MST3K | Varied Celluloid - Page 2

MST3K: Code Name: Diamond Head

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 29 - 2012

MST3K: Code Name Diamond Head (1994)
Director: Kevin Murphy
Starring: Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy and Jim Mallon

The Plot: In the not-too-distant future, Mike Nelson (Michael J. Nelson) is abducted by his boss at Gizmonic institute and shot into outer space. His boss, Dr. Forrester, then sends Mike the very worst movies that he can find in order to document his reactions. Mike, who has built two robot friends named Crow and Tom Servo, does his best to improve this bad situation by having a good time and riffing on the movies with his robot pals. In this episode, we watch Code Name: Diamond Head, which was a TV pilot that has been converted into a feature film. In our story, we follow secret agent Johnny Paul (Roy Thinnes), aka: Diamond Head, as he arrives in Oahu taking on the role of a playboy gambler. His actual mission, however, is to help stop the theft of a frightening new chemical agent which is far deadlier than anything the world has seen before it. A military made chemical agent, this toxin was stolen by the elusive double agent “Tree” (Ian McShane). Now, Johnny Paul must track down this rogue agent and put a stop to his nefarious plans before this deadly chemical falls into the wrong hands.

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MST3K: Castle of Fu Manchu, The

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 28 - 2012

MST3K: The Castle of Fu Manchu (1992)
Director: Jim Mallon
Starring: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Kevin Murphy

The Plot: In the not-too-distant future, Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgeson) is abducted by his boss at Gizmonic institute and shot into outer space. His boss, Dr. Forrester, then sends Joel the very worst movies that he can find in order to document his reactions. Joel, who has built two robot friends named Crow and Tom Servo, does his best to improve this bad situation by having a good time and riffing on the movies with his robot pals. In this episode, Dr. Forrester forces Joel to watch the fifth entry into the Fu Manchu series starring Christopher Lee, which is known as The Castle of Fu Manchu. A nearly incoherent film, the plot is made up of multiple strands that will confound any potential viewer. However, the basic story revolves around the evil Dr. Fu Manchu (Chrisopher Lee) who runs a massive opium operation and is consistently pursued by his righteous nemesis Nayland Smith, Britain’s top Interpol agent. This sequel follows Fu Manchu and his army as they take over a castle in Istanbul, where they look to enact a plan to freeze the world’s oceans. To do this, he has to kidnap an ailing scientist who has a bad heart. Fu Manchu promises to cure the scientist, but he must first construct his freezing device. Will Nayland Smith stop the evil Dr. Fu Manchu before all hope is lost? Will Joel and the bots find a way to survive this monstrous movie?

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MST3K: King Dinosaur

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 19 - 2012

MST3K: King Dinosaur (1990)
Director: Jim Mallon
Writers: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Jim Mallon, etc.
Starring: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Jim Mallon, and Frank Conniff

The Plot: In the not-too-distant future, Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgeson) is abducted by his boss, Dr. Forrester, at Gizmonic institute and shot into outer space. Forrester then sends him the very worst movies that he can find in order to document his reactions. Joel, who has built two robot friends named Crow and Tom Servo, watches these movies and has a good time making fun of them in order to keep his sanity. In this episode, Dr. Forrester forces Joel to watch the 50s sci-fi title known as King Dinosaur. The story focuses on two couples, who are also scientists, that arrive on the distant planet called Nova. Nova is very similar to our earth, but as these scientists begin to investigate they find that it is slightly more primitive. Featuring giant tyrannosaurus-rex dinosaurs, who look a LOT like the household Iguana, and a lot of other really bad creature FX. This one looks like it is going to be a rough ride for Joel and his crew. Will they survive, or will their minds melt whilst watching?

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MST3K XXIII boxset details revealed!

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 9 - 2011
Hey all, taking a quick break away from the Kung Fu Christmas in order to post about a tidbit of information that floated into our inbox. The good folks over at Shout! Factory have released the latest information on the next Mystery Science Theater 3000 boxset! No doubts, this next MST boxset should prove to be as great as their previous compilations have been as well.

Well known at this point for delivering these sets with excellent special features and colorful menus, this next set is even more meaningful due to the fact that these episodes have never actually been released on DVD at any point. The boxset looks to include the following episodes: King Dinosaur, The Castle Of Fu Manchu , Code Name: Diamond Head, and Last Of The Wild Horses.

As with all of the releases so far, the boxset also includes a handful of special features on each disc. Those special features appear to be as follows:

  • Introduction By Frank Conniff
  • The Incredible Mr. Lippert
  • Vintage MST3K Promos
  • Life After MST3K: Kevin Murphy
  • Code Name: Quinn Martin
  • DARKSTAR: Robots Don’t Need SAG Cards
  • 4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
  • I am particularly interested in that Kevin Murphy (the voice of Tom Servo) interview, and the rest just sounds like icing on the cake! This set should be hitting DVD shelves on March 27th, so keep an eye out! We will of course try to cover the release right here on Varied Celluloid!

