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Mystery Science Theater 3000: HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN  Season 4, Ep 10

"Planets on collision course as Earth's mightiest titan battles Moon Monsters!" Herc fights against rock monsters from space that are aided by the evil Queen Samar. Prepare for DEEP HURTING. This is the second "Hercules" movie the crew of the SOL witnessed, although in name only. Maciste is a venerable strongman character of Italian cinema that, alas, few Americans know about. So when this got released in the States he was renamed Hercules for this movie that has very little to do with mythology. This is the movie that has the interminable "saaand stooorm" sequence that drives our heroes to tears. YouTube (1h32m) Premiered August 22, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Dec 17, 2015 - 10 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: HERCULES UNCHAINED  Season 4, Ep 8

AKA Ercole e la regina di Lidia. "Spectacles of Massive Might Beyond Any Ever Known Before!" "SEE The War of the Chariots! SEE Lydia the Temptress! SEE the Contest of Giants!" Hercules and his friend Ulysses (wait what?) get waylaid from an important mission by a sultry evil queen, who takes advantage of his drinking of the "waters of forgetfulness" to advance her romantic plans on the Hercster. This one marks the beginning of a new category for Mystery Science Theater movies, the sword-and-sandal epic. Most of these are fine episodes. Common to most: the meeting of the manly macho man-friends of Hercules, the customary Display of Strength, the evil trap that Herc falls into, the evil queen with designs on the Herc-meister, the Prance of the Courtly Nymphs, and of course the rampant muddling and conflating of ancient Greek works. YouTube (1h32m) [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Dec 2, 2015 - 9 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: BEING FROM ANOTHER PLANET  Season 4, Ep 5

AKA Time Walker. "Nothing Can Stop Him. Not Even Time." A mummy, in reality a space alien, terrorizes a college campus. An extremely forgettable made-for-TV movie, and one of those films that's difficult to recall. About the most memorable thing I can say is that this is the episode in which the bots are terrified of the basement. Star Ben Murphy shows up again much later in the Sci-Fi Channel era in 814 RIDING WITH DEATH. YouTube (1h35m) Premiered August 4, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Nov 4, 2015 - 6 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: CITY LIMITS  Season 4, Ep 3

"Just beyond our time, heroic young warriors stand between civilization and destruction." "On the border of adventure. At the edge of danger." It's after the apocalypse again, teenage motorcycle gangs rule the city streets, and a corporation wants to take over because EVIL. A classic episode, with many memorable bits: Joel's umbrella in the theater, Crow's fixation on Kim Cattrall, and two whole segments in which the guys invent members for their superhero team, the Fantastic 85. "Man Man! He has all the powers of a man, but he's a man!" Ernie was played by Dean Devlin, who produced Independence Day, the first Hollywood Godzilla (the one with Matthew Broderick) and Stargate. According to the IMDB, how actors were mentioned in the credits depended on their fate in the movie. So, John Stockwell IS Lee because his character survived, but Dean Devlin WAS Ernie because he kicked the bucket. YouTube (1h31m) Premiered June 20, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Oct 21, 2015 - 5 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: SPACE TRAVELERS  Season 4, Ep 1

AKA Marooned. American astronauts become stranded in space when their ship suffers a malfunction, and their wives on Earth are put through the dramatic wringer worrying about them. The surprise heroes turn out to be the Russians. Here it is: the first episode of Season Four, the only MST3K movie to have Gene Hackman, and -- yes! -- the only Oscar-winning movie covered by Mystery Science Theater 3000, although not in the form in which it won, and for Effects. This is another Film Ventures International production, a company that specialized in low-budget knockoffs of better-known films. FVI puttered along for a while, but when it failed in 1984 boss Edward Montoro disappeared with a million dollars of company money and his whereabouts remain unknown to this day. YouTube (1h34m) Premiered June 6, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Oct 7, 2015 - 2 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU  Season 3, Ep 23

