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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6
Join Joel, Mike, and their "robot friends" as they endure the worst movies ever made, all for the pleasure of an evil scientist. To survive and maintain their sanity, these crazy captives make stinging quips and hilarious jokes at the expense of these torturous cinematic stinkers.
It's business as usual for Mystery Science Theater 3000 in this sixth volume of episodes taken from the archives of the long-running television show, which is nothing but good news for MST3K's many adherents--and with four discs and six hours of content, neither longtime fans nor newcomers to the series will be shortchanged. The formula is the same as ever: having been sentenced by mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester to watch unspeakably bad movies (all part of the doc's wacky plan for world domination), janitor Joel Robinson (portrayed by series creator Joel Hodgson, who would later write for Jimmy Kimmel's variety show) and his robot buddies Crow and Tom Servo sit aboard their spaceship, the Satellite of Love, and do exactly that. Their own skits and interstitial shtick are mildly diverting, but as always it's the wisecracks our heroes direct at the screen that dominate the proceedings far more than the movies themselves. By turns genuinely witty and groan-inducing, their nonstop riffing, laden with puns, sarcasm, and cultural references (from poet Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" to atrocious pop songs like Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods' "Billy Don't Be a Hero," all in the space of a couple of breaths), usually drowns out the dialogue in the films. That's not a bad thing, of course, when the movies are turkeys on the order of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6 lineup, which comes from episodes first aired between 1990 and 1994. They include Attack of the Giant Leeches (boasting perhaps the least convincing movie monsters ever created), Gunslinger (a Western that drags on interminably), and the self-explanatory Teenagers from Outer Space. Disc 3 contains six shorter films, and may be the best of the lot for that reason alone.
With Mystery Science Theater 3000 having departed the airwaves in 1999 (it began in '88), the show lives on primarily by way of these DVD releases. And while some would argue that a little of this stuff goes a fairly long way, Rhino's typically fine packaging and presentation (even without any bonus features) make this and the other MST3K sets a collector's treat. --Sam Graham
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Joel's next-to-last episode before leaving the show, and MST3K's second western in a row (after THE PAINTED HILLS), GUNSLINGER (1956) is Roger Corman's version of Johnny Guitar. The difference is that JOHNNY's director, Nicholas Ray, was an artist who often directed hackwork; Corman was a hack. Thus, while both films are centered on epic duels between two powerful women, one is a sexually ambiguous mashup of the western and the gothic romance, while the other is the very silly story of a love triangle between a cold-blooded lady marshal, the town's saloon keeper/crime boss, and a sentimental hitman in love with them both.
Shot in seven days, an unusually long time for a Corman film, GUNSLINGER is ripe for mockery, but the riffing can't quite overcome the movie's sheer tedium: endless exposition, multiple subplots, murky sound, sets (and editing) that have characters warping time and space, and one-dimensional characters too blank to care about. The SoL crew did the best they could with westerns, but after LAST OF THE WILD HORSES, they never tried another one. Is the genre just inherently unfunny?
More Corman, this time as co-producer of 1959's ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, memorable for scantily-clad swamp trollop Yvette Vickers, and nothing else. It's one of the funniest creature features from the Joel era.Read more ›
The first episode on the set is easily the weakest. "Attack of the Giant Leeches," executive produced by Roger Corman, is a rather dull low-budget horror flick. Though the leech monsters look pretty goofy, it's mostly slow paced, and a surprising number of the peanut gallery's riffs fall flat. On the lighter side, the short, "Undersea Kingdom Chapter 1," is quite funny.
"The Gunslinger" (directed by Corman) was one of the few Westerns on the show. It's about a woman whose husband has died, and then she becomes the sheriff. While also a lifeless movie, the riffing is hilarious in this episode (which was host Joel Hodgeson's second last).
"Teenagers from Outer Space" is without a doubt the funniest in the box. Some startingly old teenage aliens come to earth, but one of them escapes and gets a girlfriend, all while being chased by one of his alien superiors. This movie has everything - bad acting, a strangely structured story, poor dialogue, and arguably the worst-looking giant monster ever to grace the silver screen. The jokes are excellent in this episode, and the host segments are amusing (and quite surreal).
