Friday, April 17, 2009

MST3K: Volume XIV

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Mystery Science Theater: Volume XIV

This installment is definitely a mixed bag…

Mad Monster, plus short Commander Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon (D). I think this must be been from very early in the show’s run. They had a different guy supplying the voice of robot Tom Servo, and he just wasn’t funny. Of course the movie is awful, an old black-and-white movie about a mad scientist who creates a serum that turns his slow-witted and unsuspecting gardener into a wolfman. But the heckling just isn’t all that funny in this episode. Maybe they just hadn’t hit their stride yet.

Manhunt in Space, plus short General Hospital (B+). Yes, the short is a clip from a very old episode of General Hospital. And the “movie” is actually cobbled together from episodes of a short-lived 1950s TV show called Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. This is a funny episode, with amusing commentary and an entertainingly bad “movie” to boot. Rocky is a square-jawed all-American-type space ranger, and he has a dorky, scrawny sidekick named Winky. A gal named Vena is apparently part of the crew too, but the guys boss her around like a waitress and she doesn’t bat an eye. Very funny.

Soultaker (B-). I had seen this one before, and I thought I remembered it being funnier than this. From 1990, this movie was written by the female lead, who bears an unfortunate and oft-remarked resemblance to Tonya Harding. Anyhow, four young people are in a bad car accident in which their souls are thrown clear out of their bodies. A dark angel or grim reaper or something, played by Joe Estevez (younger brother of Martin Sheen), starts chasing them all over creation in order to slurp their souls into these palm-sized rings he carries around. Not bad, but not one of the best. I was surprised to find that the writer-star of Soultaker, Vivian Schilling, has a website and has apparently had a couple of novels published. Good for her! Special bonus interview with Joe Estevez himself, who proclaims that he doesn’t have a problem with MST3K making fun of him and the movie, while still insisting the movie is pretty good.

Final Justice (B). The inimitable Joe Don Baker (Walking Tall) stars as a Texas deputy sheriff named Thomas Jefferson Geronimo who catches a murderous Mafioso named Palermo who’s trying to make a run for the border. For some inexplicable reason, the State Department gives Geronimo the job of escorting Palermo back to Sicily . But the plane is unexpectedly grounded on the island of Malta , and the rest of the movie unspools there as Palermo escapes and Geronimo tries to catch him. Pretty funny, although the hecklers rely a little too much on Baker’s rotundity for punch lines. Special bonus interview with the director, Greydon Clark. Why do these guys agree to these interviews? They cannot help but try to defend their movies, despite the evidence before our own eyes. Not surprisingly, he reveals that the government of Malta was trying to encourage filmmakers to shoot there, which is why a movie that’s all about a Sicilian mobster takes place entirely outside of Italy .


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