Mystery Science Theater 3000: XV (1988) (NTSC)

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Released 5-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-x2
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 364:07
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kevin Murphy
Jim Mallon
Trace Beaulieu
Michael J. Nelson
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A mad scientist and his assistant jettison their janitor into outer space to a space station called the Satellite of Love where they make their captive, and the robots he has created as companions, watch the worst movies in the history of man. All that is really little more than an excuse for a couple of guys, visible as silhouettes at the bottom of the screen, to bag out and riff on all manner of dodgy movies as they play through.

    This cult series, known affectionately by fans as MST3K, ran for a decade on cable television in the US, initially led by Joel Hodgson (AKA Joel Robinson) and later Mike Nelson, tearing apart all manner of awful films from all ages. The various members have continued with various similar shticks for the years since, most recently as downloadable MP3 "Rifftracks".

    This set features four random episodes from different seasons of the show, each on a separate disc.

The Corpse Vanishes

    When a bride dies on her wedding day, apparently the second in recent days, two mysterious men take off with her body. A film-noir gone wrong investigation follows and the press eagerly follow an upcoming high society wedding hoping the story continues. After not terribly long this initial setup is all but discarded for some fairly silly mad scientist hijinks, complete with hunchback and midget assistants. Bela Lugosi stars here in sadly far from his most embarrassing role.

    This one is padded out a little heavily and features a Radar Men from the Moon short being picked apart by the gang (in its earlier Joel Robinson lineup) before the main feature. The riffing is decent in this one, the highlight being a bizarrely appropriate rendition of Devo's "Whip It" beginning with "When a hunchback comes along, you must whip it", but the episode is laden with padding and loses steam towards the end.

Zombie Nightmare

    Adam West, cheesy 80s rocker Jon Mikl Thor and teen Tia Carrere star in a mid 80s video shocker that seems more produced to sell cheesy 80s metal as cheap scares. When a muscle-bound mama's boy is run over by some pesky teens, his mum has a voodoo lady bring him back

    The gang, in its later Mike Nelson line-up, offer up one of their better riffings to this 80s schlock-fest. Fans might be a bit disappointed that a number of cuts have been made to the feature being riffed on to keep things PG, particularly the gory deaths which would likely have been rife for some bagging out.

The Girl in Lover's Lane

    A preposterously wise and moralistic young drifter (lovingly referred to by the commentators as "big stupid") takes on naive young drifter as an apprentice, and the pair fail to do a lot of drifting and hang out in small town USA, in this 1960 dramatic misfire.

    The gang (in its earlier Joel Robinson line-up) offer a consistent flow of decent riffage on this one, particularly on the film's title, which has nothing to do with the actual movie or its characters at any point!

Racket Girls

    A gangster that manages women wrestlers as a front for his other shady rackets goes on the run from a mysterious mob boss called Mr Big (and not just by the MST3K gang). The plot is really not a lot more than an excuse for a sexploitation shocker, 1950s style!

    A Mike Nelson leads a riff that has plenty of momentum, but is let down a little by an over-abundance of padding (which hasn't aged too well) necessitated by the relatively short main feature being riffed on. Preceding the main feature is a hilariously outdated 1950s educational short Are You Ready For Marriage?, which is actually much funnier than the main feature.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Each episode is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio in NTSC, which means the shows may not play back on some older televisions.

    The video looks pretty much as you'd expect for a 1990s low budget cable TV show, which is pretty much about the quality of a freshly minted VHS cassette.

    The MST3K-filmed bits generally look pretty decent, however the films being riffed generally look a bit fuzzy and littered with film artefacts, telecine wobble and frame skips. Mild aliasing is present throughout, although only particularly noticeable on the Zombie Nightmare episode, which seems largely because of the combination of colour video and cheap photography employed in that film's production.

    There are no subtitles available for any of the episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Each episode features an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) stereo track.

    The audio is a bit of a mixed bag. Generally the riffing and MST3K cast bits are fine, but the film being riffed on is a bit too quiet. The only exception being The Girl in Lover's Lane, in which the balance is about spot-on.

    The dialogue is generally clear enough to make out but a little muddy. The audio is well synchronised to the video.

    There is no surround or subwoofer activity in the track at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Each disc in the set includes one relatively trivial extra, save for Racket Girls which includes two trivial extras.

The Corpse Vanishes Trailer

    A fairly amusing and very dated trailer for the film proper.

Zombie Nightmare Cast Interview (11:04)

    Jon Mikl Thor and one of the other actors of the film being riffed answer questions

Behind the Scenes Featurette (8:07)

    The Girl in Lover's Lane disc features a brief behind-the-scenes look at the show's production, including fly on the wall footage of the writers doing a watch through of a film being riffed as well as an interview in the workshop where the goofy props used in the show's non-film watching bits are produced.

Hamlet A.D.D.

    A five-minute preview for a recent (2010) feature film made by some of the guys involved with the production of MST3K.

Racket Girls Trailer

    A hilariously dated and awkwardly overlong trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this "XV" set contains The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy instead of The Corpse Vanishes, which appears in the "XVI" set in Region 1. The individual discs themselves are virtually identical to their Region 1 counterparts, right down to NTSC formatting.

Summary

    Not the best MST3K package around, but well worthwhile for fans and newcomers alike. There isn't a real dud in the bunch and there are a few classic moments in the mix.

    The video is pretty much as you'd expect for a 1990s low budget cable TV show, pretty much about the quality of a freshly minted VHS cassette. The audio is serviceable, nothing more. The extras are worth a look but inessential.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, May 28, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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