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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > TV on DVD Reviews > Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Volume 6)

 

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Volume 6 (Rhino-2004)

RETURN TO TV SHOWS ON DVD REVIEWS MENU

Copyright ©2004   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 26, 2004.

The eighties were the decade when critics and fans celebrated bad older movies.  There were tons of books on the subject… probably the best known of the genre were The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time and The Golden Turkey Awards, both written by current radio talk show host Michael Medved back when he was best known as the guy who wrote the book Whatever Happened To the Class of ’65?  Movieline magazine had a monthly column called “Bad Movies We Love.”  A movie was released called It Came From Hollywood in which then-huge comics like Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Cheech & Chong and John Candy mocked classic old cheesy movies.  Local late-night movie shows were suddenly dusting off the likes of Plan Nine From Outer Space, Robot Monster and They Saved Hitler’s Brain.

Towards the end of the decade Comedy Central created the ultimate expression of the cinematic scorn.  Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted in 1988 and was so popular that it lasted a shocking eleven seasons on cable (eventually moving over to the SciFi Channel).  The basic idea was wonderfully simple… have three people (well okay, one person and two robots) watch bad movies and heckle them.  Let’s face it; most of the fun of watching a bad movie is yelling funny things at the screen, so the show decided they’d do the hard work for the audience.

It was a brilliant idea.  Not quite such a good idea was that the series needed a back story.  It seemed too simple to just dump us into the theater with three pithy friends, so they came up with a stupid frame plot about a goofy janitor (Joel Hodgson) in the future being jettisoned into space by the evil Gizmonic Institute.  The baddies force him to watch horrible films as a psychological test.  To keep his sanity, janitor Joel creates friendly robots as company.  Yawn.

The short comedy skits based around this plotline are invariably lame: running the gamut from simply disappointing to nearly unwatchable, with unwatchable usually winning the race.  Luckily, though, these little breakdown sketches are generally short (and easy to forward through.)

That leaves us to the meat of the matter: the actual films.  As this is Volume 6 of the series, a lot of the better movies have already been mocked.  However, there is still a lot of funny stuff here.

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Our first movie is an approximation of what would happen if Tennessee Williams wrote a Swamp Thing movie.  (“This is more like Night of the Iguana than Attack of the Giant Leeches.”)  In a hot, sweaty, small southern town a passionate affair is going on.  The townsfolk are hot, sweaty, passionate and spicy as well.  ("They're smart enough to enjoy eating at Chili's, but not smart enough to realize it's a chain.”)  The young hot wife of a middle-aged fat man is screwing the young hunky town stud.  When her sugar daddy catches the two with their pants down (so to speak…) he decides to give them a scare they’ll never forget.  He chases them through the swamp with a rifle (“Admittedly, it was tough love, but…”) until he finally corners them at the water’s edge. 

The stud boy starts crying and begging for his life, blaming it all on the wifey.  Now, we understand why the hubby wants to shoot this weenie.  Instead, though, he makes them wade into the swamp (“Jeb, you’ve got a real dark side.”).  Now I’m not sure if he thought they couldn’t swim in three feet of water, or maybe they’d be horribly humiliated by the wet clothing.  Unfortunately, fate takes the hand in the form of a long wet tarp with a single tentacle.  Oh wait, I mean in the form of a giant leech.

Turns out through some sort of nuclear waste, the local leeches in the pond have grown to the size of a… well, a long wet tarp with a single tentacle.  A brassy female reporter and her G.Q. model scientist boyfriend set their minds to exposing this unnatural menace.  The scientist goes diving (lots of opportunities to show him without his shirt) with an oddly homoerotic co-worker (also often without his shirt) looking for the giant leech and seeing if he can save the victims who are literally being sucked to death in a Paper-Mache cave. 

Unfortunately, young alien love is interrupted by the arrival of Thor.  (Grandpa is an equal opportunity giver, since Thor has the same odd uniform as Derek, Gramps assumes they are friends and gives the baddy any and all info he needs, and some that he doesn't.)  The race to save Earth from insensate evil continues into town (somehow the small bucolic hamlet has turned into downtown Hollywood).  Derek must save the world from Thor and the giant Gorgans.  However, will he be able to do it without breaking the heart of his teenybopper girlfriend?