DVD Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Volume XXXII)

Often the movie selections that tortured the crew of the Satellite of Love represented obscure, low budget films that arrived at the end of a genre. Sure cult film lovers knew the titles, but for a majority of cinestes, The titles on Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXII include an Oscar winner and the film that launched a massive film genre. That’s not saying all four movies in the boxset are surprises. XXXII also includes a cheap programmer and a failed TV pilot that was sold as a TV movie.

“Hercules” (season five) wasn’t just any Greek mythology film made with a cast wearing bedsheets and baby oil. This film launched the Italian film industry into the mythology business. Any muscle man that could flex on cue was ready for stardom. Can’t remember your lines, speak English or emote? Who cares. They dubbed all that stuff. But Hercules didn’t have that issue since the star was Steve Reeves. The musclar actor was such an imposing figure on screen that he gets name checked in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He ends up helping Jason find the Golden Fleece in this movie. The comedy bits include Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank inventing the cellular desk. Joel brings us Cap’n Ron cereal. Crow creates new constellations based on modern characters and creations. Crow tops himself with his one-robot tribute to the Match Game.

Space Travelers (season four) should be better known as Marooned. An Apollo mission launches Gene Hackman (The French Connection), Richard Crenna (First Blood) and James Franciscus into orbit. Down in Mission Control is Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird) and David Janssen (The Fugitive). Something goes wrong and the spaceship is trapped. Will NASA sit by and let a trio of top notch actors die like a Soviet dog? Of course not. A daring rescue is planned that is completely fictional. The film won an Oscar for Best Special Effects. The next year that trophy would be given to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Interesting piece of trivia is that no Stanley Kubrick film was shown on MST3K. Marooned can use the MST3K treatment since it’s rather slow moving for a technologically advanced movie. The bits include the Bots giving a history lesson of household items that were created during the space program. The inventions include the Dollaroid. It prints faces on money. Joel ponders which of them would sacrifice themselves if they were running low of oxygen. Trouble is that only one of them would have to worry about a lack of oxygen.

“San Francisco International” (season six) was supposed to be the next big tv show. Instead of just making a pilot episode, they created a movie of the week with Pernell Roberts (Bonanza) as the head of an airport where adventure was a departure away. David Hartman (Good Morning America) is a trouble pilot. The film seemed to be part of the Airport movie craze. It does take us back to a time when you could smoke on an airplane. The best part of this show is Mike reminding us that being Urkel is an easy way to bring laughter to the world. Mike and the Bots later explore the look of David Hartman. The series only lasted six episodes.

“Radar Secret Service” (season five) is a cold war scarefest about commies hijacking a truckload of atomic material. The only hope we have are government agents using radar. This is an early Mike episode so there’s still an invention exchange. There’s a riff on the Quinn Martin Nature Preserve for actors who always end up on his productions. The Bots recreate Mike’s 10th high school reunion. It’s a sweet and tender trip back to the ’80s. There’s also the short film “Last Clear Chance” about being careful around railroad crossings. The bad news is that all these decades later, people still are idiots at train crossings.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXII is a great mix of films that go cover myths, paranoia, suffocation and flight delays. The things we deal with in everyday life. “Hercules” is the best of the batch because of the magnetism of Steve Reeves. He’s the kind of muscle man who could hold up to the massive riffs unleashed by the Satellite of Love. Another fine boxset from the greatest movie series ever made.

The video is 1.33:1. The show was recorded on standard definition video. The movies vary in quality, but the silhouettes of SoL riffers is solid black. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. You’ll hear men screaming in space thanks to Marooned.

Hercules Introduction (3:02) lets Frank Conniff explain they were awed to get the rights to Hercules with Steve Reeves instead of just the later Hercules rip-offs.

The Barnum of Baltimore: The Early Films of Joseph E. Levine (7:23) explains how the man who made The Graduate launched his film empire through Godzilla and Hercules.

Hercules Trailer (2:16) shows off the muscles of Steve Reeves.

Space Travellers Introduction (3:51) lets Frank Conniff recall not seeing the movie when it was called Marooned. He wasn’t sure how the Oscar winning film with big stars would get retitled in a video package.

Marooned: A Forgotten Odyssey ponders why a movie directed by John Sturges (The Great Escape) would not have a larger legacy. This won the Oscar for Special Effects the year before 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Marooned Theatrical Trailer (2:24) is for the original release with all the stars at their best moments from the film.

Sampo Speaks! A Brief History of the Satellite News (7:29) gives a sense of how a man’s obsession with MST3K led to the creation of a usenet that turned into a website.

Radar Secret Service Introduction (3:38) focus on the churned out quality of Robert Lippert productions. He reflects on the focus on the radar over the secret service men.

MST-UK with Trace & Frank (19:50) sends the duo to Sci-Fi London. They are beloved on the island nation that gave us Spotted Dick. Their trip was crowd funded.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXII is all about Joel, Mike and the Bots flexing their smart asses to the sight of Steve Reeves, Gregory Peck, Parnell Roberts and commies. Four more gems from the diamond mine that was MST3K.

Shout! Factory presents Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXII. Starring: Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Frank Conniff, Michael J. Nelson & Joel Hodgson. Contents: 4 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: March 24, 2015.