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Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXIX DVD Review

MST3K Volume XXIX DVD

It’s been a long 4 months, but Misties finally have a new DVD set to get their hands on via the new Volume XXIX release from Shout! Factory. So, what all is in this set, you ask? Read on to find out!

First up is a season 1 episode titled “Untamed Youth.” In this 50’s “teensploitation” musical drama, two L.A. bound young sisters find themselves working on a shady ranch as cotton pickers after being jailed and punished for alleged vagrancy. In typical season 1 fashion, this is a very uneven episode riff wise as the cast members/characters are still trying to get into the groove of things. With that said, there are still a number of highlights such as the Gypsy host segment, Joel’s end dance, the Richard Basehart bit, and Crow’s comments on the film’s many songs.

Following ‘Youth’ is the season 4 episode “Hercules and the Captive Women.” This confusing mess of a movie involves magic, slaves, an evil stone, Hercules and his son, and yes, Atlantis. While the film itself is an entirely forgettable slog, Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow manage to liven things up by providing plenty of laughs with jokes about a sleeping Hercules, “Good Natured Brawling,” a turkey on a string, Uranus and “The Wizard of Oz.”

Next up is my personal favorite episode on this set, “The Thing That Couldn’t Die.” ‘Thing’ is a badly acted, door filled 1958 B&W horror flick about a hypnotizing head of a deceased Devil worshiper named Gideon Drew. To say this film is an easy target for Mike, Tom, and Crow is an understatement as the trio expertly mocks this horror clunker. Everything seems to elicit laughs here as the gang crack jokes about rats (and trade rats), mispronounced words by the Aunt character, the character of Mike, a peeping cowboy, and the Allman Brothers song “Jessica.” As an added bonus, this season 8 ep. is also notable for introducing the beloved characters the Observers and Brain Guy.

Last, but not least is the fan favorite season 9 episode “The Pumaman.” This cheap “superhero” flick involves a whiny, dorky museum worker (Tony) turned flying superhero (Pumaman) facing off against a paper mache head hording, mind control gold mask wearing villain known as Kobras (played by Donald Pleasence). It’s not hard to see why this episode has topped many MST3K fans “Most Wanted on DVD” lists as it’s an all-around fun 90 minutes. Between the disco fighting and cheeseball score and Tom Servo’s songs and the corny flying F/X, fans will be howling with laughter (no, I’m not exaggerating here).

Video/Audio:

By now, fans should know what to expect from the picture quality of the MST3K episodes as each film varies in quality. “The Pumaman” and “Hercules and the Captive Women” look so-so at best while B&W films “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” and “Untamed Youth” have better than average prints. Of course, the host segments also range in quality with the more recent season 8 and 9 bits looking the sharpest.

Sound wise, fans can expect the audio to range in quality from film to film as well. ‘Thing,’ ‘Puma,’ and ‘Untamed’ all have decent sounding tracks while ‘Hercules’ is a bit on the faint side. The riffs always sound clearer than the film’s audio tracks, but that’s to be expected.

Extras:
* Theatrical trailers for “The Thing That Couldn’t Die,” “Untamed Youth,”
* 4 mini-posters for all 4 episodes.
* New intros to “Untamed Youth” and “Hercules and the Captive Women” by Joel Hodgson.
* About Joel Hodgson’s “Riffing Myself”- Joel chats about his personal one man show and the origins of MST3K.
* An interview with “Untamed Youth” actress Mamie Van Doren who talks about her career, important figures in her life, music, and “Untamed Youth.”
* “The Movie That Couldn’t Die”- A narrated featurette about how “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” came about as well as some history about Universal Pictures.
* The original non-MST3K version of “The Pumaman.”
* An interview with “The Pumaman” star Walter G. Alton, Jr. He chats about being an attorney before becoming an actor, and, of course, his experiences in filming “The Pumaman.” Easily the most in depth extra on this set.
* “Much Ado About Nanites”- An all too brief featurette about the Nanite characters that mostly contains episode clips and discussions about how they were physically created.
* A slideshow of the Shout! Factory posters for MST3K episodes released on DVD.
* “MST3K Artist In Residence: Steve Vance”- Menu animator Dave Long essentially interviews MST3K DVD poster artist Steve Vance about his artistic process.

Overall Thoughts: Simply put, this new MST3K set is worth picking up just for the hilarious “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” and “The Pumaman” (he flies like a moron, you know) episodes. Bring on the next volume!

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March 24, 2014 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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