Thanksgiving has hit, and while 2017 has been a mixed bag on a number of fronts for a number of reasons, it’s been a banner year for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, who’ve witnessed what was thought to be the impossible: a new season of the show, currently streaming on Netflix. Today is “Turkey Day,” with six episodes of classic MST3K streaming all day on Shout Factory TV ( ) and is also available on the free Pluto.TV app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and more, with show creator Joel Hodgson and cast and crew members from the new 11th season of MST3K hosting classic episodes like Night Of The Blood Beast and Warrior Of The Lost World.


Available this week is Volume XXXIX, the thirty-ninth installment of MST3K DVD box sets, delivering three new-to-DVD turkeys to the tale by Hodgson (as hapless host Joel Robinson), head writer and co-host Michael J. Nelson, and writers and co-stars Kevin Murphy (robot “Tom Servo”), Trace Beaulieu (“Dr. Clayton Forrester”), Bill Corbett (robot “Crow”), Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”) and Mary Jo Pehl (“Pearl Forrester”). You know the concept — Joel (and later Mike) gets sent into space on the “Satellite Of Love” with robot pals Crow, Tom Servo, and Gypsy and are made to watch “cheesy movies— the worst we can find” — and Volume XXXIX delivers up three choice cuts and a fourth disc of host segments separate from the riffed movies. Host segments? Apparently, due to myriad rights issues with the remaining eleven episodes, this is to be the last regular installment of MST3K DVD sets from Shout Factory other than the reissue of older, out-of-print sets released by Rhino. There’s a decent chance that individual episodes will be released when the rights become available, but we’ll have to make due with what we’ve got— and Volume XXXIX gives us a lot to be thankful for.


Girls Town, a wonderfully dated ‘50’s “bad girl” movie, opens the set with big laughs as we see buxom bombshell Mamie Van Doren torn between tough punk Mel Tormé — perhaps the only time that term has been used to describe the singer known as “The Velvet Fog” — and wimpy pop singer Paul Anka. Complete with drag races, butch Catholic School girl gangs and a climactic battle between Tormé, his goons and Mamie’s street-fighting classmates, this is a stone-cold MST3K classic, full of big laughs and an entire host segment featuring Tom Servo scat-singing. Extras include the theatrical trailer and a fun interview with Charlie Erickson (aka “Chuck Love”), who wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics to the opening and closing “Theme(s) From Mystery Science Theater 3000.”


Next up is 1960’s The Amazing Transparent Man, a cheap riff on the classic “Invisible Man” story, with Douglas Kennedy (as the awkwardly named “Joey Faust”) as a bank robber who, under the thumb of tough guy James Griffith, is made invisible to conduct the perfect heist— which of course goes wrong. Directed by slumming film noir specialist Edgar G. Ulmer (who directed the classic Detour 15 years earlier), the movie feels cheap— and, as we learn in a terrific Ballyhoo Films documentary, “Beyond Transparency,” it certainly was, made as part of a tax write-off by Texas businessmen who ended up going bankrupt on the deal; doc interviewee and movie historian C. Courtney Joyner ends up telling us a story that’s significantly more interesting than the movie itself! The riffs are particularly fun here, no more so in the bizarre opening short, “The Days Of Our Years,” where a minister tells a convoluted tale of workplace injuries caused by distracted railroad employees.


Diabolik (1968) is the last film of the set and the final MST3K before its resurrection earlier this year. The film is a pop-art riff on an Italian comic-book of the same name (the film was released domestically as Danger: Diabolik) and, to director Mario Bava’s credit, the haphazard editing to make this fit into MST3K’s truncated time slot does the fun movie no favors. But much of this very broad piece opens itself up to big laughs — the American dubbing doesn’t help — and, as Mike and the ‘Bots find themselves trapped on a Satellite Of Love plummeting to Earth, there’s little time for reflection as the show comes to an end and Tom Servo and Crow end up rooming with Mike in a basement apartment. Extras include “Showdown In Eden Prairie,” a look back on the show’s finale by the cast and crew — who, as Kevin Murphy notes, had accomplished much of what they’d wanted to do over its run — and “The Last Dance,” a former VHS-only feature-length mix of outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage and general mayhem surrounding the production of the final episode.


The fourth disc (“Satellite Dishes”) contains all of the host segments of the eleven episodes as yet unavailable on DVD — unfortunately without a menu, so picking an individual segment means stepping through every chapter on the disc, as well as “Behind The Scream,” a terrific documentary on Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, who’s done almost the featurettes on all of the MST3K releases and is currently wrapping up a feature-length documentary on ‘80’s B-movie factory Empire Pictures.


While we wait for a commercial release of the 11th season of MST3K, we also have Joel Hodgson’s side-project Cinematic Titanic released in its entirety to tide us over. Cinematic Titanic: The Complete Collection contains twelve movies (including five live riffs) that take on cheese movies not only in MST3K style, but with the bulk of the crew, including Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl and Josh Weinstein. Revel in the bizarre papier-mâché monsters of The Alien Factor! Gasp at the obvious Frankenstein rip-off The Oozing Skull (aka 1971’s Brain Of Blood)! Wonder how such a dull movie like Legacy Of Blood (aka 1971’s Will To Die) got made! Extras include a documentary about the making of the individual episodes and a conversation with Josh (J. Elvis) Weinstein.

The next Shout Factory reissue, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. 7, including The Killer Shrews, Hercules Unchained, Hercules Against The Moon Men, Prince Of Space and the unreleased short Project: Venezuela, comes out on February 13.

You can buy Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXIX from Amazon or directly from Shout Factory (with bonus “MST3K: Poopie” disc).

You can buy Cinematic Titanic: The Complete Collection from Amazon or directly from Shout Factory.

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