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STUDIO: Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME: 360 minutes
- New Introduction By Trace Beaulieu
- Brand-New Interview With Master Ninja Star, Bill McKinney
- Tom Servo Vs. Tom Servo 2010 Dragon*Con Panel
- Exploring The Look Of MST3K With Director Of Photography, Jeff Stonehouse
- Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps
Make fun of bad films/tv shows that never should have been created in the first place….except for the enjoyment that comes from mercilessly ripping them apart.
Joel Hodgson, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff
You know the premise by now. If you don’t, why are you reading this site? Joel (Joel Hodgson), a janitor working for Gizmotonic Institute, and his robot creations Crow T. Robot (Trace Beaulieu) and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy and J. Elvis Weinstein in this set) are forced to sit through hours upon hours of tripe by two mad scientists after being launched into space by them. They sit through movies and/or tv shows, and all of them are ridiculously horrible. Hilarity ensues as Joel, Crow, and Tom watch the films while endlessly riffing on their awfulness.
To say this show is a beloved fanboy institution is as much of an understatement as saying Charlie Sheen has a little bit of a drug problem. In its 10 year run (which included a movie) it etched an indelible mark on nerd culture. Inevitably the show was cancelled because all good things must come to an end, and because network executives suck. But it has lived on in the side projects of the two main stars Joel Hodgson (who ran from 1988-1993) and Michael J. Nelson (1993-1999) who respectively created Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax. There are hundreds of hours of these guys (and various former MST3K cast members) doing essentially what they did on MST3K, and it’s comforting to know the spirit of the show still lives on. After watching this set, i’m still not sure whether I prefer Joel or Mike, but I don’t even think it matters; this show is great no matter what. But I digress; I decided to break down this review into discussing each film they’ve shat upon, ending each discussion with my favorite quotes from the episode. Most of you have probably seen these. If you haven’t, though, and consider random quotes from the episodes as spoilers, then, well…you’ve been warned.
This is a Russian fantasy film from 1952 which was released in the U.S. in 1962, horribly misshapen and dubbed. It’s terrible. The funny thing is that Kevin Murphy, voice of Tom Servo, apparently really adored director Aleksandr Ptushko’s visual style. That all may be true, but it’s still a piece of shit. The costumes are trash, the backdrops are ugly and the tone of the film is just hideous. I know it was made in 1952 but I find nothing redeeming about it. And it’s not like we’re supposed to or anything, but still. It may be better without the dubbing but it’s not like it’s worth watching anyway. Fodder for jokes and scoffs? Absolutely! The guys have a good time with this one.
- “That bear has hammerpants on!”
- “If you must jest, don’t drink!”
- “Last time I go to the rotary!”
- “Sinbad, the resentful sailor.”
- “Oh geez, did you just see everything?”
- “Spectator fishing?!”
- “Man, I never knew Arabia was so Russian!”
- “Suddenly sushi?!”
- “I want you to have this rearview mirror!”
- “Hey, he’s got a stratego hat!”
- “Hey look, the Trojan turkey!”
- “Hey, those ships have scoliosis!”
- “We’re discovering you!”
- “It’s rock-em, sock-em chickens!”
I’d say this is my favorite of the episodes. Part 1 is 2 edited-together episodes of the short-lived (thank God!) NBC show The Master, starring Lee Van Cleef and Timothy Van Patten. Name sounds familiar, eh? Well, that’s THE Tim Van Patten, the director. The Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, and more recently Game of Thrones. The gods saw fit to give him a worthwhile directing career when it was clear, at least after this trainwreck, that he couldn’t act his way out of a shed. He does his best Frank Stallone impression while playing Max Keller, a guy who drives around in a van with his pet gerbil. Yes, that’s correct. He’s essentially the star of the show. Lee Van Cleef, veteran of a ton of western/badass roles, is the titular master and he is a character who stayed in post-WWII Japan (obviously the silliest thing ever) and studies martial arts. He comes back to the U.S. and teams up with Max to…um..drive around and fight with people in bars? I don’t know, it’s pretty bad. Even Demi Moore makes an appearance here, and then disappears as quickly as she was introduced. The show is a cross between The A-Team, Magnum P.I., and sodomy. It’s as over the top as most stuff was in the mid-80s but not nearly as good as a lot of that stuff. And Van Patten’s line delivery is constantly jumbled, something the guys make fun of at every turn. They also make fun of Van Cleef’s gut jutting out during the last moments of every episode. And the stuntwork is AWFUL. I mean, hilariously awful. He wears this traditional one-piece ninja suit, and the stuntman’s skin tone is clearly WAY darker than his. Anyone who would believe a 60 year-old guy as a ninja is insane, and the transitioning from Van Cleef standing there to him suddenly doing a cartwheel or backflip around an enemy is about as subtle as Tobasco in your eye parts.