"He's back!! The World's Most Evil Man with a Fiendish Plan of Conquest." Evil Mandarin megalomaniacal mastermind Fu Manchu schemes to freeze the world's oceans. No one can accuse him of lack of ambition, but Englishman Nayland Smith is on-hand to foil his diabolical plans. It's not your imagination, playing Fu Manchu himself is Christopher Lee. The Satellite News' "Daddy-O" website is a treasure trove of data, but it was written so long ago that for notable movies for Mr. Lee it mentions neither Star Wars prequels nor the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Producer Harry Alan Towers made another movie we'll be encountering later, the equally ridiculous Outlaw. I find this to be a very difficult episode to make it through; evidently the MST guys agreed, because the host segments revolve around how much Joel and the 'bots are suffering. YouTube. Premiered January 18, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Sep 23, 2015 - 6 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: MASTER NINJA I  Season 3, Ep 22

"The Master Is Here! He's the supreme warrior. Even his eyes can kill you. His student is the supreme heartthrob. His eyes can melt you." A goofy kid who lives out of his van with his pet hamster is taken on as apprentice by an aging American ninja master played, amazingly, by Lee Van Cleef, and who's back in the US looking for his lost daughter. They travel the country in a manner not unlike Richard Kimble or David Banner. This is another of those direct-to-video "movies" that are actually episodes of a TV show stitched together. This time though, despite the name, it's an American show, "The Master," from 1984, and it's from Film Ventures International. You might think it'd make for a bad episode, but this is another true classic, thanks no doubt to the writing talents and obsessive pop culture knowledge of one Frank Conniff. A good jumping-on episode. YouTube (1h33m) Premiered January 11, 1992. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Sep 16, 2015 - 12 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: STAR FORCE: FUGITIVE ALIEN II  Season 3, Ep 18

The crew of the Bacchus 3, ex-Star Wolf Ken, hard drinking Captain Joe, vivacious Tammy, suspecious Rocky (again?) and some other guys, have adventures throughout the galaxy, involving a secret weapon, Ken's old girlfriend, and the leader of the Star Wolves. It's another sewn-together movie from episodes of the Japanese TV show Star Wolf. It's got the same great theme music, including a host segment that features it. It's the last of the eight Sandy Frank movies, and it's the last Japanese movie for a long long time. The crew of the SOL wouldn't get another Japanese picture until 816 PRINCE OF SPACE, on the Sci-Fi Channel. YouTube (2h) Premiered November 16, 1991. This movie was also riffed in a KTMA episode, but no known fan copy of it exists. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Aug 19, 2015 - 6 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA VS. ZIGRA  Season 3, Ep 16

AKA Gamera tai Shinkai kaiju Jigura The evil alien Zigra comes to Earth in his glowing, flying bowl of Trix, and enacts his fiendish plan: to mind control people in such a way that just shouting in their ear will break the spell, and also to fight with Gamera. It doesn't go well for the intrepid shark monster. The last of the five Gamera movies MST would do, and eighth of the nine Sandy Frank films they would cover on cable. Classic "Shōwa era" Gamera would appear in three other movies in Japan: Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Jiger and the finale Gamera: Super Monster, which was mostly clips from prior movies, and in which they kill the giant turtle off. Gamera would return for four more movies in the "Heisei era," the last coming out in 2005. YouTube (1h37m) Here's the KTMA version (1h35m). [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Aug 5, 2015 - 8 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: MIGHTY JACK  Season 3, Ep 14

(1968, Color, Japanese, Spies) The only people who can hope to win against "the organization known as Q" is Mighty Jack, a bunch of action spies in a flying submarine. I think. Despite several viewings I don't think I've ever managed to pay complete attention throughout the entire episode. The movie is amazingly lacking in cohesiveness, in large part because it's really the first and last episodes of a Japanese TV spy show tacked together. For Fugitive Alien and Time Of The Apes at least some editing was done for continuity, but not here. I don't recommend this one to casual viewers. Treat Mighty Jack with respect, or Mighty Jack will destroy you. YouTube (1h38m) Premiered September 21, 1991. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Jul 23, 2015 - 8 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA VS. GUIRON  Season 3, Ep 12

