This week, a holiday tradition continues, some other television shows worth buying are released, and some movies I didn’t like all that much decide to come out on Blu-ray at the same time. At least there’s Ye Olde Satellite of Love to redeem us.
There was a time, in the not-too-distant future-past, when Thanksgiving Day meant Mystery Science Theater. Joel and/or Mike and the bots would offer specially-shot host segments germane to the day of tryptophan, family squabbling, and your creepy uncle being way too eager to unbutton his pants. Oh, what glorious days were those, when you could plop in front of Comedy Central and enjoy people and robots making fun of bad movies while your mom resented your dad for wanting to watch with you instead of helping her. To commemorate those halcyon days in the 1990s, Shout Factory has given us another in their long line of MST3K boxsets, this one featuring 4 never-before-on-DVD episodes and a bunch of special features attuned to the Turkey Dayness of it all. And as usual, they’ve given us two Comedy Central episodes and two Sci-Fi Channel episodes.
The first episode is a very early one, episode 203, Jungle Goddess, which is a movie about two adventurers (one of whom is TV Superman George Reeves) have to track down a missing heiress who has become the queen of a “savage” jungle tribe. Because she’s white, I guess. This episode also featured the first part of a Bela Lugosi serial called “The Menacing Power,” which has a mad scientist faking his own death and crashing a plane full of his enemies. Pretty normal thing to do.
Second is The Painted Hills, episode 510, which is a western based on a novel but was turned into a vehicle for canine superstar Lassie. Yep, so there’s a collie dog running around saving people or whatever. Seriously, who thought a dog trying to get revenge would have worked? We also get on this the short “Body Care & Grooming” where college kids (COLLEGE) have to learn that being clean and well-groomed is the only way to hook up with people. Good thing they got that scholarship.
Next, we jump all the way to 912, The Screaming Skull, a super low-budget horror version of Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Cukor’s Gaslight, with the dead first wife our heroine’s new husband haunting her, but maybe it’s also just her going insane because someone’s faking her out. The movie also contains a character named Mickey, the gardener whom Crow refers to as a “wide-awake nightmare.” This episode also features a short, “Robot Rumpus,” one of the first Gumby adventures.
Finally we have the penultimate episode ever, 1012, Squirm, which was actually recently released on its own, without the MST3K treatment, by Scream Factory (Synergy!). The movie is about a town in the south that gets overrun by electrically-enhanced worms. It’s pretty gruesome. And where on Earth is Mr. Beardsley?!? The final short of the set is “A Case of Spring Fever,” in which a dumb idiot wishes there weren’t springs and a tiny cartoon demon named Coily (“Coily the Spring Sprite they call me!”) shows him a world without springs.
All of these episodes are fantastic and will make you laugh the requisite six million times. Each episode also features a newly-shot Turkey Day introduction featuring Joel Hodgson and the voices of the first Crow and Tom Servo, Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis Weinstein. Good and hilarious stuff.
The extras in the set include a retrospect of the Turkey Day Marathons featuring interviews with all the important folk; nearly an hour of Comedy Central Turkey Day Marathon bumpers that were specially shot for the 30 hour event; a making-of of The Screaming Skull; an interview with the son of Gumby creator Art Clokey; and an interview with Squirm star Don Scardino.
And if you’re not doing nothing on Thanksgiving, or want to make your family do something more awesome than watch football, Shout is doing another web-streamed marathon hosted by Joel. Click here to find out info.
The Expendables 3 – These guys are actually difficult to kill. Unless you’re the new guy in the group, then deadzo calones. Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer are in this one for seemingly no reason other than moolah ka-ching.
The Giver – Remember that book everybody loved in elementary school about a kid who can see color and stuff in a dystiopian grayscale future? Well they made a movie of it nobody saw.
What If – Daniel Radcliffe tries his hand at romantic comedy (and does a pretty good job) in this twee and insipid by-the-numbers take on whether men and women can just be friends. The answer is no, go figure. Here’s my full review.
Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2 – The television version of the popular internet video series is funnier, drunker, and full of more big-name celebrities than ever before and you actually learn a thing or 9 as you go. They should show this in schools.
Jeeves & Wooster Complete Collection – The brilliant comedy duo of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry doing what they do best, Laurie playing the high-society idiot Bertie Wooster and Fry playing his incredibly intelligent valet Jeeves. If you like these two, you’ll like this show.
Adventure Time V.8 Finn the Human – Contains 16 episodes of the beloved Cartoon Network show, plus a Finn backpack in which to put all your swords and crap.