Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIV 

1989-1999

On the heels of its impressive "20th Anniversary Edition," Shout! Factory delivers its second box set of everyone's favorite movie-riffing robots with "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIV." While the four episodes comprising this installment aren't top-of-mind series classics, "MST" is like pizza and sex: never, ever bad.

Your best hour-and-a-half bet here is "Soultaker," a thoroughly awful 1990 fantasy with straight-to-video stars Joe Estevez and Robert Z'Dar. These more modern movies that clogged Blockbuster shelves in the VHS heyday are a blast of hilarity in the hands of our wisecracking hosts, working their quip-o-matic magic from the silhouetted corner of the screen. Even Estevez proves he's game for the "MST" treatment in a bonus interview, in which he recalls making the film amid local rednecks (and yet calls "Soultaker" a good movie).

"Final Justice" is an oddball 1985 Italian-American Western starring Joe Don Baker (an "MST" favorite target), and the film's director, Greydon Clark, is interviewed as well. Two black-and-white episodes from the show's really early days also are included: the 1942 howler "Mad Monster" and the 1956 "Flash Gordon" wannabe "Manhunt in Space." Fans will fondly recall the shorts that open them, as well: a chapter of the "Radar Men from the Moon" serial and an episode of ye olde "General Hospital," out of which our crew gets much mileage.

Once again, Shout!'s presentation exceeds the efforts of Rhino's previous releases, with colorful mini-posters and ephemera as extras. Here's to many more.

"?Rod Lott

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