    MST3K: Violent Years, The

    Posted by Josh Samford On November - 9 - 2011

    The Violent Years (1994, original air date)
    Starring: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Trace Beaulieu

    The Plot: Mike Nelson is trapped on the Satellite of Love with a group of robot friends who he has created. This crew of misfits are forced by the evil Dr. Forrester to endure many incredibly bad movies. The only thing that makes this process bearable is the fact that they riff and crack jokes during the entire ordeal. This week the group watch the Ed Wood written piece The Violent Years. In our story, Paula is the spoiled daughter of a very influential family. Her mother is a homemaker, but her father is the owner of a large newspaper enterprise. Although she has had everything she could have ever wanted in her life, Paula decides that her life simply isn’t filled with the excitement that she craves. She and her friends then turn to a life of crime, and begin robbing gas stations at gunpoint. As the police work to track her down, Paula remains oblivious to her parents who have no idea that their daughter is out every day committing horrible crimes. Will Paula and her gang of friends see the error of their ways, or will their violent lifestyle catch up with them?

    The Review
    There is no name that is as infamous in the world of b-movies as “Ed Wood”. A figure so famous now for making bad movies that when his name is attached to nearly any project it immediately becomes ranked with the worst movies of all time. With the release of Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood, came a new notoriety for the writer and director who brought us Plan 9 From Outer Space. Even the most generic of movie fans can usually recognize the name and maybe even spout off a few of his more famous titles. His legacy is that of a cross-dressing man who was overly enthusiastic, and overly confident, when it came to making movies. With this unwarranted confidence he then created some of the worst films of all time. Whether or not this is a a realistic depiction of Wood as a person, I can’t say, but what I do know is that his notoriety far exceeds any work that he actually did. Plan 9 From Outer Space shouldn’t really be considered the worst movie ever made, and anyone who made films that were as uniquely entertaining as this director did had to at least have something going for him. The notoriety that surrounds the name Ed Wood is the reason why The Violent Years made an appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000, despite the fact that Wood himself did not actually direct the picture.

    The Violent Years is a bad movie, I will not run away from this fact. It was obviously shot on a shoestring budget and this fact continually shines throughout the entirety of the movie. However, I will say that director William Morgan actually manages to showcase a few qualities that make him seem at least slightly more visual than other b-movie directors such as Ed Wood. I have to give the film credit, it packs in a few very interesting choices throughout. The opening scene, in particular, is actually quite stylish. The camera is set up so that it may watch each of the “bad girls” walk up to a chalkboard, which has several lines about general decency written on it, and the girls all simply roll their eyes and walk off while the names of their characters read across the bottom of the screen. It is a fun little trick that establishes a sense of the unusual, and it actually tells us everything that these teenage delinquents are running from. If this were made in the feminist age, audiences could have likely found a lot to commend this film for, but unfortunately that doesn’t prove to be the case. Director William Morgan may have had a script by Ed Wood, but he actually shows he has an eye for tiny visual flourishes. Although the movie is shot in an amateurish way for the most part, using recycled footage and featuring several scenes with very static and boring camera placement, Morgan proves that he definitely has more visual promise than some directors of the era. Between some of the set decorations, interesting costume combinations, as well as the editing techniques employed, the movie at least seems competently handled. Even though it is most assuredly underfunded.

    Unfortunately, and probably as expected, Ed Wood’s script isn’t very tight. I think the big gunfight during the third act is probably the greatest example of this. When confronted by the police while wrecking an empty classroom, these girls decide that their best chance lies in shooting it out with the police. It didn’t seem as if great detective work brought the police to this situation, and thus it seems that these girls instigate a gun fight over what could only be considered a misdemeanor at worst. The film really seems more than a bit confused about motivations in general. The entire reason for these women going into a life of crime remains a bit ambiguous. We know that Paula is a rich girl, bored with her lavish lifestyle, but the rest of the girls seem as if they are little more than eye candy with little to no background information. Even the little that we do learn about Paula doesn’t make her seem all that interesting. Without question, she doesn’t even become very sympathetic. In fact, she becomes far less sympathetic when we see just how gracious and respectful her parents are in stark contrast to her demeanor. However, the concept of a rich debutante becoming a heathen is actually somewhat interesting. It is one of the few plot-centered positive aspects that the movie has going for it, but it isn’t the only intelligent device in play. The fact that the movie starts with its ending, before such a concept was in vogue, is another conceptual idea that manages to give life to the movie despite all of the negative aspects working against it.

    Although The Violent Years is our main presentation, in true MST3K fashion we are presented a short film beforehand. This short turns out to be another Jam Handy production, a company known for their instructional videos that were often used on this show. The title of the short sounds like a gay porno, but Young Man’s Fancy is instead a fairly misogynistic display of male and female relationships. The short almost seems completely pointless for the most part, but Mike and the bots still manage to tear into it relentlessly. A fun short, the MST3K gang are on point with their wit. The riffing is razor sharp and the guys have most fun when picking apart the stuffy way that these older films ignore the very basis of sex. In the short we follow a girl named Judy whose brother brings home a stud named Alex, who she finds utterly dreamy. When the daughter actually describes her infatuation for Alex as making her “squishy,” Mike and company start to really lay into the unintentional sexual innuendos that the short seems to hammer home. The short also acts as the most unintentional display of anti-feminism you can imagine. The entire short, from what I gather, is about teaching young women to take their place in the kitchen and become better future housewives. After all, a woman’s very best hope is to find a young beau such as Alex who will someday marry her off and provide for her while she idly prepares the household for him.

    The Conclusion
    Another solid entry into the Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII boxset. Special features include two thorough interviews with the two most important loves of Ed Wood’s life. The special features on this box set more than make this set worth buying, but the episodes within are also quite entertaining. The Violent Years is another episode that borders between good and great. On the whole, I have to give it a three, but it has its moments where it ventures into the “4” territory.





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