Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection (DVD Review)
Release Date(s)Various (May 22, 2018)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!
Here we are again with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Shout! Factory’s The Singles Collection DVD set. Shout Factory’s boxed sets of the show normally feature a collection never-before released episodes, but in this case, these are episodes that have previously been released as single DVD releases but never included in any of the boxed sets. Like most of these sets, the price is kind of steep, but if you’re a fan of the show, you know that they’re definitely worth it.
I’ve gone into a good amount of detail about MST3K in past reviews, so I won’t bother getting into that. We’ll keep things short and sweet instead and just cover the set itself. With this 6-disc set, you get the following five episodes: The Crawling Hand (Season 1, Episode 6), The Hellcats (Season 2, Episode 9), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Season 3, Episode 21), Eegah (Season 5, Episode 6), and I Accuse My Parents (Season 5, Episode 7). Also included on the sixth disc is the long out-of-print Shorts Volume 3, which includes the short films Speech: Using Your Voice, Aquatic Wizards, Is This Love?, Design for Dreaming, The Selling Wizard, Out of This World, and Once Upon a Honeymoon.
The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature some hosted by Joel and some hosted by Mike, but in this case, all of the episodes are hosted by Joel (not counting the shorts). The quality of each episode varies, with some episodes being better than others. The Crawling Hand features a disembodied hand (well, arm really) from a dead, exploded astronaut making its way through a town and strangling susceptible residents along its path. In The Hellcats (which only exists due to the popularity of Easy Rider at the time), outlaw bikers run amok with the cops hot on their tailpipes. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (a movie riffed not once, not twice, but three times by MST3K, Rifftrax, and Cinematic Titanic), Kris Kringle finds himself abducted by Martians, notably by one who isn’t happy about it and intending to obstruct the Martians’ plans of bringing happiness and joy to their own children. Eegah stars Richard Kiel (Jaws himself) as a prehistoric caveman running wild and kidnapping teenagers during modern times. Last but not least is I Accuse My Parents, a cautionary juvenile delinquency tale that points the finger squarely at neglectful parents for young Jimmy’s reckless and murderous behavior.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which were on video. The episodes look generally good, especially in the latter years of the show, with an occasional minor green band or video-source anomaly here or there. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles. Short of Shout! Factory putting some extra money into producing these sets in high definition, these are definitely a major step up from circulating bootlegs of the show.
As for the extras, you get a few from disc to disc, most of them newly-produced just for this set (courtesy of the great Ballyhoo Motion Pictures). For The Crawling Hand, you get Don’t Knock the Strock, a 12-minute featurette with film historians C. Courtney Joyner and Justin Humphreys about the film’s director Herbert L. Strock, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer. For The Hellcats, you get the film’s theatrical trailer only. For Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, you get a new 9-minute introduction to the episode by Joel Hodgson, the film’s theatrical trailer, and the MST Hour Wraps that accompanied its hour-long syndicated version. For Eegah, you get a 7-minute introduction to the episode by Joel and the film’s theatrical trailer. For I Accuse My Parents, you get a 10-minute introduction to the episode by Joel, The Man on Poverty Row: The Films of Sam Newfield featuring film historians Ted Newsom and C. Courtney Joyner about the titular filmmaker, and another set of MST Hour Wraps.
All in all, this is another solid release of MST3K material from the good folks at Shout! Factory. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. Now push the button, Frank.
- Tim Salmons