The only problem is that he needs nuclear
materials secured in highly secured government vaults. So he
strong-arms Faust to steal them for him, while invisible. The more
he gets to know Krenner, the less Joey likes the man or his mad plan
so he schemes to stop him.



 This plot is wacky enough to give the riffers plenty of
material, and they come up with some good lines. There are several
that fall flat, but there are hits than misses.



Experiment 1023 - Diabolik:



Crow: Y'know, this music would be better with women in bikinis
shaking it all over the place... well, I guess that's true of any
music, really. . A bit of a strange choice for the last episode,
Diabolik is a European crime/action flick based on an Italian comic
strip. Directed by Mario Bava, the film follows the adventures of
the master criminal Diabolik, who lives in an underground lair where
he plots and schemes to steal money from the government and make
fools of the police.



While I would have preferred a truly awful film for their final
installment (I was hoping for Plan 9 from Outer Space) the crew does
a really good job with this. They riffs are pretty funny throughout
and there are some really hilarious scenes like when Diabolik and
his girlfriend are having sex on a pile of money. "They got pretty
injured when they tried this with gold bars."



Even with the solid riffing, the highlights of this show are the
host segments. Knowing that this was their last episode they crafted
a good set of skits to wrap up the series and complete the stories
of Mike, the bots, Pearl, Bobo, and Brain Guy. These were funny,
sweet, and touching. They really managed to pull off an excellent
final show.



Disc Four - Satellite Dishes:



As mentioned earlier, there were some movies that Shout! Factory
just couldn't get the rights to. It makes sense in some cases, like
the Godzilla movies or The Space Children (which is owned by
Paramount) but the copyright owners of Quest of the Delta
Knights
(which has only had a VHS release in the USA) wouldn't
take a few bucks so the MST version could be released? Okay,
whatever.



Though Best Brains doesn't own the rights to the movies, they do
have control of the host segments, and Shout! has graciously put
those on the final disc. Overall, it's three hours' worth of
content, and a nice addition to the MST collection. The disc
contains the segments the following episodes:



201 - Rocketship X-M

213 - Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

309 - The Amazing Colossal Man

311 - It Conquered the World

416 - Fire Maidens of Outer Space

418 - Attack of the The Eye Creatures

807 - Terror from the Year 5000

809 - I Was a Teenage Werewolf

905 - The Deadly Bees

906 - The Space Children

913 - Quest of the Delta Knights



Note that the segments from Godzilla vs. Megalon (Episode
212) are not included. Though that episode is no longer available,
it was released for a short time in Volume 10, but Toho's lawyers
too umbrage and forced Shout! to stop publishing it.



 The DVD:





Audio:



The audio on the host segments is very clean, and the riffs coming
through loud and clear. The audio during the movies are pretty good,
though the films soundtracks leave a little to be desired. There's
some light 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 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 easy to discern, but that is
fairly rare. There are no subtitles.



Video:



After watching this show for years on the copies that I taped off of
Comedy Central when it was first broadcast, I was very pleased at
how clear it was. My S-VHS tapes were acceptable, but this is much
better. Some of the prints that were used for the show are showing
their age, but there's not anything that can really be done about
that.



Extras:



Once again Shout! Factory has added some nice featurettes to this
collection. First up is Chuck Love and the Anatomy of a Theme,
an interview with the man who wrote the music to the opening and
closing themes for the show. It was interesting to hear his
reminiscences on creating the iconic songs. There's also a look at
the production of The Amazing Transparent Man in Beyond
Transparency
, and Showdown in Eden Prairie: Their Final
Experiment
is a short featurette concerning the final episode
of the series.



On the Diabolik disc one will find The Last Dance: A
Documentary Special That Chronicles The Final Days Shooting The
Last Episode Of The Original Run Of MST3K, Diabolik
. This is a
look at the filming of the final episode, as filmed by Jim Mallon,
and the title gives you an idea of what to expect... a long 'raw'
film. It runs 77 minutes and while there's a lot of interesting
things caught on tape, it's a bit hard to get through.



Finally there's Behind The Scream: Daniel Griffith on
Ballyhoo. 
This is a talk with the man behind Ballyhoo
Motion Pictures, the company who has filled these collections with
wonderful extras detailing the history behind obscure B movies. It's
a nice look the man and the company.



Final Thoughts:



This final release of classic MST episodes is bitter sweet. While
there are three decent installments of the show, it's sad that there
are 11 movies that won't get a DVD release any time soon. The shows
included are decent, and every real fan of MST should have a copy of
Diabolik in their collection. This gets a strong recommendation.        

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