Archive for September 2, 2010

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Schlock-Wire: Full Details For Shout! Factory’s Release of MST3K Vol. XIX

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MSTies need to prepare space in their collections for another mega-disc set because Shout! Factory is released the nineteenth volume of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 collections in November.  It will feature four classic episodes of this beloved film-parody series that have never been released on video before – Robot Monster, Bride Of The Monster, Devil Doll & Devil Fish – plus a wealth of featurettes and other bonus materials to sweeten the deal.  It even includes special mini-posters and a featurette of Gypsy.  Read on for all the schlock-satirizing details…

Shout! Factory to release


Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX

AS A LIMITED-EDITION 4-DVD BOX SET

PACKED WITH GYPSY FIGURINE, MINI-POSTERS,

AND FRESHLY SQUEEZED BONUS CONTENT

Featuring Never-Before-Released MST3K Episodes

Robot Monster, Bride of the Monster, Devil Doll and Devil Fish

IN STORES NATIONWIDE NOVEMBER 9, 2010 FROM SHOUT! FACTORY

You are cordially invited to celebrate the launch of this year’s holiday season with the rambunctious crew from the Satellite of Love, as Joel, Mike and their robot pals Gypsy, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot embark on a painfully joyful (and joyfully painful) voyage through the magnificent madness of  the Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX limited-edition 4-DVD box set (featuring the highly collectible Gypsy figurine) from Shout! Factory, in association with Best Brains, Inc. on November 9, 2010.

This side-splitting collection of MST3K features the show’s never-before-released episodes Robot Monster, Bride of the Monster, Devil Doll and Devil Fish.  Those entrees come with a side of extras, including a new introduction by J. Elvis Weinstein, cult filmmaker Larry Blamire’s full-fledged geek-out on Robot Monster, new featurettes on Bride of the Monster and Devil Doll, MST3K: Origins and Beyond from CONvergence 2009, original movie trailers, and four exclusive MST3K mini-posters by artist Steve Vance. There might even be an Easter Egg…we’re just sayin’.  This limited-edition 4-DVD box set also includes a figurine of Gypsy, the perfect companion to the Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo figurines included in previous year-end Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD box sets, all of which have become collector’s items.  A must-have for loyal fans and collectors, Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX 4-DVD box set is priced to own at $69.97.

MST3K: ROBOT MONSTER

The sinister alien Ro-Man has decimated the Earth’s population, leaving only eight survivors, including a professor and the family of young space enthusiast Johnny.

Its status as “one of the worst films ever made” easily makes Robot Monster an instant hit with the crew of the Satellite of Love! Join Joel, Servo and Crow as they explore their own fears of Ro-Man — errr … Ro-Tom — surrealism and, of course, the awful greatness (and the great awfulness) that is Robot Monster!

Also includes the shorts Radar Men From The Moon: Chapters 4 & 5!

Bonus Features

  • Brand-new introduction by J. Elvis Weinstein
  • Larry Blamire Geeks Out
  • Original Robot Monster trailer

MST3K: BRIDE OF THE MONSTER

Horror cinema icons Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson star in this unforgettable Ed Wood classic as the crazed Dr. Vornoff and his beastly assistant Lobo, who conduct heinous experiments on human victims in an effort to create a race of atomic super-beings that will conquer the world.

The film raises some intriguing questions: Do robots made of scrap parts aboard an orbiting satellite dream of electric sheep? Can Joel and the ’bots carry a tune? Who doesn’t love cold Tater Tots® and olive loaf? These and other, equally imperative, questions will be answered — and more — in this “very special episode” of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that pays tribute to one of Ed Wood’s best bad movies ever! After all, no Ed Wood film would truly be complete without the biting yet loving riffs of your faithful Satellite of Love crew!

Also includes the short Hired!, Part 1!

Bonus Features

  • Citizen Wood: Making ‘The Bride,’ Unmaking ‘The Legend.’
  • Inventing the “Invention Exchange”
  • Original Bride of The Monster trailer

MST3K: DEVIL DOLL

Well … hello Dolly!

Before a sold-out audience in London , “The Great Vorelli” performs with his ventriloquist dummy, Hugo. The doll walks on his own. It talks on his own. It even threatens the audience on his own. But is Hugo the real villain? Or could it be that his ventriloquist owner has lost his marbles?

While Pearl and Brain Guy show the Romans how to have a good time at the Lesser God Day celebration, Mike, Crow and Servo invite you to their own open-window frat party! Party it up with the S.O.L. crew, complete with special guests, devil dolls and their own British pub!

Bonus Features

  • The Puppet Master: Richard Gordon on Devil Doll
  • Original Devil Doll trailer

MST3K: DEVIL FISH

When Dr. Stella Dickens concludes the recent string of grisly deaths and demolished boats can’t be the result of any known marine creature, she sets out to capture the beast, a genetically created bio-weapon that must be kept secret . . . at any cost. One thing’s for sure, however: The fish are biting!

