Classic Creature Feature Gets Great Re-Issue Thanks To Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream Factory/Universal International

Shout! Factory and its horror arm, Scream Factory are taking sci-fi fans back in time again next month with the release of yet another one of Universal Pictures’ timeless creature features.

The Deadly Mantis is scheduled for release on March 19 on Blu-ray.  The classic low-budget b-flick was lambasted by critics following its theatrical debut on May 26, 1957.  The criticisms focused on items, such as its overt use of stock footage and re-use of sets.  While it hardly received a warm welcome in its debut, The Deadly Mantis has since gone on to become a cult favorite among sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike, but has been difficult to find on DVD and Blu-ray.  That is until now.  This new re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is another welcome addition to the library of any of the noted audiences.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Its bonus content adds even more interest and appeal to its presentation as its story.  The Blu-ray’s average price point rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Deadly Mantis’ new Blu-ray re-issue another welcome watch for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.

The upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal International Pictures’ 1957 creature feature The Deadly Mantis is a presentation that will appeal to cinephiles across the board.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story focuses on the introduction of a giant prehistoric praying mantis into the 20th century world and mankind’s efforts to stop the creature before it has any chance to reproduce.  The story was hardly the only one of its kind at the time, having been preceded by Them! in 1954, Tarantula in 1955, and Attack of the Crab Monsters only three months prior to the debut of The Deadly Mantis.  The latter of that trio – one of famed director Roger Corman’s creations – was an Allied Pictures presentation, unlike the other two mentioned here.  This is important to note as it was just one part of what was a much bigger cinematic trend at that point in time.  Considering the bigger trend being presented, what makes this movie stand out is that it did not center on giant mutant creatures that came to be as a result of the military’s nuclear testing.  Rather, the mantis simply existed millions of years ago, and was freed from its cryogenic slumber (of sorts) as the overarching result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in the Earth’s southern hemisphere.  Film historian Tom Weaver addresses this scientific approach during his bonus commentary.  This will be discussed a little later on.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of The Deadly Mantis might have seemed silly at the time, but considering the scientific advancements and discoveries that have been made in the current age, it makes the story more believable.  That ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief (even today) due to the story’s setup, ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  Now given, missiles and fire being unable to bring down the giant beast seems a bit of a stretch, considering it is just a giant praying mantis.  That thing must have had an exoskeleton made of titanium, especially considering what ultimately ended its reign of terror.  That aside, the reality that giant beasts did in fact exist at one time in reality, and that scientists even today are in fact, trying to clone other giant beasts (E.g. wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers) makes this story that much more believable, and in turn enjoyable.  The ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief with this movie’s story is just one part of what makes the movie such a joy for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.  The movie’s bonus content adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured in this movie includes the previously noted feature-length audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver and fellow film historian David Schecter, and the full-length episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that featured The Deadly Mantis.  Unlike The Mole People, which was re-issued by Shout! Factory/Scream Factory last month, this movie’s re-issue is lacking a bonus “making of” featurette.  The lack of that featurette is disheartening, but not enough to ruin the movie’s presentation.

The feature-length commentary from Weaver and Schecter reveals quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn from the commentary, that principal photography — the main part of a movie’s production involving capturing scenes in which the cast is on camera – took only 13 days, and that the use of stock footage in the movie played a direct role in the movie.  Weaver reveals that approximately 14 minutes (or 1/5) of the movie was composed of stock footage.  Considering that the movie’s run time is listed as just 79 minutes, that 14 minutes is actually a large portion of the movie.  Additionally, viewers learn through the duo’s commentary, that the movie’s original opening scene was actually different from what is in the final cut.  Weaver notes that the final cut was presented, as the movie’s director – Nathan Juran – wanted to ensure the story was believable, right from the opening sequence.  The end  result was that the frozen mantis was freed as the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away.  This is actually believable, considering what we know today about the effects of volcanic eruptions.  Now, could the weather patterns that might have resulted from said eruption been enough to thaw out the mantis?  That is debatable, even today.  However, knowing mankind’s impact on climate change, it actually does not seem overly unbelievable.  Keeping this in mind, the right move was taken to change the opening.  As if all of this is not enough for fans, audiences also learn the identity of the film used for part of the stock footage – S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) – through Weaver’s scripted commentary.  It is revealed that the Eskimos in the noted scenes were reacting to a seaplane circling their community in Greenland, not to a giant praying mantis.

Schecter’s portion of the movie’s commentary will appeal just as much to music lovers as it will to movie lovers.  Schecter notes in his portion of the movie’s commentary, that legendary composer/conductor Henry Mancini played a specific part in the movie’s soundtrack.  The full depth of his involvement in the soundtrack will be left for audiences to learn on their own.  He was just one of the famed musical figures who were connected to the movie, according to Schecter.  Fellow composer Irving Gertz also had a tie to the movie’s soundtrack, as Schecter notes.  He makes note that the soundtrack to The Deadly Mantis and The Monolith Monsters were indirectly connected to each other.  Again, the full discussion will be left for viewers to take in on their own time.

The items listed here are just a portion of what Weaver and Schecter discuss throughout the course of The Deadly Mantis.  Far more is discussed, such as ties that certain members of the crew had to the now infamous “Red Scare” and the various ties that the cast had to other movies of the age. While Schecter’s (and Weaver’s) commentary are quite insightful, the one negative to their insight is that each man’s commentary is once again scripted.  This is made clear through their delivery.  Each man is obviously watching the movie as he shares his insight.  The problem is that each man is watching the movie only for timing purposes with his commentary.  This detracts from the commentary at least a little bit. It is not enough to make the commentary unenjoyable, but cannot be ignored.

Speaking of things that detract from the experience, the movie lacks a “making of” featurette this time out.  It doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, but it would have been nice to see what could have been told through such a feature that maybe was not addressed in the bonus commentary.  In defense of Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, there had to have been a good reason for omitting it this time out.  Luckily, the commentary from Weaver and Schecter does provide enough insight and entertainment to make up for that omission.

