TR Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXII


?As you might have noticed, I’m a bit of an MSTie. I have purchased every single legitimate MST3K episode released on DVD, and all the others I have on personally recorded VHS. I’m a fan, which you can probably tell by the way I go into extreme detail whenever Shout Factory releases a new MST3K set. However, something wonderful happened to me the other day — Shout actually sent me the set! I didn’t have to buy it! Now, I would have reviewed it anyways, but since they were kind enough to send me a copy, I figured the least I could do would be to give the review its own space.

Vol. XXII contains, as usual, four movies: Mighty Jack, Time of the Apes, The Violent Years and The Brute Man — two Joel episodes, two Mike, and all four from the Comedy Central run. Mighty Jack and Time of the Apes are both Sandy Frank joints, like Gamera, meaning they’re Japanese in origin and have hilariously awful English dubs. Unlike the Gamera movies, however, these are actually Japanese TV shows which Frank edited down to make two incredibly incoherent movies.

Mighty Jack is kind of a vaguely James Bond-ish spy flick, where the secret organization Mighty Jack — and their flying submarine, natch — fight the also secret but evil organization Q. It’s very confusing, again because Frank just smushed together the first and last episodes of the series. Frank did the same with Time of the Apes, which is totally a Japanese rip-off of Planet of the Apes, wherein the world’s most obnoxious short-pantsed boy, his sister, and a lady scientist get frozen and wake up in a future ruled by Japanese men in cheap ape costumes. It’s one of the best episodes of the Joel run, and definitely an MST classic. It alone makes the set a must-own.

I, personally, prefer The Violent Years — a movie written by Ed Wood, in which a gang of girls trash a school for the commies and capture a guy and force him to have sex with all four of them. I think the movie is hysterical, but it also comes with the short “Young Man’s Fancy,” in my opinion the finest, funniest short MST has ever done. And then there’s the opening where Tom Servo gets a terrifying new head and then the Mads make their own theme song and… oh, it’s just glorious. If you’ve not seen this episode, I can’t recommend it enough.

Last is The Brute Man, which is from season 7, after Frank left but before Pearl came into her own. It’s a solid MST episode with a great short — “Chicken of Tomorrow” — but compared the majesty of the other three episodes in this set, it’s the least exciting.

As usual, Shout has included some great extras, including the Sci-Fi mini-doc This Is MST3K, the MST Hour Wraps for Time of the Apes, introductions from Mary Jo Pehl and others, a few archival interviews with Ed Wood’s girlfriends, a super-depressing documentary on Brute Man star Rondo Hatton, and more. All in all, it’s yet another great set. Seriously, Time of the Apes and The Violent Years are worth the $37 price tag alone. I can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t recommend an MST3K set to you guys, but yeah, I extra recommend this one.