Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXII DVD Review
Shout! Factory has wisely released a new “Mystery Science Theater 3000” set just in time for the holiday season.
After an all Joel and Gamera set, Shout! Fcatory has returned to the 2 Joel/2 Mike era episode formula that has worked so well for them in the past. Included in the XXII set are “Time Of The Apes,” “Mighty Jack,” “The Violent Years,” and “The Brute Man”.
The set kicks off with a Japanese “Planet Of The Apes” rip-off called “Time Of The Apes”. The plot involves 2 annoying kids and a woman who are frozen in time only to awaken in a future ruled by apes. In this future time, they encounter another human (Godo) and a mysterious spaceship.
While all of this sounds like perfect fodder, it’s not as funny as it should be. I know many fans love this particular episode, but I found it to move at a snail’s pace. Still, there are some great gags involving the “I don’t care” dialogue, zooms, and the goofy music.
“Mighty Jack” is another rip-off movie only this time the target is James Bond. Good luck trying to figure out the actual plot, but all you really need to know is that the story involves a Government agency (Mighty Jack) trying to eliminate an evil organization known as Q. The movie is filled with Bond references, various locals, and big, cheap set pieces. As dull as the film is, this is the best of the 4 MST3K episodes overall. I found myself frequently laughing at the jokes about Arbys, smoking, “Yes, Sir,” pineapple, “Flash Gordon,” and even Comedy Central.
Next up is the Mike era episode “The Violent Years” with the short “Young Man’s Fancy”. ‘Fancy’ is a bizarrely dated short about a daughter trying to impress her brother’s friend. This is one of the best shorts out there thanks to some truly hilarious jokes about electric appliances, the dopey dialogue, bacon, overacting, and a humidifier.
As for the Ed Wood scripted “The Violent Years,” it’s a pretty dull, talky flick about 4 young neglected teen females who resort to criminal activities. Expect lots of monotone acting, right turns, long winded Judge speeches, awkward scenes, shootouts, a pajama party and one of the only implied women raping a man scenes in cinematic history. The jokes are fairly hit-and-miss in this episode, but I was entertained at how frustrated Mike and the bots became by the film’s endlessly talky scenes.
Last, but not least there is “The Brute Man” and the short “Chicken Of Tomorrow”. ‘Chicken’ lets you know everything you wanted (or didn’t want) to know about chicken farms and eggs. Despite a slow start, this is an amusing short thanks to chicken songs and the most random chicken voice over ever.
“The Brute Man” (starring actor Rondo Hatton) is a dark noir flick about a killer (known as the Creeper) who gets revenge against college students who wronged him. The episode starts off strong with some great added voice overs by Mike and the bots and some truly gut busting jokes about a crochety old man, but the second half isn’t as amusing as the film is filled with long walking, climbing and silent scenes that don’t provide much in the way of humor. Be on the lookout for a host segment here involving a phone call.
Summary: While not the strongest MST3K set, it’s still worth adding to your collection if you are a fan of the cult classic TV series.
The video quality predictably differs from film to film (and short to short). ‘Apes’ looks surprisingly sharper than most episodes, ‘Brute’ looks overly dark, ‘Jack’ looks decent and ‘Violent’ looks solid as well. As for the shorts, ‘Chicken’ looks satisfactory while the colors in ‘Young’ appear faded.
As for the audio, the dialogue in ‘Apes’ and ‘Jack’ sounds a bit low while the audio in ‘Brute’ and ‘Violent’ is highly uneven. The sound ‘Chicken’ is about average while ‘Young’ has some garbled audio.
* 4 mini-posters.
* The MST Hour Wraps for “Time Of The Apes”.
* Introductions on “Time Of The Apes” and “Mighty Jack” by author August Ragone. He talks about the history of both films.
* “The DVD Menus Of MST3K”- Robert Guillory and Dave Long talk about creating the charming menus for the Rhino and Shout Factory DVD releases.
* “Interviews With Delores Fuller And Kathy Wood”- Delores and Kathy chat about Ed Wood.
* Mary Jo Pehl talks about “The Brute Man,” Rondo Hatton and the sketches in the episode.
* “Trail Of The Creeper: Making The Brute Man”- A fascinating half-hour documentary about Rondo Hatton’s life and career. Interviews with film historians are included.
* “The Making Of MST3K”- A 22 minute featurette that includes behind-the-scenes footage, clips, interviews, information about the show, etc.
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