THE SCREENING ROOM
By Bill KallayThose crazy crew members of the Satellite of Love are back.
"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII" is now on DVD.
Who better than Joel, Mike, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and Gypsy to poke fun at history's worst movies? The movies contained in this volume are truly deserving of the crew's cutting jokes. "Lost Continent," "Crash of the Moons," "The Beast of Yucca Flats," and "Jack Frost" are included in the set.
Hard to see what Spielberg and Lucas saw in serial-type adventures like "Lost Continent." They're normally slow paced and hokey, though "Continent" is not as bad as it seems. But it's easy to see some ideas that they plundered in raiding cheap movies and serials. The opening crawl. Shots of a flying plane on its way to adventure. Men jumping across perilous plunges. Some of scenes and some of the ideas most certainly came from movies like this. Thank goodness they realized that adventure needs pacing, witty dialogue and great heroes.
"Continent" has perhaps the longest mountain climbing scene in history. The crew of the Satellite of Love are tortured as much as the audience is. As bad as the movie is, it does feature decent acting by Cesar Romero, a decent score by Paul Dunlap, and incredibly bad stop-motion effects.
"Crash of the Moons" continues serialized adventures, this time in outer space. You think that maybe Spielberg and Lucas might've seen "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" (the television show was cut into making "Moons" a feature), and implemented some of those ideas into "Star Wars" and the Indiana Jones films? I don't have their biographies in front of me to confirm that, but I'm guessing so. Heck, the cockpit of the ship in "Moons" is somewhat similar to the Millennium Falcon. I'm just sayin'.
"Moons" is pretty bad with no real plot or action to move the story along. It's one of those "gee-golly" movies that makes you want to laugh at the cheesy dialogue. Look out! It's a rocket ship on wires!
"The Beast of Yucca Flats" didn't inspire anyone to break into movies. At least I don't think it did. This is a poorly made flick whose only real bonuses are of Tor Johnson zombie walking and Bob Burns' critique. I'm paraphrasing the DVD's commentary here, but watching "Beast" is akin to watching a student film of actors walking across the desert for minutes on end. Thankfully, Johnson hams it up every time he's on-screen.
The worst movie in the set, and lovingly lampooned, is "Jack Frost." No, it's not the awful Michael Keaton movie about a dead dad coming back to life as a snowman. Instead, this "Frost" is an awful Soviet-era film with horrific acting, special effects, bad haircuts and music. Years ago, a local station in Los Angeles used to run "Pippi Longstocking." It was a bizarre and terribly made Swedish movie dubbed even more terribly into English. "Jack Frost" clearly runs along those lines with bad dubbing on an already bad movie.
At the very least, "MST3K" makes these movies fun to watch and poke fun at. They're not art and they're not well-made by any stretch of the imagination. But they are "MST3K" favorites, and that's what makes them worth watching.
Special thanks to Tom Chen
Photos: © Shout Factory. All rights reserved.