While The Deadly Mantis lacked a “making of” featurette, one thing that was thankfully included was the full episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that focused on the classic creature feature.  Shout! Factory/Scream Factory did the same with its recent re-issue of The Mole People, and once again, it is a welcome addition to the movie’s presentation.  This time out, Mike and his robot pals are trying to escape Pearl Forrester once again, and luckily escape her after her ape friends inadvertently activate a thermonuclear device that destroys Earth.  Of course Pearl and company managed to escape the blast.  How they escape and what happens from there will be left for audiences to discover on their own.  In the meantime, plenty of riffing happens as the crew of the Satellite of Love take in The Deadly Mantis.  Early on there is a joke about Minnesota (the state in which the show was based), that audiences will enjoy.  As the movie progresses, there is a joke about one of the unidentified cast members because of a certain shot.  “Shot in bald spot vision,” one of the robots cracks.  There are also pop culture references about Wheaties and Vicks Vapo rub later in the movie, along with a joke about the famed comic opera, the H.M.S. Pinafore and so much more.  Between the constant riffing and the live segments, the laughs that result from this episode of MST3K prove to be nonstop.  When that entertainment is coupled with the insight offered through the movie’s bonus commentaries, the end result is content that truly is a bonus in every sense of the word.  When it is collectively considered along with the story, which itself guarantees just as much engagement and entertainment, the movie proves that much more welcome in any cinephile’s home library.  Keeping all of this in mind, the breadth and depth of the movie’s primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point money that is well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Deadly Mantis, using price listings at Shout! Factory’s store and those of Amazon and Books-a-Million, is $25.39.  The movie is not listed at Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the time of this review’s posting.  Research shows that Shout! Factory’s price of $22.99 is the least expensive of the three listings, and is will below that average price point.  Books-A-Million’s listing of $27.99 is the most expensive, while Amazon’s list price of $25.19 is barely below that average.  In other words, at the time of this review’s post, Shout! Factory’s price for the re-issue is the most affordable.  It is money that sci-fi purists and movie buffs alike will agree, is well-spent.  That is because of the already noted content overall.  Add in that right now, the only outlets that audiences have for such a movie are occasionally on Turner Classic Movies and Me-TV’s hit show Svengoolie (both of which are themselves wonderful outlets), it makes that money even more well-spent, as it will allow audiences to watch this timeless classic any time that they want.  Keeping all of this in mind, it can easily be said that the upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story (its primary content), which is actually quite believable considering what science has discovered to this day, and through its bonus content (its secondary content).  The insight and entertainment offered through the bonus content is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the story.  Add in an average price point that once again won’t break viewers’ banks, and the movie proves a completely welcome addition to any cinephile’s movie library.  It will be available March 19.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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PBS’ Vietnam War Docu-Series Is A Timeless Look At A Critical Conflict

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The clock is ticking on the year.  In a little more than 24 hours, 2017 will finally winding down and the world will be looking forward to 2018.  Before those final hours pass by, there’s still work to be done from Phil’s Picks in the year-ender department.  That work includes year-enders for the year’s top new box sets for grown-up audiences.  In saying grown-ups, that does not necessarily mean solely that the material is inappropriate for younger viewers, but that it might simply not appeal to younger viewers because of the issue of their ability to relate to the material in question.

PBS and Shout! Factory dominate this critic’s list this year with a rather wide array of titles with PBS’ new miniseries doc The Vietnam War taking top honors.  Whether or not one is a military or even history buff, this set is a must see.  Period.  The fourth season of PBS’ British import crime drama Endeavour is also on the list alongside new releases such as Shout! Factory’s Green AcresThe Complete SeriesThe Good PlaceSeason 1 and Ernie Kovacs retrospective Take A Good Look.  Smithsonian Channel even gets some nods with the first two seasons of Air Warriors and the first season of Sports Detectives.  Even mpi Media Group’s Gerry Anderson collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is on this critic’s list.

As with every previous list from Phil’s Picks, this list features this critic’s Top 10 New Grown-Up Box Sets plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Developing this list was anything but easy, but every title included was well deserving of its place in the list.  that being said, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW GROWN-UP DVDs/BDs

  1. The Vietnam WarA Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
  2. EndeavourSeason 4
  3. Green AcresThe Complete Series
  4. Sports DetectivesSeason 1
  5. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXVIII
  6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXIX
  7. Ernie KovacsTake A Good Look
  8. The Good PlaceSeason 1
  9. The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson
  10. Air WarriorsSeason 1
  11. Air WarriorsSeason 2
  12. Just Shoot MeThe Complete Series
  13. Ned & StaceyThe Complete Series
  14. IceSeason 1
  15. From Dusk Till DawnSeason 3

That’s it for this list, but still not it for this year’s new DVD and BD titles.  Still up for grabs are spots on Phil’s PIcks 2017 Top 10 New Family DVD/BD Box Sets.  That list is nearly compiled and will be posted ASAP, so stay tuned!

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MST3K: Volume XXXV Is Another Must Have For Series’ Fans

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

This summer Shout! Factory will release the 36th (yes, 26th) volume of episodes from the cult classic series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The four-disc collection is currently scheduled to be released in stores and online on Tuesday, July 26th.  While not too far off, it is still a little bit of a wait.  Luckily the series’ 35th volume was released late last month.  And it offers plenty of entertainment for fans of the series while they wait for the release of Volume XXXVI and the upcoming reissue of Volume II (yes, II!) beginning with its featured movies.  That will be discussed shortly.  The collective writing and acting presented throughout each episode is just as important to note as the movies themselves.  That will be discussed later.  The bonus material that is included with each movie is just as important as the movies and their collective writing and acting.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXV.  Altogether they make this collection another must have for any of the series’ fans and one of the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXV is one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.  It is also yet another welcome addition to the home library of any of the series’ fans.  One element that makes it yet another entertaining collection is its featured movies.  It features four more of Hollywood’s “best of the worst.”  Interestingly enough at least one of the movies—Teenage Cave Man (1958)—features a rather well-known figure before he become a megastar in Robert Vaughan (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.Bullitt,The Magnificent Seven).  That’s just part of what makes this movie so important to the collection.  That Roger Corman-helmed the project is just as important to note.  Audiences that are familiar with Corman’s work will notice a number of his trademarks throughout the movie.  Much the same can be said of Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell, which is another of the movies included in this set.  Corman executive produced the movie.  And while he might not have been behind the lens for this installment of the Deathstalker franchise, his influence can be felt because of its over the top camp from beginning to end.  12 To The Moon and Being From Another Planet are important to note in the bigger picture of this collection as Teenage Caveman and Deathstalker III. The prior is important to note not just for its camp but for the message in its story and certain elements of the story in whole.  Those elements include the fact that audiences never actually see the “moon creatures” save for one fleeting moment early on when the astronauts first go exploring the lunar surface.  Being From Another Planet is an important inclusion in this set because it actually plays on a favorite theory of “ancient alien theorists.”  It presents a mummy in a museum’s Egypt exhibit as in fact not just being a mummy but the mummy of a being….well…from another planet.  There are in fact people that believe to this day that there is a link between Egyptians and beings from other planets, and that they even gave the Egyptians the technology needed to build the pyramids.  Given, that is a completely crackpot theory with no real substantial supportive evidence.  But for some, it is more than just a theory.  It is a belief.  And while the movie is just as terribly campy as this set’s other cinematic offerings, the movie’s plot still makes it an interesting story to see at least once.  The zingers tossed out by the crew of the Satellite of Love give their own reason for audiences to check out this movie.  Speaking of which, the zingers in question are, together with the cast’s acting, just as important to each episode as the movies themselves.

