14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
W. T. Hoffman
- Published on Amazon.com
Another great SHOUT MST3K boxset, filled with fun informational extras, well chosen experiments, and cool art direction. Plus, this is the JOEY THE LEMUR BOX SET! Like the leitmotifs of great symphonies, MST3K often used call back jokes to earlier episodes. But how astute could this audience be, to catch a callback joke in season 6, when Dr. Forester and Frank sing the JOEY THE LEMUR song, that was first sung in season 2? And, how cool is SHOUT to pull those two disparate episodes into a single box set? Too cool. It all started back in season 2....
1. KING DINOSAUR--Episode 210--Another film with giant monsters courtesy of Burt I. Gordon, who brought us more MST3K experiments than any other single director-writer. Your basic boy mets girl mets foreign planet just like earth with monster beasts. Joey the Lemur (its really a Kinkajou) is just one of the odd beasts hanging from the tree, that Joel and the 'bots sing about, using an ugly hairy puppet.
EXTRAS---included is a 35 MINUTE DOCUMENTARY about producer and theater chain owner Robert Lippert. The more I watch these documentaries that SHOUT! pins on these DVDs, the more I appreciate what we are REALLY observing during a MST3K experiment...the evolution of modern Entertainment. Its hard to believe that most of these B movies were produced before TV movies were ever heard of. Mr. Lippert produced a long string of cheap B films on shoestring budgets, because the BIG studios kept their own films for showing exclusively in their OWN theater chains. Who Knew? TV's FRANK makes special appearances in both this box set's documentaries, as the MST3K movie historian.
2. LAST OF THE WILD HORSES--Episode 611--The film is a totally forgetable horse opera, with a good natured stage coach robber,Duke, who works for Remedy, to try and save the wild horses. This experiment is famous for the STAR TREK send up the cast produces. The first Star Trek had an episode where there's an EVIL Kirk from an evil alternate universe, that got pulled into the ship during a transporter mishap. And wouldnt you know it, when Dr. Forester sends up a mater transference device to the Satelite of Love, Gypsy and Tom get sent to the Evil mirror Universe, and the mirror universe's Dr. Forester and Frank, who are of course GOOD, get set to OUR SOL. And, that's when Dr. Forester and Frank sing JOEY THE LEMUR! Four years after it was first sung. Also, this episode has FRANK and Dr. F in the movie theater, riffing for two chunks of the film. So, forget the film and enjoy the wrap around story.
EXTRAS---Vintage MST3k Promos. I'd NEVER seen any of these, cos I never got Comedy Channel when MST3K was on. This is 20 minutes of promos, all incrediblely funny, usually extended from the skits. In all but two cases, these promos are from JOEL episodes. The first promo for a TAXES AND DEATH MST3K special, is a black and white Igmar Bergman parody that matches the "If you're out of Slits you're out of Pier" skit. Other promos include the PINK TOM, who of course is nude, plus Joel and the 'Bots sporting mock muscle man costumes for HERCULES, and so on. At first I assumed this extra was going to be a waste of time, however its my favorite extra of those on this boxset.
3. THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU--Episode 323--This is one of my favorite MST3K episodes, because the movie is just so horrible. My theory is the worse the movie, the better the episode. (aka The MANOS Principle) FU MANCHU has always been noted as having been a particularly difficult film for BEST BRAINS to riff upon, since they couldnt make any since out of the plot. I've watched this episode at least 5 times, and all I can grasp about said plot is this: Fu Manchu wants to destroy the world with his ice machine. His lair consists of a castle in Istambu where he stores his opium he uses to fund his despicitableness. Mr Manchu lives with his cool Kung Fu daughter who digs chicks. The Fate of Fu Manchu includes sinking the Titantic via stock footage, and there's a heart transplant involved, tho why that's in the film I couldnt tell you. One of the funniest skits is when Crow, having a nervous break-down because the movie's so bad, recites this anti-racist diatribe against whites portraying Asian actors. Come to think of it, everybody in the SOL falls apart during this Experiment. Dr. Forester won that time.
EXTRAS--Frank gives a brutal introduction to the movie, preparing the would be viewer for the terrible film that Christopher Lee got himself involved with. The other extra explains about this amazing Video Game DARKSTAR, that Joel, Trace, Josh, Beez, and Mary Jo worked on. Its a sort of Scifi interactive story, about a black hole, and a future space ship going back in time to save Earth. I'd say its part of a "were are they now?" theme, that shows what the cast did after BEST BRAINS split up.
4. CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD--Episode 608---This experiment used a TV pilot from the mid 1970s made by Quinn Martin, that a knock off of Hawaii Five-O. Altho not the worst film in this boxset, I feel it's one of the weaker episodes from the series. Its about a secret agent nammed Diamond Head who works for Aunt Mary, trying to stop a weapon dealer who's a master of disguises named TREE. Also, TREE wants to steal this snail poison the Military is producing.
