I’ve been griping about the lack of extras in these standalone “MST3K” DVDs since Shout! Factory started issuing them, so after my last review (“Red Zone Cuba” and “The Unearthly”), the company got in touch and let me know why they’re being released a la carte.
Jordan Fields at Shout! told me:
“The single episode/single disc releases are part of a direct-to-consumer program that allows fans to enjoy previously released episodes of MST3K. To be sure, they lack the bells and whistles of our box set releases, but there are two reasons for that. First, as these episodes were all previously released by Rhino, we assume the majority of the fan base owns them, so we don’t expect sales of the singles to compare to our box sets. And second, our budget for bonus content is limited and we prefer to spend that money on adding value to our box sets of unreleased episodes.
“We have not given up on the volumes and plan to continue releasing at least three per year. But the Rhino sets are either out of print or soon to be out of print, so the only way for fans to enjoy those episodes on physical media will be by buying our lower price single disc releases.”
So there you have it. Fair enough. It’s still a bummer that these don’t have any bonus features on them, but I understand where Shout! is coming from. They’ve done a stellar job with the bonus features in the box sets, so I can let the lack of extras on these single-disc releases slide.
With that out of the way, let’s get to these episodes, which are “The Atomic Brain,” from season five, and “The Touch of Satan,” a season nine entry. Both star Mike. Both are, unsurprisingly, very funny. “The Atomic Brain” is a 1963 black-and-white schlock-fest about a rich old lady who has hired a mad scientist to transplant her brain into the body of a young woman. The scientist nabs three of them for her to choose from. A really bad voice-over sets up the story.
The film is preceded by a 1955 short about a teenager who tries to quit a gang after his dad is mugged by them while on their way to pick him up. One of the gang members brags about a pencil he got off their victim — yes, the Beav apparently grew up and joined a gang.
“The Touch of Satan,” released in 1971, is kind of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” meets the TV movie of the week. Some random guy decides to drive down a random road and meet a random chick, whose grandmother (or is she really that old?) is a crazed killer. The family treats grannie’s crimes like they really aren’t that big of a deal (she doesn’t even kill very many people, and the violence is mostly off-screen), and they even take Random Guy’s word for it at the end when he swears he won’t tell anyone what he saw. For a family complicit to killings, they’re pretty mellow about it.
The best part of this episode may be the sketch at the end, when Crow describes his deal with the devil, which Mike reveals was actually a pact with Stan. We then find out that Stan can’t return Crow’s soul to him because he sold it to Citicorp. Given the financial news of the past few years, that sketch could have been written today.