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Mystery Science Theater 3000 - XXIII

Michael J. Nelson    Unrated   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A King Dinosaur, Fu Manchu, Diamond Head and The Last Of The Wild Horses. Dec 8 2011
By Valnastar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 23, contains two episodes with creator Joel Hodgson as host and two with head writer Mike Nelson. All are from the Comedy Central era of the show. There's some good variety here in this set spanning seasons 2, 3 and 6. The variety of movie material used is also huge including an old low budget SF film, 1940s shorts, Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu, a western and a Quinn Martin TV movie.

* 210 KING DINOSAUR (with short: X MARKS THE SPOT)
King Dinosaur is a black and white 1955 SF film loaded with stock footage and endless walking scenes to pad it out in spite of its sparse 63 minute running time. Ordinary lizards masquerade rather badly as dinosaurs and the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the title is played by an iguana thanks to the animal enlarging talents of Mr. B.I.G. (Bert I. Gordon). A new planet, Nova (clever name for a new planet since it means "new", eh?), is discovered and astronauts are sent to explore Nova via some stock footage of post-WWII captured V2 rocket tests. A tepid romance between two of the astronauts is featured as the secondary plot. The astronauts do a lot of walking, male to female condescending, smooching, and panicking while exploring a planet that looks suspiciously like southern California. Bronson Canyon is again used as it is in so many movies of this type. A kinkajou appears prominently in the film and tags along with the astronauts though Joel and the 'Bots stick him with the monicker, "Joey the lemur", for many jokes during the film and one hilariously memorable host segment. Spoiler alert, amazingly the astronauts bring a nuclear device along with them because, you know, when you are exploring a new planet if you don't like the native flora or fauna you want to annihilate it rather than just leaving. X Marks The Spot is a 1944 driving safety short with the ulterior motive of keeping workers out of the hospital or morgue so they can stay at their jobs in factories to support the war effort. It's the first of many hilariously mocked short subjects used on MST3K. This episode is a MSTie must-have!

* 323- THE CASTLE OF FU-MANCHU
This 1969 (released 1972) color film features the great Christopher Lee and a bunch of lesser known European actors from a variety of countries that collaborated on this badly pieced together jigsaw puzzle of a film. This is one of those episodes that MSTies tend to love or hate and I'm in the love it camp. The movie is a bit of a convoluted collaborative mess and the dubbing on all the non-English speaking actors certainly adds to the confusion, but for my taste it's the good kind of bad that is perfect for MST3K. It's lively and silly fun and because you'll have zero emotional involvement in the characters or story and you'll be able to focus 100% of your attention on the jokes. Fu Manchu plans to freeze the Earth with his latest evil scheme and Nayland Smith sets out to stop him. Along the way much convoluted mystery and intrigue occurs. The biggest mystery is "what did I just watch?" when the film is over! Who cares, MST3K makes it extremely funny.

* 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD (with short: A DAY AT THE FAIR)
This 1977 Quinn Martin TV movie pilot stars Roy Thinnes (The Invaders), France Nuyen (Star Trek, Elaan of Troyius), Zulu (Hawaii Five-O) and Ian McShane (Lovejoy). The pilot failed and did not go to series. It stars many well-known talented actors who luckily have all been in many much more exciting projects than this one. Based in Hawaii, counter spy Diamond Head must stop the evil Tree from stealing nerve gas. Sadly, the intrigue never gets particularly suspenseful or compelling, but the plot at least can be followed. One of the blander offerings from Quinn Martin, it does provide some laughs nonetheless from Mike and the 'Bots. Tom and Crow get to see what it would be like if Mike was not quite so nice in a variety of amusing host segments. The 1947 short, A Day At The Fair is particularly funny with lots of good laughs at the expense of this 1940s farming celebration. Are farm animals someone's dates? Is the fairground where the fair is held? Watch the short to find out. The farm fair short is more exciting than the spy thriller of a movie.

* 611- LAST OF THE WILD HORSES
This 1948 black and white film is about a cowboy trying to clear his name and bring a real criminal to justice. Romance ensues. Wow. The film is competently done if a bit formulaic and uninteresting. However, this is a MSTie must-see thanks to the Star Trek "Mirror, Mirror" episode themed host segments tying the whole movie watching experience together including a segment with Forrester and TV's Frank in the theater riffing on the movie! Plenty of good riffs and an in movie face whipping make this a strange and funny episode of the show.

