DVD Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume Two

Few things put a chill in a DVD collector’s fingers while surfing the web faster than a notice that a boxset has fallen out of print. It’s at this moment that the price on Amazon explodes. A simple four dvd collection can cost as much as the rent bill. Your only hope is finding a used DVD store where the owner hates the internet so much that they’re clueless to marketprice on eBay. Such was the fate of the early Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD sets that were released by Rhino. Now Shout! Factory is saving your kid’s college fund with the re-issue of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume Two. This second helping contained three of their finest movies and a greatest hits collection of the shorts.

Angels Revenge (Season Six) is a brilliant mess that was revived by MST3K after nearly vanishing off the face of television. The film has two amazing elements merged: models wanting to be actresses and iconic actors needing a quick payday. The film rips off the Charlie’s Angels and Mission: Impossible. They laughs come quick as Mike and the Bots tear into this nearly obscure gem from 1979. “I have a feeling Johnny Wad is going to be in this,” Mike frets. The cast goes ’70s crazy with the Mads dressed up as relief pitchers and Crow making everyone wear afros for his new script that feels like a new Dolemite. The movie features Playboy Playmate Susan Lynn Kiger and a crack team of women going after an illegal drug plant. The stars look like guys who thought they were reporting for The Love Boat including Jack Palance (City Slickers), Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island), Pat Butrum (Mr. Haney on Green Acres), Alan Hale (The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island) and rough looking Peter Lawford (Ocean’s 11. This film is full of shocking appearances although nothing is more amazing that seeing Dean Cundey credited as director of photography. The man who shot Roger Rabbit and Jurassic Park must have owned a major favor to take this gig since he’s already gotten a name from Halloween.

Cave Dwellers (Season Three) is clearly a rip off of Conan the Barbarian. This is the third different title to the film that was theatrically called Ator the Invincible and Blade Master on VHS. The TV distributor renamed the film and threw on messed up slow motion footage for the new title sequence. This mess is properly spoofed by Joel and the Bots. The only point of this swords and magic film is to lavish the audience with the bare chest of Miles O’Keefe. Joel, Crow and Tom Serivo figure out why the low budget film has to oversell the lame props in a Mary Poppins way. Joel explains how Foley artists create convincing sound effects with coconuts and hamsters. The final segment has Crow breakdown the continuity lapses. The mad scientists have the proper response.

Pod People (Season Three) is a Spanish production company’s desperate attempt to cash in on E.T. money. A young boy living in the woods discovers an alien creature who looks like Alf, but doesn’t eat cats. He call the hairy critter Trumpy. Turns out while he’s a nice alien, there’s an evil one going around and killing people. A lame band shows up in the woods for a camping trip that turns out to be a great way for their record label to get rid of the dead weight members. This is one of the classic MST3K episodes. The best bits have everyone recreate the recording session including the mad scientists as folks in the booth. Later they play off the time Trumpy makes the boys room go anti-gravity.

Shorts Vol. 1 features “The Home Economics Story,” “Junior Rodeo Daredevils,” “Body Care & Grooming,” “Cheating,” “A Date With Your Family,” “Why Study Industrial Arts?” and “Chicken Of Tomorrow.” These were taken from episodes that featured shorter than usual movies that weren’t going to be licensed for home video back in the mid-90s. This was originally a special VHS tape with Tom Servo as your witty host. He sets up the educational films that make us questions the lessons being taught in the ’50s and ’60s. Learn how taking a bath can make you popular at school. How kids could ride dangerous animals without fear of concussions. How women should only study home economics in college since they’re just going to all get married anyway. Don’t forget the secret of thicker poultry. Joel, Mike and the Bots do so much in the short amount of time they spend with the films.
chickens. It’s very depressing.

The re-issue of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume II is welcomed since it contains two absolute high moments and Miles O’Keefe. “Pod People” and “Angels Revenge” are movies that would have been completely forgotten if not for MST3K gifting them with that special attention. Joel getting to pretend he’s recording the hit song from “Pod People” and Mike questioning how the older stars were paid for “Angels” makes them viewable. While many of the shorts have been released when their feature films made it to DVD, any MST3K fan would want the new segments featuring Tom Servo because they’re compulsive collectors. Welcome back to the second helping of these episodes for a second time.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The image quality reflects that the show was shot on standard definition video and the films weren’t HD transfers. This lack of resolution adds to the fun. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The mix is focused on the cracks at the screen more than the movie’s mix.

Wrap Arounds from Mystery Science Theater Hour are included for Pod People and Cave Dwellers. Mike Nelson performs as the once legendary Jack Perkins as host for the divided versions.

Shout! Factory presents Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol Two. Starring: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson and Jim Mallon. Boxset Contents: 4 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: May 24, 2016.


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