(1969, Color, Kaiju, Monster, Japanese, Gamera, Sandy Frank, Cornjob) aka "Attack Of The Monsters" "Will Gamera be a super turtle or turtle soup?" A pair of boys is taken away by two scantly-clad alien ladies to their home planet -- but they plan to eat their brains! To rescue the kids, Gamera will have to fight the inexplicable Guiron, a monster with a big knife blade for a forehead. If Gamera vs. Gaos is the best Gamera movie taken on its own terms, this one is, by far, the most entertaining one in an episode of MST3K. With a goofy enemy monster, Gamera doing many blatantly absurd things like gymnastics, and a character who's name sounds all the world like Cornjob, it's an awesome episode overall and excellent fun even for newbies. And it's the episode that gives us the Gamera Fight Song! It is fourth of the Gamera movies suffered by the crew of the SOL, and the sixth Sandy Frank movie. One Gamera film, and two other Sandy Frank films, remain. YouTube (1h37m) KTMA Original! (YouTube, 1h33m) [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Jul 9, 2015 - 13 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS  Season 2, Ep 11

(1960, Color, Sci-Fi, Venus, Space Travel, International, German, Soviet, Stanislaw Lem) "You are there... on man's most exciting, most incredible journey!" "This Is A First! Fantastic! Unforgettable!" Based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem, an international team arrives on Venus to investigate the origin of an alien artifact. What they find: ruin, death, and a rapidly growing supply of pudding. The first outright Soviet movie Joel and company ran up against, but not as charming as The Day The Earth Froze. A very odd film, but with nice host segments, including the Klack Holiday Commercial and an exploding Servo head. Can you believe we're nearing the end of Season Two already? Prepare yourselves: next time we have a real doozy.... YouTube (YouTube 1h37m) First aired: December 29, 1990. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Mar 18, 2015 - 14 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: THE HELLCATS  Season 2, Ep 9

(1968, Color, Exploitation, Bikers, Sixties, Ross Hagan) "Leather on the Outside... All Woman on the Inside!" "The Cycle-Gang Girls... Scratching... Clawing any Guy Who Gets In Their Way!" Ross Hagan plays the brother of a cop killed by a biker gang. He and the cop's girlfriend go undercover in the gang to bring him to justice. The producer on this was Anthony Cardoza, who should be familiar to us as the producer of the three Coleman Francis movies. (Red Zone Cuba, The Skydivers and Beast of Yucca Flats) As Servo reminds us, Tony Houston also wrote The Sidehackers, and Gus Trikonis, playing Scorpio in this, directed that movie. YouTube (YT 1h37m - no embed) First aired December 8, 1990. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Mar 5, 2015 - 9 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: WILD REBELS  Season 2, Ep 7

(1967, Color, Motorcycles, Exploitation) "They Live for Kicks... Love for Kicks... Kill for Kicks!" "They're the Wildest of the Wild Ones!" A stock driver goes undercover as wheel man for a larcenous biker gang. It's the second of the three motorcycle movies MST did in their run. Less iconic than The Sidehackers, but Satellite News considers it the best of the trio. YouTube (1h37m) First shown November 17, 1990. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Feb 19, 2015 - 2 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: ROCKET ATTACK USA, with THE PHANTOM CREEPS, part 2  Season 2, Ep 5

(1960, Color, Cold War, Propaganda) "From another continent... DESTRUCTION!!! PANIC!! ...before the Rocket Strikes! You'll live, MAYBE!!!" Heroic spies fail to stop the Soviet Union from launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. A movie that reminds us that fearmongering in the media has been with us for a long time. Of particular note, Daddy-O informs us that director Barry Mahon went on to make adult films, then kids movies. He made, believe it or not, the infamous, legendary Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. YouTube (1h38m) First shown October 27, 1990. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Feb 4, 2015 - 11 comments

Mystery Science Theater 3000: ROBOT HOLOCAUST, with RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, part 9  Season 1, Ep 10

(1986, Unrated, Color, Sci-fi, Horror, Made for Video, Central Park) "The world had been brought to its knees by the... Robot Holocaust!" Watch the saddest LARPers of all, in costumes that must have been picked up on clearance at Pelt World, explore the greener spaces of New York City after yet another apocalypse. Riffing in this one is probably as good as it gets in the first season, approaching the joke density we're familiar with from later seasons. YouTube(1h 36m) First airing: around January 13, 1990. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Nov 18, 2014 - 15 comments

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