This set is loaded with cool extra features including:

4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
New Introduction By Frank Conniff
The Incredible Mr. Lippert (a Ballyhoo Production)
Vintage MST3K Promos
Life After MST3K: Kevin Murphy (this is the first installment of a new series)
Code Name: Quinn Martin
DARKSTAR: Robots Don't Need SAG Cards
Original Trailers
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two of my favorite shorts Jan. 2 2012
By Tom Servo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This box set includes two of my favorite shorts: X Marks The Spot and A Day At The Fair. The shorts they've done have always been a highlight of the series for me, and these two don't disappoint. The first one is about traffic safety by way of 1940's New Jersey and the latter a look at the local fair from the perspective of a farming family. Between the two we get a glimpse of two drastically different shorts styles, with X Marks The Spot being a production with actors and sets and a plot, while A Day At The Fair is shot more documentary style and every bit as bland as life on the farm must have been.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JOEY THE LEMUR and the BoxSet Extras March 28 2012
By W. T. Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MST3K - Its Lippert Time ! Another cool set Feb. 13 2012
By D. Steigman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Shout Factory's latest Volume - # 23 provides with more memorable episodes from the great TV series MST3K - This volume we get a break from the Season 3 movies from Japan and we go into Lippert land with a pair of Robert Lippert films , along with a TV movie and one of the worst films Best Brains ever did.
Looking at this set
EPISODE 210 - KING DINOSAUR - with the short X Marks the Spot.A popular Lippet movie from the 2nd season. 4 scientists go to the planet Nova to investigate life on their planet. We get Lippert lizards for dinosaurs sadly and love that famous quote "We brought civilization to planet Nova) the cast, film and effects are bottom of the barrel which is why this makes for a great episode. The short is about a man who gets killed in an auto accident and goes to heaven to await his fate with flashbacks of other automotive *sins* he did when he was alive. Host segments include Crow wondering if hes worthy, Joel doing Joey the Lemur , the Theramin and more
EPISODE 323 - CASTLE OF FU MANCHU - This was the last Christopher Lee Fu Manchu film and it was so bad it wasnt even distributed stateside for several years. Just a terrible slow moving film with Fu Manchu out to destroy the world - in his way are Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie. Even the great Christopher Lee couldnt escape the clutches of MST3K. Segments basically consist of Joel & the bots crying, weeping and suffering throughout the show. Its a good episode that finally can get some recombination because this is easily in the top 5 worst films they ever did. Not quite as bad or inept as Manos, buts bad.
EPISODE 608 CODE NAME DIAMOND HEAD with the short A Day at the Fair - - The movie- TV movie time - a pilot episode about a Hawaiian secret agency is out to catch the villainous *Tree* from releasing a deadly toxic nerve gas ..it was a failed pilot. As for the short, its a day at the fair - a typical MST3K short that is funny :)
Segments include a crash test dummy, Mike as the Frugal Gourmet and more
EPISODE 611 - THE LAST OF THE WILD HORSES - Our other Lippert film in this set-a low budget western. This show is best known for the bizarro theme taken from the Mirror Mirror episode from Star Trek where Dr F and TVs Frank get to do the movie riffing in the SOL while Mike (with a goatee) Crow , Gypsy and Servo are in Deep 13 thinking evil thoughts. The segments really shine here with all of the *role reversals* - we get a Joey Lemur callback as a segment (maybe thats why this episode was selected with King Dinosaur) plus more Mirror universe segments to make us all *LOL*...or howl or both. Great episode !
Extras include - as per the Satellite News Wewbsite
Extras:
New Introduction By Frank Conniff
The Incredible Mr. Lippert (a Ballyhoo Production)
Vintage MST3K Promos
Life After MST3K: Kevin Murphy (this is the first installment of a new series)
Code Name: Quinn Martin
DARKSTAR: Robots Don't Need SAG Cards
Original Trailers
4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
This set with the episodes and the bonus features make this very worthwhile for any MST3K collector. While the 4 films picked in this set may not be anywhere near the top 20 in that old Rhino - its a solid batch , plus we get some good supplements. I expect Shout to do a great job with this set and let the speculation begin about having Rocketship XM, Jungle Goddess and both Fugitive Alien sets on future volumes...
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its... Well... okay. 3 1/2 STARS April 16 2012
By Otto Correct - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.

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