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October 7, 2015

Mystery Science Theater 3000 XIV -- DVD review

by Nick Zaino, posted Feb 3rd 2009 2:02PM
Mike and the BotsHere are a couple of names that should make MST3K fans excited - Joe Don Baker and Joe Estevez. Yes, those two names guarantee a certain amount of cinematic terribleness, a feast for Joel, Mike, and the Bots, especially Baker, whose bumbling, making-love-to-banjo-music cop movie Mitchell is one of the best.

MST3K XIV includes four episodes from three different seasons, including two from the final season, Season Ten:

The Mad Monster from Season One: With the old cheesy set that Joel and Trace revealed at an M.I.T. lecture they accidentally delivered two weeks early. If they'd known they had two more weeks, they'd have put more work into the concept. When it was originally released, The Mad Monster was probably fairly advanced and stylish from a technical standpoint. But it's still poorly acted, and MST3K seems to have a special place in its collective hearts for bad werewolves. Also includes the short Commando Cody & The Radar Men from the Moon. A fiery Invention Exchange: Joel's "Hell in a Hand Bag" anti-theft device and Forrester's monster role playing game with a fire-breathing Godzilla. Tom Servo also hits on a blender.

Manhunt in Space from Season Four: The interstitials are better than the movie commentary in this one, with Frank and Forrester's invention of bean bag pants (you'll always have somewhere to sit), Joel using Crow as a guitar hooked up to Servo as an amp, reading viewer mail with Frampton-like "Golden Throat" ("I really dig your way cool show"), and a conversation about space modifiers (and a quick accidental shot at the MST3K set from Crow, "And hey, did you get a load of those really cheap props made to look like bona fide space equipment!"). Also includes the short, General Hospital, which makes no sense, which is why it's a great short.

Soultaker from Season Ten: Ah, yes. Joe Estevez ("Does anything really star Joe Estevez?"), brother of Martin Sheen, trying to muster menace as, well, a Soultaker (or, as Crow wonders looking at the title sequence, "Soup Taker?"). Despite an inherent creepiness and a long black duster ("Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash!"), he never really seems threatening, trying to reap disembodied souls before they can return to their bodies. He actually hangs around a hospital where people are pretty much dead already, and still manages to screw up the job. The female lead's mother actually seems more threatening, watching her change in the bathroom (Crow always misses the nude scenes).

Final Justice from Season Ten: Which brings us to the ultimate MST3K punching bag, Joe Don Baker, once again playing a tough guy cop. Imagine how cool it would be to send a tough, TexasRanger to Malta? You get the idea. Plenty of food and fart jokes to go around, as Baker hoves himself around in his cowboy boots and hat, challenging just about everyone to a quick-draw contest (with his steely glare, telling them to "Go ahead on" and try to beat him to the draw). The running gag in the interstitial concerns Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart" - every time someone mentions it, they get a blaring orchestra hit. And Servo explores the them of ownership as put forth by the band - "How do I stack up against the 'Owner of a pencil!"

There aren't a lot of DVD extras here, but it's fun to see Final Justice writer/producer/director Greydon Clark and Soultaker's Joe Estevez talk about how they were flattered to be part of MST3K in their interviews. Mike, Tom, and Crow on Cheap Seats is a bit of a goofy throwaway, but amusing. And the included mini-posters make an attractive decoration for your cubicle or research lab.

But these episodes together are an interesting mix. It's a kick to see Mike play "Winkie" in the interstitial on the Joel episode Manhunt in Space, and to see Joel and TV's Frank make cameo appearances on the Mike episode Soultaker. It would be nice to have chapter titles to jump to different scenes, but it's hard to complain about more than six hours of MST3K.

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Led Zeppelin was wrong- there is no stairway to heaven!

February 03 2009 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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