Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXIV (2012, Shout! Factory)

Coming July 31st from Shout! Factory is another fine collection of episodes from the brilliant Mystery Science Theater 3000. This set features a nice menagerie of foreign films - one Italian, one Russian and two Japanese (though Americanized by shitmeister Sandy Frank). As with all MST3K episodes, the best bad movies (or sometimes the worst bad movies) are heckled by the crew of the Satellite of Love - a spaceship consisting of one human (either Joel or Mike, depending on the episode) and two robots - Crow and Tom Servo.

First up is the one-two punch of suck that is Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, based on the Star Wolf series of books by Edmond Hamilton. These unbearably bad films would test the patience of a monk so understanding the plot was trying to say the least. I did catch something about a spaceman named Ken who betrays the bad guys he works for to save an innocent person. The sequel takes Ken and puts him in a completely different space adventure. The third film in the set is The Sword and the Dragon, a Russian fantasy featuring a viking character named Ilya Muromets. Ilya becomes a warrior and must fight the Tugars, a group of pagan pillagers. The last film in this set is the Italian flick Samson vs. the Vampire Women, starring the masked wrestler/luchador Samson/Santo who must battle a group of very old vampire women who have transformed themselves into young beauties that can put unsuspecting victims into trances.

Shout! Factory does it again with this new set of hard to find MST3K gems. I'll be the first to admit that the two Fugitive Alien movies are a chore to sit through but they don't go without some reward. I've often said that the crappier the film, the better the episode and though this might be an exception, there are still plenty of laughs to be had. The Sword and the Dragon raises the bar, providing a laugh a minute set of wisecracks and insults. The best episode in the set though, and one of my favorites that I've seen, is Samson vs. the Vampire Women. Not only do we get a ridiculous plot concerning some evil vampiresses, but we get the masked Santo (Samson in the U.S. version) who gets plenty of ring time fighting off bad guys. The wrestling scenes are definitely the best and irreverent enough to speed up the pace a little. Overall, this set is another winner in the MST3K collection and contains many special features such as on-screen interviews with Sandy Frank and Frank Conniff as well as some MST3K hour wraps and a couple of shorts (my favorite thing about MST3K).

RATING: 8/10

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