This set features two shows with Joel Hodgson as host from the Comedy Central era and two with Mike Nelson from the Sci-Fi Channel era. MST3K always worked especially well when the films used were in the sci-fi/horror genre and this set is packed with four such episodes.
Episode 107- ROBOT MONSTER (with shorts: COMMANDO CODY Parts 4 and 5)
This 1953 black and white film is extremely low budget, so much so that the eponymous "robot monster" costume consists of a cheap gorilla suit topped off with an even cheaper deep-sea diving style helmet. It is one of those movies that is so incompetent it is fun all on its own and it's perfect fodder for MST3K. A family survives the destruction of most of humanity by the evil Ro-Man, who hunts them mercilessly yet has trouble finding them though he is living nearly next door! The family has managed to elude Ro-Man through the scientific genius of the older parents and their attractive adult daughter, Alice, and here fiance. Even their young, pre-adolescent children are mental giant compared to the incompetent Ro-Man. As if he didn't have enough difficulties, Ro-Man has a "thing" for Alice, which causes him problems with completing his murderous mission. The movie at times is incomprehensible in its editing, with inexplicable shots of lizards impersonating dinosaurs and other weirdness inserted to pad out the film. There's also lots of shots of George Barrows as Ro-Man stalking about Bronson Canyon. This is a strong Season One MST3K episode and the inclusion of the Commando Cody Radar Men From The Moon shorts just adds to the low budget fun. This one has been a favorite of mine for years and I'm quite pleased to see it in commercial release.
Episode 423- BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (with short: HIRED!, Part 1)
This 1955 Ed Wood film stars Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson, two of Wood's favorite actors. The pairing is great fun and the movie is everything fans have come to expect from Ed Wood, with cheap monsters, continuity issues, and Lugosi playing a mad scientist assisted by his lumbering, hulking side-kick, Lobo, played by Johnson. Johnson played essentially the same character with the same name in The Unearthly, a movie also used on MST3K. Bride Of The Monster is a quintessential Ed Wood film and belongs right up there next to Plan 9 From Outer Space. The jokes from the MST3K crew come fast and furious and it seems obvious that they had a great, almost too easy time writing jokes for this one. This movie also features Harvey B. Dunn who played "Grampa" in Teenagers From Outer Space. The short, Hired! Part One is also fun and inspires a whole host segment, "Hired, The Musical". Another episode highlight is the host segment where Joel and the 'Bots play out the end of the film with the help of Cambot.
Episode 818- DEVIL DOLL
A 1964 black and white film about a ventroliquist/hypnotist with an evil dummy named, Hugo. The ventroliquist is after the fortune of an heiress, which creates a love triangle since he already has a mistress. Tragedy of course, ensues, but it's all comedy for the viewers of this MST3K version. The movie is atmospheric to a degree, but is also slow and ponderous at times and the slowly pulsating soundtrack delivers as much monotony as it does tension. Nevertheless, there are some good highlights in this episode, most notably Mike Nelson impersonating Hugo and there are plenty of good "riffs" during the movie.
Episode 911- DEVIL FISH
Italy produces many "psychotronic" movies and this 1984 color production keeps that tradition alive. Directed by Lamberto Bava, son of the great Mario Bava, this is silly and fun B-grade monster movie stuff all the way. Years before the upcoming Roger Corman movie, "Sharktopus", this film features a marine biologist, a dolphin trainer, a research scientist, and a local sheriff attempting to hunt down a hybrid monster comprising shark and octopus traits. Filmed on location in Florida, it's another bad "don't go in the water" type follow on to the success of Jaws in 1976. Silly monster movies always worked well on MST3K and this one is no exception. Not one of the best episodes ever, but fairly consistent and enjoyable fun throughout.
Extra features include:
* This Limited Edition version of the set comes with a collectible Gypsy figurine similar to the Tom Servo and Crow figurines sold in earlier Shout! Factory sets.
* A new introduction to the film Robot Monster by J. Elvis Weinstein
* Joel Hodgson's Inventing the "Invention Exchange"
* The Puppet Master: Richard Gordon on Devil Doll
* MST3K: Origins and Beyond at CONvergence 2009
* Exclusive Mini-posters by artist Steve Vance
* Cult Filmmaker Larry Blamire Geeks Out on Robot Monster
* Citizen Wood: Making `The Bride,' Unmaking `The Legend'
* Original Theatrical Trailers