MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 XV
Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
What's it about
In the not-too-distant future, mad scientists send a hapless janitor into space and force him to watch absolutely terrible movies, which he does with a few robot friends that he builds. They watch these movies on their ship, the Satellite of Love, and make funny comments about them the entire time.
Is it good movie?
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 clearly has a big fan following. For those Roman numeral-challenged folks out there, this is the fifteenth MST3K DVD compilation to be released, and it features four episodes that vary a bit in quality.
The first two feature the show’s earlier “host”, Joel (Joel Hodgson). He is joined by Crow T. Robot (voice of Trace Beaulieu) and Tom Servo (J. Elvis Weinstein), the latter of whom looks like a gumball machine with a beak. The first musty old piece of crap they watch is THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY from 1958. The plot of this classic involves a doctor who discovers his wife was an Aztec princess in a previous life. She leads him to a secret tomb containing some nice Aztec treasure that the doctor steals, awakening an angry mummy. And… something about a robot at the end. Honestly, by then I felt like drilling a few holes through my temple. This is a very early episode of MST3K and there is far too much dead air throughout. Even when they’re talking, the commentators barely seem to draw a laugh. Clearly at this stage they were still trying to figure out what was working and what wasn’t on the show. Unless you’re a longtime fan interested in revisiting the early history of the show, this one is pretty painful to endure.
The second disc features the gang’s look at THE GIRL IN LOVER’S LANE, which rates higher on the enjoyment scale than ROBOT VS. MUMMY. There are definitely a few funny quips and overall they fly a lot faster this time around. Which is not to say that the movie itself – a teen romance about drifters falling in love; then he falls for a waitress in a small town, etc. – isn’t absolute garbage. And the insert bits with the hosts can get pretty lame. But yes, I know, that’s just part of the appeal, isn’t it?
On the third disc, new host Mike Nelson has taken over for a look at the mid-80s schlock-fest ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE. At this point, Kevin Murphy was providing the voice of Tom Servo, who he turns into a much funnier character. There’s a lot of good cannon fodder up on screen, too, in this poorly-shot, slowly paced, terribly acted relic of D-grade cinema that reserves top billing for the one and only Adam West. Of course it’s more of a supporting role for West (he plays a police captain), but anything with Adam West in it makes that thing at least two times as awesome. ZOMBIE NIGTHMARE is pretty awesome, alright. It is a genuinely fun bad movie. The plot is about a muscled-up meathead (played by a dude named John Mikl Thor) who gets run down by a car full of teenagers (one of whom is Tia Carrere) and then comes back to mess them up as a zombie. There are some funny throwaway lines about Thor’s biceps and “acting” talent. You can see the true appeal of MST3K coming across strongly here.
The final disc features a look at the 1951 gem RACKET GIRLS, a movie that is concerned with showing as much footage of two women wrestling as any movie ever has or ever will. The story is about a gangster who manages women wrestlers and one of his new clients, Peaches Page . The endless stock footage is so repetitive that it gets annoying, but I did have a few good laughs thanks to the banter going on (“So, like every night at Madonna’s, then?”). A decent way to round out the set.
Video / Audio
Video Full Frame
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
On Disc 1, there’s Glimpses of KTMA: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps I, which is about 15 minutes long and shows a variety of segments from the show’s first season.
Disc 2 brings you the continuation of that extra, called Behind the Scenes: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps II. This is a glimpse into what these folks do throughout the writing and production process to bring you an episode. A lot of it seems to be a room full of geeky guys making funny voices and watching movies. What can I say, I’m jealous.
Disc 3 shows off the best extra of the bunch, called Zombie Nightmare = MST3K Dream. It’s about 11 minutes in length and features interviews with Frank Dietz and John Mikl Thor (two actors from ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE) about their reactions to their own film being MST3K’d. Dietz (a fan of the show) recollects when he first discovered the movie would be up for a good-natured mocking on MST3K, and it’s a great story.
Disc 4 has a Sneak Peak at Hamlet A.D.D., which is apparently a trailer for a real movie. Could have fooled me (thought somebody was pulling my leg). Anyway, it features a few MST3K voice talents. Finally there’s a short Promo for the original film RACKET GIRLS.
Lastly there are four mini-posters with amusing MST3K mock-ups for each of the films.
It’s nice to see MST3K remain popular. I’ve never been a big fan but this type of affectionate humor seems to have been mostly replaced by the more crass, childish, anything-goes brand of modern comedy. I thought this set was a very mixed bag, with ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE the obvious highlight. Of course, I don’t need to say that fans are going be satisfied.