Release Date(s)Various (December 1, 2015)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!
Here we are again with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Shout! Factory’s Volume XXXIV DVD set. These boxed sets are released tri-annually 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 and my love for it in my review of the movie, so I won’t bother getting into that. We’ll keep things short and sweet and just cover the set itself. With this release, you get the following four episodes: Viking Women vs. the Sea Serpent (Season 3, Episode 17), War of the Colossal Beast (Season 3, Episode 19), The Undead (Season 8, Episode 6), and The She-Creature (Season 8, Episode 8).
The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike, which is a good balance. The quality of each episode varies, with some episodes being better than others. The good news about this set in particular is that it contains some previously unattainable episodes of the show due to some complicated rights issues. These AIP/Roger Corman productions were some of the more unlikely candidates due to a private party holding on to them with very tight reins. Now that they are finally available, let’s hope we see more of them in future sets. Starting things off is Viking Women vs. the Sea Serpent, which has been released with many different titles. It’s your basic low grade swords and sandals epic, but with the twist of the women getting in on the action for a change (sort of). War of the Colossal Beast is the sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (another great episode not yet released - as of this writing) and tells the story of the namesake’s capture after rampaging through Mexico. This episode also features the fan favorite short Mr. B. Natural. The Undead and The She-Creature feature similar plots about hypnotizing young women, but while one hypnotist in The Undead does it to learn more about a woman’s previous life as a witch, the other in The She-Creature does it in order to call upon an evil beast from the depths of the sea. The She-Creature, by the way, is one of my favorite episodes.
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. For Viking Women vs. the Sea Serpent, there’s an introduction by Frank Conniff and the great documentary from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, It Was a Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The American International Pictures Story. For War of the Colossal Beast, there’s another introduction by Frank Conniff, as well as the movie’s theatrical trailer. For both The Undead and The She-Creature, the only extra is the movie’s theatrical trailer. 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. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. Now push the button, Frank.
- Tim Salmons