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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Science Fiction > Horror > TV > Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XVI (Shout! Factory DVD w/Servo Figurine)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XVI (Shout! Factory DVD w/Servo Figurine)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: A



Shout! Factory delivers again with Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XVI; packaged in an oversized cardboard casing that houses an exclusive Tom Servo figurine.  For years on television and now for XVI Volumes on DVD Mystery Science Theater 3000 has entertained audiences all over the world; with quick wit and even quicker tongues, the boys of Mystery Science Theater never disappoint.  Sure we have seen the hosting torch change hands between Joel and Mike (and there are hardcore fans for both), but the quality has never suffered.  It is hard to imagine that we will ever see the end of these box sets; as Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a total of 198 episodes (not including The Lost Episodes) and one feature film.  If you are doing the math (assuming that there are 4 episodes per box set) that is approximately 50 volumes; and we are only on XVI (soon to be XVII)!  The episodes are obviously not released in airing order, having to do in part with film rights and in part to do with fan favorite demands, but each set gives audiences a solid taste of what this rowdy group of film ‘connoisseurs’ have to offer.


Long negotiations and film rights issues aside, Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Volume XVI gives us four more segments of the classic series on DVD.  The episodes include the following:


1.      The Corpse Vanishes (1942) – Season One; Episode 5

2.      Night of the Blood Beast (1958) – Season Seven; Episode 1

3.      Santa Claus (1959) – Season Five; Episode 21

4.      Warrior of the Lost World (1983) – Season Five; Episode 1



Assuming that most know the basic premise of the series, the series focuses on an ordinary guy (Joel or Mike) who is forced to watch bad movies with his two loud mouthed robot counterparts.  The trio watches each film from beginning to end, cracking brilliant one-liners the whole way along the cinematic journey.  The films aren’t just bad, they are outright horrible and the crew wastes no time in recognizing that fact.


The Corpse Vanishes (1942) is from Season One and in turn the episode is hosted by Joel.  In this reviewers opinion the series did not get to the level of greatness we all know and love until Season Two or Three, making this early Season One episode only mildly amusing.  The jokes are a tad ‘blah’ and the team does not seem to have it together completely.  The pacing of the jokes are off and the crew does not seem cohesive enough, only showing glimmers of the tight knit family they would soon become.  The 1942 film was directed by Wallace Fox and stars Bella Lugosi as a mad scientist who injects his wife with the blood of virginal young brides to preserve her beauty.  The scientist is soon under investigation as a number of young brides have gone missing.  This episode of Mystery Science, though not the best, remains hilarious.  The guys spit out a ton of quick witted jokes, snarky one-liners, wide ranging references and overall are just a boatload of fun.  He’s got a midget and a hunchback!


The next film/episode in this volume is Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and since it is from Season Seven we get to experience the Mystery Science boys in their golden age.  This was one of the final seasons of MST3K on Comedy Central before the Sci-Fi Network picked them up for 3 more seasons.  I tend to skip over the other happenings of the episode (such as the mini side sketches), because I feel the films are the true meat and potatoes; but rest assured that all the other happenings are intact and add depth to the series.  Night of the Blood Beast (1958) was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski with a strange plot that involved an alien guarding its unborn embryos; oddly enough the embryos are incubated inside of a dead American Astronaut.  The film is of the lowest quality and it is hard to even call it a B-Movie; how about Z-Movie.  Anyhow, the boys of MST3K jump into action spouting out the insults we are all thinking at home; of course only wittier.  The most outrageous part of the film is the ‘blood beast’ itself that has a cheesy bird-like costume and a stupid voice; only setting Mike, Tom and Crow into hysterics.  Every single joke is solid gold and my belly hurt from laughing.  It is a 100% solid episode with the crew at their best as they discuss and pan the film’s absurdities.


The third film is Santa Claus (1959), not to be confused with the MST3K classic Santa vs. The Space Martians.  Both film mockeries have their merits, but the later is usually the fan favorite.  Santa Claus (1959) is a film that centers on the adventures of Santa Claus as he prepares for Christmas and whereas that may sound harmless, you have not heard the half of it.  In this version, Santa does most of his work from space (ok, I can allow that) battles it out on earth with a demon sent by Lucifer to destroy Christmas (ok, now you lost me).  Directed by Rene Cardona the film was originally in Spanish, but later dubbed with (bad) English) voiceover in the 1960’s.  Oddly enough, unlike many of the other MST3K chosen films, this film actually has garnered some praise and a cult following after re-airings on television throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s.  But today is mostly remembered for its airing on MST3K and its overall ‘creepy’ vibe.  The flogging that the boys give this film is classic, but since the film has its own note worthy following for standing out on its own, I find it distracting.  I like the quick quips the boys offer, but the film is so obnoxious on its own I don’t know who to listen to.  Nevertheless Santa Claus is another solid episode and I am glad to finally own it on DVD.


Finally we have Warrior of the Lost World (1983).  The film was directed by David Worth and focused on a post-apocalyptic world in which The Rider (Robert Ginty) on his technologically advanced motorcycle (with Einstein computer) is chosen by a group of elders to lead them in battle against the evil Omega.  The film develops in a manner that plays off of popular themes like those of Blade Runner and Mad Maxx; with a group of Outsiders fighting a major corporation that rules over everything.  The film is just BAD as it is overflowing with bad acting, horrible dialogue and humorous set atmospheres.  I know I sound like a broken record, but Joel, Tom and Crow are amazing in this episode as they induce side-splitting laughter with their precise timing and extraordinary intelligence.  With so many comedy series going right to ‘potty humor’ and violence (*cough* Tim and Eric) that is just not funny, it is refreshing to partake in classics that never get old.


These episodes are as fresh as ever and are booming with creative genius.  If these came out today they would not miss a mark and be just as amazing.  Bravo to MST3K!


I know it is odd for a DVD reviewer to say, but I did not expect the technical features to be great and nor did I care.  The picture is once again your standard definition and appear to have a very rough VHS quality about them with bits of debris flying by.  The show was very low budget for a long time, hence the production issues.  The sound is a Dolby 2.0 Stereo is pretty bad with me finding myself blasting my speakers to hear everything loud and clear enough.  The MST3K sets definitely need some restoration work; especially at the initial price and limited runs the sets have.  I can forgive the image as it gives it that rough quality (to a degree), but the sound is somewhat irritating.


The first bonus the set offers as previously mentioned (for those who obtain the first pressing) is a limited edition Tom Servo Figure; which will compliment anyone’s Crow figure form the 20th Anniversary Set.  Other extras include a miniature poster for each film.  The Corpse Vanishes only includes a Theatrical Trailer, offering little extra for fans to enjoy.   Night of the Blood Beast includes Original Turkey Day ‘95 Bumpers.  Santa Claus includes the most with Original Trailer and Radio Spots; Still Gallery; Wonder World of K. Gordan Murphy “In Color Scope” Documentary promo; and best of all a featurette entitled “Santa Claus Conquers the Devil: A 50 Year Retrospective.”   The Santa Claus featurette is an hour long and gives a great look into the film’s production process, as well as the cult following with the MST3K crew; once again reinforcing that the film may have been too popular to be a MST3K featured film.  Warrior of the Lost World features a Still Gallery as well as an interview with David Worth, who glows in an easy going manner as he recounts his career and films.


In the end, there is nothing more to say than you need this set.  Buy it.  Love it.  Cherish it.  If not only for the reason that MST3K is always amazingly well done, but also because these sets don’t stick around for long.  If you want more proof, go and try to buy the earlier volumes; I assure you, they won’t come easy.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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