Shout! Factory likes to include at least one noteworthy episode in each “MST3K” set, if they can, and Volume 25 serves up “Revenge of the Creature” from the eighth season. That one is notable because it introduces Pearl Forrester as the new mad scientist, after Dr. Forrester left at the end of season seven in a “2001: A Space Odyssey”-inspired sequence. (Bill Corbett stepped in to voice Crow.) Pearl shows up with Professor Bobo, a refugee from the “Planet of the Apes” movies.
The episode is also interesting because, as Mike Nelson points out during his introduction to it, the film is mediocre, but it’s not one of the mind-numbingly bad movies that the series typically aired. However, Sci-Fi Channel set down the edict that “MST3K” had to focus on fantasy and science-fiction films, which limited what they could show. (Eventually the requirement was eased.)
Sci-Fi Channel also insisted that the series tell some kind of story during the host segments, which, as Nelson notes during the introduction, was difficult to do since the premise was so simple. That was what led to the idea of Pearl Forrester chasing Mike and the robots across the universe, a concept that eventually evolved during the series’ final three seasons. I was never fond of that, since it made watching episodes out of order difficult.
The “Revenge of the Creature” disc also includes the 20-minute “Jack Arnold at Universal,” which traces the director’s career at the studio during the 1950s. It’s one of those historical featurettes that have become a staple of these sets; I hope they continue, since they provide helpful context for the films being skewered on the show.
Volume 25 also includes a new pair of “Life After ‘MST3K'” featurettes that focus on J. Elvis Weinstein and Bill Corbett. I believe they’ve covered all the primary cast members except Mary Jo Pehl at this point.
Introductions by Joel Hodgson on “Operation Kid Brother” (full of jokes centered around its star, Neil Connery, younger brother of Sean) and “Robot Holocaust,” along with a Mike Nelson introduction to “Kitten With a Whip,” round out the bonus features in this set. The extras are a bit scant this time around but, as always, the episodes are worth the price of admission. How can you go wrong with a movie featuring Ann-Margaret as a reform school runaway?