Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XV

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XV

First up in this collection is "The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy," coupled with an episode from the old serial "Commando Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon." This was from the very first season of MST3K, which means that Josh Weinstein, not Kevin Murphy, was voicing Tom Servo. Anyway, the team hadn't really hit its stride yet. There are a few good gags in this send-up of a Mexican mummy movie dubbed into English, but it doesn't attain any true heights of hilarity. I was surprised to learn from the previews that three of the old MST3K crew--Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy--made a few MST3K-like DVDs a couple of years ago under the name "Film Crew." I don't know whether they started their gig first, or whether it was larger crew that makes the "Cinematic Titanic" DVDs. Is there bad blood between the two factions? Who knows? Anyway, "The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy" merits no better than a C-, I'm afraid.

The second episode is better, though still not one of the best. The film is "The Girl in Lovers Lane," a 1950s movie that is really quite odd. A little weenie of a guy named Danny has run away from home. He hops a freight train, where a marginally less weenie-ish guy named Bix Dugan (or Big Stupid, as the SOLers christen him) inexplicably takes Danny under his wing instead of beating him up and taking his cash. They land in a small town called Sherman and get jobs at a cafe. The cafe owner's daughter Carrie falls for Big Stupid, but he has serious commitment issues. Carrie herself has issues with a local creepy guy played creepily by creepy-eyed Jack Elam (Cannonball Run II). Joel and the robots get some decent riffs off, and their lyrics to the music that plays over the opening credits is very funny indeed. I give it a B-.

The third episode is "Zombie Nightmare," a 1986 movie that is sort of a prelude to "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Five teenaged punks run over and kill a beefy dude in a hit-and-run accident. Unfortunately for them, beefy's mom knows a voodoo priestess, and she turns his corpse into a vengeful zombie. Tia Carrere (Wayne's World) stars as one of the teens, and Adam West (TV's "Batman") headlines as a jaded police chief who doesn't want to bother to investigate the teens' murders. Some funny stuff, especially with a ripe target like Adam West, but not top-of-the-line MST3K. I say B-.

Finally we have "Racket Girls," coupled with the short "Are You Ready for Marriage?" The feature is a terrible 1951 movie about professional women's wrestling and the seedy underworld of racketeering that sprouts alongside it. It is truly awful, with l-o-n-g scenes of women wrestling altogether too seriously. The feature is a C+ at best, but the short "Are You Ready for Marriage?" is an instant classic. A teenaged couple itching to get married after just 3 months together visit a marriage counselor, and he gently opens their eyes to lots of issues they had never thought of before. Although there's undoubtedly some good advice going on in the clip, you'll never notice it amidst the hilarious riffing. The short gets a solid A.

So overall, not the best collection in the world.


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