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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Science Fiction > Horror > TV > Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XV (Shout! Factory DVD)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XV (Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: B+



Joel, Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow return to suffer through and mock four horrifically bad films.  The four films this time around are none other than The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy, The Girl in Lovers Lane, Zombie Nightmare, and Racket Girls.  This set serves up the same tongue in cheek humor and blatant disregard for movie etiquette that we have all become accustomed to from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew; never getting tired or too old, because there is an endless parade of bad films to sift through.  After a steady stream of Mystery Science Theater 3000 releases from Rhino Home Video; Shout! Factory decided to take over the arduous task of appeasing a huge and highly critical fan base.  The volumes have never been in order of episode release, but rather went by whatever film the studio could get the rights to releasing; with constant battles from other studios and record companies always holding up the works.  This is Shout! Factory’s third Mystery Science Theater 3000 and to date has done an excellent job of keeping the hilarity alive.  There has always been a split between those fans that love the early years of the series with host Joel and the later years hosted by Mike; but Shout made the great decision to split the difference and offer 2 episodes from the Joel era and 2 episodes from the Mike era; great idea right?  Well kind of.  Truth be told, the one Joel episode (The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy) is not one of the casts better ventures and was created before they truly got their niche.  All in all a better episode could have been chosen, but hey it is better than nothing.


So as previously mentioned the first episode, The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy, is not the best, but it is still funny.  Some of the voice actors are different than they later would become and in many ways the whole segment just feels clunky and awkward.  The general Mystery Science Theater 3000 premise exists, but in barebones form with a few zingers and one liners that are actually memorable.  The episode dreadfully drags along as the film they chose is not only horrible, but poorly paced and gives the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast not enough to work with, without being slow and repetitive.  When the film’s final fight scene arrives (robot vs. mummy) we hear Servo hilariously exclaim “I have 20 on the robot,” but it comes too little too late as the episode all together is a wash.  Seesawing between bad and forgettable The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy episode is made even worse by the bad subplot and puppets that the crew tried to make work.  Many series have rocky begins and go on to become genius; and this episode proves that Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have had a number of those “oops” moments.

The second Joel episode, The Girl in Lovers Lane, is a later Joel episode and the gang has finally got it all together.  The episode originally aired in Season 5 (as opposed to Season like the last aforementioned episode) and truly has its act together.  There is the host segments (outside the mocking of the named film) that are well done, but the true meat and potatoes of the series exists when the boys sit down to rip the old films a new one.  I could sit hear and site example after example of the perfectly executed one-liners, but truth of the matter is that out of context they just are not as excellent.  The Girl in Lovers Lane follows little Danny (Lowell Brown) as he chased down by a gang onto a boxcar, where Danny meets up with a drifter named Bix Dugan (or as the boys hear it “Big Stupid;” calling him that for the rest of the episode).  Danny and Bix develop an odd relationship as they drift to the next town; of course giving Joel, Servo, and Crow plenty of ammo to use against the dreadfully bad film.  The episode is solid through and through; leading to it being a classic (though not the best) MST3K episode that shouldn’t be missed and is a great addition to any collection.


The third episode on the set is a Mike episode entitled Zombie Nightmare.  The film is about a young boy who grows up and is unwittingly mowed down by a troop of idiotic teens; the man’s mother can not take losing him and has a voodoo priestess bring him back to life, at which point he one by one hunts down those who wronged him.  The film is horrible and acts as the perfect catalyst for the crew’s sarcastic banter with the one liners never ending.  The 1986 film seems the perfect era for the boys as pop culture references are easy to spew out and the cast is full of recognizable (young and old alike) faces.  From Adam West too Tia Carrere there seems to be a bag full of odd appearances; only deepening the insults.  In this reviewer’s opinion it is the best episode on the set.


Finally we have Racket Girls.  I hate to keep repeating myself, but yet once again the same formula exists.  The boys take it upon themselves to sit down and watch some of the worst films ever created and this time around with Racket Girls I have to say they got their monies’ worth on this bad film.  The film is so bad it is almost unbelievable as the acting is atrocious, the storyline is nonexistent, and the whole thing almost seems as if the director was like OK PEOPLE ONLY ONE TAKE AND WE ARE DONE.  The lack of direction and film quality (as always) only lends to Mystery Science Theater 3000’s insanity and allows the boys to sit back and enjoy the train wreck they get to take cracks at.  It may seem like I am say “Oh, this is just more of the same Mystery Science Theater 3000,” but in all honesty you never get the same; the show is always fresh, exciting and gut bustlingly hilarious.


The set is top notch and I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a good laugh.


Whereas the episodes are for the most part top notch, the DVD technical features are only mildly passable at this point as Blu-ray is taking over.  The picture is presented in a 4 X 3 and the episodes look dark, gritty, and have only moderately acceptable colors.  The films that the crew are watching look much worse than the episodes themselves, giving it an “old movie” feel, but concurrently distracting.  The sound is just as lackluster as the picture as the 2.0 track blasts from the front and offers up little else.  The films dialogues are always muffled and distorted; the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew are the only ones’ (I guess most importantly) to shine through crisply.


The extras are no where near as good as the 25th Anniversary release, but remain better than anything Rhino Home Video ever offered.  Extras include Glimpses of KTMA: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps I, Behind the Scenes: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps II, Zombie Nightmare = MST3K Dream, Kevin Murphy and Trace Beaulieu in a Sneak Peek from the upcoming Hamlet A.D.D., and some Promos.  The bonus segments on this set hold more of an “educational/historic” value than they do entertainment wise.  This reviewer finds it insanely nice to sift through the “Scrapbook” segments as they showcase the original pilot episodes and old Comedy Central Presents specials, but they are somewhat arduous to watch straight through.  In the end, all are nice to watch, but take your time or you may become lost and bored in the MST3K mix.


Buy this set, plain and simple.  Comedy geniuses at work…


“This is either America ten years ago or Canada today.” – Tom Servo



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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