Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXVI
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This new collection of previously unreleased episodes picks up where the last 25 left off � seating you next to the funniest peanut gallery in television history. It�s a deep dive into the human instinct for survival, where our warped warriors aboard the Satellite of Love find the funny in the tragic�or at least the cheesy. In fact, it�s not too hyperbolic to insist that what Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot do, as they defend us against the slings and arrows of outrageously unfortunate movies, is nothing less than keep us sane. Episodes include: The Magic Sword, Alien From L.A., Danger!! Death Ray, The Mole People.
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Top Customer Reviews
I. FREAKING. LOVE. MST3K.
I think that's a good start. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of the greatest shows in the history of the world because it was never afraid to rip into a bad film and give it the thrashing it deserves. It inspired a generation to do the same, just via the medium of YouTube, and lives on via Rifftrax.com and Cinematic Titanic.
That being said, the episodes contained herein are among some of the finest the show ever aired. You've got a Bert I Gordon classic that somehow roped in a number of classically trained actors. There's a crappy Atlantis-mythos based movie starring Kathy Ireland's shrill whining. Some of the finest toys ever sunk in a bathtub or blown up with a firecracker. And a Universal classic that not only features half the cast of another Universal film that MST3K ripped into in the previous volume, but it could almost be a precursor to the Kathy Ireland one.
Is it worth the money? Yes. Will you laugh? Absolutely. Will Kathy Ireland's voice make your ears bleed? Oh, probably, I suggest stuffing them with cotton ahead of time.
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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.
Episode 802 THE MOLE PEOPLE
They're finally releasing an early Season 8 episode, from when "Big Mama" Pearl Forester, Brain Guy, and Bobo take over. Not since the beginning of season 2 has the cast changed so much. Instead of Deep 13, the show shifts to Pearl chasing the Satilite of Love, thru space and time, with a weekly serialized storyline, which became confusing over time. The second SCIFI episode is still setting up how Professor Bobo and Brain Guy joined Pearl, after the previous week discovery of why Crow's voice changed. (Not being able to follow this plot, does little to add or detract from the show's enjoyment. But--best to follow it anyway.) The film this week--A JOHN AGAR FILM!(Shades of Francis Coleman). The MOLE PEOPLE is basically "Lost Horizon", but with mole people, and very bleached out ancient Sumerians. SCIFI repeated this episode so often, I know it forward and backward. I always thought it was fun, tho. The 20 minute long documentary on THE MOLE PEOPLE that SHOUT! produced, does much to explain how UNIVERSAL STUDIOS could crank out so many films like this one, LEECH WOMAN, and THE THING THAT COULDNT DIE, on as little as $330,000, using stock fotage, and "Moviestars" on salery to the studio. It's always amazing to me, that these films have their true believers in LA, who know everything worth knowing, about the costumes, the sets, and the guys that could create one-take films, without cringing. For students wishing to study the evolution of the USA's entertainment industry, these mini-documentaries provide CRITERION COLLECTION insights into these lowbrow cinematic achievements.
EPISODE 516 ALIEN FROM LA
Even tho the film's from 1986, its a complete disaster. VIDEOHOUND movie guide doesnt even give it one star. But the best MST3K shows often fell on the worst films. Its not that this film lacked for budget, just talent. Casting a fashion model with a voice 5 octaves above soprano, gives the movie a "nails-on-chalkboard" irritation that never lets up. (Altho supplies the cast with plenty of riffing material.) A woman's archeologist father falls into a subterranian world, not unlike the MOLE PEOPLE, but in color, and with New Wave Hair. The skits around the film, written by BEST BRAINS still sailing high just weeks after JOEL left the show, keep the episode fun to watch. The extra for this DVD is a LONG extended interview with the mastermind director behind ALIEN FROM LA. Apparently he doesnt realize what a turkey the movie is, and made comments like "If we could have filmed this today with modern CGI effects, it'd be a hit" or "If people could only see the 35mm print of the film, they could appreciate the cinematic composistion of the shots." REALLY?!?! What was interesting, was hearing how the film was shot in Africa, in an Ex-Nazi community, with production money so diry it was not allowed to leave the country. In other words, someone wanted to do some money launderies, and used this hideous excuse of a film to do it. At the interview's end, the director said he had no intention of ever watching MST3K's treatment of this masterpiece. His loss. One of the most bizarre interviews I've seen on any of these MST3K DVDs, definately.
EPISODE 620 DANGER! DEATH RAY
Altho I'm sure I've seen every episode of MST3K, if only on U-toob, I have no recollection of the film. Even in the MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, they only devoted a paragraph to this film. However, having such an obscure episode has its own value, ie, it'll be just like watching the show for the first time. Basically the movie's about a scientist who invents a death ray, and while demonstating it, is kidnapped along with the Death Ray, by "The bad guys". Unlike the Italian spy films MST3K tackled before, SECRET AGENT SUPER DRAGON, and OPERATION DOUBLE 007, this one has little entertainment value. It's not even CHEESY in a cool way. But the extra here is great: MICHAEL NELSON giving us an overview of his entire career, including his work at CGI FRIDAYs. He talks about how the cast wanted to stay together, like the Rolling Stones I guess, so they became involved in various computer comedy projects when MST3K finally was canceled. For example, there was the short lived LORD OF THE RINGS parody on SCIFI's website. Mike Nelson, like Kevin Murphy, wrote some books reviewing various films. Then later, there's THE FILM CREW, and RIFFTRAX. Mike doesnt give as much behind the scenes insider gossip as Elvis Weinstein and Joel gave in their respective interviews, but he does refer to his effort at attempting to "Work together" with the others. (As head writer, he obviously was stepping on toes, and is the main reason Joel left the show.) However, for MST3K fans, its the best of this Boxset's EXTRAS.
