Now that were up so far in the chain of MST3K box sets, Im assuming everyone reading knows and loves the shows concept; Ive reviewed so many of these, it seems pointless at this juncture to repeat it. So I wont. This latest, Volume XXII (thats 22 for those who didnt pay attention in school), rounds up another seemingly random quartet of episodes, all from the Comedy Central era: Time of the Apes, Mighty Jack, The Violent Years and The Brute Man.
Time of the Apes enjoys a figurative spot in my heart as one of the five funniest episodes the team every produced. Maybe even one of the three funniest. Japans 1974 made-for-TV rip-off of the American classic known as Planet of the Apes would be amusing without the ribbing provided by Joel Hodgson and his robot friends, but its downright stomach-hurting (in a good way) with it. Shout!s disc comes complete with a reasonable explanation of what the land of the rising sun was thinking, in an introduction by kaiju expert August Ragone (who could dress up just a tad for the cameras).
By contrast, although there are no truly bad episodes of MST3K, Japans 1968 Ultraman-esque Mighty Jack doesnt yield half the laughs as Apes, partly because the movie itself actually cobbled together from a television series is repetitive to the point of genuinely boring. Its one of my least favorite MST moments, but again, Im glad I have it.
Juvenile delinquency is the subject of (ridicule) 1956s The Violent Years, notable for being one of the few films spoofed by the show to have sprung from the delusional mind of Ed Wood. The unsung hero of this set is 1946s The Brute Man, a crime exploitation effort starring deformed character actor Rondo Hatton. Its not that the movie itself is good (its not), but that its an episode that seems to have gone largely unnoticed. This set pays it its due not only by its inclusion, but with the touching half-hour documentary on Hatton, Trail of the Creeper. It's features like this that put Shout!s sets way above the ones Rhino did before the reins ceded. Rod Lott