It’s a pretty great time to be a MSTie. After an uber successful Kickstarter campaign, we know we’re getting a whole new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with all new cast members and writers. That’s pretty darn exciting. But if you’re more interested in seeing the classic episodes—maybe some that you haven’t seen in a long time—then we’re especially lucky that Shout! Factory keeps putting them out on DVD for us. This week sees the release of Volume XXXV (that’s 35 for you non-Romans out there), which features four episodes that haven’t been on disc before. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Shout!’s always done a very good job of spreading things out where they can, giving people things from all over the nine seasons. This set offers up two Joel Hodgson episodes and two Mike Nelson episodes, all from the Comedy Central era. And, like every release since the early days, they have offered specially-designed movie posters by Steve Vance.
Show 315 – Teenage Cave Man
Teenage Cave Man was another in MST3K‘s long “partnership” with the American International Pictures back catalog. The last volume of discs, XXXIV, was nothing but AIP movies, two by Roger Corman. Corman also directed and produced Teenage Cave Man, a 1958 endeavor starring Robert Vaughn and a number of women in loin cloths. The twist ending to the movie is actually that it’s not prehistoric but post-apocalyptic, and that mankind has started over with cave men after destroying the world. Predates Planet of the Apes by a decade. The movie itself is so short, however—only 65 minutes when it was released theatrically—so we’re also treated to not one but two short films for Joel and the bots to riff on: Aquatic Wizards, a newsreel about waterskiing (a classic), and Catching Trouble, a 1936 reel about catching animals in the Everglades… okay, cool. The extras here include a making-of the movie featuring Corman.
Show 405 – Being from Another Planet
This is a weird case. The movie, which came out in 1982, was originally released as Time Walker, about an alien whom a team of archaeologists find and believe to be a mummy. It awakens and goes on a rampage throughout a college campus looking for five alien crystals a student took. A little more exciting than the Being from Another Planet cut we get on MST3K, but that’s what makes it perfect for riffing. The extras here include the full Time Walker cut of the movie, a theatrical trailer, and an interview with the movie’s composer, Richard Band. He wrote the music for a whole heap of ’80s horror, perhaps most notably Re-Animator.
Show 524 – 12 to the Moon
The finale of season five (half of which starred new host Michael J. Nelson) took on 12 to the Moon, a rather self-serious 1960 science fiction movie about an international crew aboard the first mission to the moon. There’s 12 of them. That rocket is giant. And, naturally, the lantern-jawed American is the captain of the expedition. Mike and the bots have a lot of fun with the overwrought dialogue and the moon aliens they encounter. This episode also features the short Design for Dreaming, an industrial film with a dancing woman being led by a dancing masked man into “dreams” about the General Motors exhibition and the display of Frigidaire’s “Kitchen of the Future.” Another absolute classic of shorts. The extra here is a short featurette about 12 to the Moon.
Show 703 – Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell
This is the third episode in the truncated seventh season, which was shortened due to the making of the feature film which came out in April of 1996, after five of the six episodes had aired. They were doing a lot of newer movies at this point, and 1988’s Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell was the newest of this lot. It’s a typical ’80s sword-and-sorcery movie about a sardonic roving hero who has to fight an evil wizard and his army of the undead. It’s actually the third movie in the Deathstalker series, and a line about past adventures leads Crow to lament “Aww, this is a sequel to something.” The lone extra on this disc is an interview with Thom Christopher, who played the film’s villain.
The thing I love about Mystery Science Theater 3000 —and I think this is true for a lot of people—is that it’s comfort food. You can put on any episode and whether you sit and pay close attention, or keep it on as you do your taxes. No matter what, you’ll be able to watch and laugh and just enjoy. These four episodes aren’t ones that get talked about too much, but they’re just as funny and sharp as Manos or The Final Sacrifice.
I love that we still have more MST3K to come, both new and new to disc. Fills me with glee.
Images: Shout! Factory/Steve Vance, Best Brains
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!