EXTRAS---There are two documentaries on this DVD. First, Kevin Murphy talks about his work post-BEST BRAINS. He wrote a book about seeing 365 movies in 365 different movie theaters around the world. Also he was involved in a couple of Internet projects with Mike and Bill. Kevin's greatest success, tho, is the FIlM CREW, and RIFF TRAX. The other extra is another documentary, this time about Quinn Martin. Narrated by a writer who'd written a book about Quinn's life, we hear how Quinn Martin wrote and produced TV shows back in the late 60s and 70s. Like the LIPPERT documetary but shorter, it shows the changes commercial TV underwent during that era. Once more we are lead to reflect on the evolution of America's Entertainment culture, provideing the whole Boxset with a dash of intellectual, sociological value beyond nostalgia TV programming.
And there you have MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: XXIII. Buy it to witness the nadir of Christopher Lee's career, to discover the history of America's changing entertainment values from WWII thru 1975, and to enjoy the JOEY THE LEMUR story. Or, Buy it cos it goes good with the other 22 MST3K dvd sets up on your self.
27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm sure I'll get nothing but "Unhelpful" votes on this review, but not since volume 12 have I seen a set with this many middle-of-the-road episodes. MST3k is without a doubt my favorite show ever to be on television, but every once and a while you'd get an episode that just didn't do much for you. This set has 3 such episodes, at least for me. Before you start voting down my review, remember, your milage may vary. Here's my breakdown:
KING DINOSAUR: A 50's low budget sci-fi movie where astronauts go to explore a new planet. They have tons of stock footage explaining how mankind came about discovering the new planet, traveling through space, etc. The astronauts walk around the new planet (which suspiciously looks like the wilderness of California), bicker, get scared by an oversized wasp, find "Joey the Lemur" (which is not a lemur, btw), then get attacked and cornered by super-imposed iguanas, I mean, "dinosaurs." They escape by setting off a nuclear bomb, which they aparently had with them while exploring a new world. Not a bad episode by any means, but nothing spectacular. It has its moments, but there are plenty of stronger 50's sci-fi exploration/ giant creature type episodes out there. I'll take LOST CONTINENT or GIANT GILA MONSTER any day. Also includes a short from the 40s about driving safety, which is pretty funny stuff till it gets bogged down by an endless courtroom scene.
THE CASTLE OF FU-MANCHU: Famous among Misties for being one of the worst films the crew has ever tackled, I can safely say that this movie is indeed a complete mess. Fu Manchu (future LOTR wizard Christopher Lee) has a castle and wants to freeze the world. Some kind of agent stops him somehow and his castle blows up. Somewhere in there is a impromptu heart surgery. That's about as much as I got out of the plot, as the editing is so terrible that at no given point do you know who anyone is or what they are doing or why they are doing it. Unfortunately, this movie doesn't have anything else going for it to turn it into the "good" kind of bad. The special effects are pretty standard stuff for their day, and the sets and acting are acceptable enough for a dubbed B-movie. The result is a movie where you have no attachment to ANYTHING happening on screen, but its not bad enough to draw your attention otherwise. I didn't have any attachment to anyting in MANOS either, but it was at least bewildering enough to have me wondering just what the heck I was even watching. FU-MANCHU is just numbing. The riffs are fine enough, but they can't save the movie, and you can tell it was plenty painful for Joel and co. to work on this one.
CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD: A somewhat unique entry in the MST catalog because its not a movie, but a TV show! Its not often the gang gets to riff on TV. While this worked well on the excellent MASTER NINJA episodes, it's far less good here. Its not Mike and Co's fault, as the riffing is about the best they could make it. The problem lies with the TV show. Its the very worst kind of bad in that its basically well made, but there is hardly a single thing to make any part of what I was watching interesting. The TV show is basically a light spy drama, but without things like intrigue, action, drama or interesting characters. The lead is dull, his villain is dull, the female interest is dull, and most of what we see is all those dull people following each other around trying not to be seen. None of it is poorly made or especially inept, its just a bunch of flat characters doing nothing. Its not as repetitively boring as SWAMP DIAMONDS, but riffing or no riffing, its hardly something I need to see again. Its easy to see why the show itself never made it into a series. Much better is the short at the beginning about the fair, its awesome.
LAST OF THE WILD HORSES: Easily the best of the set. Its a novel episode for a few reasons. One, it has Dr. F and Frank in the theater for the first quarter. Two, it marks the return of "Joey the Lemur" from KING DINOSAUR (those two episodes are BOTH in this set, what????). Three, its a WESTERN! Its somewhat rare to see a western on MST. That being the case, the jokes are plentiful and Mike and the gang have plenty of material to work with. The movie itself isn't particularly bad, just an old style of film making that's not seen so much anymore. This episode still won't break my top 30 any time soon, but it fares better than the other three included if only because its a somewhat rare style of movie to be included in the MST canon.
So there you have it, none of these episodes are bad by any means, they're just a far cry from the best the series has to offer. Again, I'm a huge fan, I own all the Rhino single discs and every volume except Vol 9, I've already pre-ordered Vol XXIV, but this particular set only deserves a 7 out of 10. You might feel differently, and that's completely fine. For me personally, none of these episodes even come close to the brilliance of FINAL SACRIFICE, the GAMERA movies, the Coleman Francis trilogy, or BRIDE OF THE MONSTER.
I'm happy to own it, as I am all MST box sets, but let me put it this way: If a friend wanted to know what MST was all about and had never seen the show before, this is not the volume I'd lend him.
3 1/2 stars.