Finally, "Mr. B's Lost Shorts" is a collection of some of the educational shorts that were tackled on the show. The best of them is "Mr. B Natural," which is probably the "Manos: Hands of Fate" of MST3K shorts. Other shorts are "Design for Living," "Hired!Read more ›
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Teenagers From Outer Space: One of the funniest episodes ever, it's a 1959 low-budget b/w science fiction movie about an alien invasion from a planet with a totalitarian regime and the struggle of one sensitive alien teenager to escape and live free as an individual here on Earth. An evil and sadistic alien teenager charged with bringing him back to their spaceship dead or alive hunts him through the picture, while the teenage hero finds love and friendship in small town America. Filled with ray guns, flying saucers, alien monsters that look suspiciously like lobsters, jump suit "space suits" and more low-budget fun, Joel and the `Bots have an easy time milking this one for continuous laughs throughout.
Attack of the Giant Leeches: Another b/w low-budget 1959 picture, this one is "sci-fi/horror" about some really over-sized leeches capturing rural townsfolk and keeping them around as food stock in their underwater cave. The subplot leading into all the leech-infested fun involves a devoted if unexciting husband (Bruno Ve Sota) trying in vain to keep his young wife (Yvette Vickers) happy. Seems she is steamier than the swamp and looking for someone to cheat and run away with about every 10 seconds. Anyway, there is lots of drama and cheesy horror for the MST3K crew to hurl jokes at, making this one a lot of fun.
Gunslinger: This Roger Corman "classic" stars John Ireland and Beverly Garland. Garland is the strong-willed widow of the last sheriff and she is determined to clean up the town, while Ireland is the hired gun sent to kill her who ends up falling for her charms. The good cast make this a better than average Corman picture, and the western setting gives the MST3K crew a nice change of genre on which to launch their humor.
Mr. B's Lost Shorts??!!: The shorts on this disc, previously available on VHS directly from Best Brains, are not to be missed! They are all winners, and the first one in the collection, Mr. B Natural, is legendary among MST3K fans as one of the funniest things ever done on the show. You simply have to see it to believe it and if you've seen it before then you know how much fun this one is to watch again and again. Other shorts include the hilarious, "X Marks The Spot", "Hired!-Part 1", "Design for Dreaming" , "Johnny At The Fair" and "Are You Ready for Marriage? ". These all amply demonstrate the terrific wit of the writers and performers of MST3K as well as anything they ever did. This is truly top-notch material. The only sad thing about having the shorts separated from the episodes in which they originally appeared is that one doesn't then get to see the hilarious host segments based on those same shorts, which followed them in the full episode. For example, Mr. B Natural was followed by a host segment in which the `Bots debate whether Mr. B is a man or a woman; it was an INCREDIBLY FUNNY and terrific follow-up to some of the best humor ever done on MST3K, making the experience even funnier. Nevertheless, don't let that stop you from enjoying this collection because you definitely will.
I will be buying this 4-disc set as soon as it's available and highly recommend it. Movie Sign!
"Teenagers From Outer Space" - There's nothing like watching a movie about sullen, snotty teenagers. This movie's got 'em, and they're dressed in ridiculous spacesuit-type outfits, too. Our hero Teenage Alien, "Derek", is a fugitive from his peers who wield deadly ray guns that turn people into cheap plastic skeletons after an awkward jump cut. (At least I think that's what the director wanted us to think...)
"Attack of the Giant Leeches" - Lots of things to recommend about this one. It starts with a classic 'Undersea Kingdom' serial as the short. Hilarious by itself, Joel and the 'Bots savage this very bad example of late 1930s pulp cinema. As far as the feature goes...thing of it as a hate letter to the South. It involves a giant leech infestation of a Southern swamp, and some sort of love triangle. It doesn't make a lot of sense, actually....but then again we're not here for the feature.
"Gunslinger". Roger Corman. Beverly Garland. Actually, it's not that bad a movie, but something about the pairing of Corman and Garland make for an excellent MST3K flick. Someone once wrote that this dreary western was 'turgid, uninspired, cliched, confusing, and artistically bereft of merit'.....but those are the GOOD points of this classic Corman flick. This disc justifies the entire price of the collection, and it's great to see this on DVD.
"Mr. B's Lost Shorts" Fortunately, this shorts collection pretty much is the last of the shorts shown during the last half of the MST3K broadcast run. The gem here is "Mr. B. Natural", a disturbing short in which an androgynous elf convinces a young boy of the power of music. Jerry Falwell will have a fit when he sees this young boy corrupted by the perky Mary Martin/Richard Simmons/Peter Pan being. One of the greats.