The movies that are featured in Shout! Factory’s latest collection of MST3K (as it will henceforth be known) episodes are important in their own right to the collection’s overall presentation.  While they are undeniably important they are not the only important part of the set’s presentation.  The cast’s work and that of the writers is just as important to each episode as the noted episodes.  Both the writing and acting prove to be razor sharp from one episode to the next in this set.  That should come as no surprise, either considering all of the laughs offered up in every one of the series’ previous installments.  The “Experiment Exchange” skit presented ahead of Teenage Caveman is proof of that.  The crew of the SOL (it just never gets old) is hilarious as they present a book of Rainy Day Ipecacs, a bowl of Lucky Charms with cherry Nyquil, a Snickers bar with honey mustard, and a pair of rather unappetizing other offerings.  There’s something about their presentations that is so hilarious.  Audiences actually believe, thanks to the cast’s work, that these outer space outcasts half believe in their “inventions” yet don’t really care one bit.  On the other end, Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu are just as wildly entertaining as TV’s Frank and Dr. Clayton Forrester.  The pair’s on-screen chemistry is wonderful to see as they fight over who is going to present Dr. Forrester’s (or is it Frank’s?) invention.  The dispute leads to an ongoing conflict between the pair that spans each of the episode’s laugh out loud skits between movie segments.  As if that isn’t enough, the zingers tossed out by the SOL’s crew (See?  It just doesn’t get old) are just as laugh out loud funny.  They include references to Bonanza, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, the Peanuts gang, Jenny Craig (yes, even Jenny Craig), Charlton Heston, and any number of cultural jokes.  There are so many references and jokes that not even a program could hold them all.  It’s a real tribute to the writers that they are still as funny today as they were in the episode’s original broadcast.  The cast’s timing in delivering each of those nonstop zingers shows yet again the importance of their work alongside that of the show’s writers.  Collectively speaking, the writing and acting presented in this episode is just one example of what makes both elements just as important in this collection as in the series’ previous collections.  The work put into 12 To The Moon’s skits and zingers also serves to show the importance of the noted elements.

The work that went into making Teenage Caveman such a laugh riot episode was definitely not for naught.  Yes, that bad joke was intentional.  The end result of the writers’ work and that of the cast is nonstop entertainment from beginning to end.  The same can be said of the work that went into 12 To The Moon’s skits and jokes.  The crew of the Satellite of Love encounters a time traveling woman in this episode who wants to take them back to her time.  This is a completely outrageous plot that is just as stupid as those in the movies that Joel, Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo are forced to watch.  Yet it’s strangely so stupid that it’s hilarious.  Considering that, the writers are once again to be lauded once again for their efforts.  Of course the cast’s handling of this so silly that it’s funny story is just as worthy of applause as that of the writers.  Back on Earth, TV’s Frank finally gets to roast Dr. Forrester.  It doesn’t turn out so well for Frank in the end.  On a more subtle level, Trace Beaulieu’s performance here seems to be homage to Groucho Marx, with the cigar and other elements.  Whether or not the comparison was intentional is anyone’s guess.  But if it was intentional, then Beaulieu is to be commended as he does an outstanding job of channeling the late, great comedic actor.  It’s just one way in which the writing and acting shines in this episode.  They both shine once again throughout the course of the movie as the guys throw out even more pop culture jokes and references.  That includes references to: Star Trek, The Muppet Show/Pigs in Space, Abba, Dr. Dolittle, PBS, and many others.  The pop culture jokes include a stab at all of the moon landing conspiracy theorists, and even some light-hearted biblical and other religious jokes.  Again, there are so many jokes and references that not even a program can contain them all.  It’s even more reason for audiences to pick up this collection of episodes.  The wonderful writing and acting presented here and in Teenage Caveman  clearly shows the importance of the show’s writing and acting.  That is not to discount the work put into the set’s other pairing of episodes.  Those two episodes, and the pair more directly noted here, combine to undeniably show why the work of the show’s writers and cast alike is just as important in these episodes as the set’s featured movies.  Together with said movies, the writing and acting proves once more in the bigger picture why this collection is another must have for the show’s fans, and why it is also one of the year’s best box sets for grown-ups.  It is still not the set’s last notable element.  The bonus material that was included with each episode is just as important to the set’s presentation as the movies and their primary content.

