Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Volume 10 (DVD)
Directors Jun Fukuda, Roger Corman, Ben Parker (not Spidey’s uncle), and Bill Rebane
Distributed by Rhino Home Video
It's not an easy thing to review a MST3K assemblage. Each film Joel Hodgson or Mike Nelson has to sit through is a B-Movie, there's no hesitation about that. Sometimes even with Crow's or Tom Servo's clever lines there's constantly the dreaded feeling that no commentary will make it enjoyable. With Volume 10 the Satellite of Love's crew were able to make at least two of the following four films watchable.
First up is Godzilla vs. Megalon. The setup is slow since this is an old Joel episode, but once the movie starts rolling out the fireworks, the commentary picks up nicely. This film in undoubtedly the crowning jewel of Volume 10. What sets these Japanese films apart from other bad movies are the dubbing and the culture. Seeing something altogether different from what we are used to gives the comedy that little extra push … it also helps that the underwater civilization of Seatopia is inhabited by dancing Klan members and a slightly gay leader in a shiny Caesar outfit.
It looks like some underwater nuclear tests have pissed off the Seatopians, and they send their drill-handed monster, Megalon, out to fuck up the land dwellers. Throw in some nonsense about a size-shifting robot called Jet Jaguar who appears to enjoy Madonna's "Vogue" video, a brain burning car chase, and Godzilla's patented gang hand gestures; and you've obtained yourself something golden. Keep an ear out for the They Live reference.
Swamp Diamonds, a Roger Corman picture, was not one of his best. As keen as four female prison escapees sound, it just doesn't work. They manage to break out of the most sloppily assembled pen in history and hijack an undercover detective's boat. None of the previous actions came with an ounce of tension or steamy moments. Not even the “tense” snake scene was able to keep my eyes open. This reviewer should have known better though. In the beginning of the picture Corman is able to make Mardi Gras look boring. That was the tip-off right there that the entire 92 minutes would be more torturous than listening to Ann Coulter recite Bible verses while twisting her scary nipples. AVOID!
A character by the name of Mikey Walton makes the next film, Teen-age Strangler, worth all the tar that is the plot. Mikey (John Humphries) is the younger brother of Jimmy Walton, who is a suspect in the recent murder of a teenage girl. Mikey makes the entire movie fun. He has a strange Southern accent, a perpetually sour face, and enough tears to fuel 100 Hot Topic stores. There's a plot somewhere too that involves a pissed off janitor, visible boom mics, and some horrid detective work. Honestly, the movie goes so slowly and the murders are so dismal that it's almost unbearable to sit through. Oh yeah, make sure you watch the amazingly dull drag race near the end. It's practically as fun as stepping on a Matchbox car.
Oh snap! Alan “Skipper” Hale, Jr., AND giant spiders?! The Giant Spider Invasion has just gotta be ecstasy on a stick, right? You're damn right it is! Within the first few minutes the audience is treated to a Gilligan's Isle allusion and then another hour of watching tarantulas climb over dumb people. It takes a bit of time before the real madness starts. The giant spider, while not much to look at, is just crappy enough to keep your attention. It's primarily a heap of fur strapped to a car with moving legs. It desires to eat people whole, destroy houses, and butt itself softly into a riotous mob of people and then crawl away. EXCITEMENT!!! The invasion also seems to make several jumps from night to day all in the same scene.
At least two of these films are worth sitting though, three if you really want to see Mikey Walton do an impression of Uncle Creepy at a tater tot taste test. The genuinely sad thing is, apart from Godzilla vs. Megalon, the funniest moments were in two short films that preceded some of the features. What to do on a Date and Is This Love are great for laughs due to their dated social material. If some guy were to ask a girl to a “weenie roast” today, he'd get pressed with sexual harassment charges. It's a good thing the Internet came around to make dating so much simpler. Web cams are just as good as the real thing … right? Right?!
Three special features and four discs? The math doesn't add up! But something is better than nil, I suppose. While the outtakes are hilarious and the jukebox contains a large number of music videos, the photo gallery leaves much to be desired. Sometimes it's hard to even know what the picture is of since captions aren't included. Maybe we just had to see a group of people standing in a line outside at night? Is it one of the new rules to get into Heaven now?
Two out of four isn’t awful when it comes to a B-Movie collection, especially one that is delivered with the MST3K crew. Get them, have a good laugh, and understand what not to do if you are at any time in the business of making movies. Oh, and if you see a spider the size of a bus, don't stand around and wait for its mouth to be right in front of you before trying to escape.
3 1/2 out of 5