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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection DVD Review

Mystery Science Theater 3000- The Turkey Day Collection DVD

The “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection” comes home just in time for Thanksgiving.

For Misties, the Thanksgiving holiday holds special significance as the MST3K Turkey Day Marathons of yesteryear were a yearly event for fans of the cult TV series. Realizing its popularity, not only have the generous folks at Shout! Factory resurrected the Turkey Day Marathon on the web, but they have also bundled up a new 4 episode DVD set in honor of the time honored tradition. So, what all is in this tin box of goodness, you ask? Read on to find out!

First up in this set is the season 2 episode “Jungle Goddess.” The ep. kicks off with part 1 of “The Phantom Creeps” serial which features Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist. While the short is surprisingly rather long, there are some amusing jokes here (especially those aimed at Lugosi). As for the feature film, I’m afraid it’s largely a sleep inducing affair. The film, which revolves around two pilots scouring the African jungle for a missing woman, is incredibly slow moving, but thankfully, Joel and the bots make it at all bearable with some amusing cracks about hamburgers and french fried potatoes, GI Joe, “The Muppets,” and some clever sexual innuendos.

Next up is what I consider one of the most underrated episodes- “The Painted Hills.” In this sort of Lassie movie (Lassie actually plays Shep), the central story revolves around an old gold miner who is double crossed by his colleague (Lin). In typical Lassie movie form, there’s also an annoying child character (Tommy). From the ongoing pile on Pete and snausage jokes to Lasse’s inner dialogue and the Arf-keeba/GymCollie bit, ‘Hills’ is a consistently funny episode. The short film that precedes it (“Body Care and Grooming”) is equally uproarious. I’m not sure if the subject matter about appearance, grooming habits, and body care is just an easy target, but Mike and the bots were simply on fire with their riffs in this one.

The third episode featured in this set is the Sci-Fi Channel era episode “The Screaming Skull.” The episode starts off well enough with a humorous riff of a Gumby and Pokey animated short called “Robot Rumpus,” but unfortunately, “The Screaming Skull” turns out to be a rough one to sit through. As Mike eloquently puts it at one point, “so they put a tiny bit of movie in a box and just filled the rest with a bunch of foam peanuts.” The movie, which involves a married couple behind haunted by the husband’s deceased former wife, is ALL about suspense building, but alas, there is no suspense. With all of that said, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of laughs to be had here with jokes about the creepy gardener Mickey, the goofy special f/x, and yes, even “Rules of the Game.” The real highlight of this particular episode, however, is the host segments. The sketches involving Crow and Servo’s reaction to “Robot Rumpus” and Mike’s freak out over a skull prank are better than anything else in this episode in my humble opinion.

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the episodes fans have long been clamoring for- “Squirm.” Not only is this gross-out killer worm movie essential MST3K, but the short film attached to it (“A Case of Spring Fever”) is arguably the funniest short in the show’s ten season run. As you may or may not know, ‘Spring’ is the infamous short in which an old man wishes for a world without springs. Thanks to a magical animated spring named Coily, his wish for “No Springs!” ends up coming true. It’s a truly bonkers educational short about the importance of springs in everyday life that has to be seen to be believed. The accompanying host segment involving the Mikey sprite is a hoot as well. As for “Squirm,” this is the type of bad creature feature that was made for MST3K. With lines like “You gonna be da worm face” and “Eeee,” the jokes come fast and furious from Mike, Tom, and Crow. There’s rarely a moment where you won’t be cracking up with this gem.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: Fullscreen. How do the episodes look? As is to be expected, the shorts and films vary in quality. Really, the films and shorts’ quality has much to do with their age with most recent of the lot (1976’s “Squirm”) looking the best of the bunch and 1939’s “The Phantom Creeps” short looking the poorest of the lot.

The unspecified audio tracks always contain sharp sounding riffs, but the film and short’s individual audio tracks are all over the map. None of the films sound especially good, but there’s nothing inaudible here either.

Extras:
* “Squirm” and “The Screaming Skull,” theatrical trailers.
* Fun brand new Turkey Day intros for all 4 episodes with Joel Hodgson, Tom Servo and Crow.
* “Gumby and Clokey”- Joe Clokey (son of “Gumby” creator Art Clokey) talks about his father, the history of “Gumby,” “Robot Rumpus,” and even the MST3K riff. A very informative and interesting piece.
* “This Film May Kill You! Making The Screaming Skull”- A short history and rundown about this horror film. Interviews with Mr. Lobo, Peggy Webber, and others are included.
* 4 mini-posters.
* A very enthusiastic interview with “Squirm” actor Don Scardino (who played Mark). He talks about local actors in the film, his experiences on working in the film, and Port Wentworth, Georgia.
* “Undercooked and Overstuffed: Inside The Turkey Day Marathon”- MST3K cast members talk about Thanksgiving Day memories and the 3 Comedy Central Turkey Day MST3K marathons.
* “Bumper To Bumper: Turkey Day Through The Years”- 56 minutes of all of the Turkey Day bumpers/segments from ’91, ’92, and ’95. It’s great to finally watch all of these together in one fell swoop.

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November 20, 2014 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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