The movies that are featured in Shout! Factory’s latest MST3K collection and their primary content (I.E. writing and acting) are undeniably important to the set’s presentation.  While each element proves to be of the utmost importance to this collection’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The bonus material that is included in each episode is just as important as the movies and their overall content.  That is because of the insight that each bonus offers viewers into the creation and history of each movie.  Deathstalker III’s bonus feature Medieval Boogaloo: The Legend of Deathstalker III is proof of that.  Star Thom Christopher discusses the movie in this bonus feature.  Over the course of his interview he shares quite a bit of insight into the movie.  He discusses the work put in by the prop department to give himself and co-star John Allen Nelson two swords each for their big fight scene and how impressed he was by not just their efforts but the result of that work, too.  He also happily discusses his knowledge of the movie’s camp yet the fun that the cast and crew had in holding that knowledge.  He notes that all involved smiled and laugh throughout the course of the movie’s production because of the fact that it was so campy.  It is refreshing to learn that the cast didn’t take itself too seriously in making this otherwise forgettable flick.  That sentiment alone makes this movie worth more than just one watch.   On another note, Roger Corman discusses the casting of lead star  Robert Vaughan in Teenage Caveman’s bonus feature I Was A Teenage Caveman.  He also discusses the silliness of not being allowed by certain individuals to use I Was A Teenage Caveman’s  title for the movie because it was “too highbrow for audiences.”  That comment alone will leave audiences so shocked that all they can do is laugh.  And in 12 To The Moon’s bonus feature You Are There: Launching 12 To The Moon, audiences will be surprised to learn of the political message behind the movie’s script.  The message in question has to do with the need for unity among the Earth’s people.  It is explained that the world’s global political climate did in fact play a direct role in its script.  Keeping all of this in mind, the importance of the episodes’ bonus features become crystal clear.  They offer just as much insight and entertainment as the movies in this set and the collective writing and acting incorporated into each.  And together with the movies themselves, all of the noted elements combine to show once and for all why MST3K Volume XXXV is another must have for fans of this cult classic series.  It also serves collectively to show why this collection is one more of the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXV is unquestionably one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.  It is also a piece that any of the show’s original audiences will want to have in his or her own home library if he or she doesn’t already own the four-disc set.  The central reason for this is the set’s featured episodes.  Each episode is another sampling of the best of the worst.  Because of that, each episode will keep true fans engaged and entertained from beginning to end.  The bonus material that is included in each episode is just as important to note as the set’s movies, acting, and writing.  It offers its own share of entertainment and insight in each episode.  Each element proves highly important in its own right in the big picture of this collection.  Collectively, they show in whole why this set is, again, another must have for fans that don’t already own the collection.  In the same vein, they also show collectively why it is one of the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.  It is available in stores and online now and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/mst3k-volume-xxxv.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory TV Announces April Streaming Schedule

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory TV

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory TV

Shout! Factory has released the April streaming schedule for its free online streaming service Shout! Factory TV.  The Dick Cavett Show and Backlot are spotlighted this month.

This month Shout! Factory TV will be streaming ten episodes of The Dick Cavett Show.  This month’s selection of episodes is pulled entirely from the 1990s.  It featured guests  from around the world of stand-up comedy in honor of Cavett’s own stand-up roots.  Among this month’s list of guests are: Conan O’Brien, George Carlin, Richard Lewis, Dennis Miller, Steve Martin, and others.  This month’s complete list of Dick Cavett Show episodes is noted below.

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Steve Martin (1992)  

Steve Martin, comedian and actor known for films such as Bowfinger and The Jerk, is interviewed by Dick Cavett.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Conan O’Brien (1995)

Dick Cavett interviews legendary talk show host, Conan O’Brien.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Chris Elliott (1994)

Dick Cavett interviews comedian Chris Elliot, a man known for his late-night comedic sketches on Late Night with David Letterman.

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Jon Lovitz (1992)

Dick Cavett interviews Jon Lovitz, actor comedian and singer, best known for his role on SNL.

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: George Carlin (1992)

Dick Cavett interviews the late comedian George Carlin, a man known for his outspoken stand-up comedy, thoughts on politics, religion and other various taboo subjects.

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Richard Lewis (1990)

Dick Cavett interviews Richard Lewis, American comedian and actor.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Dennis Leary (1991)

Dick Cavett interviews Dennis Leary, comedian and former star actor of the show, Rescue Me.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Phil Hartman (1991)

Late Canadian-American SNL actor and comedian Phil Hartman, is a guest on this episode of The Dick Cavett Show.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Dennis Miller (1992)

Dick Cavett’s guest for this episode is Dennis Miller, stand-up comedian, talk show host, actor and commentator.

 

The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends: Bobcat Goldthwait (1992)

Bobcat Goldthwait, actor, comedian, filmmaker and voice artist is interviewed by Dick Cavett.

Also back this month is its exclusive series Backlot.  The series examines some of the most beloved cult favorite films and TV series.  It is hosted by Shout! Factory’s Brian Ward and features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, featurettes, and a whole bunch more from those fan favorites.  In one of this month’s episodes of Backlot, Ward sits down with Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy, Bridesmaids) and Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, This is 40, Pineapple Express) to discuss their work on the cult classic series Freaks and Geeks.  Shout! Factory recently re-issued the series on Blu-ray.   Along with his recent big screen work, Feig was the creator of Freaks and Geeks.  Apatow served as the series’ executive producer.   In another episode of Backlot Ward takes a look back at the 1961 King Kong spinoff Gorgo.  He will delve into how the Gorgo suit was created, the problem of putting a monster in Paris, and even how it was handled by the crew of the Satellite of Love in none other than Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Speaking of that series, Shout! Factory TV also has two classic episodes of MST3K streaming this month.  One of those episodes features Gorgo.  The other focuses on another so bad that it’s great movie in the form of the 1983 Canadian made-for-television movie Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.  The full list of MST3K episodes being streamed this month is noted below.

MST3K: Gorgo

Mike and the ‘bots gorge on Gorgo (1961), a maudlin monster mess featuring two giant mother-and-son lizards and a Samuel Beckett lookalike. Leonard Maltin shows up to hawk his movie guide, which inexplicably praises the film.

MST3K: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

A weather tech’s mind gets trapped in a computer and Pearl establishes her own public television pledge program.

Along with the latest episodes of The Dick Cavett Show, Backlot, and MST3K being streamed this month, Shout! Factory TV is also streaming the series and movies listed below.

 

Other notable series and movies also streaming on Shout! Factory TV now include:

·         THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM MACHINE

·         PRINCE KILLIAN

·         CHICAGO CAB

·         PERFECTLY NORMAL

·         ONE DOWN TWO TO GO

·         ROCK, ROCK, ROCK!

