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:

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Robot Jox Is One Of 2015’s Top New Reissues

Courtesy/Shout! Factory/Empire Pictures/MGM/Orion Pictures

Courtesy/Shout! Factory/Empire Pictures/MGM/Orion Pictures

The 1980s was one of the movie industry’s best eras and one of its worst. That is because a lot of great classic movies were born in that era. However, just as many really bad movies came out of that decade. There was also a handful of movies that while seemed bad at the time, have since proven to be so far ahead of their time and underappreciated in hindsight. Orion Pictures’ 1989 sci-fi action flick Robot Jox is one of the latter of those movies. And thanks to Shout! Factory, Robot Jox a new generation of moviegoers will see for themselves just how underappreciated the movie has been ever since its debut some twenty-six years ago. That is because Shout! Factory’s horror division Scream Factory re-issued the modern classic b-movie on Blu-ray this summer. Audiences that give this movie a chance will see for themselves that there is a lot that makes this movie well worth the watch, its script being the most important of its elements. The script presents a story that is more than just two men facing off in a pair of giant, fighting robots. Rather it is something deeper. That something deeper will be discussed at more length shortly. Its special effects are, colletively speaking, another important part of the movie’s whole. In comparison to both action movies from that era and from today’s age of big budget special effects blockbusters, Robot Jox boasts special effects that are surprisingly impressive. They are impressive both in themselves and in juxtaposition to the movie’s story. That will be discussed at more length later. Last but hardly least worth noting of the movie’s re-issue is its bevy of bonus material. Audiences get an extensive amount of interviews with those that worked behind the cameras in order to bring the movie to life. It adds plenty of insight and in turn enjoyment to the overall viewing experience. The result of that enjoyment is the agreement that Robot Jox is in fact one of the most underrated movies of its time and perhaps even of its genre and in knowing this, it proves itself to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues.

Scream Factory’s (Shout! Factory’s horror division) recent re-issue of the classic sci-fi B-flick Robot Jox is one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues. The main reason for the honor is the movie’s script. On the surface, it would seem to the untrained eye that the script presents a story that is just another movie about giant, fighting robots. But in reality it is far more than that. The script presents a story with just as much commentary and drama as with enjoyable fight scenes. The commentary in question can be argued to be the product of then Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia as Achilles–an American robot jock–faces off against Alexander–who interestingly enough is a Russian character played by an American actor–in a battle for the rights to Alaska and its resources. It is interesting to note that writer/director Stuart Gordon never makes clear which countries are on which side of the two post-WWIII factions. So it can only be assumed from this subtlety and the use of the movie’s two main characters that in fact Stuart was reflecting tensions in the real world as a model for the tensions divisions within the world of Robot Jox. It is just one part of what makes the movie’s script such an important part of the movie’s whole. The human drama element incorporated into the movie makes for even more interest and enjoyment. Achilles’ (Gary Graham–Alien Nation, All The Right Moves, Star Trek: Enterprise) personal drama was nothing new to the world of movies and television then nor is it now. But the fact that Gordon was able to keep that element overtake the story’s other elements or even become too schmaltzy is a tribute to Gordon’s attention to detail. The same can be said of his ability to prevent the action sequences from overpowering the script, too. In comparison to so many of today’s major action flicks, too many of those movies rely more on the quantity of explosions than the quality of the story in whole. Thankfully Gordon’s creation wasn’t and isn’t one of those movies, even having been released in 1989. It balances that element with the movie’s commentary and human drama to make a script that ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end. In turn, that balance proves the movie’s script to be one of its most important elements if not its most important.

