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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New on Video: Skydivers, Manhunters, and Skindivers in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume I

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:00 AM


Back in July, Shout! Factory released Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIII on DVD. Therefore, it goes without saying that next up on their MST3K slate, they're releasing Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume I — featuring the movies Catalina Caper, The Creeping Terror, Bloodlust, and The Skydivers, all from different eras of the show — on September 1. Math is power! Also, huh?

Here's why Volume 1 is following Volume 33: Rhino started releasing these MST3K DVD box sets back in to 2002, starting with (wait for it) Volume 1. They made it up through Volume 12 (or technically Volume 10.2, but that's a whole 'nother mess). Shout! Factory, which had been formed by two of Rhino's co-founders, took things over, and they've been releasing them since 2008. The upshot is that Volume 1 is now long out of print, so they're re-releasing it at retail prices rather than eBay prices. In fact, and this is totally true, up until recently the only copies available were the rips I made several years ago:


Notice that I got a whole two DVDs in before I decided to stop being a purist and abbreviate the title! By my standards, that's pretty fast.

One of the nice things about Shout! Factory's MST3K releases has been that their covers are far less terrible than Rhino's. An argument could be made that Shout! Factory's are a bit too far on the utilitarian side, but they're minimalist artworks compared to Rhino's attempts to be clever. Hence, the original artwork for Volume 1:


And they just got worse from there. Granted, they were never quite as horrible as Rhino's VHS covers, in which people who had no business trying to write riffs attempted to be funny. It was not successful, and they screwed up the Manos: The Hands of Fate cover something fierce.


What? No. Ugh. Stop doing that! Thankfully, they did stop doing that, but holy cow. Nothing about that cover would make someone unfamiliar with the show want to give it a try, and for those of us who are already fans (and probably know the episode by heart), it's a kick in the urethra.

In any event, it's good to have these episodes available f'reals again, and the always-reliable Ballyhoo Motion Pictures has included a documentary on Crown International Pictures, the company that originally released these four films to the theaters. None of them rank among my favorite episodes, but they all have their charms, especially The Creeping Terror; in addition to being a stunningly incompetent film, it, Bloodlust, and The Skydivers all hail from the period when MST3K was experimenting with longer, almost Dada-esque host segments where very little happens. I'm not sure if they were ever very funny to anyone else, but they always cracked me up.

Indeed, "I'm not sure if they were ever very funny to anyone else, but they always cracked me up" pretty much describes being a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan. Join us.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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