“The Marx Brothers TV Collection” offers up plenty of hilarious rarities. Continue reading
Part of this may be because, at this point, a lot of the greatest episodes have already shown up in previous boxed sets. Another problem may be that, as a longtime fan of the series, I’d much-rather start collecting sets of entire seasons as opposed to four randomly-assembled episodes, especially since what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ episode is so highly subjective.
But without trying to sound too jingoistic, the main reason Volume 24 isn’t as strong is because all four episodes in the collection skewer low budget foreign films (two from Japan, one from Russia, one from Italy). I do not have anything against low budget foreign films per se, but most of them don’t really need the MST3K treatment. Most are funny enough on their own. I always thought, as an American series, MST3K was at its best when attacking movies born from the same culture as its primary audience. Maybe it’s just me, but the MST3K episodes covering foreign films are never as fun.
That being said, this set isn’t without its merits. As usual, there are some funny quips and comments throughout each episode (though fewer and further between). What ultimately makes Volume 24 worth checking out, however, are the bonus features. Included are two shorts, one of which, A Date With Your Family, is arguably the best MST3K short they’ve ever done (and one I’d been longing to have in my DVD collection). For those of you who miss TV’s Frank, an update on his life is included, as well as a feature on Sandy Frank (the guy responsible for importing Fugitive Alien and Fugitive Alien 2, the two Japanese features).
In addition, the Shout! Factory sets are packaged with more creativity and care than the ones Rhino released. I still think all of the MST3K sets are needlessly spread-out over four discs, but at least we get some fun original artwork in the form of faux posters featuring Crow and Tom Servo.
Die hard fans will likely enjoy this set, but I have to think most of them, at this point, would prefer it if Shout! Factory went back to the beginning and started trucking-out full season boxed sets, which would allow Misties to revisit old episodes on their own terms.
Extras include 4 mini posters, 3 MST Hour Wraps, an interview with Sandy Frank, an intro to “Fugitive Alien” by August Rangone, a “Samson Vs. The Vampire Women” TV spot, a featurette titled “Lucha Gringo: K Gordon Murray Meets Santo” and an interview with Frank Conniff in “Life After MST3K: Frank Conniff.”
“Girl In Gold Boots” is an underrated Sci-Fi era episode.
“The Wild World Of Batwoman” has its fair share of laughs, but the movie itself is hard to endure. Continue reading
Sure, Angie Dickenson was hot. Okay, really hot, as displayed in this season two set in a retro sort of way. In addition, her sense of smarts portrayed in this horribly-dated 70’s relic does rank it above the T&A jiggle of later TV dreck like “Charlie’s Angels,” which wouldn’t have existed without this show coming first.
Still, this program is far from classic, and the individual episodes suffer from rote writing and direction. Despite her obvious visual assets, sexy Dickenson alone isn’t enough to lift this potboiler-of-a-program beyond mere nostalgic value to those who may have pined for her before she floored everyone in “Dressed to Kill.”
“Police Woman” is simply further evidence that nearly all of the cop shows that were popular in the 70s have not aged well. Some became retro-cool on cable, or through theatrical remakes, but so far, this isn’t one of them. If you have fond memories of this show, it’s probably because you haven’t sat and actually watched an episode in 30 years.
Personally, I always thought Coburn was a far more effective supporting actor than a leading man, having been part of the of the greatest action films of the 60s in that capacity (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven). He’s also been allowed to shine in a few quirky leading roles (the spoofy & campy Flint series). Over the years, he developed sort-of a tough guy persona, though he was never in the same league as the Waynes, Eastwoods or McQueens. He’s been in a lot of great films, but he also appeared in a lot of crap. The two films in this collection, The Last Hard Men and Sky Riders, fall into the latter category.
The Last Hard Men plays like a Wild Bunch wannabe. In this, Charleton Heston plays a retired lawman forced back into service when his long-time nemesis (Coburn), escapes from prison and vows revenge by kidnapping his daughter. But what made The Wild Bunch great was the theme that progress was leaving the film’s outlaws behind. The Last Hard Men briefly touches on those ideas before focusing more going ‘squib happy’ in depicting gunshot wounds. Coburn is the best part of the film, engaging in some fun scenery-chewing, but the story itself is unpleasant and often really boring.
Sky Riders is more entertaining, though it’s the type of 70’s-era movie that most people probably saw as the second half of a double-bill. In this one, Coburn is recruited to perform a rescue from one of the old standard impenetrable fortress, since time leading a team of hang-gliders onto a mountain top. It’s kind of fun, but is definitely a product of its time and instantly forgettable, and hasn’t aged all that well.
This disc is recommended for Coburn completists only, and not those who seek his greatest films. To see the man at his best (or most amusing), you’d be better off with such better films as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Affliction, Charade, Hell is for Heroes or one of the Flint films.
For the most part, “The Touch Of Satan” is spellbindingly funny. Continue reading
Of course, MST3K is always fun, and this episode, featuring the 1964 stinker, “The Atomic Brain,” is no exception. But why is Shout! Factory is choosing to rerelease episodes that have been available on DVD for years?
Actually, I probably already know the answer to that. This episode was originally part of a boxed set (Volume 3) back when Rhino Home Video was still putting them out and is now out of print (a new copy currently costs $133 on Amazon). So I guess I kind of understand the rationale. But it is also very likely that only die-hard fans (are their any other kind?) would find MST3K episodes worth buying, and probably already own the original DVDs, anyway. I think most ‘misties’ would rather Shout! Factory work on putting out the episodes which have still never seen the light of day on home video.
Plus, this single disc (like other episodes recently released) contains no extras of any kind. Just the film, preceded by the hilarious short, “What About Juvenile Delinquency?”. So if you already have the Volume 3 Rhino set, there is absolutely no reason you’ll need this. Still, it is good disc for the budget-minded, and a very funny episode.