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by Garon Cockrell
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVI DVD Review
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I’ve long been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and am

always happy to revisit episodes of the program. There are some episodes that I’ve

seen nearly a dozen times, and somehow they always make me laugh, and raise my

spirits. For those who are unaware of the program, the idea behind it is

simple: a man (Joel Hodgson in the early episodes, Mike Nelson later

on) is sent into space and is tortured by having to watch bad movies. He

survives by poking fun at the films with his robot companions, Tom Servo and

Crow.








Volume XXVI contains four episodes – one Joel episode, three Mike

episodes. Each episode is on a separate disc, and all of the discs have bonus

features.








Disc 1: The Magic Sword








The first episode, in

which the gang watches The Magic Sword,

is a Joel episode from 1992. In this film, a princess (Anne Helm)

is kidnaped by Lodac (Basil Rathbone), a sorcerer who is upset because the

king’s father executed his sister for witchcraft. He’s going to feed the

princess to his dragon. George, the son of a sorceress, is in love with the

princess (though they’ve never met), and wants to save her. The sorceress

spoils his birthday surprises by showing him his gifts early – a magic sword,

shield and armor (well, an outfit of some sort anyway).








When the princess says

she’s furious, the guys quip, “I am

furious – yellow
.” When the sorceress goes on about her family, they joke,

She’s got more stories about her

relatives than Gabe Kaplan
” (a Welcome

Back Kotter
reference). When George looks around in a cave, the guys joke,

Nope, nothing happening with the plot

over here
.”








As always, there are lots

of great pop culture references. This time there are several Shakespeare

references, as well as a Tom Robbins reference. There is also a reference to Where’s Poppa?  And during a break, the gang does a fake ad

for Basil Rathbones, snacks for dogs.








Bonus Features








There are a few bonus

features on this disc, including Bert I

Gordon: The Amazing Colossal Filmmaker
, which is an interview with Bert I.

Gordon, the man who wrote and directed The

Magic Sword
. He talks about watching movies as a child, and about moving

from St. Paul to Los Angeles in order to make movies. He says was not

encouraged in his endeavors. (This is approximately eight minutes.) The second

bonus feature is MST3K Hour Wraps,

which is approximately five minutes of intros and outros to the two episodes

when the show was divided into hour segments. This disc also includes the theatrical

trailer for The Magic Sword.








Disc 2: Alien From L.A.








Alien From L.A. is a Mike Nelson episode from 1993. In the film, Wanda (Kathy Ireland) is dumped by her

boyfriend. She tells him, “I want to

change. Just tell me what you don’t like about me
.” The gang jokes, “Wow, she’s got a lot of pride and dignity.”

Wanda then receives a letter that her Dad, an explorer, has died in Africa. So

she goes there to find him. She quickly falls down a hole and meets an

Australian guy, who takes her to an underground city. One important question

the gang asks is, “So why is it that the

action sequences slow this movie down?








Mike Nelson and the

robots rip on Kathy Ireland’s acting throughout the film, particularly her

voice. “I like acting, especially the

scenes when I don’t have to talk
.” 

During a break from the film, the gang sings a pseudo-Irish tune to

Kathy, “I’d like to come over and roll in

your clover, and kiss your Blarney stone
.”








There are pop culture

references to William S. Burroughs and Peter Greenaway, among others. There is

also a Casablanca reference: “The problems of two second-rate actors don’t

amount to hill of beans in this crazy underworld
.”








Bonus Features








This disc has two bonus

features, the first being an interview with Albert Pyun, the director of Alien From L.A. And yes, he talks about

Kathy Ireland’s voice. (This is approximately eight and a half minutes). The

second bonus feature is the theatrical trailer for Alien From L.A.








Disc 3: Danger!! Death Ray








The third disc contains

the best episode of this collection. In this one, Mike Nelson and the robots are forced to watch Danger!! Death Ray, a truly terrible

film. But as is often the case with this series, the worst movies yield the

best episodes. A dull scientist shows a group of

dull scientists his new Death Ray. But two seem to be planning on stealing it

and kidnaping the inventor. During a lame gun battle outside, Crow quips, “Peckinpah’s Wild Parking Attendants.” As

the bad guys make their getaway, Mike points out, “The Death Ray’s just rattling around in the trunk. I hope they wrapped

a blanket around it
.” Then when they get into a helicopter, Crow realizes,

Anybody bring the Death Ray?” When a

clearly fake submarine surfaces, Mike says, “Ah, the ocean is beautiful in this part of the tub.” Crow adds, “Special effects by Billy.”








They occasionally joke

about the film’s title, like “Danger!!

Smalltalk
” when special agent Bart Fargo is talking to the woman next to

him on the plane. And “Danger!! Drywall.”

Regarding a gondola, Crow says, “A poorly

designed subway
.”








They all sing along with

the movie’s theme song whenever it pops up, which is often. Mike says, “I can’t run without my theme.” Tom Servo

adds, “If the music speeds up a bit, I

can catch her
.” And, as Crow says, “It

was an interesting choice not to have any suspense in this movie
.”








There are lots of music

references in this episode, to such folks as The Lovin’ Spoonful, Grateful

Dead, Taco, Chad & Jeremy, and Wes Montgomery. On a break

from the film, Tom Servo builds his own Death Ray (“made for peaceful purposes only”) which he then uses to attack

Crow.








Bonus Features








There are two bonus

features on this disc. The first is Life

After MST3K: Mike Nelson
, a 12-minute interview with Mike Nelson in which

he talks about the show, about writing and, of course, about Rifftrax. The

second bonus feature is the film’s theatrical trailer, which, by the way, is

from Something Weird Video – the “SWV” is in the bottom right corner of the

screen.








Disc 4: The Mole People








The fourth disc contains

the weakest episode of the collection. This is a later Mike Nelson episode when

the Planet Of The Apes story is in

place, with the evil woman, rather than Doctor Forrester and Frank,

sending the films. But that is not at all important.  The film

they watch is The Mole People.








Interestingly, Crow makes

a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference

right at the beginning of this episode. MST3K

really owes a lot to that film and to the audience participation phenomenon

that grew around it. When the movie starts, a little card reads, “Africa.” Mike

quips, “Well, that narrows it down.”

When men dressed like Keebler elves take the main characters prisoner, Mike

says, “It’s got to be humiliating to be

tortured by a Smurf
.” Shining a flashlight causes the underground dwellers

to run, so the gang jokes, “Oh, light

that’s slightly brighter than we’re used to, no!
” When the female love

interest is playing an instrument, the gang sings a bit of “Dark Hollow.” When

the girl says, “Our gods are always angry

and give orders
,” Crow responds, “Oh,

she’s Catholic
.” And then while a somewhat inept dancer does her thing

before a sacrifice, the guys quip, “Amateur

night of the gods
.”








Bonus Features






This disc has two bonus features, the first being Of Mushrooms And Madmen: Making The Mole People, a 17-minute

documentary on the making of The Mole

People
. It’s interesting to learn where the stock footage of the

mountain-climbing comes from, but this documentary has no interviews with any

of the cast or crew. The second bonus feature is the theatrical trailer.








Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVI is scheduled to be

released on March 26, 2013 through Shout! Factory.






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