DVD Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Volume Twelve)

Before you get too confused Shout! Factory is releasing two Mystery Science Theater 3000 collections with 12 in the title. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet – Season 12 features the latest batch of new episodes and doesn’t come out until November 26. Today we’re talking about Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume Twelve which features the Shout! Factory re-issue of the final boxset put out by the previous distributor. That’s right, all those old boxsets that were selling used for the price of a kidney on the black market have been re-issues. Volume Twelve splits the four movies between Joel and Mike with tales of Beatniks, Super spies, air force pilots and organ harvesting.

The Rebel Set (Season 4) is Joel and the Bots. The opening has Joel reading Crow and Tom Servo’s Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. The Bots aren’t scared so Joel breaks out a true horror book. The invention exchange has the Mad Scientists show off a new way to get ready for the nightlife while you’re in line for a nightclub and Joel and the Bots have an unusual paint by number kit. Johnny at the Fair is the short beforehand about Johnny going to the Fair. It’s the Canadian National Exhibition with Joe Louis making a cameo. The Rebel Set is ripe for comedy with it’s depiction of Beatniks and having Edward Platt (Get Smart) plot a million dollar robbery. This is not based on anything by Jack Kerouac. The bits include Crow getting an acting school record from Scott Baio, Gypsy wears a Cubs hat, a writing workshop and how to spot Merritt Stone.

Super Agent Super Dragon (Season Five) is a European film hoping to cash in on the 007 mania sweeping the cinemas. This time super spy Bryan Cooper (Ray Danton) gets sent to Freemont, Michigan to investigate mysterious deaths. While Bond goes to exotic locations, this guy goes to Michigan. This is true fodder for the quips. The invention exchange has Joel and the Bots display the future of golf and TV’s Frank explores the Virtual Reality comedy simulator which is reality now. This show wasn’t just about jokes. The bits include Crow and Tom Servo creating a new robot that Joel can’t stand, a jazz version of the movie’s theme, Crow’s big spy movie for the ’90s and a discussion of super spy school’s post kill puns class.

The Starfighters (Season Six) has Mike learn about Crow’s computer that’s hooked into the internet if the modem ever connects or the technical support picks up the phone. Remember those nightmares. The invention exchange involves BBQ sauce. The movie is as dull and painful as you’d expect from a film starring ex-Congressman Bob Doran. There’s plenty of mid-air refueling and military humor in the sketches.

Parts: The Colonus Horror (Season Eight) proved that being on MST3K could lead to millions of dollars. This isn’t a case of the film gaining a new release and making giant box office returns. In the case of Parts, viewers of MST3K realized that Michael Bay’s The Island ripped off the film. The guys from Parts got a massive settlement from the studio. The film is about an organ donating service which leads to a lot of body part jokes from Mike and the Bots. Pearl is on a planet with evil little kids from Star Trek.

Getting to the final re-issue of the earlier boxset must be a relief to fans who got into the show after they had been discontinued. This is a bit of a solemn moment, but there’s the excitement of knowing the Blu-ray of The Gauntlet episodes from Netflix will be coming later on this Fall.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show was made back in the days of standard definition video so the resolution is low. But the DVD transfers look better than your original VHS tapes you recorded off cable back in the ’90s. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels let you hear all the quips from Joel, Mike and the Bots. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

Rap with Don Sullivan (12:40) has him explain how he had only $3 in his pocket when he arrived in Idaho without a clue what to do. But he got a filling station job, found a room and hung out at Schwab’s drugstore looking for a break. But the road to The Rebel Set was twisty. He enjoys the MST3K version of his film because he loves the Bots.

Gene Fowler, Jr.: Mad, Mad, Mad Mad Moviemaker (10:05) tracks how the director of Rebel Set went from being the son of a popular writer to editing for Fritz Lang and Sam Fuller. Gene’s break out as a director was I Was a Teenage Werewolf for American International Pictures. He got into the Juvenile Delinquent films with The Rebel Set at AIP. He hired the cinematographer for Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Gene would win an Oscar for editing later.

Theatrical Trailer (1:52) promises to take us into the hip beatnik world and an amazing crime.

MST Hour Wraps (5:17) are from when Comedy Channel figured out how to slice the show in half. Mike Nelson plays Jack Perkins as the host in this sliced Super Agent Super Dragon. Sadly Jack Perkins recently died and a few news outlets ran pictures of Mike as Jack in the obituary. The sketch in the intro and outro includes Jack killing a crew member and faking his own death.

Theatrical Trailer (1:54) swears Super Agent Super Dragon as bolder than Bond. The trailer does promote Marisa Mell before she’d go onto Danger: Diabolik (also an MST3K episode).

Video Jukebox (20:21) has 10 great musical moments from the show that you can play at once or pick out your favorite. This includes “Creepy Girl” and “Michael Feinstein Does Gamara.”

Major Auteur: The Films of Will Zens (11:06) has Mister Lobo hosts a piece on the creator of The Starfighters. Zens was a test pilot who got involved in filmmaking and went to USC’s film school afterward. The Starfighters digs into his background of test piloting. He also dug into the air force’s stock footage bin.

Interview with Director Robert Fiverson (8:38) has him talk about he was inspired by a classmate’s script and kept begging the guy to let him make the movie. The classmate thought he could get a major studio to produce the film. And a major studio did make it – without wanting to pay him or give him credit. Fiverson talks about the lawsuit before the settlement and how the studio bought the remake right retroactively. He also talks about how he felt when the film was asked to be on MST3K.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33) talks about the truth at the hospital.

Scream Factory presents Mystery Science Theater 3000. Starring: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Frank Coniff and Kevin Murphy. Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents: 4 movies on 4 DVDs. Released: October 8, 2019.

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