Release Date(s)Various (May 24, 2016)
- 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 Volume II DVD set. Shout Factory’s boxed sets of the show are normally released three to four times a year with some nice extras and better quality episodes than what you might find floating around online or on bootlegs. The price is kind of steep, but if you’re a fan of the show, you know that these sets are definitely worth picking up.
In this instance, this release is an update of an out-of-print boxed set from Rhino Entertainment. After Rhino’s release of Volume 12, Shout! Factory took over the home video distribution rights, and since they have been successful with their previous releases, it seems like the perfect time to go back and put those sets back into print. They’re currently going for hundreds of dollars after the fact, so if you’re into MST3K and you have those twelve volumes missing from your shelves, you’d definitely want to get the rest eventually. With this release, you get the following three episodes: Cave Dwellers (Season 3, Episode 1), Pod People (Season 3, Episode 3), and Angels Revenge (Season 6, Episode 22). You also get Shorts Vol. 1 which is a special collection of “educational” short films (as riffed by Joel, Mike, and The Bots) The Home Economics Story, Junior Rodeo Daredevils, Body Care & Grooming, Cheating, A Date with Your Family, Why Study Industrial Arts?, and The Chicken of Tomorrow.
The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike, but in this case, there are two from Joel and only one from Mike. The quality of each episode varies, with some episodes being better than others. Cave Dwellers is your standard swords & sorcery/Conan the Barbarian “inspired” movie. It’s actually a U.S. re-edited version of the Italian film The Blade Master, just one of many titles the movie was known by here in the states. Pod People is another “inspired” foreign knock-off, this time aping E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. Interestingly, the opening and closing credits feature low-res footage of Galaxy Invader, a movie that MST3K, sadly, did not riff on during its original run. Angels Revenge is yet another “inspired” movie, this time trying to recreate the formula of Charlie’s Angels, and failing miserably. The Shorts Vol. 1 are hosted in an intro and outro by Tom Servo himself. The shorts that were featured on MST3K were usually some of the show’s funniest offerings, which is why they’re also being offered up separately.
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, this one is pretty light. It features the original MST Hour Wraps on Cave Dwellers and Pod People, with each episode being hosted by Mike Nelson as “Jack Perkins”. Rhino Entertainment had included the original versions of each movie in their original Volume 1 set, but due to rights and costs, they decided not to do that on future sets. As expected, Shout! Factory has done the same here. Again, this is a budget re-release, and having the movies themselves as extras just seems to pointless, at least to me.
All in all, this is another solid release of MST3K goodness from the fine folks at Shout! Factory, and I for one am incredibly thankful to have an out of print release of the show back into print with new extras (few though they may be). If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this up. Now push the button, Frank.
- Tim Salmons