DVD Review: MST3K Vs. Gamera: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. XXI [Deluxe Edition]

Shout! Factory
Release date: August 2, 2011
MSRP: $64.99

With the release of MST3K Vs. Gamera: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. XXI [Deluxe Edition], the movie gods were indeed smiling down on us. MST3K was always enjoyable, but the Gamera episodes must be considered some of the very best.

For those that are unaware, Gamera is a Japaneses movie monster that is a giant, radioactive turtle that can fly through space…yep, it is just as crazy as it sounds. Seven films were made with Mr G and the MST3K crew sat through five of them over the course of the series seven year run.

For any poor soul that is not familiar with Mystery Science Theater: A mad scientist has stranded a man on a space station and forces him to watch B (and C and D) movies. To keep his sanity, Joel (and later Mike) created a couple of robot companions, Tom Servo and Crow T Robert. The three of them provide snarky running commentaries over the cheesy flicks. The comment reference pop culture, music, history, current (at the time) events, sports and damn near anything else you can think of.

A Russian Jet is shot down and the resulting explosion unleashed Gamera from his frozen slumber beneath the ocean. Gamera takes to the sky and starts to lay waste to Japan. In between destructive rampages, he rescues a young boy named Kenny and Kenny works to convince the scientists and soldiers that Gamera is not all bad.

Gamera Vs. Barugon:
Everyone’s favorite flying, radioactive turtle is back! This time, he is going toe to toe with a giant lizard/dog beast. Barugon has ice breath and a tongue that doubles as a battering ram. Much like some of the Godzilla films, this one has too little Gamera in it.

Episode 308 – Gamera Vs. Gaos:
This time around, the Big G is throwing down with Gaos, a bat monster that flies, has laser breath and regrows limbs. Goes enjoys the taste of human blood and when he looks to snack on some innocent folk, Gamera steps up and brings the heat.

Gamera Vs Guiron:
Guiron is a crazy lizard with a knife-like head! Gamera encounters him when he has to fly to another planet to rescue a couple of kids from getting their brains eaten by some saucy looking alien babes.

Gamera Vs Zigra:
In the final installment, a moon base gets destroyed and a pair of scientists, along with their children, are kidnapped. It turns out that the ship serves Zigra! Zigra is a sea monster that looks like an armored shark. Zigra plans to rule Earth and munch on the humans. Now this plan might have worked, but any self-respecting monster should know that you leave the kids alone because Gamera likes kids and will open up a can of whoop ass on any that hurt them!

Sound quality is pretty good. The between movie segments and the commentary is strong, the actually movie soundtracks are not quite as good. There is some distortion, but not enough to distract..

Much like the sound, the pictures themselves have a moderate amount of wear, with some fading and scratches. But considering that these are old, B films, it is not as though the reels were being protected. The host segments look great with strong colors.

Once again, the Shout! crew do a bang-up job and gives us some fine bonus materials. So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K & Gamera features Joel and company talking about Gamera and the early KTMA days. Gamera Vs. the Chiodo Brothers has a couple of guys (later revealed to be the effects crew behind B films like Critters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space) expressing their geek love for Gamera. Gamera Obscura: A History by August Ragone, has August, writer of a book on Japanese monsters, talking about Mr. G., his origins and place in the Japanese monster mythos.

Also featured are Japanese trailers for the movies and The MST Hour Wraps for Gamera.

Any one that is even a casual fan of MST3K will want to buy this, it truly is a must-own as the gang really rises to the occasion when the giant turtle makes an appearance. Run, do not walk, to the store to get this!

Jeremy Lynch