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DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie (1 Viewer)

Kevin EK

Senior HTF Member
May 9, 2003


Studio: Universal (Originally released via Gramercy)
Original Release: 1996
Length: 1 hour 12 mins
Genre: Comedy/Satire/Deconstruction of Science Fiction Movies

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Color/B&W: Color

English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: PG-13 (Sexual Humor)

Release Date: May 6, 2008

Rating: Starring: Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Jim Mallon

Based on the Television Series Written by Joel Hodgson
Written by: Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul Chaplin, Bridget Jones
Produced and Directed by: Jim Fallon

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is the theatrical version of a beloved cult television series from the 1990s. In its day, MST3K was a popular and fiendishly effective satire comedy with the same sense of humor as today’s Family Guy. The premise is simply that a mad scientist is subjecting a human test subject and his robot companions to screenings of really bad movies to break their will. Thus, the show mostly would consist of a screening of the bad movie of the day, with our heroes featured in silhouette as they respond with witty comebacks to the dialogue and hijinks onscreen. In 1996, this feature film of the show was prepared and released without much publicity. For the big screen version, the show’s staff opened up the format to allow for some larger scale visual effects and sound in the framing sequences, but otherwise maintained the usual structure. This time out, the movie in question is This Island Earth, which is presented in an abbreviated print that gets interrupted twice for sight gags and sequences with the MST3K cast. At this point, some 12 years after the original release, a lot of the jokes and gags have dated, as they mostly refer to 1990’s current events. But there’s still some funny stuff in here, and fans of the show will certainly enjoy this DVD. The only issue here is that this really isn’t much of a special release. While the packaging announces a digitally remastered picture, the reality is that while this is an anamorphic transfer, most of the film consists of a screening of an unspectacular print of This Island Earth which itself contains lots of scratches and dirt. Further, the sound on the disc really only comes to life during the framing sequences, where the visual effects and environment allow for the subwoofer and the surround channels to have some work. For the screening that takes up the majority of the film, the sound is limited to the front channels. Finally, there are no special features included here. I should note that while there are chapters, there isn’t even a chapter menu on the disc, so viewers will have to fast forward through the chapter stops on their own.

To be fair, I must recognize that there are a lot of fans of this show who would love to see this release in any case. This DVD appears to have been released as quietly as when the film hit theatres in 1996, so it is quite possible that some fans of the show aren’t aware it’s out. Previously, this film was available in a non-anamorphic DVD in 1998. The new edition adds the anamorphic transfer and the 5.1 mix. It’s not the greatest package in the world, but it will at least allow people to see the movie in a better format than the 10 year old edition.

:star: :star: :star:

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer that works well during the framing sequences, including the very green opening with the mad scientist and some decent visual effects sequences. However, during the screening itself, we’re left with the print of This Island Earth as the main image on display. Now, this is certainly a step up from the non-anamorphic transfer available back in 1998. The new transfer itself is fine; it’s just that a remastered transfer of an unremastered print of This Island Earth doesn’t really do that much.

AUDIO QUALITY: 2 ½ :star: :star: ½

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, and a 2.0 mix in French. As stated above, only the front channels are used for the majority of the film as This Island Earth is screened. When the framing sequences are running, the surrounds and subwoofer suddenly come alive and have a bit to do, especially during a sequence where Mike Nelson (the human test subject) crashes their craft into the Hubble Space Telescope. Those sequences are brief, though. For most of the film, this is a 2.0 mix. I’ll probably take some hits for not scoring the audio mix higher, but I honestly feel it’s disingenuous to announce 5.1 sound when that isn’t the case for much of the film.


Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie contains no extras at all, not even a trailer. While I understand that it would be pointless to put a commentary over what is effectively a commentary format, I must believe that the bare minimum of effort could have been extended to put SOMETHING on this disc. Even the Flash Gordon release of last year had a featurette.

Subtitles are available in English. There are no other features to speak of on this DVD.


Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will undoubtedly want to pick up this DVD, as it’s a bit of a rarity. And I must admit, I find the jokes pretty funny in spots, even if some have passed their sell-by date. I’m sure the show’s fans will appreciate just being able to see the film on DVD with a new transfer. Casual viewers should definitely rent before purchasing – unless they simply wish to see the DVD releases of the television series.

Kevin Koster
May 19, 2007.

Jay Pennington

Apr 18, 2003
There were a number of deleted scenes that were shown at a convention; too bad they didn't see fit to include them this time.

Patrick McCart

Senior HTF Member
May 16, 2001
Georgia (the state)
Real Name
Patrick McCart
While the footage from This Island Earth is inherently more spotty, the transfer of this film is close to perfect. The host segments look fantastic. Criticizing the transfer for the TIE footage condition is sort of like knocking off points from Citizen Kane because of the newsreel segment. It's part of the film.

Also, the 5.1 track is surprisingly strong. The host segments sound spectacular (especially the Hull Breach scene). The theater segments are fronts only, but the riffs come through the right and left while the TIE audio is in the center. Probably faithful to the original mix.

The lack of extras is a letdown considering a trailer, making-of featurette, and deleted scenes exist. Probably could have at least packaged This Island Earth as an extra considering both films would fit snugly on a DVD-9 (thanks to the short runtime of MST3K: TM).

Kevin EK

Senior HTF Member
May 9, 2003
Patrick, I hear you. But I have to stand by my position that while the 10 minutes or so of host segments look and sound great, the great majority of the film consists of watching the print of This Island Earth with the surround channels off. And I was a bit irked that not only were there no special features, but I couldn't even find a chapter menu.

You're absolutely right that this transfer of the film is superior to the non-anamorphic one available 10 years ago. But that simply didn't overcome the shortcomings I found here. I enjoyed the movie, but I can't in good conscience recommend a DVD when the transfer and sound mix only really apply for 10 minutes out of the feature. My reservations aside, I still think that fans of the TV series and the film will enjoy the DVD all the same.


Senior HTF Member
Oct 11, 2006
Real Name
Would it have killed Universal to at least include the trailer and the original DTS soundtrack? Maybe someday Criterion will give this movie some TLC.

At least nobody has to shell out big bucks for the old disc on Ebay anymore.


Senior HTF Member
Jul 2, 2002
Real Name
Kevin, that's for the review - I'll be renting this first based on your comments.

One comment on your format though, I found the background/watermark to be very distracting. If it was a longer review I would have had to bail.

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