EPISODE 411 THE MAGIC SWORD
AHA! The cinematic HIGHLIGHT of this boxset, and Burt I. Gordon's masterpiece, THE MAGIC SWORD is a film which actually has a modicum of quality to it. In fact, this is one of my favorite films they ever riffed on. The MAGIC SWORD is filmed in LSD HORRORVISION, with each frame saturated with bizarre set lighting, creepy humanoid creatures, fractured fairy tale plot logic, and Burt I Gordon's signiture "special effects". (Humans 4 inches tall, dragon monster, skeletons, two headed men, and endless process shots.) The plot is simple. A witch (Estelle Winwood) raises a foster son, who when he reaches 20, falls in love with the fair maiden, who's been kidnapped by Baisel Rathbone the evil wizard, to feed to his dragon. But the witch's foster son (Played by 2001 a SPACE ODDESY's Gary Lockwood), who's called GEORGE, slays the dragon, and wins the princess's hand. Sound Familar? Its the story of ST GEORGE. The movie is enough of a treat, but this is season four JOEL, which is MST3K at it's mighty best! Best skit: The INCREDIBLE song that Crow, Tom and Joel sing, after Crow reveals that his love affair with Kim Cattrel is ended, with his affections switched to ESTELLE WINWOOD! And the Extra for this film is fantastic as well. BURT I GORDON in PERSON discusses his career. As it turned out, he started out as a D.I.Y Ed Wood-type amateur with a 16mm camera, and determination. MST3K has done a LOT of Burt I Gordon's films, so it was cool discovering how his oeveur fits together. (His first film was KING DINOSAUR, from episode 210.) Unlike Ed Wood, tho, Burt I Gordon had a bit of talent, and was able to raise more and more money, until he could afford to film MAGIC SWORD in color, with some real movie stars. And what impressed me most, was the genuine love of cinema, for all types of cinema, that came across from Mr. Gordon. This is one extra you DEFINATELY will want to watch. And, like all these films, the movie trailer is included, the artwork mini posters, along with "Mystery Science Theater Hour" wraps for MAGIC SWORD.
And there you are...another fun box set of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Apparently the box set will be released in December 2013, and will have a Burt I Gordon film with a "giant Insent". (Probibly Episode 313 EARTH VS THE SPIDER). Let's hope that SHOUT! keeps releasing these boxsets, for those of us who find as much artistic revelation about the human condistion in ROBOT MONSTER, as is in Tarkovsky's STALKER. Well, ALMOST as much.
I was personally most excited to see "Alien From L.A.," the dreadful Golan-Globus production featuring the beautiful but squeaky-voiced non-actress Kathy Ireland in the lead role. By all accounts she is nice and upstanding person, but here she incurs the rapier wit of Mike and the bots due to her somewhat lacking performance. I loved the interview with director Albert Pyun who explained that Kathy's voice was so high that finally they just went with it and added the self-referential voice jokes at the last minute. For people who recall Kathy Ireland as the ultimate glamor model, the transformation from plain to amazing is predictably sappy yet immensely fun. This episode also features one of my favorite host segments concerning Clara Peller in her underpants. Watch for it.
I also loved "Danger!! Death Ray," a cheesy would-be Italian James Bond-esque thriller featuring super spy Bart Fargo (!) as played by Gordon Scott dealing with said death ray and tons of swarthy bad guys in Italian villas. Although the death ray itself is essentially forgotten after about the first ten minutes or so, the riffing is exceptionally strong as poor Bart does his best to make a camp classic into a contender for the Italian cinema. A particular pleasure of this episode for me is the intro in which the crazy genius who built the death ray gives a mind-bending speech about how it's only for peaceful purposes. Sadly, it's the high point of the movie.
"The Mole People" is a fantastic black and white John Agar vehicle that has been featured in countless jokes on MST3K over the years, many predating running the episode itself. It is a classic of the 1950s monster movie genre, and features outstanding riffing over a silly movie that reminds me fondly of late night UHF television reruns from when I was a kid.
I am not big into fantasy or sword and sandals movies, so while many adore "The Magic Sword," I found it the most tedious in the package. It's funny seeing Basil Rathbone ham it up in this one, though, and the MST writers are sharply on point here, so if you like the loopy fantasy elements on display you will love this episode.
I can't recommend "Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXVI" more highly. For either experienced MST3K fans or those new to the concept, it's a great blend of surreal movies and great Midwestern humor. Shout Factory is also to be commended for the extras they included on the set. I especially liked "Bert I. Gordon: The Amazing Colossal Filmmaker" and "Of Mushrooms and Madmen: Making The Mole People."