Starring: Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett
“Nothing bothers some people, not even flying saucers”
Narrator of the film “The Beast of Yucca Flats”
I start out every review of Mystery Science Theater 3000 boxsets, or Cinematic Titanic releases or Riff Trax releases proclaiming my love for Joel, Mike, Kevin, Bill, Frank and Trace. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love MST3K in all of its variations. I am a proud “mistie”. So, you know I am going to love this latest release from Shout Factory.
The Lost Continent
Directed by Sam Newfield
Cesar Romero heading up a rescue mission in the South Pacific to recover a downed atomic rocket? Yes, count me in. Along the way, the crew crashlands on a mysterious island, and spends much time rock-climbing. Emphasis on the word rock climbing. Really, over 20 minutes of the film’s entire running time is devoted to rock climbing. I really can’t emphasise rock climbing enough here, people. They meet up with a native girl, a big lizard, and some dinosaurs.
Joel and the gang have a great time with this one. This one had me cracking up from beginning to end.
Crash of the Moons
Directed by Hollingworth Morse
Not really a feature film but a three-part episode from the TV series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” (1954) edited together and released as a feature. Who is Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, you ask?
The show, which only ran two seasons, was based on the exploits of clean-cut, square-jawed Rocky Jones, the best known of the Space Rangers. These were Earth-based space policemen who patrolled the United Worlds of the Solar System in the not-too-distant future. Rocky and his crew would routinely blast-off in a V-2-like chemically-fueled, upright rocketship, the Orbit Jet XV-2, or later the nearly identical Silver Moon XV-3, on missions to moons and planetoids where the odds of success seemed remote yet they would always prevail. Although they might destroy a rocketship full of unseen bad guys, their space pistols were never fired at people, and conflicts were always resolved with fist fights because that is the clean 1950’s way, okay?
The names of the characters are great, for example: Winky. Again, this one is a blast from beginning to end and the included General Hospital short is a nice surprise.
Directed by Aleksandr Rou
First things first, this is neither the horror film nor the snowman film of the same name. No, this is a cinematic slice of Russian-Finnish “folk telling” from 1966.
Jack Frost is a strange Russian fairy tale dealing with a boy and a girl who go through some really weird stuff to be with one another. The boy is transformed by a Mushroom Pixie into a bear, and almost baked by an evil witch who controls trees. The girl is given the Cinderella treatment by her mother and her sister who is jealous of her long braided hair. Jack Frost himself doesn’t appear until late in the movie. Does any of this make sense? No, but Mike and gang have a fantastic time trying to make sense of it and make this unwatchable film completely hysterical and watchable.
The Beast of Yucca Flats
Directed by Coleman Francis
Yay, it’s Tor Johnson! How do I describe this movie? Well, a defecting Russian scientist is transformed by an atomic test into a hulking monster. Who plays the monster? Our favorite actor Tor Johnson. The rest can be summed up by saying some people are killed, boys get lost, and a fluffy rabbit plays a part of the end of the film.
This is another Mike Nelson episode and they have a good time skewering this steaming hunk of cinema and it laugh filled from the first frame to the end.
What else can I say here? Fellow “Misties” are going to add this to the collection with a quickness. If you aren’t a “Mistie” yet, this will do the trick.
The movies are presented in full frame aspect ratio. As with other Mystery Science Theater 3000 releases, these films look decent, not fantastic at all. The source material seems to be in fairly rough condition on all of these films. But, MST3K is not about mind blowing imagery, but about enjoying the “riffing” on these forgotten cinematic offerings.
Again, the audio isn’t anything I can pontificate on endlessly. These are not going to demo your home theater to its limits, but everything on screen is easily understood and clear.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The films are presented in slim amaray cases enclosed in a cardboard slip cover.
There are some nice bonus features on this release. First up, on the Lost Continent disc, there is the original theatrical trailer and a new introduction to the film from Frank Conniff.
Next up, on the Crash of the Moons disc, there are the wrap around segments from the episodes appearance on the Mystery Science Theater Hour.
Then, on The Beast of Yucca Flats disc, there is a length documentary called “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off Camera Masterpiece” which explores the unusual manner in which this film was created. There is an interview with original cameraman Lee Strosnider, a still gallery and the original theatrical trailer.
Rounding things out on the Jack Frost disc, a new introduction to the film by Kevin Murphy.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movies 10/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (not an average ) 8/10