Stuart Gordon’s script is one of the most important elements of Robot Jox’s presentation. It balances each of its elements so well that it will assuredly keep audiences fully engaged. On a side note, considering the amount of foul language peppered throughout the script and Athena’s short scene featuring her bare backside, it is a surprise that this movie got a “PG” rating. Maybe that’s just the sign of changing times. Regardless, the script behind Robot Jox is just one part of what makes the movie such a welcome re-issue. The special effects utilized in Robot Jox are just as important to the whole of the movie as the movie’s script. The special effects are such an important element in that in comparison to action flicks churned out in the 80s, few if any relied on models and stop motion photography in the same fashion or extent of this movie. Rather, most action flicks of the time were beginning to rely on bigger budget special effects including what was then the earliest incarnations of computer generated special effects and other movie magic. To see that those behind the cameras went the low-fi (for lack of better wording) route instead in this case just makes it all the more enjoyable. That is because it throws back to the days of Roger Corman’s classic B-flicks. It shows that such an approach could at the time still result in a movie that looked surprisingly impressive and that movie makers didn’t necessarily have to use the more modern approach to entertain audiences. For that matter moviemakers could probably use such an approach today and it would still look better than most of the explosion-laden action flicks that currently pollute American theaters. That in mind, the special effects used in Robot Jox, which are themselves discussed at more length in the bonus commentary included in the reissue’s bonus material, show just how important they are to the whole of the movie even nearly four decades after the movie’s original debut.

The script behind Robot Jox and its special effects are both equally important in considering what makes this movie such a welcome return. As important as both elements are, they are only a couple of parts of the whole of the movie’s enjoyment. The extensive commentaries from those behind the cameras are just as important as the movie’s script and it special effects in considering its enjoyment. Audiences will note of the movie’s bonus commentaries, that they get to hear from the movie’s writer/director Stuart Gordon as well as others behind the cameras including members of the movie’s special effects and visual effects department. Audiences learn through the interviewees’ discussions about the work that went into assembling the robot models used in the fight scenes, and the work put in to hide the wires on which the miniatures were mounted as well as the very work put in to bring the robots to life per se among so many other topics. Those and all of the other topics tackled along with the bonus gag reel and interview with star Paul Koslo (Joe Kidd, The Omega Man, Vanishing Point) combine to show why the bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to the movie’s script and special effects. It gives an in-depth look at just how much work went in to bringing to life not just the robots, but the movie in whole. According to one of the interviewees, the movie actually took some four years to be completed. That is a lot of time and work; time and work that paid off quite well in the end as the movie’s re-issue reveals. It paid off so well that the result is, again, one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues.

Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Robot Jox is one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues. It is more than just another cheesy 80s action flick. Rather it is a movie with a script that seems to reflect the world’s political climate at the time of its debut and boasts special effects that are surprisingly impressive compared to both those of other 80s action flicks and those released in recent years. The discussions on those special effects and other aspects of the movie’s creation in the reissue’s new bonus commentaries rounds out the movie’s presentation makes for even more appreciation for the movie. In the end, all three elements together show clearly why Scream Factory’s re-issue of Robot Jox is one of the best of the year’s crop of new re-issues. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/robot-jox. More information on this and other titles from Scream! Factory is available online now at:

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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

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Out Of The Vault: Halloween Is A Frightfully Fun Treat For Every Nicktoons Nostalgic

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

August is almost over and September is about to begin. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is right around the corner. With the unofficial start of the annual holiday season nearing once again audiences are going to start seeing any number of seasonally-themed DVDs and Blu-rays hitting store shelves if they haven’t already. While many of the DVDs and Blu-rays are the same ones that are seen every year, there are some new additions each year. One of the most notable of this year’s crop of new holiday-themed DVDs is Nickelodeon’s new Out Of The Vault: Halloween collection. This new collection of Halloween-themed classic Nicktoons episodes is one that audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the collection’s episodes. The collection features sixteen classic Nicktoons episodes pulled from five classic Nicktoons series. Their presentation is relatively well-balanced over the course of the disc’s roughly three and a half hour run time. The writing behind each of the featured episodes is just as important to the collection’s enjoyment as the episodes and their distribution. The writing incorporated into each of the episodes equal amounts and frights and fun. Rounding out the reasons that this brand new compilation is so much fun is the various animation styles of each series. It is a subtle factor. But it really shows in the bigger picture one of the most important parts of what once made cartoons great. That will be discussed at more length later. But it is just as important as any of the other reasons noted here. All things considered, Out Of The Vault: Halloween shows in the end to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and one more collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection.

