It’s been nearly 15 years since the cult classic television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 went off the air, and Shout! Factory has been releasing four episode boxsets of it for the last six years (continuing the numbering from when Rhino was doing the sets). In the newest set, Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIX, we have a teensploitation flick, a sword and sandal classic, a loose head on the loose movie, and one of the most requested episodes among the show’s fans.
First we have Untamed Youth although, as was typical of movies in this genre, the youth seem awfully old. This features Mamie Van Doren and Lori Nelson as sisters on their way to Hollywood, when they get arrested and forced to work on a crooked farm alongside other ”teens”. There are peppy songs like ”Salamander” and ”Oobala Baby”, a requisite cat fight, and Van Doren finding ample time to show her ample talents in undies or tight sweaters. As a show from MST3K’s first season, the quips don’t come as often as in their later shows, but this is still a funny episode, and you can tell the cast relished riffing a movie different from the sci-fi/horror ones they usually tackled. Extras on this disc are a theatrical trailer for the movie, a new introduction by Joel Hodgson, a current interview with Van Doren, and a discussion with Hodgson about his one man show Riffing Myself.
Next is Hercules and the Captive Women, an Italian Hercules film featuring Reg Park as the titular character battling the queen of Atlantis and her cronies. Oddly enough, I only remember seeing one captive woman, although it was the queen’s daughter so I guess she gets extra points for that. This episode was notable for featuring one of the few times that the character of Gypsy entered the theater and watched the movie for a while (although she doesn’t last long before she realizes the movie isn’t very good and leaves). This disc also includes a new intro by Hodgson (who explains that Gypsy’s inclusion was due to the first of the movie basically being exposition that really had nothing to do with anything else, so it gave them something to do until that passed). Shout! Factory also spotlights their resident cover artist with the featurette MST3K Artist in Residence: Steve Vance, where he discusses the steps involved in putting these wonderful covers together. I’ve enjoyed the imagination involved in making these covers (which is why I make a point of showing them when I review these sets.) You also get a chance to look at the other covers he’s done for the various sets.
Then there’s The Thing That Couldn’t Die, a movie that has a young woman finding a disembodied head, who then hypnotizes her in an attempt to reunite with its long lost body. Also included are the movie’s theatrical trailer and an interesting featurette called ”The Movie That Wouldn’t Die”, which discusses the making of the film. Shorts like this are one of my favorite features in these sets, because you can learn a lot about what goes into making these interesting low-budget movies. (And where else could you hear about the making of The Thing That Couldn’t Die?)
Finally we have The Pumaman which, as mentioned above, was one of the most requested episodes of the series. It’s a very odd movie that starts with a big guy throwing seemingly random people out windows, in order to find the man who should inherit the power of the Pumaman. When he finds the right one (a guy named Tony Farms), he gives him an Incan belt that changes Farms into the Pumaman. You can tell he’s the Pumaman because, along with the aforementioned belt, he wears a sweatshirt with the Incan symbol on it, slacks, boots, and a cape that doubles as a kicky little poncho when he’s in his civilian identity. However, this does give him the power to fly (VERY badly) and transport himself through walls. You know, just like pumas can do. The highlight of the film is Donald Pleasance as the villainous Kobras, and if you look hard enough, you can see Pleasance’s chew marks on the scenery. Included is Much Ado about Nanites (a short about the microscopic residents on the Satellite of Love), a new interview with the film’s star William G. Alton, Jr. and, something I wish Shout! would do more often, the original un-MSTed version of this movie.
And as always, there are the great animated menus and mini-posters of the covers by Vance. This is another great collection of episodes of MST3K (and at the risk of overselling it, The Pumaman is almost worth the price of admission all by itself). And, while there’s not a release date yet, the 30th (!) boxset has been announced, and will contain The Black Scorpion, Outlaw (of Gor), The Projected Man, and It Lives by Night. Sounds like a tubular, boobular joyous set is on the way!
And here’s a trailer for Vol. XXIX![youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”WGDq5OlJjz0″]