·         THE SMURFS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE

·         THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE

·         CONVICT 762

 

 

More information on these and other presentations being streamed online now at Shout! Factory TV is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactorytv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactorytv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Grown-Ups Got Plenty Of Alternatives To Theaters’ Offerings In 2015

This year’s big screen offerings brought big numbers for theaters. The problem is that the majority of those big numbers were the result of Hollywood’s (and audiences’) seemingly insatiable appetite for prequels, sequels, and remakes. It’s a sad statement when one really sits down and thinks about it. And thankfully more audiences are coming to their senses about it each year and staying home instead, taking in the variety of alternatives being offered on television and online. Given, far too many of those alternatives were (and still are) serials, dramas, and some mixture thereof. But for all of the serials and dramas out there, they were just a drop in the bucket in terms of just how much was offered to audiences this year in the way of home entertainment. Shout! Factory released two more volumes of episodes from the cult classic series Mystery Science Theater 3000 this year. It also released the final two seasons of the classic sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, the complete series run of The Saint, and much more. PBS has released all three current seasons of its hit reality/cooking show A Chef’s Life, and partnered once again with itv to release the third season of Mr. Selfridge. Timeless Media Group even gave audiences a good scare this year with the release of A Haunting: Season Seven. And for all of the conspiracy theorists out there, Lionsgate and History channel offered up the seventh season of Ancient Aliens. These are just some of the alternatives offered to audiences this year from the home entertainment realm. And they are all on the Phil’s Picks list of 2015’s Best New Box Sets for Grown-Ups. That is in comparison to box sets for the whole family. That is a whole other list. That list will be presented tomorrow. In explaining the choices for the list of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups, the overall packaging of each set was taken into consideration alongside each set’s bonus materials (or lack thereof) and the writing that went into each presentation. The combination of each element in each set went into coming up with this list. Not every set had bonus material such as with Welcome Back, Kotter’s third and fourth season. But the writing behind each season made each season entertaining enough that they each stand quite well on their own merits. The bonus material featured in both volumes of MST3K played a big role in their presentations deserving them their own spots as did the bonus material in Time Life’s new Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts box set and that of Hell on Wheels’ fourth season. That should hopefully give at least some background on why each title was listed where it was listed. Keeping that in mind every title listed here is fully deserving of its spot on this list. So enough rambling. Without any further ado, I offer for your reading pleasure dear readers, the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Box Sets for Grownups. As always, the Top 10 make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive special mention as they deserve to be on the list just as much. Here you go!

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW BOX SETS FOR GROWN-UPS

  1. A CHEF’S LIFE: SEASON 1

 

  1. A CHEF’S LIFE: SEASON 2

 

  1. A CHEF’S LIFE: SEASON 3

 

  1. WELCOME BACK, KOTTER: SEASON 3

 

  1. WELCOME BACK, KOTTER: SEASON 4

 

  1. MR. SELFRIDGE: SEASON 3

 

  1. THE DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROASTS: STINGERS AND ZINGERS

 

  1. HELL ON WHEELS: SEASON 4

 

  1. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: VOLUME XXXIII

 

  1. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: VOLUME XXXIV

 

  1. THE SAINT: THE COMPLETE SERIES

 

  1. BROADCHURCH: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

 

  1. HALT AND CATCH FIRE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

 

  1. A HAUNTING: SEASON 7

 

  1. ANCIENT ALIENS: SEASON 7

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory TV To Stream MST3K Marathon On Thanksgiving

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory TV

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory TV

Shout! Factory TV has a special treat for all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans out there.

Next Thursday, November 26th, Shout! Factory TV will present a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon. The marathon begins at 12pm ET/9 PT and will feature six full-length episodes of the cult classic series hand picked by series creator Joel Hodgson. It can be viewed online at http://www.BringBackMST3K.com. Hodgson himself will even be interacting with audiences throughout the course of the marathon, reading fan mail submissions just as he did with the show’s original broadcasts. Fans can also share their own riffs, jokes and MST3K memories with Hodgson and other fans of the classic series throughout the marathon. Fans can submit their letters, drawings, jokes, riffs, and even songs for the marathon to infoclub@mst3k.com before Wednesday, November 25th at 5pm ET if they want them to be read and presented. While they are taking in all of the jokes, gags and movies so bad that they’re great, fans can also help bring back MST3K by contributing to Hodgson’s Kickstarter campaign, which is currently raising the money to finance a full 12-episode season. Fans can donate to the campaign at http://www.BringBackMST3K.com.

Since launching last Tuesday, November 10th, the “Bring Back MST3K” Kickstarter campaign has already raised $more than $2.3 million of its needed $5.5 million (and probably more than that by the time that this article is posted). That is roughly half of the needed funds. The deadline to raise the required money to produce the twelve-episode season is Friday, December 11th. All of the latest updates on the campaign are available online at:

Website: http://www.BringBackMST3K.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MST3K

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For Its Next MST3K Collection

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

This fall, Shout! Factory has a special gift for all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans out there.

Shout! Factory will release Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV this fall. It will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, December 1st. The cult classic series’ latset collection of episode, this collection features four more never before released episodes and four more of the best of the worst from Hollywood’s archives. Those four films are: Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage To The Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), The Undead (1957), and The She-Creature (1956).

The first of the films centers on a group of Viking women trying to find their missing male counterparts. In their decision to find said men, the women become captured by a group of Barbarians that had captured the men for whom the women were searching. Of course there is also a sea serpent that shows up along the way, too. Susan Cabot stars in the movie’s lead role. She is most well-known for her role of Janice Starlin in another cult classic, 1959’s The Wasp Woman.

In the second of the featured films, Col. Glen Manning (Duncan ‘Dean’ Parkin) is thought to be dead after having fallen from the top of the Hoover Dam. However, he defies all odds and survives, surfacing some time later in Mexico. When he re-emerges, Col. Manning is disfigured, suffering from brain damage, and is very hungry. After being drugged and returned to the U.S. by the military Col. Manning escapes and begins wreaking havoc on the city. Parkin, who is best known for his role of the title character in Allied Artists’ 1957 sci-fi horror The Cyclops, stars alongside Sally Fraser (Earth vs. The Spider, It Conquered The World, Giant From The Unknown), Roger Pace (My Little Margie), and Russ Bender (Bonanza, It Conquered The World, The Amazing Colossal Man) in this cult classic B-movie.

The Undead is another Roger Corman classic. It follows actress Pamela Duncan as she portrays Diana Love. Diana is hypnotized and goes back to the Middle Ages, where she discovers that she is suspected of being a witch and in turn faces the possibility of being executed. Duncan is also known for her roles in Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Red Skelton Hour, Seven Men From Now (1956). The movie was distributed via American International Pictures.

