If you don’t want to pick up all of Shout Factory’s “MST3K” sets, you can’t go wrong if you grab the 20th Anniversary Edition, which kicked off the show’s time with a new DVD publisher five years ago, and the new 25th Anniversary Edition. You may have thought that the previous anniversary edition covered everything about the making of the show, but this new set digs into fresh territory by focusing on areas of the series that haven’t gotten much attention in the past.
Dubbed “Return to Eden Prairie,” the new making-of documentary in this set is broken into a trio of episodes spread across three discs, with a focus on the crew, the locations, and the characters, particularly the minor ones who popped up here and there. If you ever wondered who played Pitch, the devil from the Santa Claus movie, or how Mike Nelson got pulled into so many recurring roles, you’ll learn that here. And even though the crew and locations sections might not seem very promising, given the show’s low budget and guerilla approach, there are still interesting tidbits to mine there.
That might be enough for a solid “MST3K” set, but this one goes beyond that with a bonus fifth disc that features Joel’s final episode, “Mitchell,” along with “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” which kicked off the Mike era on the series. The “Last Flight of Joel Robinson” featurette delves into what was a bittersweet moment in the show’s history. An interview with “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” actress Marilyn Neilson rounds out the disc.
So that makes six episodes in this set. The other four are: Hammer Films’ schizophrenic “Moon Zero Two,” “The Day the Earth Froze” (which launched what the show called the “Russo-Finnish Trilogy”), “The Leech Woman” (described on the back of the case as “If ‘Cosmopolitan’ had published an article entitled ’10 Tips for Staying Young Without Having to Commit Murder”), and “Gorgo,” which Leonard Maltin explains in his introduction isn’t such a bad movie (but, still, it involves not one but two monsters, so how could “MST3K” pass it up?).
The bonus features spread across those discs include: a “Moon Zero Two” introduction by Hammer Films historian Constantine Nasr, who acknowledges that the film doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up; another “Life After ‘MST3K,'” this time focusing on Mary Jo Pehl; “Ninth Wonder of the World: The Making of ‘Gorgo,'” which is another excellent Ballyhoo Productions documentary; the “MST Hour Wraps” bumpers for “The Day the Earth Froze,” when it ran in one-hour installments; and theatrical trailers for “The Day the Earth Froze,” “The Leech Woman,” “Gorgo,” and “Moon Zero Two.”
All that and a handsome metal tin. How can any “MST3K” fan pass this one up?