Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Anniversary Special EditionShout Factory
Special Features: A
DVD Geek Factor: 9 (out of 10)
It was 20 years ago that Joel Hodgson pulled an all-nighter, made a couple of robots before a pilot episode shoot, and was blasted off into space on the Satellite of Love. In orbit, Joel and robot friends Crow and Tom Servo would be forced to watch some of civilization's very worst films, and their silhouetted figures against the movie screen would riff on the hell they were enduring.
It's hard to believe that it was 15 years ago that Joel Hodgson left his post as host, replaced by head writer Michael J. Nelson. I've always been a Joel fan; I think what he came up with in response to bad cinema is the stuff of legend. Nelson was always a little more stiff, and he--and this will sound strange--lacked certain chemistry with the robots.
This package contains three bad films ripped by Nelson (Werewolf, Laserblast and Future War) and one by Joel (First Spaceship to Venus). The Joel episode is classic MST3K, with stellar cinematic putdowns and great intermission sketches. Nelson's episodes are typically good, but they lack the gonzo nuttiness that Hodgson brought to the party.
Special Features: The four-disc set comes packaged in a fun tin that includes small posters for each film and a cool Crow T. Robot figurine.
There's a three-part documentary on the history of the show, with participation from Hodgson, Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff (TV's Frank!) and more. The prospect of seeing Hodgson, who has been a little distant from the franchise for a while, talking about his show again is worth the price of the package. There's also a feature covering the reunion at the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego.
Rear Window: Special EditionUniversal
Special Features: B+
DVD Geek Factor: 8.5 (out of 10)
This is the 1954 film where Alfred Hitchcock gave us the sweet and loveable James Stewart as a peeping tom. Oh, he had a good excuse, being laid up in his apartment with a busted leg. But he was still a peeping tom, and that's just creepy.
If you liked the recent film Disturbia (Shia LaBeouf!), it owes everything to this film (actually, some lawsuits are pending concerning this very issue). One of the great scary sequences in Hitchcock history is when Stewart's character sends his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the apartment of a man he suspects of murder (Raymond Burr). It's still terrifying, 54 years later.
The picture has been digitally remastered, and it has never looked better.
Special Features: A commentary by a Hitchcock biographer, an original documentary about the film, and production photographs are among the decent features in this two-disc set.
Cinematic Titanic Presents: Legacy of BloodCinematic Titanic
Special Features: A (explanation below)
DVD Geek Factor: 10 (out of 10)
In case you didn't know, Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff of MST3K fame have returned to movie riffing with Cinematic Titanic. You can only get the movies on the Internet by either downloading them from their site (cinematictitanic.com) or purchasing DVDs from their online store.
This is great news, bolstered by the fact that Hodgson has lost none of his edge. Legacy of Blood is easily one of the worst films he's ever subjected audiences to, and he is at no lack for words in taking it apart. It is pure pleasure to have Hodgson doing this again. Michael J. Nelson's recent Film Crew DVDs were also funny, but they don't pack half the comic wallop of Cinematic Titanic.
It was only while I was reviewing the MST3K 20th Anniversary Edition that I discovered the existence of Cinematic Titanic. If you are a fan of MST3K, you must not hesitate. Download the movies now (there are three others besides this one) and commence laughing your ass off.
Robots Crow and Tom Servo are nowhere to be seen, but having the voice of Beaulieu (who voiced Crow on the original series) gives the proceedings that very special Crow aura.
Special Features: I consider the running commentary (this time with five silhouettes observing the movie) one big, glorious special feature.
School House Rock!: Election CollectionDisney DVD
Special Features: None
DVD Geek Factor: 8 (out of 10)
Oh man, did I love this stuff when I was a kid. History became my best subject (before after-school jobs screwed my GPA), and I just dug the animation and tunes. This Election Collection contains the song shorts that related to American history, government and the election process. Seriously, I learned a lot about our system of government while consuming mass quantities of Cocoa Puffs and Trix!
This stuff is still so much fun. Seriously, throw this disc into your children's DVD rotation, and I bet you they'll groove to it and start asking questions about the Declaration of Independence. Come to think of it, you better watch the disc first. Chances are you've forgotten some of this stuff, and you'll need to brush up.
Special Features: You'll get nothing and like it!!!