Release Date(s)Various (July 26, 2016)
- 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 XXXVI 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.
I’ve gone into a good amount of detail about MST3K plenty in past reviews, so I won’t bother getting into that. We’ll keep things short and sweet instead and just cover the set itself. With this release, you get the following four episodes: Stranded in Space (Season 3, Episode 5), City Limits (Season 4, Episode 3), The Incredible Melting Man (Season 7, Episode 4), and Riding with Death (Season 8, Episode 14).
The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike, which is a good balance. The quality of each episode varies, with some episodes being better than others. Things begin with Stranded in Space. Oh my, what could have been... or not. The movie’s essentially a TV pilot for a show about an astronaut who lands on what he thinks is another Earth, but it’s the less than savory version of Earth – dun dun duuuuuuuun!!! City Limits features a bland-ish plot about a couple of rival street gangs and not much else. The Incredible Melting Man tells the story of an astronaut who is literally melting after passing by Saturn. Now back on Earth, he oozes his way across the countryside killing fishermen, randy old people, and anyone else who gets in his slimy way. Riding with Death is an amalgam of two episodes of the aborted TV series Gemini Man in which a federal agent acquires the ability to disappear and reappear with his digital wrist watch, all the while thwarting gasoline-related espionage plots and bomb-carrying race cars... or something. The latter is actually my all-time favorite episode of the show. It seems to be running on all cylinders, and not just due to the riffing, but the in-between skits as well. It’s a really strong show, and I’m thrilled that it’s now officially available along with the other great episodes in this set.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which were 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 few from disc to disc, most of them newly-produced just for this set (courtesy of the great Ballyhoo Motion Pictures). For Stranded in Space, you get the Devil Down in Georgia: The Mysterious World of Film Ventures International featurette. For City Limits, you get the City Limits: Rae Dawn Chong Looks Back! interview and the movie’s theatrical trailer. For The Incredible Melting Man, you get an interview with make-up effects artist Greg Cannom, another interview with director William Sachs and make-up effects artist Rick Baker, and the movie’s two theatrical trailers (all of which are carried over from Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the movie). For Riding with Death, you get The Invisible World of the Gemini Man: An Interview with Writer Steven de Souza. And if you bought this set through Shout! Factory’s website, the first 1,000 orders came with a bonus disc which features both the 1st and 2nd MST3K Summer Blockbuster Review TV specials that aired in 1997 and 1998. Also included (as is standard with all of the MST3K boxed sets) are 4 paper insert reproductions of the artwork from each DVD in the set.
All in all, this is another solid boxed set release of MST3K from the good folks at Shout! Factory. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. Now push the button, Frank.
- Tim Salmons