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Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXX DVD Review

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXX DVD

“Mystery Science Theater 3000” Volume XXX is worth picking up just for “Outlaw (of Gor).”

Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000” Volume XXX set (get your minds out of the gutter!) has the misfortune of following one of the most beloved sets (volume 29). While many fans will jump for joy over the inclusion of “Outlaw (of Gor)” (as well they should), the 30th volume certainly lacks the fan favorites that its predecessor had (namely “The Pumaman” and “The Thing That Couldn’t Die”). So, what all is included in this set? Read on to find out!

The first episode on this set is the season 1 stinker “The Black Scorpion.” Not only does this giant killer scorpion movie move at a snail’s pace, but the episode feels very much like a rough cut. Between the flat joke deliveries and the fact that you visibly see Joel looking at his script, it’s a rough episode to sit through. Of course, as with every episode, ‘Scorpion’ still has its moments like the hot dog visual gag, the kidney stones joke, and Servo’s joke in the end letter reading segment. For the most part, however, it’s a bottom tier episode.

Next up is the crown jewel of this set “Outlaw (of Gor).” The film (which is a sequel to the never riffed “Gor”) is a cheesy 80’s sci-fi fantasy flick about a college professor (Tarl Cabot) and his annoying sidekick (Professor Watley) being transported to the planet Gor. While there, Tarl becomes framed for the murder of the King by the villainous Queen Lara and Xenos the High Priest. The episode (which won MST3K a Peabody Award) is perfect riffing material for Mike and the bots as they crack wise about the dancing, the “Cabot!” dialogue, the irritating Watley character, the sexual content, the dancing, Jack Palance, and Hup’s voice. There’s even some clever throwbacks to past MST episodes as well. Add in some truly fantastic host segments (especially the musical number) and you’re in for 90 minutes of pure unadulterated fun.

“The Projected Man” is not one of the more revered Sci-Fi Channel era episodes and it’s not hard to see why. The British sci-fi snoozefest about a man who becomes projected by a machine is a profoundly boring experiment. As Mike so eloquently puts it in one scene “You know, even when stuff happens in this movie…stuff doesn’t happen.” As bad as it is, however, Mike and the bots contempt for this film does make for some fine comedy. Anything involving British slang, Lembach, insults, pet names, and the character of Sheila is comedic cold.

Last, but not least is the other Sci-Fi Channel era episode on this list, “It Lives By Night.” In this so-called “horror” movie, a man (Johnny) is bitten by a bat and slowly starts to become one. As slow as the movie is, Mike and company’s quick witted joke deliveries about “Psycho,” “Werewolf,” Kevin McDonald, rats, bats, bat squeaks, Stewart Moss reactions, a stinky bum character, nose holes, and “Monty Python” make it all worthwhile.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: Fullscreen. How do the episodes look? Surprisingly, all of the episodes are in decent shape. While the host segments clearly look the best (especially for the Sci-Fi Channel era episodes), the movies themselves are in decent shape as well (with 1989’s “Outlaw” looking the best).

Audio Tracks: As per usual, the riffs always sound crisp and clear on all 4 episodes while the individual films’ audio tracks are so-so at best. There’s nothing truly atrocious here audio wise so you don’t have to strain to hear dialogue like with some episodes.

Extras:
* Animated menus for all 4 episodes.
* 4 mini-posters for all 4 episodes.
* Theatrical trailers for “The Projected Man” and “The Black Scorpion.”
* “Shock to the System: Creating the Projected Man”- Film Historian Tom Weaver rattles off facts and stories about the 1967 British sci-fi film “The Projected Man” in this nearly 4 minute featurette.
* A trailer for the upcoming “The Frank” short film.
* “Writer of Gor: The Novels of John Norman”- John Norman’s publisher/agent Richard Curtis chats about the respected author of the popular Gor novels.
* “The Director of Gor: On Set With John “Bud” Cardos”- The B-Movie director talks about his career, “Outlaw (Of Gor),” Harry Alan Towers, South Africa, and the cast.
* “Producer of Gor: Adventures with Harry Alan Towers”- Production manager Danny Lerner (Avi Lerner’s son) talks about the producer’s fascinating life and career, the “Gor” films, South Africa, Jack Palance and Oliver Reed, and Cannon Films.
* Stinger of Death: Making “The Black Scorpion”- Enthusiastic screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner talks about Warner Brothers, director Edward Ludwig, “The Black Scorpion” characters, Mexico location shooting, the creature f/x, . A very enlightening featurette.

Overall Thoughts: Volume 30 isn’t likely to go down as one of the best sets on the market, but Shout! Factory has once again put plenty of love and care into this new MST3K set. Bring on Volume 31!

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July 22, 2014 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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