Nickelodeon’s new holiday DVD Out Of The Vault: Halloween is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Holidays aside, it is also another collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable watch is its featured episodes. The episodes are not limited to just a small handful from one classic Nicktoon. Rather they are pulled from a healthy spread of the network’s classic animated series. Those series include: Hey Arnold!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and CatDog. Each series is well-represented, too with four of the series being represented by three episode each and the fifth—Rocko’s Modern Life—being represented by four episodes. That brings the episode total to sixteen episodes and roughly three and a half hours of programming. In an even larger sense, what such a balanced representation does is give those that might otherwise not have any of the series’ previously released box sets the chance to finally own at least a part of the featured series and kick-start their collections. Keeping this in mind, the episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection show that on their own, they collectively make a solid reason for this collection to be part of any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.

The episodes featured in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection by themselves why this collection is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Of course the episodes themselves are just one part of the reason that the collection proves to be so impressive. The writing that went into the episodes is another reason that this collection proves to be such a solid new release. “Arnold’s Halloween” is just one example of how the writing behind the collection’s episodes makes the collection in whole so much fun. This episode playfully pays homage to both to Orson Welles’ classic radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. It just adds a little bit of a spin that will have audiences of all ages laughing throughout the episode and will ultimately leave them wanting to watch it again not just during Halloween but during any time of the year. The Angry Beavers episode “The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up” shows doubly just how important the writing behind the collections episode is to the presentation in whole. The first way in which it does so with this episode is the very title of the episode. The title is a playful poke at the classic 1951 sci-fi flick The Day The Earth Stood Still. the episode itself pays tribute to all of the classic sci-fi/horror flicks that were churned out throughout the 1950s. Having Dag and Norbert actually become part of one of those classic films puts its own spin on those classics that will have older audiences and younger viewers alike laughing together at the inanity of it all. “This Is Your Brain on Ickis” is yet another example of how the episodes’ writing makes this collection so enjoyable. As with the noted Angry Beavers episode, the title of this episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in itself an example of how its writing makes it so fun. The title is a playful homage to the 80s anti-drug campaign that told viewers “This is your brain on drugs” as it showed an egg frying in a pan. The episode itself shows the strength of its writing as Ickis shrinks down and takes over monster hunter Simon’s brain. The end result will have viewers laughing tears of joy. It is just one more example of how the writing behind the episodes featured in this collection makes the presentation in whole so enjoyable. There are plenty of other episodes featured throughout this collection that could be used as examples of the strength of the episodes’ writing. Those episodes and the ones noted here together show in whole why the writing behind each episode together with the episodes themselves makes Out of the Vault: Halloween a must have this Halloween for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The episodes featured as part of Out of the Vault: Halloween and the writing behind each episode both make for plenty of reason for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to add this DVD to their personal home DVD library. While both of the noted elements are clear reasons that this collection shines so brightly, the animation presented in each series proves to be just as important to the set in whole. Most people probably won’t pay that much attention to the animation style of each series presented in this DVD. But the reality is that the animation style of each series is just as important to the enjoyment of this collection as anything else. That is because it serves as a reminder of the artistic originality that once made cartoons so great. By comparison there is a troubling lack of that artistic creativity and originality in today’s cartoons. The series on television today by and large don’t even deserve to be called animated series being that they are cookie cutter creations made by computers rather than the human hand. Looking at the animation style of each presented series, it reminds audiences of the importance of putting one’s heart and soul into a cartoon rather than just moving a mouse and using a bunch of desktop tools. From the somewhat grainy look of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters to the softer design style of Hey Arnold! and CatDog to the rigidity of the animation in The Angry Beavers and even the almost free-flowing style of Rocko’s Modern Life the different animation styles within each series serves to give each series just as much of its own identity as the writing behind each series’ episodes. Both of those elements come together with the episodes themselves and their balance from one series to the next to make fully clear why Out of the Vault: Halloween is a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays.