All in all, Rhino seems to have gotten the message about which episodes the fans seem to want most. There is a small but vocal cult for this show and it looks like it will continue to grow with a decent collection of episodes.
Well, you can be happy that this is happening to gawky middle schooler Buzz instead of you as you watch Mr. B Natural, a vomit-inducing school film turned into comedy gold by our heroes at MST3K.
The 6th DVD box set breaks away from the Sci-Fi channel era and back to Comedy Central for three movies and a fourth collection of shorts. The shorts include X Marks the Spot, in which a slain motorist is brought before the God of New Jersey who probably won't let him into New Jersey heaven because of his many sinful moving violations, and the mythical Hired Pt. 1 which is just what Manos fans have needed to learn why Jimmy the Salesman doesn't think that sales are an important part of his job.
It also features Teenagers from Outer Space, your usual 50's produced, teenagers-in-their-30's centered hokum about giant lobsters, a "tohcha" loving commander and a malicious alien empire "We are the supreme race. We have the supreme weapons. We have the supreme pizzas". Gunslinger (which was already released on VHS) is classic Corman about an old west feud betweeen two rough and tumble women with anachronistic access to eyebrow pencils. Finally, Attack of the Giant Leeches (or are they guys in black rain ponchos, no wait, they're definitely leeches) which features playful murderous bantering between a slovenly hillbilly and his nymphette wife, a main character who pretty much does nothing, and some semi-intelligent human livestock-raising leeches (as Joel hypothesizes: "They're smart enough to enjoy eating at Chili's, but not smart enough to realize it's a chain).
Unforunately, there are no extras to speak of, but since it has long unseen episodes of the most original, inventive, and aggressively funny shows to ever hit the airwaves, it can all be forgiven. Fans have no reason not to pick this up and newcomers owe it to themselves to see the cult show that never should have just been cult. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got movie sign.
ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES: This episode starts off with a short serial called "Undersea Kingdom", which is predictably goofy (the plot involves the discovery of the lost continent of Atlantis by the crew of a rocket-powered submarine) and the mocking is well up to par. The opening credits of the main feature will you everything you need to know about it. First of all is the title, "Attack of the Giant Leeches". Does anything scream stereotypically bad 1950's science fiction movie more than that? The other thing the credits reveal is the name of the producer: Roger Corman. Help.
A lot of the jokes come at the expense of the clichéd small-town hillbilly characters and also the well-meaning environmental protector who's overly cautious attitude ends up providing the monsters with a hell of a lot of food. And, of course, we have the requisite bad monster costumes, which are exactly as inept as the image that pops into your head when you hear the title of this movie. There's a really goofy love-triangle that provides much laughter. This is the type of episode where you laugh at the movie as hard as you laugh at the commentary.
GUNSLINGER: After a marshal in the old west is gunned down by a generic bad guy, his plucky widow decides to take matters into her own hands. She becomes the sheriff until a replacement can be found, and tries to maintain order in the town while seeking revenge for her murdered husband. I actually like the sound of that. Unfortunately, there's a problem. This is another Roger Corman film.
Camera shots aren't lined up properly. Actors stand in the background not knowing they're in the shot. Poor editing means that characters leap from inside to outside in the blink of an eye. This last flaw makes for one of the funniest host segments I've seen, where Tom Servo teleports himself all over the Satellite of Love to the amazement of his fellow crew. This quite a fun episode; the commentary is sharp and the movie is hilarious.
MR. B'S LOST SHORTS: A collection of shorts rather than a full-fledged episode. The show did a number of short films; usually educational films shown in classrooms to captive audiences. I've been a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan for a number of years now, but I'd never seen the "Mr. B. Natural" short which has a fearsome reputation in fan circles. Now I finally understand that reputation. There have been a lot of strange films and shorts shown on MST3k, but clearly this ranks up there with the oddest. A hyperactive, dancing, androgynous woman (Mr. B Natural) wearing blue tights and a suit covered in musical notes pops into the lives of troubled young men and attempts interesting them in music. The comments from the crew reflect the feelings of everyone who watches this film: utter bafflement and horror.
