Friday, April 05, 2013

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVI Review

Shout! Factory has just released yet another volume of Mystery Science Theater episodes. I love how consistent they are in keeping up with these releases. It’s great knowing that every 3 months or so I can look forward to getting another Mystery Science Theater set in the mail. And every time a new set is released, the news for the next set shows up online just before, or shortly after. See.

Volume XXVI features another 4 unreleased episodes, one Joel and a trio of Mikes. The movies:
  • The Magic Sword, is a non-huge creature film by Bert I. Gordon from 1962 starring the great Basil Rathbone - the greatest of all herb-named actors.
  • Alien From L.A. a 1988 Albert Pyun film featuring the eardrum-murdering vocal chords of Kathy Ireland.
  • Danger!! Death Ray a 1967 Italian spy film from Gianfranco Baldanello. With not one, but two exclamation points you can be sure this movie means business.
  • The Mole People a 1956 Universal film directed by Virgil W. Vogel with John Agar and Hugh Beaumont. And Mole People.

The Magic Sword

Sir George (Gary Lockwood, from 2001) defies his mother - a sorceress stricken with a  bad case of Ronald McDonald hair - when he heads out on a rescue mission to save Princess Helene who has been kidnapped by Basil Rathbone, whose costume makes it look like he mugged a gypsy.

Weird thing, this movie is actually kinda... good. The cheese factor is practically off the charts, but it's still a fun movie with a megababe princess, goofball bad guys and a gnarly two-headed Dragon. Of the, I think, 8 Bert I. Gordon films riffed on the show, it seems like the MST guys actually enjoyed this movie a lot more than usual and it shows, making for a wildly funny, highly enjoyable episode. I even heard the phrase "except it's good" come out of Tom's mouth at one point.

Look out for the coneheads, one of them looks a lot like an older, bald, pointed headed version of Joel. See screenshot #4. It's really a shame the guys didn't pick up on this, the similarity is pretty striking. Also be on the look out for a hilarious host segment where the ‘bots come up with their own variation of George Carlin’s “Seven Things you can’t say on TV”: booger, dink, booby, underpants, ding-a-ling, stinky-butt and dickweed.

Things to watch for:
Joel Robinson - Amateur Caricaturist 
Basil Rathbone and the Conehead Two
Group Dirt-nap
French Kissing
Double Dragon

Joel Robinson - Retired Conehead

Alien From L.A.

A 1988 film from Hawaiian director Albert Pyun (director of Dollman!) sees Kathy Ireland as a mousy nerd named Wanda who searches for her father, a Clint Howard looking explorer fellow who has found a gateway in Africa that leads to the center of the Earth, where there's some weird subterranean post apocalyptic land where everyone is Australian and works as dirt miners. Also starring Deep "Oompa Loompa" Roy and Thom “I love you, and you've got to let me EAT YOUR BRAINS“ Matthews.

The bad news: holy fuck Kathy Ireland talks like a Chipette on helium, I'd hate to hear this woman have an orgasm. The good news: uh, Kathy Ireland is pretty hot once she loses her glasses. That's all I've got. Well, that's a bit harsh, this movie is as dumb as it is stupid, but it’s entertaining enough if you give it time to get going. The riffage is very solid, the guys really lay into this movie. Kathy's voice, Deep Roy's foot long eyelashes, Kathy's voice, Tom Matthew's toilet paper character name (Charmin), nobody is safe here. The host segments are also very fun, especially the invention exchange. Livers in a vital organ vending machine, Tom calling someone a "Dickweed" and a Cow refrigerator with teets that pump out chocolate milk and crushed ice.

Things to watch for:
Bub the Zombie: The Fat Years
The midget with the infinite eyelashes
Eyepatch Lady Face Punch
Nerdy Kathy’s stop sign sized glasses. They cover like 95% of her eyes and 500% of her cheeks. How impaired is her vision? Not very, apparently, she breaks them early in the movie and not once did I see her so much as squint. This movie is a liar.

