Monday, December 5, 2011

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII (2011, Shout! Factory)




Here we go, another great collection of terrible movies made bearable only by the hilarious crew of the Satellite of Love.  Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot take the worst movies imaginable and rip them to shreads, making light of the bad acting, shoe string budgets and confusing story lines (assuming they actually have a story) that make these true B movies.  This collection, available from Shout! Factory on December 6th, collects more forgotten gems and puts them in a handy 4 DVD set.

Starting off the set is a Japanese Planet of the Apes rip-off, derivatively titled Time of the Apes.  What starts off looking like a bad Toho Monster film, our main characters (two kids and a scientist) get trapped in cryogenic freezers while the world collapses.  When they wake up, the world is overrun by apes.  This was originally a Japanese TV series from 1974 but was edited down in 1987 to one feature length film.  I must admit that I rather liked the ape masks/makeup.  They were pretty well done.  The rest of the film?  Boring, ridiculous, pathetic, confusing garbage.  Just the stuff I love to see on MST3K.  This film gets the riff treatment to full extant...and it deserves it.  Some big laughs but the stinkiness of the film starts to drag and even the SOL crew have a hard time making it watchable.

Next we have The Brute Man.  Is it me or does this sound like a cheap cologne commercial.  Oops, wrong Brut(e).  My mistake.  This film stars horror legend Rondo Hatton, an actor who had a memorably disfigured face (caused by a disease called Acromegaly) and often appeared as thuggish characters.  This day and age, this would seem like exploiting someone but back in the 30's and 40's it was just a way for Hatton to make a buck.  Just look at Michael Berryman, another character actor known for his distinctive appearance caused by a rare genetic condition.  Anyway, here Hatton plays The Creeper, a man who is out to get revenge on those that disfigured him.  He befriends a blind woman and begins stealing to raise money for an operation for her.  The Brute Man, the last film Rondo Hatton made before his death, is a suckfest to the highest degree.  The film is boring and the acting is pathetic.  Hatton's appearance definitely fits the character but it definitely seems a little (ok, very) politically incorrect.  Before the film however is one of my favorite parts of MST3K, a short.  This one, entitled The Chicken of Tomorrow, shows the fascinating(ly boring) way technology has improved chicken farming.  Mike and his robot pals are in fine form here, cracking jokes left and right for this cinematic tragedy.

Next we have Mighty Jack  What is Mighty Jack?  I'm really not sure.  Some sort of Japanese sci fi spy series condensed into a film.  The movie's plot was about as interesting as watching grass grow but the Satellite's crew make it a fun watch.  Not the best episode of the set, but the worse the film, the better the riffs and this film was pure crap.

With The Violent Years I have saved the best for last.  Written by famously bad film maker Ed Wood comes a tale of a teenage girl who is neglected by her parents so she and her friends start robbing gas stations.  The crimes soon progress into murder and the girls are starting to get greedier too.  The film's end has a tender message that I won't give away, showing that crime (and casual sex) doesn't pay.  Also included with The Violent Years is another short - Young Man's Fancy.  According to this little educational picture, the more electricity you use, the more a guy will like you (sounds kinky).  Young Judy tries to impress her brother's nerdy friend Alexander Phipps (what a name) when they come home for school break.  He shows more interest in going to a lecture on electricity so Judy uses all of their fancy schmancy electrical appliances to whip up a delicious meal.  After all, a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right?  Whatever.  With Young Man's Fancy and The Violent Years, this episode is one of the best MST3K episodes I've seen and the clear champion of the set.  The well timed riffs seem constant and you'll find yourself laughing outloud at this one.

So, to wrap up this review you really can't go wrong with this set.  With one of the funniest episodes of the series and four of the worst movies ever made, MST3K fans will not be disappointed.  Also included in this set are intros, a making of MST3K documentary, a Rondo Hatton documentary, interviews and more.  Plus there are the cool Steve Vance mini posters that are always a nice addition.

RATING:  7/10

Order your copy direct from Shout! Factory HERE and you'll receive a free MST3K Stress Ball (while supplies last).

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