The fourth and final film featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV, The She-Creature follows yet another female lead having her share of troubles after being hypnotized. This time Dorothy Chappel (Cathy Downs) is hypnotized by Dr. Carlo Lombardi (Chester Morris) and is subsequently turned into a sea creture by Lombardi. It turns out that the sea creature was responsible for the deaths of a number of people long ago. And it is believed that Chappel was that creature or so it would seem. The movie was also distributed via American International Pictures just as with The Undead and directed by Edward L. Cahn. Downs is known best for her roles in The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1955), and The Joe Palooka Story. Co-star Chester Morris is known best for his work in The Divorcee (1930), The Big House (1930), and Alibi (1929).

Along with the main features and the always hilarious live action sketches between movie segments, Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV also boasts a handful of bonuses including: New Introductions from Frank Conniff, theatrical trailers, and a documentary on American International Pictures titled “It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The A.I.P. Story.” The complete list of bonuses included in MST3K: Volume XXXIV is noted below.

Mystery Science Theater 3000:Vol. XXXIV Bonus Features:
· New introductions by Frank Conniff
· It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The A.I.P. Story documentary
· Theatrical Trailers
· Four exclusive Mini-Posters by artist Steve Vance

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV will be available Tuesday, December 1st in stores and online. It will retail for MSRP of $59.99 but can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at a discounted price of $53.99 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/mst3k-volume-xxxiv. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” It. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MST3K Volume XXXIII Is Yet Another Must Have For Any Film Buff, MST3K Fan

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

It’s time to blast off and laugh your heads off yet again, everyone. Mike, Joel, and their robot pals are back yet again on board the Satellite of Love with loads more fun for fans of the classic series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the series’ 33rd (yes, 33rd) volume of episodes. Late this summer, Shout! Factory released MST3K Volume XXXIII much to the joy of its legions of fans. The latest collection (and according to new information not the last.  Volume XXXIV is due out in December) brings four more best of the worst from Hollywood’s hidden vaults to audiences in the form of Daddy-O (1958), Earth vs. The Spider (1958), Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955) and Agent For H.A.R.M. (1966). The movies are themselves so bad that yet again they are great. They serve both to show how far movies have come in so many avenues. Classic movie buffs will love seeing these once-forgotten flicks and using them to see how much Hollywood fare has changed since their day both for the good and for the bad. The less initiated will appreciate them just as much for their historical importance as for the stingers and zingers thrown in their direction courtesy of Mike, Joel, and their robot pals. Speaking of the crew of the Satellite of Love, the writing for the show’s live-action segments and the cast’s interpretation of said scripts is yet another reason that this new collection proves to be so funny. The collective work of the show’s writers and its cast make for so many laughs throughout each of the set’s episodes. Last but hardly least of all to the show’s positives is the bonus material included with each episode. There are behind-the scenes extras as well as retrospectives and more to keep true fans entertained for hours (or even days). Even for the more casual viewer the bonus material incorporated into the set offers its own share of insight and entertainment. All three elements combined together make MST3K Volume XXXIII yet another great addition to any MST3K fan’s own home DVD library and yet another example of why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment.

Shout! Factory’s latest collection of classic MST3K episodes is yet another great addition to any MST3K fan’s own home DVD library and yet another example of why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment. The main reason for this is the selection of episodes and movies chosen for the collection. There is plenty of action and drama presented in this offering of the best of Hollywood’s worst beginning with a former truck driver getting unwittingly swept up in a drug-running operation in 1958’s Daddy-O. The second of the set’s featured movies Earth vs. The Spider (1958) sees a small town community having to band together in order to stop a giant, mutant spider. This movie was just the latest at the time in Hollywood’s fascination with giant pests. Them! debuted four years prior in 1954 while The Deadly Mantis followed that one three years later in 1957. Another arachnid-based flick simply titled Tarantula three years prior to Earth vs. The Spider. It, too centered on a giant, mutant spider. Only in the case of that movie, the spider mutated as a result of human interference. Considering the number of creature features that came before this one, it doesn’t lessen the enjoyment of Earth vs. The Spider by any means. But it does make analysis easier. Teen-Age Crime Wave is just as enjoyable in its camp with its story centered on tow young teen criminals who go on a crime spree and get an innocent friend caught up in the whole thing, leading the girl to have to make a tough choice along the way. Considering such a plot, if a movie like that were made today, it would be a perfect fit on Lifetime and its digital “sister station” Lifetime Movie Network. And Agent For H.A.R.M. is just as much fun with its campy classic secret agent story centered on a flesh-eating bacteria. While most of the movies presented in this set have been largely forgotten save perhaps for Earth vs. The Spider, the fact that they have been dug up and presented once again is in itself is a great thing. That is because they serve as yet another lesson on Hollywood’s truly rich history. They really serve to show just how far Hollywood has come both to the positive and negative. To that end, the movies featured in this latest collection show once again why Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of the most under appreciated series of the 90s.

The movies chosen for MST3K Volume XXXIII are in themselves more than enough reason for fans of the cult favorite series to add this latest collection of its episodes to their own home DVD libraries. Of course they are just a fraction of what makes this collection just as enjoyable as every one of the series’ previous installments. The live action segments incorporated into the show are once again just as hilarious as ever. In some cases they are in direct relation to the featured flicks as with Daddy-O while in others such as in Agent Of H.A.R.M. they are their own standalone segments. Regardless every segment will have viewers in stitches. In Daddy-O viewers are treated to Joel and company spoofing the club scene from the movie early on in the episode. Audiences will roll on the floor with laughter seeing Joel with his pants pulled almost up to his chest, singing about it while Crow and Tom Servo join in. This is an absolutely hilarious moment. And it is obvious that Hodges and company had a blast filming the segment. In Agent of H.A.R.M. Mike is thrown into a court case after being accused of destroying an entire planet. Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl) just happens to become the prosecutor in the case while Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) plays Mike’s defense attorney. Crow and Tom Servo both serve as character witnesses for Mike. The cast’s acting ability in these segments is wonderful. It is so wonderful that one can’t help but wonder how much of the cast’s work was improve and how much was scripted. The live action segments included in Teen-Age Crime Wave and Earth vs. The Spider are just as funny in their own right. Audiences will discover that for themselves when they add this box set to their own home DVD libraries.

