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Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVI DVD Review

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVI DVD

“Mystery Science Theater” Volume XXVI is a winner.

After over 3 long months, Shout! Factory has graced MST3K fans with a new 4 episode set that is arguably their finest since “Gamera Vs. MST3K.” I could blabber on some more in this introduction, but, let’s face it, you want to know what is on this set. So, without further adieu…

First up on this set is Burt I. Gordon’s sword and sorcerer fantasy stinker “The Magic Sword” from the fourth season of the Comedy Central era. The oddball film, which concerns a dorky hero named Sir George trying to save a Princess from the evil sorcerer Lodac, is a perfect fit for MST3K (as are more Burt I. Gordon films for that matter). Mike, Tom Servo and Crow crack plenty of jokes about the film’s visuals (such as the 2 headed man and the ogre) as well as crank out plenty of clever pop culture references to “Lord of the Rings,” The Moody Blues, Teddy Ruxpin, and “The Princess Bride.” Also noteworthy here are the humorous host segments for the Basil Rathbones dog biscuits, the middle age segment, Crow’s song for Estelle Winwood, and the end letter reading bit.

Next up is the ultra-weird sci-fi fantasy season 5 episode “Alien From L.A.” which finds an obnoxious Kathy Ireland venturing to Atlantis to find her dad (or “Daaaaaayd” as Ireland says so often). It should come as no surprise that most of the jokes are aimed at Kathy Ireland here as her bad acting and squeaky, high pitched voice make for a truly grueling viewing experience. Expect plenty of jokes aimed at the goofy looking Deep Roy character and the “Australian” Gus character as well.

The third and best episode (in my humble opinion) is the underrated “Danger!! Death Ray.” ‘Danger,’ in case you didn’t know, is a James Bond knockoff about a spy named Bart Fargo (no joke) trying to find a kidnapped scientist and a stolen death ray (which was made for peaceful purposes by the way). From the peppy and annoyingly catchy theme song to the ongoing “Watermelon Man” bit, this episode is a laugh riot from start to finish. As an added bonus, the episode also includes two great sketches featuring Torgo and Cambot!

Rounding out the set is the Sci-Fi Channel era episode “The Mole People” (a Universal monster feature). The movie can be perfectly summed up by Mike’s hilarious quip: “This movie is just ropes and asses!” Yes, this tortuously slow “monster” movie contains lots of climbing (up and down), bad dancing, and babbling characters (namely a Professor in the introduction and John Agar’s Dr. Bentley character). It’s a shame too as the plot about archaeologists discovering Sumerian living underground with enslaved mole people could have been fun. As is, however, it’s only fun thanks to Mike, Crow and Servo’s jokes. Highlights here include Mike mimicking the old Professor’s speech, the Shiitake Mushroom joke, Crow yawning, the John Wayne bits, and, of course, load guy.

Video/Audio:

Since “Alien From L.A.” is the most recent film here, it naturally looks the best (despite how dark it is). The B&W “The Mole People” looks like a videotape copy, but it’s still better looking than many episodes. “The Magic Sword” contains blobby and murky looking colors while “Danger!! Death Ray” suffers from dirt, scratches, and a jumpy print.

On the audio front, all 4 films sound clear when it comes to the riffers, but the audio tracks from the 4 films tend to be a bit too low (which is a constant problem with MST3K episodes). “Alien From L.A.” certainly sounds the best here. In fact, Kathy Ireland’s voice may be a bit too clear and loud.

Extras:
* Theatrical trailers for “Danger!! Death Ray,” “Alien From L.A.,” “The Mole People,” and “The Magic Sword.”
* Mini-posters for all 4 films.
* A fascinating interview with director Albert Pyun as he talks about Cannon Films, the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” influence, Kathy Ireland, film finances, location shooting, and the MST3K version.
* “Of Mushrooms And Madmen: Making The Mole People”- Another respectful and informative documentary about 50’s Universal and “The Mole People.” Topics covered here are stock footage, the script, director Virgil Vogel, the cast, the costumes, the sets, the ending, censorship,
* MST Hour Wraps for “The Magic Sword” with Mike Nelson’s Jack Perkins character.
* “Bert I. Gordon: The Amazing Colossal Filmmaker”- An interview with the writer/producer/director himself. He chats about his love for cinema, visual FX, and his work.
* “Life After MST3K: Mike Nelson”- Another installment of this great series of extras. Nelson chats about MST3K, “Death Rat,” “Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese,” “Timmy Big Hands,” “Edward, The Less,” “Max The Hero,” The Film Crew, and RiffTrax.

Summary: Buy this set online or go DOWN, DOWN to your local DVD retailer and pick it up.

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March 26, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , ,

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