Beware the dolphins, after Mike and the crew of the Satellite of Love decide to mock their intelligence! Meanwhile, Pearl is forced to convince unexpected visitors that the castle’s actually a luxurious cruise liner! No one’s safe — least of all, Devil Fish — in this episode from Mystery Science Theater 3000’s ninth hysterical season!

Bonus Features

  • MST3K: Origins and Beyond at CONvergence 2009
  • Original Devil Fish trailer

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 series was created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Jim Mallon. After a year on KTMA TV in Minneapolis , its national broadcast life began in 1989 on the Comedy Channel (later to become Comedy Central), where it ran for seven seasons. The show’s final three seasons aired on the Sci-Fi Channel.  The premise of the series features a hapless man who is trapped by mad scientists on a satellite in space and forced to watch old B-movies of questionable worth. To keep sane, he’s built two robot sidekicks, and together they do a running commentary on the films, affectionately mocking their flaws with inspired wisecracks and acting as a demented movie theater peanut gallery. Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson.  When he left in 1993, series head writer Mike Nelson replaced him as the new B-movie victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show’s run.  The format proved to be popular and remarkably durable. During its 11-year run and 198 episodes (including one feature film), MST3K attained a loyal fan base and critical acclaim. The series won a Peabody Award in 1993, and was nominated for writing Emmys® in 1994 and 1995.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: XIX

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: XIX

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: XIX






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WITHOUT WARNING: It Came From Beyond… To Stalk & Slash

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After the one-two punch of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Star Wars, filmmakers looking for a commercially exploitable hook came down with a big case of “space fever.”  Those on the low-budget end of the spectrum didn’t have the resources for tricky visual effects or elaborate spaceship models but still managed to find clever ways to exploit their audience’s desire for alien encounters.

A particularly interesting example of this sort of low-budget ingenuity is Without Warning.  This space-schlocker was directed by Greydon Clark, a fairly prolific drive-in auteur, and boasts an interesting plot hook that crosses the streams between sci-fi and horror.  In a rural town located near a lake and a forest, a mysterious figure has begun to pick off various townspeople.  The mystery figure doesn’t use a knife or a gun – instead, it uses fleshy, toothy “discs” that fly through the air and drain their unlucky victims.

The only two people wise to what’s going on are Joe (Jack Palance), an ornery gas-station owner who loves to hunt, and Sarge (Martin Landau), a loony ex-military man who thinks the war never ended.  Into the midst of this insanity wanders a quartet of teens looking for sun and fun at the lake.  Unfortunately, two of the four (a young David Caruso and Lynn Theel, one of the victims from Humanoids From The Deep) get picked off and nominal heroes Greg (Christopher Nelson) and Sandy (Tarah Nutter) are left to fight the mystery attacker, who is eventually revealed to be a visitor from another planet.

Without Warning has a certain amount of buzz surrounding it in cult/exploitation flick circles, mainly because it has been hard to see over the years (it was never available in the U.S. on VHS or DVD, forcing horror and sci-fi fans to hunt it down on cable t.v.).  It also boasts a fun supporting cast of character actors: in addition to the aforementioned Palance and Landau, it also boasts cameos from Larry Storch as an ill-fated cub scout leader, Cameron Mitchell as a gung-ho hunter, a pre-Malibu Express Darby Hinton as Mitchell’s son and Neville Brand and Ralph Meeker (in his last role) as a pair of disbelieving bar patrons. Another key element of the film’s appeal is that it was borrowed from by Predator, which it predates by a good seven years (both films also feature Kevin Peter Hall playing their central alien characters!).

Unfortunately, Without Warning falls short of its promise due to a lackluster treatment of its admittedly intriguing premise.  Despite the presence of four screenwriters, the subplots never cohere and there are moments where the story drags – the worst is a long ten-minute of stretch of nothing at the top of the third act as our two teen heroes wander around aimlessly in a rural house.  Clark’s direction is technically solid but weak on pace and the humdrum script keeps the film from being more than an under-performing programmer.

That said, exploitation buffs with a yen for sci-fi/horror stuff will still want to check out Without Warning for a few reasons.  For starters, Palance and Landau are a lot of fun to watch, with Palance delivering all his lines in a surly whisper/growl and Landau hamming it up like there’s no tomorrow.  The flesh-disc effects are wonky but fun to watch and the design of the alien, masterminded by a pre-Lost Boys Greg Cannom, has a cool, retro design to it.  Better yet, the last ten minutes deliver a worthwhile showdown between man and alien that sends the film out on a positive note.

However, the best thing about Without Warning is the stellar cinematography by Dean Cundey, who gets maximum atmosphere from the film’s woodsy locales.  He and his camera crew do a lot of skillful hand-held photography, including what appears to be some early Steadicam work, and pull off some gorgeous night exteriors.  His skillful work gives the film a level of production value that it would not have otherwise (see the recent MGM-HD broadcast if you can, as it shows off his work to great effect).

Ultimately, Without Warning is more of an interesting footnote than a lost gem but chances are you’ll still want to see it if you’re into space-schlock.  It’s worth a look as long as you keep your expectations in check.

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