The live action segments incorporated into the set’s featured episodes and the movies that were chosen for each episode are collectively plenty of reason for any MTS3K fan to add this collection to his or her own home DVD library. They are not the only aspects of the collection that make it another must have for fans of the cult favorite series either. The bonus material included in the collection seals the deal for viewers. Whereas the movies featured in this collection serve as their own virtual film history lesson once again, the bonus material provided with each of the movies enriches that lesson even more. Audiences learn lots of equally interesting history in the bonus material that they might not have otherwise known. For example, it is revealed in Daddy-O’s bonus material that this movie was actually now legendary film composer/director John Williams’ first job as a film composer. Equally interesting to learn here is that director Lou Place originally worked with B-movie legend Roger Corman on his movies before taking on the directorial role in this film. The bonus material included in Earth vs. The Spider reveals that one member of the movie’s cast was in fact a WWII veteran who had been shot down over France and held in the very P.O.W. camp that was the inspiration behind the famed WWII movie The Great Escape. And many of the backdrops used in the movie’s filming were rather familiar. That is because they were also used in the likes of The Munsters, Gremlins, and Tarantula. Just as interesting (and funny) to learn is that another of the movie’s “young” actors wasn’t so young. He was in fact 35-years old despite playing a high school student. Teen-Age Crime Wave comes complete with an in-depth history lesson on producer Sam Katzman. Viewers learn in watching this “bio” that Katzman was the man behind Columbia’s first major 3D flick Fort Ti. That movie would go on to be just the first of a number of huge hits for Columbia in the 3D realm. There is also mention of Katzman being one of the big names behind Elvis’ movie career and so much more. His bio is so rich that there is not enough time or space to cover his full career. Tue movie buffs will appreciate such depth both here and in the set’s other bonus material just as much as that provided by Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz before and after the classics run on Turner Classic Movies. The very depth of information provided by this set’s bonus material coupled with the movies themselves and the episodes’ live action segments makes for four more episodes that collectively are another must have for any MST3K fan.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIII is one more must have for any real classic movie buff and for any true MST3K fan. Thankfully it is not the last of the series’ collections as at least one more is planned for release in December. While audiences wait for that collection’s release this installment will make the wait quite easy. That is thanks to its selection of classic forgotten flicks and their companion bonus history lessons. The stingers and zingers thrown out over the course of each movie add even more enjoyment to each presentation. The live action segments incorporated into each episode make for even more enjoyment for viewers. All things considered, MST3K Volume XXXIII is another must have for classic movie buffs and MST3K fans alike. It is available now in stores and online, and can be ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-crime/mst3k-volume-xxxiii. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date, Specs For MST3K Vol. XXXIII

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release the latest collection of episodes from the cult classic series Mystery Science Theater 3000 this summer.

Officials with Shout! Factory have announced that the company will release Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIII on Tuesday, July 28th. The upcoming four-disc set will come a little more than four months after Shout! Factory’s most recent MST3K box set Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXII. That box set was released March 24th. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIII will feature four more so bad that they’re good movies from the halls of Hollywood’s history. Those movies are: Daddy-O (1958), Earth Versus The Spider (1958), Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955), and Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966). It also includes a pair of bonus shorts with Daddy-O and Earth vs. The Spider in the form of Alphabet Antics and Speech—Using Your Voice respectively. Rounding out the set is its bonus features including the featurettes “Beatnick Blues: Investigating Daddy-O,: “This Movie Has Legs: Looking Back at Earth vs. The Spider,” and “Film It Again, Sam: The Katzman Chronicles.” There are also interviews with actors Tommy Cook and Peter Mark Richman in “Tommy Cook: From Jungle Boy To Teenage Jungle” and “Peter Mark Richman: In H.A.R.M.’s Way.” If all of that isn’t enough for audiences, the mini-posters, theatrical trailers, and hour wraps that have all become standard for MST3K’s box sets over the years are all present here, too.

While Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIII won’t be available in stores or online until July 28th, fans can still pre-order the box set now. It can be pre-ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-crime/mst3k-volume-xxxiii.  Fans that pre-order the set now will get it at a discounted price of $53.97 versus the MSRP of $59.97. Those same fans will also receive a free, exclusive MST3K coaster along with it. To sweeten the deal even more, those fans that pre-order the set now will also get it shipped two weeks ahead of its official release date.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MST3K Volume XXXII IS Yet Another Must Have Both For Series’ Long-Time Fans And Classic Movie Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of the most underrated series in television’s modern history. The series, which originally ran from November 1988 to August 1999, was on the surface a show that poked fun at the best of the worst of Hollywood’s history. On a deeper level though, it proved a show that actually celebrated that history in its own playful way. It is because of MST3K that so many then much younger audiences become the lovers of film that they are today. This critic is among that mass of cinephiles, or lovers of cinema. After its cancellation in 1999, it became relatively difficult to find the show anywhere, including online. Thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory though, the series has been kept alive through an ongoing series of box sets, each containing four episodes from the series’ eleven-season run. And today, Shout! Factory released what is just the latest in that ongoing series of box sets in the form of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXII. Volume XXXII is yet another joy for any MST3K fan or film buff in general. The central reason for this is of course the films that were chosen for this collection. Shout! Factory has pulled four more best of the worst flicks. They are flicks that are so bad that they’re great even though their cast and crews would rather they remain forgotten.  Another reason that that it is another great set is the collective segments that break up the movies. The timing of Joel, Mike, and their cast mates make for plenty of laughs within themselves. And last but not least worth noting is the bonus material included with the movies. Cast member Frank Conniff offers new introductions to two of the movies. There is also a pair of background pieces on Space Travelers and Hercules that audiences will enjoy along with a pair of bonuses that focus more on the show. All of these bonuses by themselves offer plenty of enjoyment for MST3K fans of all ages. Together with the movies chosen for this set and the live action segments that break them up, MST3K Volume XXXII proves itself one more great addition to the collection of any movie buff and any MST3K fan out there today.

