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The Film Crew: Killers From Space
DVD Released: 8/7/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/11/2007
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 veterans -- Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett -- are back in their new incarnation, "The Film Crew". As with their ground-breaking show, the three watch older, really bad movies and make fun of the films throughout. Their latest offering is 1954's Killers From Space.
Peter Graves stars in Killers From Space as Dr. Douglas Martin. Martin works for the U.S. government and is part of a team which tests nuclear weapons. While flying around the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb (?!), the plane which Martin is in crashes, and he is presumed dead. However, he arrives at the base a few hours later, disheveled and confused. Once Martin recovers, he claims that he can't remember how he survived the crash, and he can't explain the odd scar on his chest. Martin attempts to return to normal life, but his superiors aren't sure that they trust him. And, Martin keeps seeing a huge pair of eyes staring at him. Martin and his colleagues soon learn that Martin was kidnapped by a group of aliens who plan on wiping out life on Earth. Will Martin be able to stops these Killers From Space?
With the first release from "The Film Crew",Hollywood After Dark, it was great to have the guys back, doing what they do best. However, that film fell into the "so bad that it's bad" category and didn't give the guys much to work with. Once you've seen Rue McClanahan shake her stuff once, there's really nowhere to go from there. Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 know that Mike, Kevin, and Bill do their best work when they are watching an earnest, yet hopelessly silly science-fiction movie, and Killers From Space certainly fits the bill.
Let's get one thing straight, Killers From Space is truly a really bad movie. It doesn't fall into that coveted "so bad it's good" category, but there's plenty here for "The Film Crew" to work with. In true MST3K fashion, they make fun of both the movie and the filmmaking. Killers From Space has an inordinate amount of stock footage (mostly of planes, the military, and of course, nuclear blasts) and the guys pounce on this immediately. There are also jabs at the movie's low-rent nature, especially a set which is dominated by a portrait of Eisenhower.
There are also plenty of jokes about the movie itself. My favorite dealt with the fact that the eyes that Martin sees looks as if they belong to a Muppet. There are also some good jokes concerning the conservative nature of Martin's wife. But, the bulk of the jokes are reserved for Peter Graves. When the guys aren't referring to A&E Biography, they are commenting on how stiff Graves is in his role. There are some classic moments here, and one joke had me giggling for minutes.
While Killers From Space may be a prime target for "The Film Crew", it isn't perfect. The second half of the film does wander into the "so bad it's bad" territory and a seemingly never-ending scene in which Martin wanders through a cave where he's confronted by giant animals sucks much of the fun out of the show. Still, there is some good stuff here, and it's very reminiscent of classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. I'm still not sure what to think of the "The Film Crew" wraparound sections. I guess it's necessary for the guys to have a "reason" to watch the films, but these sections aren't very funny. Thankfully, they are brief.
The Film Crew: Killers From Space lands on DVD courtesy of Shout Factory!. The wraparound sections involving "The Film Crew" are letterboxed at 1.85:1, but are not 16 x 9. Killers From Space is shown in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Killers From Space was clearly taken from a very old print, most likely one which was used for a theatrical presentation. (Or maybe they just made it look like that.) The image here is grainy and the picture is littered with defects from the source material. The movie is riddled with scratches and missing frames. "The Film Crew" portions were shot on high-end video and look pretty good. The image is sharp and clear and the colors look fine. These sections rival digital broadcast television in their appearance, although some video noise is present. The DVD carries a digital stereo audio track. The audio from Killers From Space is often littered with scratches and skips. Thankfully, we can hear "The Film Crew" just fine as they make their comments. In some places, they sound a bit muffled, but this is most likely due to the fact that they were making an aside.
The lone extra on the The Film Crew: Killers From Space DVD is entitled "Did You Know...?" and it deals with a scene from the film where an alien is talking backwards. Further spoofing the movie, the guys have taken the scene and added five new dialogue tracks, and the scene can be watched with each of these tracks.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long