Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX (DVD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Nov 19, 2017
  • Format: DVD
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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX (DVD Review)

Director

Various

Release Date(s)

Various (November 21, 2017)

Studio(s)

Shout! Factory
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: B-
  • Audio Grade: B-
  • Extras Grade: B+
  • Overall Grade: B+

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX

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Review

WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!

Here we are again with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Shout! Factory’s Volume XXXIX DVD set. Shout Factory’s boxed sets of the show are normally released three to four times a year with some nice extras and better quality episodes than what you might find floating around online or on bootlegs. The price is kind of steep, but if you’re a fan of the show, you know that these sets are definitely worth picking up.

I’ve gone into a good amount of detail about MST3K in past reviews, so I won’t bother getting into that. We’ll keep things short and sweet instead and just cover the set itself. With this release, you get the following three episodes: Girls Town (Season 6, Episode 1), The Amazing Transparent Man (Season 6, Episode 23), and Diabolik (Season 10, Episode 13). Unfortunately, as of this writing, the remaining unreleased episodes cannot be licensed from their owners for various reasons. Instead, a fourth segment entitled Satellite Dishes, which includes all of the host segments from the following episodes: Rocketship X-M (Season 2, Episode 1), Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster (Season 2, Episode 13), The Amazing Colossal Man (Season 3, Episode 9), It Conquered the World (Season 3, Episode 11), Fire Maidens from Outer Space (Episode 4, Episode 16), The Eye Creatures (Season 4, Episode 18), Terror from the Year 3000 (Season 8, Episode 7), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (Season 8, Episode 9), The Deadly Bees (Season 9, Episode 5), The Space Children (Season 9, Episode 16), and Quest of the Delta Knights (Season 9, Episode 13).

The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike, but in this case, all of the episodes are hosted by Mike. The quality of each episode varies, with some episodes being better than others. 1959’s Girls Town is an amalgam of all things popular in teen movies from the era: juveniles gone wrong, drag racing, and pop songs. Featuring a cast that includes Mamie Van Doren, Paul Anka, and Mel Torme, this girls rehabilitation rocker is ripe for the riffing. Next up is The Amazing Transparent Man (which opens with one of MST3K’s funniest skits). It tells of a safecracker who is subjected to an invisibility experiment, mostly to develop an army of invisible soldiers, but for the safecracker, purely for the chance to crack more safes. One of the last films directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (The Man from Planet X), this B movie quickie was made and released by Miller Consolidated Pictures, but later picked up by American International Pictures for wider distribution. Last but not least is one my least-favorite MST3K episodes, which is Mario Bava’s Diabolik. Basically a send-up of spy and heist movies of the era, a jewel thief and his sexy assistant attempt to steal emeralds out from beneath the watchful eyes of both gangsters and the police. Not only is it the final episode of the show, but the film itself has satire built into it, making it a poor choice for bad movie riffing, in my opinion.

As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which were on video. The episodes look generally good, especially in the latter years of the show, with an occasional minor green band or video-source anomaly here or there. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles. Short of Shout! Factory putting some extra money into producing these sets in high definition, these are definitely a major step up from circulating bootlegs of the show.

As for the extras, you get a few from disc to disc, most of them newly-produced just for this set (courtesy of the great Ballyhoo Motion Pictures). For Girls Town, there’s An Anatomy of a Theme, an interview with composer Chuck Young. For The Amazing Transparent Man, there’s Beyond Transparency, an interview with author C. Courtney Joyner. For Diabolik, there’s the Showdown in Eden Prairie: Their Final Experiment featurette, as well as The Last Dance, a compilation of low grade behind the scenes footage from the show. Each of these discs also come with each film’s respective theatrical trailer. For Satellite Dishes, there’s the Behind the Scream: Daniel Griffith on Ballyhoo Motion Pictures interview segment. And if you bought this set through Shout! Factory’s website, the first 1,500 orders came with an exclusive bonus disc which features The Complete Poopie! Originally released on VHS through the MST3K fan club, these archived bits are long outtake and blooper reels from the show. There’s Poopie!! (from seasons 2 through 6), Poopie!! II (from seasons 7 and 8), and Poopie Parade of Values, an infomercial-style video for the Poopie!! and MST Scrapbook VHS tapes. It’s also worth noting that Poopie!! II is the full original version, whereas it was previously available through Rhino in a condensed version. Also included (as is standard with all of the MST3K boxed sets) are 4 paper insert reproductions of the artwork from each DVD in the set.

All in all, this is another solid boxed set release of MST3K from the good folks at Shout! Factory, and quite possibly their last of unreleased episodes (unless a distribution miracle happens). We’re likely to get some of the single episode DVD releases in new boxed sets, plus further reprints of the Rhino sets (and let’s not forget the newest incarnation of the show), but this could be it. In other words, this is (likely) not the end, so keep your chin up. And if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this boxed set up too. Now push the button, Frank.

- Tim Salmons

 

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