One hundred ninety-seven episodes and eleven years. That is how long the cult hit series Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran in its original broadcast. Throughout the course of time and those episodes, MST3K offered audiences more laughs than one can even begin to count. One of the reasons that it remained such a laugh riot for so long was its choice of movies and those movies’ associated commentary. That is just as obvious in the series’ latest collection of films. The movies picked for this collection include Radar Secret Service (1950), San Francisco International (1970)—which was the “pilot” for the short-lived series—Space Travelers (1969), and the granddaddy of all Hercules incarnations in the 1958 Italian import starring Steve Reeves. Gene Hackman probably doesn’t mind that Space Travelers is one of his far lesser-known pieces today, considering his body of work. And were he alive today, Gregory Peck would likely feel the same about the movie. Yes, it’s that campy. By comparison, Apollo 13 and every other cheesy space flick that has come along since puts this movie to shame. Yet it’s so bad that one can’t help but watch. By contrast, the 1958 Italian import of Hercules is actually campy I nits own right. But at the same time, it is just as enjoyable as it is campy. It could even be argued that its camp is what makes it so worth the watch, again supporting the central argument of why this collection’s movie selection makes it another must have for fans of the series. Radar Secret Service is just as campy both in its story and in its presentation. The story sees a group of government agents tracking a shipment of stolen uranium through the use of (yup) radar. The acting is just as cheesy as the story. It is pretty much on the same level as B-movie king Roger Corman’s classic sci-fi flicks. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is os cheesy that audiences can’t help but laugh at it, in turn making audiences want to keep watching the movie. Still not enough? How about the standard cheese factor of the original Hercules (1958). The movie features one of the greatest of the demi-gods going on a quest for the mythical golden fleece. There is plenty of eye candy for the ladies. And for the guys, there is even an island populated by nothing but women that allegedly mate with men who come there and then kill them. And then there’s the over-the-top action of San Francisco International that takes place at a San Francisco airport. Of course as dumbed down and cheesy as that seems, there is plenty of material out there today that is even less intelligent offered to audiences. Keeping that in mind, it actually makes the likes of San Francisco International and the rest of this set’s movie’s all the more entertaining and important to its enjoyment.

The movies that were chosen for MST3 Volume XXXII are each equally entertaining in their own right. By themselves, they will offer their own share of laughs for both long-time fans of the series and for classic movie buffs alike. Of course by themselves, the movies can only offer but so many laughs. The segments that break up the movies (and the riffing during the movies) add to the laughs. Audiences will laugh uproariously when Crow and the rest of his robot buddies try to bring Mike back to himself in the skits used between Radar Secret Service. Their attempt to re-create his high school class reunion is a prime example of how the show’s mid-movie skits will leave audiences in stitches. Tom Servo’s speech between segments of Hercules about the ability to line up the stars to make any constellation is just as hilarious. It is so funny because it’s true. For eons, humans have passed down the knowledge of certain star clusters being specific patterns. Yet there are so many stars out there that it would be just as easy to take the same groupings of stars, line them up with other star groupings and make wholly different constellations. After all, who is to say that there couldn’t be a “sandwich” constellation? Audiences that watch this episode will get that joke. Speaking of jokes, the riffing during the movies expertly complements the mid-movie segments. In only a matter of minutes in Radar Secret Service, Mike and company take playful jabs at Harrison Ford, the classic 1975 sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, and even breakfast cereal Golden Grahams. If that’s not enough, there are jokes at the expense of the late, great Judy Garland and famed director John Sturges in Space Travelers (a.k.a Marooned). The writers playfully jab at Sturges that he had done much better work than Space Travelers, showing just how cheesy and over-the-top it was. There are plenty more jokes and riffs at which audiences will laugh uproariously throughout this set’s movies. They come so fast and furious that the only way for audiences to catch and fully enjoy them all is to pick up MST3K Volume XXXII. Regardless of whether for the noted skits and riffs or for others not noted here, audiences will agree in purchasing MST3K Volume XXXII that the laughs generated by each and every skit and joke more than make this collection of classic flicks a must have for any of the series’ fans and classic movie buffs alike.

The mid-movie skits and riffs offered up throughout the course of each of this set’s movies are a laugh riot. Between the zany skits, the jabs at all things pop culture, and the jokes in general, many audiences might find themselves laughing so hard that they cry tears of joy. That is thanks to the talent of the writers and to the choice of movies for this collection. For all of the enjoyment brought by the movies and the collective riffs and skits, they still are not all that makes this collection so fun for fans and movie buffs alike. The bonus material included with the movies puts the finishing touch on the set, proving without a doubt not only why MST3K Volume XXXII is a must have for fans and movie buffs alike, but also that this set is one of the year’s best new box sets for grown-up audiences. This time out, Shout! Factory has included a history on Space Travelers and its legendary director John Sturges and a history on Hercules producer Joseph E. Levine. There is also a fun little look at Frank and Trace’s trip to the U.K. for a sci-fi fan fest across the pond, and an equally entertaining piece focusing on the history of “Satellite News.” Space Travelers’ feature centering on director John Sturges spends a little bit of time going into detail on his body of work that included huge hits such as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, and The Old Man and the Sea just to name a few. It compares those works to Space Travelers and its value versus that of this much bigger hits, explaining that is how the riff in the movie came to be. There is also an interesting point/counterpoint in whether or not its heads should have stuck with the title of Marooned or if going with the title of Space Travelers was better. For anyone that is a true lover of movies, this discussion in itself is sure to bring about plenty more discussions. Hercules’ feature centering on producer Joseph E. Levine is an eye-opener for cinephiles of all ages. It points out the movies that were brought to American viewers thanks to his efforts. As is noted in the feature, if not for Levine’s efforts American audiences might never have gotten to see the 1958 take of Hercules or another major motion picture in the form of Godzilla and other major foreign language films. Yes, Levine was even responsible for importing Godzilla. He is also the man responsible for bringing to audiences such hits as The Graduate, The Producers (go figure), and Darling among so many others. While it is not an extensive profile, this feature on Joseph E. Levine is still an important addition to MST3K’s latest collection of movies. It is just as important for any film history buffs, too. This feature and the piece on Space Travelers’ history are the central bonus features included in this set. That is not to discount the video post card that is Frank and Trace’s trip to London. or the “Satellite News” feature included in San Francisco International. Frank and Trace’s overseas trip serves to show the continued popularity of MST3K not just in America but around the world. That by itself is quite the statement. And speaking of statements, such a statement partnered with each and every other element noted here shows exactly why MST3K Volume XXXII is a must have for any of the series’ fans and for any classic movie buff. What’s more, everything noted here proves why this box set belongs on every critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups come December.

Whether for the movies chosen for the set, the mid-movie skits included in each episode and the riffing during the movies, or for the bonus material, MST3K Volume XXXII proves itself clearly to be a must have for any long-time fan of this cult favorite series. It also proves to be just as much of a must have for any classic movie buff out there. MST3K Volume XXXII is available in stores and online now and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-comedy/mst3k-volume-xxxii. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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