Brad Cook reviews Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV…
Shout! Factory’s previous MST3K set, Volume XXXIII, was a solid release with a nice complement of bonus features. This new one, Volume XXXIV, seems to take a step back with a more sparse set of extras, like Volume XXXII, but upon taking a closer look, I realized that what’s here is on par with the previous set.
The extras centerpiece in Volume XXXIV is a 90-minute retrospective, It Was a Colossal Teenage Movie Machine: The A.I.P. Story, which I’m almost certain is the longest such historical piece found in an MST3K volume. It accompanies the Roger Corman film Viking Women and the Sea Serpent, an A.I.P. release that was skewered during the series’ third season. It Was a Colossal Teenage Movie Machine covers the history of American International Pictures (A.I.P.) from start to finish, spending plenty of time on the company’s most notable movies, such as their first release, Corman’s The Fast and the Furious (yes, the title rights were purchased by Universal for their film series) along with tons of cheesy juvenile delinquent flicks, monster movies, and more.
Nearly 30 A.I.P. movies were featured on MST3K, including all of the ones in this set, so the length and depth of the documentary is certainly warranted. It’s a nice look back on a part of film history that many movie buffs may not know about, beyond understanding that many schlocky flicks have been released during the past several decades. Sure, they’re all silly projects, but you have to give credit to A.I.P. founders James Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff for seeing a demand and filling it the best they could. It’s a great historical story.
The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent disc also includes an introduction from Frank Coniff, who also pops in to introduce War of the Colossal Beast, another third season episode that is notable for the short film Mr. B Natural, whose “hep pixie” host became a recurring character on MST3K. The other A.I.P. releases featured in this set are the eighth season episodes The She-Creature and The Undead. Those discs only include the theatrical trailers, but given the fact that this is a themed volume with a meaty historical documentary, this is a worthy release by Shout! Factory.