This latest MST3K DVD set features one episode with show creator Joel Hodgson as host and three with head writer Mike Nelson as host. Three episodes are from the Comedy Central era of the show while the fourth is from the first season on the Sci-Fi Channel. It's quite a good selection of episodes with some movies that are fun and entertaining in their own way even before the riffing starts. Of course, MST3K makes them way more fun.
411- THE MAGIC SWORD
This 1962 color film from Bert I. Gordon is certainly one of his best and it's actually a fairly fun and well made fantasy film aimed at younger audiences. It features a fine cast including Basil Rathbone, Estelle Winwood and Gary Lockwood. Entertaining as it is on its own it still makes for a terrific and hilarious episode of MST3K. In fact the endless fantasy elements and bits of intentional humor in the film work exceedingly and surprisingly well as fodder for jokes on the Satellite Of Love. A beautiful princess (Anne Helm) is kidnapped by an evil wizard (Rathbone) and a young man (Lockwood) raised by a kind sorceress (Winwood) is determined to rescue her. There's even a quite decent looking dragon in the film. The riffing is constant, unending fun during this one and as an added bonus one of the host segments features Crow T. Robot declaring his love for Estelle Winwood in song. There's no better example than this to show that MST3K worked just as well with a decent film as it did making fun of a terrible one. I've been wanting this one on DVD for years and am excited to see it finally get released.
516- ALIEN FROM L.A.
This 1988 Golan Globus color film is a comedy action update loosely based on Jules Verne's Journey To The Center Of The Earth starring Kathy Ireland. However lovely and attractive model Kathy Ireland is the fact that she is not an experienced or trained actress shows clearly in every frame of the film. This of course leads to many wonderful jokes at her expense. The film is quite goofy and in some cases deliberately so, but the low budget production with its silly script can't escape the wrath of the writers at MST3K. The musical host segment "Wild Irish Ireland" is charming and extremely funny. There's also a host segment quiz about the many yet few facial expressions of Kathy Ireland in the film that is quite funny. Great riffing throughout.
620- DANGER! DEATH RAY
Poorly made James Bond knock-offs were all the rage in 1967 when this Italian spy flick was released with former Tarzan actor Gordon Scott as agent Bart Fargo (really!) trying to track down a stolen "death ray". Oddly, the maker of the death ray declares at the beginning of the film that it was built "only for peaceful purposes" which is a good laugh right there for something referred to as a "death ray" even before the MST3K writers latch onto it as they do for some great riffing and an entire host segment! Like Secret Agent Super Dragon and Operation Double 007 before it the crew of the Satellite Of Love give us yet another hilarious episode making fun of a terrible attempt to cash in on the James Bond film craze. This is one off the better episodes from MST3K season 6.
803- THE MOLE PEOPLE
Wow, another classic Universal horror picture finally makes it to MST3K DVD release. John Agar stars in this 1956 black-and-white film about a subterranean civilization that enslaves the bug-eyed mole people who share their underground world. This movie was shown endlessly on UHF TV stations back in the 1960s and 1970s and I was thrilled when MST3K had the chance to make fun of it in their first year on the Sci-Fi Channel. MST3K had been referring to this movie from its earliest days with "mole people" working for Dr. Forrester in Deep 13 so getting a crack at the actual film must have been quite fun. This episode features MST3K's first guest star ever, NFL player Robert Smith. It's a fun outing as MST3K returns to making fun of its core film genre, low budget science fiction.
Extra features include:
- Bert I. Gordon: The Amazing Colossal Filmmaker, a new interview with "The Magic Sword" director Bert I. Gordon by Ballyhoo
- Of Mushrooms and Madmen: Making The Mole People, a documentary by Ballyhoo
- A new interview With "Alien From L.A." director Albert Pyun.
- Life After MST3K: Mike Nelson.