3000: Volume XVI
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Reviewed by Will Harris
t’s funny how a show that has so many fans amongst the Bullz-Eye staff can so quickly be relegated to the DVDs That No One Wants To Review pile, but such has become the case with the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” sets from Shout Factory. Oh sure, if there were no strings attached, there’d be a mad rush to claim them and much chanting of “mine, mine, mine,” but when you have to actually write about ‘em? Cue the sound of chirping crickets. And, really, you can understand why: a show that follows approximately the same format in every single episode does not exactly lend itself to lengthy discussion. Nonetheless, here we are again, and since there’s no questioning the comedic quality of the latest four-film volume of “MST3K” episodes, we shall soldier on and find a way to assure you that this set is at least as much of a must-own as the ones which have preceded it.
First up, we have “The Corpse Vanishes,” an artifact from the show’s first season on The Comedy Channel, the cable channel which merged with Ha! The Comedy Network to become Comedy Central. Of course, it’s a given for such an early episode that, instead of Mike Nelson, we have “a guy named Joel, not too different from you and me,” but this thing is so aged that Dr. Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) is still teamed up with Dr. Erhardt (Josh Weinstein). As for the movie itself, you can never go wrong with a Bela Lugosi picture, but there’s also the added bonus of kicking things off with a chapter from “Radar Men from the Moon.” Upon skipping to the next disc, you’ll need to brace yourself for “Warrior of the Lost World,” a film which serves as confirmation that, even though Persis Khambatta didn’t really need a third strike after her performances in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Megaforce,” she had one anyway. It’s a total “Mad Max” rip-off, except with only about one-sixteenth the budget of that film, but even setting aside its cheapness, you know a movie’s bad when even a talking motorcycle can’t save it.
From there, we skip not only to the Mike Nelson era but, indeed, to one of the greatest bad movies ever to grace “MST3K.” If you thought “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” was the definitive crappy Christmas movie, then you have clearly yet to behold the strangeness that is “Santa Claus.” If it was about nothing but the battle between Santa and Satan, it would be a must-see, but it’s so much more than that. Closing out the set, we have “Night of the Bloodbeast,” which is preceded by “Once Upon a Honeymoon,” an ancient short which has aged just as poorly as you’d expect, and both short and full-length film are skewered accordingly by Mike and the ‘Bots.
Wow, this review just blew by, didn’t it? Okay, so it’s not the most in-depth look into “MST3K: XVI” that we could’ve offered you, but really, by the 16th volume of any series, you’re pretty much preaching to the long-since-converted. As such, we’ll just speak directly to those fans, to whom we need only re-emphasize one key point: it’s got “Santa Claus.” Seriously, it’s that much of a must-see – and for fans, its inclusion alone makes “MST3K: XVI” an instant must-own.
Special Features: The amount of bonus material on an “MST3K” set is directly proportionate to how much of a sense of humor is possessed by those responsible for the movies that Joel, Mike, and the ‘Bots are mocking. Fortunately, David Worth gladly sat down for a conversation about his experiences as the director of “Warrior of the Lost World,” and the results are highly entertaining. Although the contributors to “Santa Claus Conquers the Devil: A 50-Year Retrospective” are mostly cast members and individuals who pride themselves on their knowledge of bad movies, it’s equally enjoyable. Also included are the original theatrical trailers for the films, a special “Turkey Day” version of “Night of the Blood Beast” (it was part of the annual “MST3K” holiday marathon), and exclusive MST3K-ized miniature posters for each of the films by artist Steve Vance. Oh, but who are we kidding? If there’s one reason besides the films that you’re buying this set, it’s that it’s packaged with a miniature Tom Servo figure. Sit it next to the miniature Crow T. Robot figure that you picked up a few sets back, and you’ll be the coolest guy on the block. Well, unless you live on my block, that is.