DVD Day: July 31st, 2012


? Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXIV

Woo-hoo! Another Shout Factory MST3K release! This set contains all Comedy Central era episodes again, two with Joel, two with Mike. I’ll start with the Mike ones: The Sword and the Dragon is one of those incredibly well-made but totally insane Russo-Finnish productions that the show occasionally featured. This one is about the Russian folk legend Ilya Muromets and a sword, a dragon, a wind demon, a lengthy jail incarceration, a dumb son, and some other junk. It’s probably my least favorite of the four they did, but it’s still fun. Samson Versus the Vampire Women is much better, partially because it’s a Mexican wrestling movie in which the vampires are far more prone to give beatings than suck anyone’s blood, and Samson — better known as the famous luchadore El Santo — shows up for all of 30 of the film’s minutes. It’s also TV’s Frank final episode, in which he ascends to second-banana heaven, led by Torgo the White (a great episode to finally have on DVD). 
The two Joel episodes are Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II. It’s one of those Japanese TV series — in this case, a cheap Star Wars rip-off — that Sandy Frank inexplicably mashed-up into two almost completely incomprehensible movies about Ken, who invades Earth with the evil Star Wolves, accidentally kills his friend while trying to prevent him from killing an Earth boy, becomes hunted by his own race, and ends up hiding on the Earth exploration ship Bacchus 3. this doesn’t begin to cover the insanity; the Star Wolves all wear space helmets that include long red wigs; the Bacchus 3 is piloted by famous actor Joe Shishido, who had his cheeks surgically enlarged — on purpose; there’s a scene in which one of Ken’s new, less trusting crewmembers tries to kill him with a forklift; and so much more. The original Japanese show is actually pretty action-packed, so the episodes don’t flag like a lot of the Japanese MST movies do, and Joel and the ‘Bots’ riffing is top-notch. I’d say they’re both Joel-era classics, and I’m thrilled to have them. You know I’ll be buying every Shout Factory MST3K set that gets released, but I can assure you this is a hell of a good set to own if you’re just picking and choosing. 
I believe this new Blu-ray is a better transfer and has the proper ratio, finally. Which is either good news or completely maddening, depending on whether you bought the previous Blu-ray.
A two DVD set with 14 episodes… following up all those single disc releases. I don’t know if WB is trying to wrap up the single releases to do a full season set later, or is just giving up entirely, but I’m kind of thinking the latter.
The two anime versions. I heard Wolverine anime was bad and I heard literally nothing about the Blade anime, despite the fact I cover this kind of shit for a living. Probably not a good sign for either of us.
The classic H.P. Lovecraft story gets the movie it deserves: i.e. pretty damn creepy and filmed to look like it was made in the 1930s.
That British version of Heroes where everyone with superpowers is a bastard instead of an imbecile.
Seven episodes about Optimus fighting the Dark Energon-weidling Megatron while Unicron is on his way, turned into a feature-length movie.