“A lot of people like to say [Ed Wood] wasn’t a good director. I don’t think it takes a bad director to make a movie in six days with $8,000. That takes a genius to do that. It’s more like alchemy.” That’s Cinema Insomnia host Mr. Lobo talking about “Bride of the Monster,” one of the four movies featured in Shout! Factory’s latest “Mystery Science Theater 3000” set.
That comment pops up early during “Citizen Wood: Making ‘The Bride,’ Unmasking the Legend,” a 27-minute bonus feature on the “Bride of the Monster” (season four) disc. It’s a sentiment that shows up again in the 60-minute “MST3K: Origins and Beyond at CONvergence 2009” on the “Devil Fish” (season nine) DVD, and it underscores an idea that perhaps some forget: Sure, “MST3K” loves to skewer bad movies, but they do so in a fun, playful way, and the films they show have their entertainment value, such as watching Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson literally tear up the scenery in “Bride.”
As Frank Coniff points out during the CONvergence panel, which also features Mary Jo Pehl and Joel Hodgson, only one or two movies out of 20 were suitable for “MST3K” when he was screening them. “It’s like the Supreme Court definition of pornography: you know it when you see it,” he says.
The fact that I’m even pondering these points is testament to the love and care that Shout! Factory continues to lavish on these sets. They could have phoned it in after their excellent 20th Anniversary set, which includes a nice documentary about the history of the show, but they haven’t. Each volume includes materials that enhance fans’ appreciation of the show and the movies it lovingly mocked.
The “Bride” disc also includes the film’s trailer and the six-minute “Inventing the Invention Exchange,” in which Hodgson reflects on the invention exchanges his character conducted with the mad scientists of Deep 13. Over on the “Devil Fish” platter, the CONvergence panel delves into a wide-ranging discussion of the show, with a few nods to the trio’s involvement in the new movie riff concept Cinematic Titanic.
“Bride” is a Joel episode while “Devil Fish” is a Mike one. As in previous “MST3K” sets, the four episodes are evenly split between the hosts, with Joel taking on “Robot Monster” from season one and Mike suffering through season eight’s “Devil Doll.” The former’s bonus features include: the movie trailer; an introduction by J. Elvis Weinstein, who played Tom Servo and Dr. Forrester’s original sidekick during the first season; and “Larry Blamire Geeks Out,” in which the indie filmmaker, who also pops up during the Ed Wood piece, talks about the movie’s entertainment value, another nod to the “it’s so bad it’s good” concept.
The “Devil Doll” disc features the trailer and “The Puppet Master: Richard Gordon on ‘Devil Doll,'” in which the film’s producer talks about how the project came together. Gordon also shows up during the “Citizen Wood” featurette, where he discusses his brother’s role as producer of “Bride of the Monster.” He’s a pretty matter-of-fact guy who relates the background of everyone involved, with little acknowledgment of “MST3K.”
I believe this is the first “MST3K” set from Shout! in which each disc has something beyond the movie trailer in the Extras menu, so it deserves a half-star bonus.* As I’ve said in the past, I hope the company keeps it up. Volume XIX also includes a Gypsy figure that will look nice on your shelf next to the Tom Servo and Crow toys from previous sets.
* Shout! Factory may accumulate its half-star bonuses and redeem them at any time for exciting prizes, including the popular Tough Love Seat and a case of Faith Popcorn popping pop culture predictions. Film Threat reserves the right to cancel this promotion at any time.