Release Date(s)Various (March 19, 2019)
- 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 X.2 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.
In this instance, this release is an update of an out-of-print boxed set from Rhino Entertainment. After Rhino’s release of Volume 12, Shout! Factory took over the home video distribution rights and they have been re-releasing these sets, which have since become very expensive to acquire. With this release, you get the following four episodes: The Giant Gila Monster (Season 4, Episode 2), Swamp Diamonds (Season 5, Episode 3), Teen-Age Strangler (Season 5, Episode 14), and The Giant Spider Invasion (Season 8, Episode 10).
I suppose a little explanation about the set’s title is in order. When Rhino Entertainment initially released their Volume 10 boxed set of MST3K, it included the episode featuring the film Godzilla vs. Megalon. Due to a last-minute distribution rights issue, the set was withdrawn and re-released as Volume 10.2, with The Giant Gila Monster replacing Godzilla vs. Megalon. Since the likelihood of being able to license that episode is next to impossible at this point, we’ll have to settle (for now at least) with The Giant Gila Monster, which is certainly no slouch.
The episodes in this set feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike. The quality of each episode varies as some are better than others. In The Giant Gila Monster, a pretty boy mechanic with a penchant for belting out musical numbers helps a local sheriff discover the whereabouts of a deadly oversized lizard. In Roger Corman’s Swamp Diamonds (AKA Swamp Women), a group of female criminals traipse off to recover a cache of stolen jewels while the police attempt to track them down in a backwoods marsh. In Teen-Age Strangler, a late-night adolescent throttler is on the loose in 1950s suburbia and the police suspect someone from the “Bulldogs” gang to be a potential suspect. And in The Giant Spider Invasion, redneck locals and a sheriff, better known for his TV boating activities, are overrun by spiders from outer space.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which are 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 couple from disc to disc, most of which have been carried over from the original Rhino boxed set releases. For The Giant Gila Monster, there’s the original 10.2 Upgrade video featuring Joel, Trace, and Frank; a photo gallery with 40 behind-the-scenes stills; a 12-minute interview with actor/singer Don Sullivan; and the bonus songs Tell Me Why and Little Lover Girl performed by Don Sullivan himself. For Swamp Diamonds, there are 4 minutes of vintage Rhino Entertainment DVD menus for each of the films in this set. For Teen-Age Strangler, there’s Poopie II, a 15-minute MST3K gag reel. And for The Giant Spider Invasion, there’s Spider Man: Looking Back with Bill Rebane, a 10-minute interview with the film’s director, and Video Jukebox Vol. 1, featuring 15 songs from the show’s run.
All in all, this is another solid release of MST3K goodness from the fine folks at Shout! Factory. I for one am incredibly thankful to have an out-of-print release of the show back on the market, even without substantial extras. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this up. Now push the button, Frank.
– Tim Salmons