Out of the Vault: Halloween is not the first Nicktoons compilation to be released this year by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory. It is however, just as enjoyable as the companies’ previous compilation disc. The episodes featured in this collection and their balance from one series to the next are collectively one reason that it is so enjoyable. The largely laugh-inciting writing behind each series’ episodes is another reason that the collection proves so enjoyable. And the original, hand-drawn animation at the base of each episode rounds out the presentation. Each series’ animation reminds audiences of what once made cartoons so great. All three reasons considered together, they make Out of the Vault: Halloween one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and a frightfully fun treat for every Nicktoons Nostalgic. It will be available next Tuesday, September 1st in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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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:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

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20 Million Miles To Earth Is A Must See For Any Lover Of Classic Cinema And Sci-Fi

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The annual countdown to Halloween is on once again. With Halloween only a few more weeks away at the time of this review, everyone’s busy looking for a way to bring some frights and fun to their yearly celebrations. Mill Creek has given audiences two more wonderful options for their Halloween parties thanks to its release of the Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature. This new double dose of classic monster movies includes two of Ray Harryhausen’s great sci-fi/horror classics in the form of 20 Million Miles to Earth and It Came From Beneath The Sea. The second of the features will be discussed at a later date. For now, the focus will be solely on the first in the pair. 20 Million Miles To Earth is a wonderful watch not only for those Halloween parties this year, but for anyone that is a lover of classic cinema in general. The main aspect of this classic sci-fi flick that makes it work is its script. Yes, there’s at least one minor issue with the writing. That will be noted later. But by and large, the script for this movie is a big part of why audiences will love it. Just as important to the whole are the movie’s special effects. Compared to nearly every one of today’s way-over-the-top special effects blockbusters, the effects used in this piece are outstanding. And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the movie’s cast. The movie’s lead actors were no strangers to their crafts. They were quite versed as a matter of fact. The importance of this aspect will also be noted later. Suffice it to say that all three of these factors together make 20 Million Miles to Earth a must see whether at this year’s Halloween get together or any other time of the year by any lover of classic cinema. And together with its companion piece It Came From Beneath The Sea, it makes Mill Creek’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature an absolute must see.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature is an absolute must see by any lover of classic cinema. While not the first time that the movies in this set have seen the light of day, they are very difficult to find on DVD or Blu-ray. So taking that into consideration, anyone with any love for the golden age of cinema will appreciate this double movie presentation. Looking specifically for now at the first of the features, 20 Million Miles to Earth, this movie works so well here for a number of reasons. One reason that it works so well is its writing. The story behind this movie was nothing new for the film industry when it debuted in June 1957. It sees an ever-growing lizard creature from Venus terrorizing the Sicilian countryside after having been released by a young boy named Pepe. The end result is the hunt and eventual killing of the unnamed creature. Legendary B-movie director Roger Corman had already churned out ten sci-fi classics when this movie debuted. And It Came From Beneath The Sea, the other film featured in this collection, had already debuted two years previous. Adding in to the believability of the story, the birth of the “space race” was only months away as Russia went on in October of that year to release Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. So it goes without saying that the fascination with worlds and beings other than our own was at an all-time high when this movie made its premiere. That makes the movie’s very plot so fun.

The plot behind 20 Million Miles to Earth, when set against the other B-movies of its era, is just as enjoyable as those churned out by fellow sci-fi legend Roger Corman and by Harryhausen himself. The plot is just one minute part of what makes this script work, too. The manner in which the movie’s writing team executed the story adds to the overall enjoyment. If not for young Pepe’s greed (he even tries to extort money from the American military officers when they come to investigate the crash), none of what happened might have happened. In turn there might not have been a story. One could argue that if not a child, then an adult might have done the same thing as Pepe. That’s true, too. So taking this aspect of the movie’s writing into consideration, one can’t help but wonder if the writers were trying to make a statement about the cost and danger of human nature a la 1951’s The Day The Earth Stood Still.   In the same vein, Col. Calder (played wonderfully here by William Hopper) makes a statement regarding the creature being docile unless provoked right before provoking the creature so as to capture it. That is so subtle but so powerful a statement about human nature, too. If Calder knew the creature was docile, why not try a peaceful means to corral it? Some might argue this to be a major plot hole. A more thoughtful analysis though, reveals that it could have been another lightly veiled commentary about the contradictory nature of humans in terms of their behaviors and thought processes. It’s really something to think about. It is that writing and commentary (intended or not) that along with the script makes 20 Million Miles to Earth such a wonderful watch.

