The film industry would be worse off without Roger Corman’s body of work. Sure, his movies are shoddy, but he provided a fall-back for B-level actors and actresses who needed to make a living, and he’s responsible for launching many prominent careers. As James Cameron likes to say: “I trained at the Roger Corman Film School.”
Which brings us to “Gunslinger,” a 1956 western directed by Corman and the subject of this fifth season “Mystery Science Theater 3000” episode. It checks all the boxes: B-level talent (John Ireland, Beverly Garland, and Allison Hayes); a typically hurried, slapdash production schedule (note the scene where Hayes is standing motionless midway up a staircase and then begins walking down it; as Tom Servo says: “And … action”); and a goofy plot that tries to be meaningful but instead implodes under the weight of its convoluted ridiculousness and inane dialogue.
There’s not much more to say about this episode: it delivers everything you expect from “MST3K,” including riff-heavy commentary and some appropriately goofy host segments. “Gunslinger” is also notable as the episode that comes before the infamous “Mitchell,” in which Joel escapes the Satellite of Love and Mike takes his place. Let the “Who’s a better host?” flame wars begin!
There are no bonus features on this disc, though, so don’t expect to see Hodgson reminiscing about his final days at “MST3K” or even a Roger Corman retrospective. Like Shout! Factory’s other standalone “MST3K” releases, this one is simply a reissue from the Rhino days, so if you bought those previous collections, you probably have it already. If not, this is probably just worth a rental. I’m not sure why Shout! has been treating these standalone releases this way, given the love they’ve slathered on the four-disc collections, but they recently announced that a two-disc release of the classic “Manos Hands of Fate” episode is headed our way in September, so there’s that.