Also in this collection are MARKS THE SPOT (the highest traffic court in New Jersey is actually a lower court in heaven, where God's judges and lawyers deal out harsh justice to habitual bad drivers), HIRED! ("Well, that's something you didn't hear much of during the Bush administration."), DESIGN FOR DREAMING (a General Motors promotional film where a woman dreams about all the great things GM will be providing in the future), JOHNNY AT THE FAIR (a little munchkin runs away from his parents at a fair and becomes a proto-Forrest Gump, meeting bemused celebrities of the day), and ARE YOU READY FOR MARRIAGE? (according to this film, the answer is no). I love these little bite-sized morsels of MST3k. They're great when you need a small portion of hilarity, but when you're not sure you could survive another two hours of MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE.
TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE: An alien named Derek (yes, really) runs away from his fellow aliens. He tries to disguise himself as a teenage human, which ordinarily would be difficult given that he looks about 30. Fortunately for him, he's landed in a 1950's science fiction movie where all the regular teenage humans look about 30. He meets an impossibly gullible family who let him live with them and naturally he learns what it is we humans call "love". Oh, and there some giant special effect lobsters wandering around. I actually sort of liked this movie in a strange way. But the jokes are really sharp. Definitely a winner.
Overall, this is a great collection. I've been buying these MST3k box sets as they're released and I've been quite happy with them. If you're a fan, you simply have to pick these up. If you're not, then this is actually a great one to start with as the short films are easy to get into, and the long features are entertaining without being too painful.
This new set isn't disappointing but some of it isn't that special.
Mr. B's Lost Shorts - The "Mr. B Natural" short is more than enough to make this one of the best of all the DVDs released. It even makes it okay that I now own Design For Dreaming for the 3rd time (VHS, MST3K: The Essentials, and Vol. 6). That doesn't matter much since the near pornographic consumerism and downright absurd plot (schizophrenic housewife hallucinates herself to an autoshow accompanied by Michael Crawford and sells her soul for the fabulous Firebird II) make it funny each time you watch. "Hired: Part 1" is surprisingly much less funny than Part 2. "X Marks the Spot" also surprised me by getting funnier every time I've seen it (the first time I was bored out of my mind). The kid in "Johnny at the Fair" actually must have been a good actor. It's kind of creepy because you feel like you are watching an unattended kid wandering around the fair. "Are You Ready for Marriage?" is funny but doesn't top the similar "Is This Love?".
Attack of the Giant Leeches - BORING BORING BORING. I used to think Hamlet was the most boring episode I've seen but this beats it hands down. This movie makes the Coleman Francis films look action packed. There is no way that Joel, Crow, and Tom could have made this movie funny. None of the characters have any personality at all, not even enough to mock. People just stand around wondering whether they should dynamite the bodies out of the swamp. The only characters with any potential to make fun of is the chunky redneck and his strumpet wife. The rest are painfully dull, and not even in a "Skydivers" sort of way. The short for this ep (Undersea Kingdom) is just...bizarre. It starts out with a bunch of sweaty forties-beefcake sailors grunting and wrestling and getting physical examinations. Then somehow a rocket sub, a guy who dies ala Star Trek redshirts, and horsemen who forgot to stop at the gas stop to ask for directions get involved. How Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or Sky Captain were inspired by this is anyone's guess.
Gunslinger - Like "Leeches" this is a Roger Corman film but is much more enjoyable. This is an episode that seemed mediocre at first but gets better each time you see it. The whole movie I rooted for the red-headed madam and her bartender flunkie. They're much more likable than the blonde buttkicking sheriff and the outlaw she falls in love with. Some of the best heckling is done during the opening credits and while the sheriff and outlaw shoot each other to death/declare their love.
The only thing is that I wish an episode I hadn't seen yet had been included in this slot. However, I don't think this episode is available on DVD any other way, only on the probably discontinued VHS releases.
Teenagers From Outer Space - I'd say this is the best of the bunch. If Mr. B Natural's greatness wasn't diluted by the other shorts it would have been more of a tie. I've seen this film in it's original version and it is hilarious even without sarcastic commentary. Many of the jokes made by Joel and the crew are almost the same as what I had thought of. There's the "Rock Lobster" reference, TOR-CHA, "Terminator 2" references, etc. And I knew they'd make their ubiquitous "Harry Connick Jr!" remark. Still, they came up with quite a bit of brilliant, unexpected stuff.
If you're an MST3K fan there is no question that you'll get this set. Even though one episode was lackluster, and one has been released previously, it's still a great opportunity to get some new MST3K.
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