The seemingly lightly veiled commentary aside, another reason that the script’s writing works so well is that the movie’s writing team even made certain to explain how the unnamed lizard creature managed to grow so fast. As was explained by one character, the Earth’s atmospheric make up was to blame for the creature’s growth. As long as it was breathing the air on Earth, it would keep growing every day. That most important of all of the story’s aspect is answered so quickly and easily. It’s one more way in which the movie’s writing team made sure to cover all of its bases when crafting the story. It’s the final part of the movie’s writing that makes the script (and the movie in whole) so enjoyable so many years after its premiere.

The writing that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth is a big reason for the movie’s success nearly sixty years after it debuted. That should be obvious by now. Another reason that the movie continues to be so beloved to this day is its special effects. Special effects have evolved so much throughout the history of the movie industry. While the special effects used in movies such as this might be considered simplistic by some, it is that simplicity that makes them so wonderful. The special effects of today’s major name blockbusters have completely jumped the shark for lack of better wording. They are almost entirely created via computer. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion special effects in this movie (and others that he worked on) were done entirely by hand. Sure there was some movie magic incorporated along the way to help. But again in comparison to so many of today’s special effects extravaganzas, those effects are a product of their time. They are used as a part of the overall story rather than as the star of the film. Today’s action blockbusters are the polar opposite. That factor alone makes 20 Million Miles to Earth worth the watch. Together with its outstanding writing, the movie’s special effects make this movie even more of a must see for any lover of classic cinema and sci-fi.

The writing and the special effects that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth both play their own important role in the movie’s overall enjoyment and success. As important as both factors are to the whole presentation, there is still one more aspect worth noting in examining the movie. That final aspect is the movie’s lead cast. Anyone with any love of classic movies and television will appreciate the history lesson presented through just the movie’s cast. William Hopper leads the movie’s cast as Col. Robert Calder. Hopper is best known for his role of Private Detective Paul Drake in the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. Drake was a major character in that series as he helped Mason solve a number of cases throughout the show’s run. Perry Mason, by the way, can still be seen today on Me-TV. He also starred opposite film legend James Dean in the 1955 hit drama Rebel Without A Cause. He starred alongside a then young Natalie Wood as the father to her Judy. On a side note, Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island) also starred in that movie. Adding to Hopper’s resume, 20 Million Miles to Earth wasn’t Hopper’s first creature feature. He starred in another well-known creature feature that premiered only months before this one. That movie, released by Universal Pictures, is called The Deadly Mantis. For those that haven’t seen that movie, imagine Godzilla with a giant, radioactive praying mantis in place of the giant, radioactive lizard. Yeah. And instead of taking place in Japan, the giant mantis thaws out in the North Pole and comes to America to cause all kinds of havoc. It’s still a great watch, regardless. These are just some of the pieces in which Hopper starred. It goes without saying that Hopper’s experience in both action and drama roles proved him to be a good choice for his role. His wasn’t the only good choice, either. Hopper’s co-stars Joan Taylor, Thomas Browne Henry, and John Zaremba starred together in another of Ray Harryhausen’s hits Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers in 1956. So they were both just as natural for their roles in this film, too. It was probably Zaremba’s work on these sci-fi favorites that led to his casting in the cult hit sci-fi series Time Tunnel. That series ran for only one year from 1966 – 1967. It is still a fan favorite to this day, though. The movie’s other cast members each starred in some of the movie industry’s biggest names, too. Arthur Space played the supporting role of Dr. Sharman in 20 Million Miles to Earth. Only months before, he starred alongside famed actor James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis as Donald Hall, the chief engineer of Ray Airlines. There are plenty of other actors whose resumes add plenty of credit to 20 Million Miles to Earth. But it would take far too long to note each one and their resume. Needless to say, one should have quite the clear picture by now of just how important the cast of 20 Million Miles to Earth was to the movie’s success. The cast’s collective experience shines through from start to finish here making it entirely clear once more just why this movie is still one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films in modern film history and why this movie was a wise addition to Mill Creek’s newly released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature.