- “Meanwhile, in the movie 1941….”
- “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Gerbil”
- “Hey, where do you get these dash-mounted gerbil cages?”
- “He looks like one of Henson’s rats!”
- “Hey, what’s a guy gotta do to get beat up in this place?”
- “Hmmm, that’s funny…they quit playing my theme music…”
- “It’s a ninja truck stop!”
- “Ugh, it smells like urine and cedar chips in here!”
- “Ah, the character meeting place!”
- “You know, this scene is really faithful to the book.”
- “Meanwhile, in the other incomprehensible plot…”
- “Good thing he trained with that ninja for 10 minutes.”
- “Uh-oh, that’s 7 years bad acting!”
- “What, she’s giving herself her autograph?”
- “Quick! Take a turn here at Stephen J. Cannell boulevard!”
- “Will this ransom be cash or charge?”
- “It’s a crazy idea but it just might wok…I mean work!”
This is another 2 edited-together episodes of The Master, and there’s really not much different to say about this one compared to the first. The guys still rip into Van Cleef’s strange facial expressions, Van Patten’s horrible line delivery, and the incomprehensible plot. It’s such a great bad show, and after watching this final installment, I found myself wishing there was more on the disc, or in another set for them to rip on.
- “Uh-oh, here comes the no-good-niks!”
- “Looks like the camera lost interest in Timothy…”
- “Wilford Brimley: Safe cracker!”
- “Look, his chin is acting!”
- “Grandpa ninja saves the day!”
- “Don’t forget to have your ninja spayed!”
- “She’s skeletor’s sister…shelly-tor!”
- “Ryder rents ninja transports.”
- “It looks like they’re climbing up a rosary.”
- “Be careful, i’m wealthy!”
- “The migrant socialites bound for Malibu!”
I didn’t enjoy this episode at all. It just didn’t work for me. It was from season 1, the first season on Comedy Central, and it just felt…off. If I hadn’t known any better and didn’t know the greatness that was gonna come in later seasons it probably wouldn’t have mattered. But since I saw those episodes first, this paled in comparison. I don’t know if the whole season was like this, since I haven’t seen every single episode. But J. Elvis Weinstein as Tom Servo just wasn’t nearly as good as Kevin Murphy. Obviously it was just a year shy of having been on public access TV, but it seems the guys as a whole didn’t really find their true comedic style until at least season 2. They said way too many things in unison, the three of them, which to me just comes off as kind of lame. Joel stood up and played with the screen too much, and they just weren’t quite as witty. Maybe i’m totally off base, so flame away, but compared to later stuff it just falls completely flat. There weren’t even really any quotes I found particularly funny enough to make a note of. I just really didn’t even crack a smile. Either way, it doesn’t sour a great set of episodes, and an altogether great show that is always worth watching.
A pretty dull Dragon Con panel, lasting 42 minutes, with the two guys who played Tom Servo, Kevin Murphy and J. Elvis Weinstein. If you’re a true hardcore fan you might really dig it. I didn’t find it all that exciting. The interview with Bill McKinney from Master Ninja only lasts 5 minutes. It’s kind of silly that it’s on there to begin with; he was only in the show for about 10 minutes total, I believe. The best part of the package to me is the 4 mini-posters that it comes with. That being said, it’s MST3K, and it really doesn’t need to blow me away with special features. All the diehards know this stuff anyway, right?
Out of a Possible 5 Stars