Release Date(s)Various (June 18, 2019)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!
Here we are again with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Shout! Factory’s Volume XI DVD set. Shout Factory’s boxed sets of the show are normally released three to four times a year with some nice extras and better quality episodes than what you might find floating around online or on bootlegs. The price is kind of steep, but if you’re a fan of the show, you know that these sets are definitely worth picking up.
In this instance, this release is an update of an out-of-print boxed set from Rhino Entertainment. After Rhino’s release of Volume 12, Shout! Factory took over the home video distribution rights and they have been re-releasing these sets, which have since become very expensive to acquire. With this release, you get the following four episodes: Ring of Terror (Season 2, Episode 6), Indestructible Man (Season 4, Episode 9), Tormented (Season 4, Episode 14), and Horrors of Spider Island (Season 10, Episode 11).
The episodes in this set feature three hosted by Joel and one hosted by Mike. The quality of each episode varies as some are better than others. In Ring of Terror, a medical student with a penchant for being frightened by corpses (and choosing the wrong line of work if you ask me) is tasked in retrieving a ring from one of them in order please his fraternity. In Indestructible Man, Lon Chaney, Jr. is an executed criminal who is revived by a scientist with deadly results. In Bert I. Gordon’s Tormented, the ghost of a jilted ex-lover haunts a Jazz pianist who is intent on marrying another woman – at any cost. And in Horrors of Spider Island, a nightclub manager and his group of female entertainers crash land on a remote island inhabited by the titular arachnids who put their fangs into the nightclub manager, turning him into a monster.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which are on video. The episodes look generally good, especially in the latter years of the show, with an occasional minor green band or video-source anomaly here or there. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles. Short of Shout! Factory putting some extra money into producing these sets in high definition, these are definitely a major step up from circulating bootlegs of the show.
As for the extras, you get a couple from disc to disc, most of which have been carried over from the original Rhino boxed set releases, as well as some new material courtesy of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. For Ring of Terror, there’s Video Jukebox Vol. 2, featuring 10 songs from the show’s run, and the 10-minute featurette Lugosi Creeps: Making a Sinister Serial, which features authors and film historians C. Courtney Joyner and Charles Lee Jackson speaking about Bela Lugosi and his work at Universal Pictures. For Indestructible Man, there’s the 15-minute featurette Shock & Awe: Making Indestructible Man, which features authors and film historians C. Courtney Joyner and Tom Weaver speaking about the film's background, as well as the its theatrical trailer. For Tormented, there’s the vintage 16-minute Tormented Reunion, featuring a discussion between director Bert I. Gordon, his daughter Susan Gordon, and actor Joe Turkel; a set of the original MST Hour Wraps for the episode; and the film’s theatrical trailer. For Horrors of Spider Island, there’s the film's theatrical trailer only.
All in all, this is another solid release of MST3K goodness from the fine folks at Shout! Factory. I for one am incredibly thankful to have an out-of-print release of the show back on the market. If you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to pick this up. Now push the button, Frank.
– Tim Salmons