Release Date(s)Various (September 27, 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 III 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: The Sidehackers (Season 2, Episode 2), The Unearthly (Season 3, Episode 20), and The Atomic Brain (Season 5, Episode 18). You also get Shorts Vol. 2 which is a special collection of shorts featuring the "educational" short films (as riffed by Joel, Mike, and The Bots) Catching Trouble, What to Do on a Date, Last Clear Chance, A Day at the Fair, Keeping Clean and Neat, and The Days of Our Years.
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. The Sidehackers (also known as Five the Hard Way) is your atypical motorcycle movie from the late 1960’s which, surprisingly, wasn’t inspired by Easy Rider like most other motorcycle movies of the era and was actually released a full month before it. The Unearthly is a late 1950’s sci-fi/horror mash-up (typical of the era) starring John Carradine as a surgeon who illegally operates on his patients for experimental purposes. The movie is also based on characters created by Ed Wood and features schlock movie favorite Tor Johnson as Carradine’s assistant. The Atomic Brain (also known as Monstrosity) features a plot about a rich, elderly woman who pays a scientist to transplant her brain into a younger woman’s body. A staple of bargain bin VHS and DVD releases, it’s a film ripe for riffing. The Shorts Vol. 2 shorts are strewn together in no particular order, and Tom Servo has not returned to host them. 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. I personally prefer them as a part of their corresponding episodes, but some fans prefer them in these mini collections. To each their own.
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, they’re brief, but are definitely worth checking out. Everything from the previous Rhino set has been included as well. The Sidehackers features about twenty minutes worth of outtakes from the episode’s host segments, as well as a new interview with actor Ross Hagen. The Unearthly features about sixteen minutes of outtakes from the episode’s host segments and the original MST Hour Wrap segments hosted by Mike Nelson as "Jack Perkins". And last, not but not least, The Atomic Brain also features outtakes from the episode’s host segments, in this case, about twenty minutes worth.
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