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Rhino presents
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 8 (1993-1998)

"This movie's giving me current traumatic stress disorder."
- Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) on Hobgoblins

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: January 17, 2006

Stars: Mike Nelson, Joel Hodgson, Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Coniff, Mary Jo Pehl
Other Stars: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelly Palmer, Billy Frank, Dean Fredericks, Coleen Gray, Richaed Kiel, Tony Dexter, Francis X. Bushman, Phil Morton, June Travis, George Perry, Lois Brooks, Rork Stevens, Aldo Farnese, Scott Douglas, Laura Brock, Earl Sands
Director: Mike Nelson, Cambot (uncredited)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language, sexual references, unspeakably bad movies)
Run Time: Approx. 368 min.
Release Date: November 08, 2005
UPC: 603497041725
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BB+ D-

DVD Review

Some people love and adore bad movies (including a few of my fellow reviewers), but for the most part, I try to avoid watching movies I know in advance are probably pretty bad—the low-budget 1950s sci-fi and horror genres produced a few classics, but with a hit-to-miss ratio in the vicinity of, say, the L.A. Clippers. So, unless it's a revered classic, I generally avoid it. But then there's Mystery Science Theater 3000, a program that encourages, nay, demands that you watch not only bad movies, but some of the worst films ever made. And the show has legions of devoted fans.

Of course, people don't generally watch because they like the movies (or most people anyway—I can't claim to speak for the masochists among us, nor do I care to), but because they like to watch the three little guys in the corner of the screen make fun of them. Rhino has been releasing these episode collections for a few years now, and while many of my favorites still aren't on DVD, there's really no such thing as a bad episode, as long as it features a human and his robot buddies trapped in a spaceship, forced to watch (and mercilessly mock) bad movies. And all four of these episodes, selected rather randomly from throughout the 10-season run, certainly qualify.

Disc 1 barely contains the horrors of the infamous Hobgoblins, from the Season Nine Sci-Fi Channel era. Easily one of the most nauseating films ever to be spoofed on the show, this ultra-cheap and sleazy Gremlins knock-off features horrible acting, ludicrous dialogue, uncomfortable sexual references, and some truly unsightly puppets, which means, of course, that it's perfect fodder for MST3K. Hobgoblins are furry little creatures that make fantasies come true, even if said fantasies usually end in death. And with characters, including Bland Hero #8 and Uncontrollable Slut (Tom: "I don't need to see every part of the human anatomy outlined in spandex; I can trust it's all there!"), this unappealing, trust me, you do NOT want to see their fantasies. Featuring 31 parking scenes, an inconsequential five-minute rake fight scored by Casio keyboards ("Can we have a law that, in the future, films have to be made by filmmakers?" asks Tom) and a memorable musical performance at "Club Scum," which I'm fairly sure is an American Legion bar.

Disc 2 starts off well with Mike and the 'bots competing in an "Andy Rooney-off" to see who can whine the most about the least interesting subject, segueing into The Phantom Planet, another one from Season Nine. This halfway-decent science-fiction movie hits all the bases, from mockably dated effects (a giant planetoid that looks deep fried, or as the MST3K crew puts it, like "Honey Bunches of Death"), to stiff acting (the future is white guys in jumpsuits), and a plodding story about an astronaut who encounters a miniature race of space beings that look just like humans, except they are really tiny. The show actually got to riff on some OK movies during the Sci-Fi years (what with Universal's film library to root around in), which as far as I'm concerned made for some better episodes, and this one is cheesy (check out the spaceman philosopher who is quickly killed off, with his incessantly mocked speech about recognizing the "good and beautiful" in life) without being unwatchable. Also, Richard Kiel (Jaws from Moonraker) appears in a bit role.

On the other hand, pain and suffering only increases on Disc 3 with Monster A-Go-Go, a muffled, draggy, ultra low-budget 1950s sci-fi mess about a man who returns from a space mission an irradiated monster... or does he? Despite the famous (and popular) "there was no monster" twist ending, this one, a Season Four entry with original host Joel, is hard to sit through despite topnotch riffing, simply because the movie is so bad (most of the story is told through long-winded, expository narration). Some fans like the episodes with the most inept movies, but I've always preferred those where the film is a little more entertaining. The preceding short, Circus on Ice, is great though. The commentary is always really dark during the shorts, and, well, I never knew ice-skating could be so terribly depressing.

Disc 4 includes another short, a 1950s-era ode to the magic of grocery store refrigerators called The Selling Wizard. You wouldn't think the SOL crew could do much with a sales film, but this curio explores the wonders of the appliance in pornographic detail, providing for much amusement ("Bodies stack easily!" Mike notes) and a thrilling example of the former might of American ice cream cooling ingenuity ("Leni Riefenstahl's most powerful film!"). The feature is The Dead Talk Back, a meandering story about a murder solved via a device that allows a scientist to communicate with the dead. Featuring an oddly chatty narrator and lots of awkward acting, it's a fairly good episode, if not one of the series' most memorable.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: With a show like this, video quality is sort of a moot point, as the movies Mike, Joel, and the 'bots are forced to watch are supposed to look as bad as they are. That said, the show intros and host segments, shot on video, look pretty good, with fair colors and freedom from digital artifacting and grain. However, The Dead Talk Back features what looks like problems with the video master—lines of distortion roll up and down the screen for perhaps a few seconds at a time in several spots. It doesn't look like any DVD mastering error I've seen, so I think it's something with the source tapes (Rhino has confirmed this, and doesn't plan to offer a replacement disc).

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English Stereono

Audio Transfer Review: The English stereo mix is serviceable. Audio during the movies can sound a bit muddy, but the mocking comments always come across clearly.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 80 cues and remote access
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Previous sets have included the original, un-mocked versions of the movies or new interviews with the MST3K crew, but this time, nothing. Too bad.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Rhino's semi-annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 releases are something to look forward to—it's the one time of year where I don't have to blame myself for buying a bad movie, anyway. This, the eighth MST3K collection, is another good one, with a fan favorite and three better-than-average installments.


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