20 Million Miles to Earth is one of the greatest sci-fi flicks in modern movie history. So much went into the movie in such a small span of time. Its writing was simple yet so in-depth. The special effects headed up by screen legend Ray Harryhausen are so much better than those presented in today’s major blockbusters. Harryhausen’s special effects are part of the story rather than the star. They do so much to help advance the story. And last but not least of all is the movie’s cast. The cast—both the lead and supporting cast—came into the movie with quite the collective resume. That vast amount of experience shared between the movie’s cast shines through here from start to finish. It is the last touch in a movie that any lover of classic cinema and of sci-fi in whole must see at least once. Now that Halloween’s on its way again, that’s one more reason to pick up this new release from Mill Creek Entertainment. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at http://www.millcreekent.com/20-million-miles-to-earth-it-came-from-beneath-the-sea-ray-harryhausen-double-feature.html. More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at:

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Iron Sky A Modern Day Comedy Cult Classic B-Movie

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Iron Sky is hilarious.  In fact it’s so terrible that one can’t help but laugh at this triple threat of a farce.  On the surface it’s obviously a sci-fi spoof.  On another, having it be about Nazis living on the moon coming to invade Earth makes it also a spoof of the war movie genre.  And having a Sarah Palin look-alike as the President makes it a political spoof, too.  Put all of these spoofs together into one pot and this movie is sure to become a modern day cult classic.  Despite what director Timo Vuorensola notes in the director’s commentary, the spoof of all three genres is there, even if it was meant first and foremost to be nothing but a war comedy.

Iron Sky comes across as one of those movies that were it made in the heyday of science fiction, would have been one of the movies featured on the former Syfy channel series, Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The very concept of generations of Nazis living on the moon, planning an eventual attack on Earth is absolutely laughable in itself.  But then again, the very concept isn’t meant to be taken seriously.  For that matter, nothing in this movie is meant to be taken seriously.  Even Vuorensola notes in the “Making of” featurette that the movie was completed in thirty-seven days and that it wasn’t even intended to be the next movie that he made.  The first movie he made was a spoof of the Star Trek franchise.  On a side note, audiences will laugh hysterically at the short clips of that film.  But having completed this movie in such a short time and making it just as hilarious as so many classic sci-fi movies puts it right up there with the likes of B-movie master Roger Corman.

The political spoof side of Iron Sky is just as hilarious as the sci-fi and war movie spoofs thrown into this laugh-a-minute mish-mash of a movie.  The very fact that those behind the cameras would have a Sarah Palin like figure as the leader of the free world is just as funny as the concept of Nazis living on the moon, planning an Earth invasion.  The concept of a figure such as Mrs. Palin leading the country isn’t so much what’s funny.  Rather, it’s the spoof of the former Presidential candidate that is funny.  The president here is a total caricature of Palin that’s completely over the top.  Even funnier is what Vuorensola notes in the director’s commentary about her.  He notes that Palin originally wasn’t even the person that was going to be spoofed.  Rather, he says that his original plan was to use a spoof of *surprise surprise* Jenna Bush.  That comment alone is worth its share of laughs.  The randomness of her as an original choice makes both that choice and the latter that much funnier.  Again, there’s more comedy added to this movie and more proof of the value of bonus features and commentary for a movie’s home release.

The Palin caricature in this movie makes for so many laughs.  Add in the absurdity of her interactions with the world’s other leaders, and viewers can’t help but laugh at the story’s political commentary.  One glance at the news on any network today shows that while what’s shown here is a spoof, there is at least some reality in the leaders’ over the top immaturity and fighting.  During the huge space flight scenes, audience even see the President’s campaign manager on the bridge of her ship with monitors in the background flashing the word, “Vote” interchanging with images of the President.  Sure, jokes of that style are common in political movies.  But that it was so subtle is what makes it so funny.  Even before that, there is another subtlety that audiences will love if they catch it.  As the attack on Earth begins, the President and company are watching the news of the attack.  The crawl on the bottom of the screen reads something to the effect of the FDA had determined that nearly everything causes cancer.  Again, it’s that subtlety that makes this joke so funny.  Here’s this message about people’s health safety begin run against news of an attack on Earth.  It makes for so many laughs for those who manage to catch it.  Of course, there is so much more that viewers will catch and enjoy from this way over the top triple threat of a spoof. And in catching all of the other jokes and subtleties will leave any viewer agreeing that this movie is bound to become a modern comedy cult classic, albeit an underrated one.  But it’s bound to be a cult classic nonetheless for those who are open minded enough to appreciate its total absurdity.

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