Mole People

This is another “Journey to the Center of the Earth” movie, only instead of New Wave Australians, this movie features New Age Albinos and men in mole costumes. We have to sit through a good 30 minutes of John and Hugh exploring before we get to the albinos and mole men. And no detail is too insignificant for this movie - knots are tied in graphic detail and the camera doesn't dare turn away.

This episode was from Season 8 during the show's unfortunate Planet of the Apes parody era. For me, the host segments and riffing were always pretty consistently funny, I love episodes from Season 1 all the way through the end of the 10th season., but I think the Apes and Romans segments have always landed with a loud, awkward thud. Overall, still a pretty fun episode, lots of hate riffage for John Agar, the freaked out Albinos and Hugh Beaumont‘s ass. Probably the weakest of the set, but really only because the movie is pretty slow and filled with stock footage and boredom with really only a couple of minutes of Mole People.

Things to watch for:
The Emo Phillips Three
Jheri Curl Mole People (why do I know how to spell Jheri Curl?)
Mile High Meringue Pie. Literally.

Danger!! Death Ray

Danger!! Death Ray is a spy film about laid back super spy Bart Fargo trying to stop an evil dude with a dangerous (!!) death ray from destroying a bunch of shit. How lazy is Bart Fargo? He's too lazy to even throw out a funny quip after killing someone. I guess the writer is to blame for this, at one point Bart causes a guy to fall out of a window and Bart says something like "Too bad.", instead of something hilarious like "Thanks for dropping by!" That's the proper super spy response. Bad zingers are not hard to come up with. For example, say I was a super spy and I was cooking something and an assassin ran up behind me with a knife. I would hit the guy with the frying pan and say something like "Looks like things didn't...PAN out for you" or "Sorry, I must've PAN-icked". I’m a terrible spy dialogue writer and I just came up with both of those off the top of my head and they are hilarious. How hard would it be for the writers to come up with some stupid puns for this guy? Lazy. Really, the movie as a whole can be described as kind of lazy. It’s not bad but everything is just sort of there, like they were all signed on to make a movie but when filming started everyone forgot to give a shit.

The Satellite Gang has a good time with this one, mocking the obvious toy boat and helicopter that are totally supposed to look like real vehicles, and Bart’s lack of quality zingers. They also have a lot of fun singing along to the theme music. Tom yells out "Watermelon Man" every time a particularly Herbie Hancock sounding riff plays and it made me laugh EVERY SINGLE TIME. I also really loved the first host segment, Tom with the Nike on his head was funny enough, but for some reason I lost it when I saw the baby Nikes on his hands. Robots with shoe hands, classic.

Fun fact: Bart Fargo is an anagram for Fart Bargo.

Things to watch for:
Screenplay by Paul Fleming. Ian's brother?
Thomas Servo sells out
Abraham Lincoln: Peeping Tom
Toy Boat in a Bathtub Ocean
Blow Dart Karate Chop

As usual, Shout! has thrown some very interesting and informative extras on each disc. Alien from L.A. features an 8-minute interview with Albert Pyun who talks about getting the film made and casting Kathy Ireland for her looks and the horror that filled him when she started to speak. The Mole People features "Of Mushrooms and Madmen: The Making of The Mole People". This is a 17-minute look at the making of the film. Apparently The Mole People was the first film to use large amounts of stock footage as a cost cutting measure. On The Magic Sword disc you'll find an interview with Bert I. Gordon that was filmed in front of a bright green screen. Also featuring some MST Hour Wraps. Finally Danger!! Death Ray has a 12-minute long interview with Mike Nelson about Life After MST3K. Each disc also includes the theatrical trailers for the films. As always there are also 4 mini posters featuring the Steve Vance cover art for each title.

This is really a great mix of episodes, each featuring a very different type of film; Subterranean Monsters, Sword and Sorcery, EuroSpy and Underground Dystopia. Big MST fans have probably already picked this up, but if you haven't, what are you waiting for? Buy it now. And remember to enjoy the show, pilgrim.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails