Release Date(s)Various (October 8, 2019)
- 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 XII 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 they have been re-releasing these sets, which have since become very expensive to acquire. With this release, you get the following four episodes: The Rebel Set (Season 4, Episode 19), Secret Agent Super Dragon (Season 5, Episode 4), The Starfighters (Season 6, Episode 12), and Parts: The Clonus Horror (Season 8, Episode 11).
The episodes in this set feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike. The quality of each episode varies as some are better than others. In 1959’s The Rebel Set, a group of out-of-work stiffs are given the task of robbing an armored car, but greed may ultimately undo everything. In Secret Agent Super Dragon, a Eurospy thriller from 1966, a former spy comes out of retirement after an old friend is killed and must stop a criminal organization from taking over the world. In a blanket attempt to sell aircraft, 1964’s The Starfighters also features a story about Air Force pilots training in the titular plane, but also take the time to find love. And in 1979’s Parts: The Clonus Horror (AKA Clonus), a private colony of people are hidden from the outside world—one of them eventually discovering that they are clones for organ harvesting by the super rich, and subsequently attempting to escape.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which are 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 couple from disc to disc, most of which have been carried over from the original Rhino boxed set releases, as well as some new material courtesy of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. For The Rebel Set, there’s Rap with Don Sullivan, a 13-minute interview with the actor about his career (also appearing in The Giant Gila Monster and The Monster of Piedras Blancas); Gene Fowler, Jr: Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Moviemaker, a 10-minute featurette about the director, his career, working with Sam Fuller, and his work on another MST3K movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf—featuring an interview with author and film historian Justin Humphreys; and the film’s theatrical trailer. For Secret Agent Super Dragon, you get a set of the original MST Hour Wraps for the episode and the original theatrical trailer. For The Starfighters, there’s the Video Jukebox, featuring 10 songs from the show’s run, and Major Auteur: The Films of Will Zens, a new 11-minute featurette about the director, hosted by TV host and film historian Mister Lobo. And for Parts: The Clonus Horror, there’s a 9-minute interview with the film’s director Robert Fiveson, who talks about the film and the subsequent lawsuit against the film The Island, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
All in all, this is another solid release of MST3K goodness from the fine folks at Shout! Factory. I for one am incredibly thankful to have an out-of-print release of the show back on the market. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this up. Now push the button, Frank.
– Tim Salmons