Cinematic Titanic: The Complete Collection DVD
Cast: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff
Distributor: Shout! Factory
Rated Not Rated | 960 Minutes
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s initial broadcast run ended in August 1999, when The Sci-Fi Channel canceled the beloved series. That wasn’t the end of movie-riffing, however. In 2007, five of the original cast/writers of MST3K – Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Mary Jo Pehl, and Frank Conniff – launched Cinematic Titanic, a stripped-down spin on riffing B-movies.
In this series, scientists have discovered a tear in the universe’s “electron scaffolding” and all digital media is at risk. A mysterious organization recruits the MST3K alums to participate in a top-secret think tank, where they will save our planet’s history by riffing on movies for future generations.
Continue reading for more, including info on the various films riffed!
Like MST3K, the series features black silhouettes of riffers overlaid on top of cheesy genre flicks, but instead of a movie theater setting, Cinematic Titanic‘s setup resembles an underground bunker, where riffers sit on both sides of the screen rather than just on the lower right. The riffing for each film is recorded to a “nanotated disc” and inserted into a “Time Tube” by Hodgson that lowers into the frame at the end of each episode.
Available for the first time on August 8th, 2017, Shout! Factory’s DVD release of Cinematic Titanic: The Complete Collection offers all 12 movies riffed by Cinematic Titanic, including their in-studio and live DVD releases. Also included are a couple of new bonus features: a “Between the Riffs” featurette and a new interview with J. Elvis Weinstein, the original puppeteer and voice for Tom Servo and Gypsy on Mystery Science Theater 3000. This six-disc set is a must-have for MSTies.
The Oozing Skull
The Oozing Skull, also known as Brain of Blood, The Creature’s Revenge, and The Undying Brain, is a 1971 horror film directed by Al Adamson (Carnival Magic) and starring Grant Williams, Kent Taylor, and Reed Hadley. The film concerns Amir (Hadley), the benevolent ruler of Kalid, who is dying. Amir has made arrangements to have his brain transplanted into a healthy body, but instead, he gets the body of a disfigured simpleton. You get what you pay for when it comes to experimental surgery, I guess!
The Doomsday Machine
Also known as Escape from Planet Earth, The Doomsday Machine is a sci-fi flick filmed in 1967 but completed without the original cast or sets in 1972. Project Astra, a manned U.S. space mission to Venus, is just about to launch when it’s taken over by the military, and nearly half of its all-male crew is replaced by women. The reason for the switch becomes apparent when, shortly after Astra leaves orbit, the Earth is obliterated by a “doomsday machine” built by the Red Chinese. Sounds a bit like 2017, huh?
The Wasp Woman
Directed by the legendary Roger Corman, 1960’s The Wasp Woman stars Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin, the owner of a cosmetics firm, who is approached by a man who has developed a serum from the enzymes of wasps that will turn aging skin to youthful-looking skin. Starlin agrees to be the first human to try the Zinthrop injections and transforms into, you guessed it, the Wasp Woman. Sounds like a Marvel Cinematic Universe joint, doesn’t it?
Legacy of Blood
Directed by Carl Monson, 1971’s Legacy of Blood, also known as Blood Legacy and Will to Die, stars MST3K all-stars John Carradine (Red Zone Cuba) and Merry Anders (Women of the Prehistoric Planet). To qualify to inherit the family fortune, four heirs must spend the night in the family estate. During the night, someone starts killing them off one by one. It’s sort of like House on Haunted Hill, but terrible!
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
A classic MST3K episode redone for Cinematic Titanic, 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians involves Momar and Kimar, two Martians worried that their children Girmar and Bomar are watching too much Earth TV, like KID-TV’s exclusive look at Santa Claus’ workshop at the North Pole. Consulting the 800-year-old sage Chochem, the Martians decide that their children need a Santa Claus-like figure, so they abduct jolly ol’ St. Nick and bring him to Mars. It’s an out-of-this-world Christmas miracle!
Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks
Dick Randall‘s 1974 horror film is also known as [takes a deep breath] Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, Frankenstein’s Castle, Monsters of Frankenstein, Terror, Terror Castle, The House of Freaks, and The Monsters of Dr. Frankenstein. In this schlocky Italian production, Count Frankenstein (Rossano Brazzi) is experimenting with neanderthals in pursuit of his very specific scientific goals.
Blood of The Vampires
Directed by Gerardo de Leon, the 1966 Filipino horror film Blood of the Vampires, also known as Whisper to the Wind, centers on a family’s shocking discovery: their father is keeping their mother, who is secretly a vampire, sealed up in the basement. This is the final episode to use the underground bunker premise and silhouettes. The final five episodes are performed in front of a live audience with no framing device, just the cast performing jokes on stage.
East Meets Watts (Live)
East Meets Watts is the title given to Cinematic Titanic‘s live presentation of the 1974 kung-fu/blaxploitation film Dynamite Brothers directed by Al Adamson – yes, the same Al Adamson who directed The Oozing Skull. Football-player-turned-actor Timothy Brown (Spearchucker Jones from M*A*S*H) stars as Stud Brown, a young black man from Watts, Los Angeles who teams up with a Chinese kung-fu expert (actor and martial artist Alan Tang) to fight a drug ring. Did I mention this film stars a young James Hong? Because yeah, Hong’s all up in this mess.
The Alien Factor (Live)
An alien spaceship crashes outside a small town in Maryland, releasing dangerous extra-terrestrial creatures in this 1978 movie written, edited, produced, and directed by Don Dohler. The townspeople are unsure how to stop the creatures until a mysterious stranger arrives and offers to help. Filmed in 1972, the film wasn’t released until 1978. In 1982, Dohler produced a loose remake of The Alien Factor, Nightbeast, which features a similar plot and much of the same cast playing the same characters.
Danger on Tiki Island (Live)
Danger on Tiki Island is an alternate title for the 1968’s Filipino horror film Brides of Blood, directed by Gerardo de Leon (Blood of the Vampires) and Eddie Romero. The movie takes place on a tropical island overrun by mutant monsters. A group of tourists come to the island and must contend with man-eating plants, radioactive beasts, and the occasional virgin sacrifice.
War of the Insects (Live)
A 1968 Japanese sci-fi horror movie directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu, War of the Insects (aka Genocide) is maybe the only film to be riffed by the MST3K gang and released on DVD by The Criterion Collection. An American bomber plane carrying an H-bomb has crashed on a remote Japanese island after being brought down by a cloud of aggressive insects. It turns out the insects are a new species bred by a mad scientist to get revenge on Germany for what happened during World War II. Armageddon ensues as the insects attempt to wipe out all of humanity. This is one weird movie, in case you couldn’t tell by the synopsis.
Distributed by Boxoffice International Pictures, 1976’s Rattlers is a snake-ploitation movie in the tradition of Stanley, Sssssss, and Jaws of Satan. Herpetologist Dr. Tom Parkinson (Sam Chew) discovers a colony of hyper-aggressive rattlesnakes that have been affected by experimental nerve gas. The pissed-off reptiles begin attacking the locals, leaving Dr. Tom and war photographer Ann Bradley (Elisabeth Chauvet) to uncover a military conspiracy and save a small desert town from a slithering snakepocalypse.
Cinematic Titanic: The Complete Collection is now available at Amazon for $27.48. That’s 12 films, essentially four volumes of Shout! Factory’s MST3K DVD releases, for nearly half the price of one volume! The live episodes are particularly great – it’s a thrill to see riffing with a live audience, where you feel like you’re part of the experience.
This is a fantastic release and an amazing deal – if you’re a fan at all of MST3K or RiffTrax, this is a no-brainer!