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‘Mystery Science’ finds more bad sci-fi to bash

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The 'bots are back in town, along with their human buds, for a fresh round of bad-movie-baiting fun in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume 11 (four-disc, $49.98), new this week from Rhino Video.

DVD pick of the week

Original host and series creator Joel Hodgson joins homemade robots Tom Servo (voiced by Kevin Murphy) and Crow (Bill Corbett) in skewering a trio of ripe fright titles, beginning with the inept 1962 regional chiller Ring of Terror, wherein elderly pre-med students pull a lethal prank before moving on to destroy the ultracheap 1956 Lon Chaney Jr. showcase Indestructible Man and hilariously torment Bert I. Gordon's 1960 ghost story, Tormented.

Though the latter two films boast legitimately effective moments in their own right, the viewing experience definitely is enhanced by our trio's oft-brilliantly deflating remarks, with irreverent cultural references ranging from Andy Griffith's Mayberry to David Lynch's "Blue Velvet." In a bonus featurette, our front-row roasters step aside for an informative taped "Tormented" reunion among auteur Gordon, his actress daughter Susan and co-star Joseph Turkel.

Michael J. Nelson replaces Mr. Hodgson for the set's fourth and wackiest entry, Horrors of Spider Island, a fascinatingly inept, surreally dubbed 1959 European horror-cheesecake combo that's perfectly tailored for our caustic critics' barbed tongues.

Committed "Misties" will need no further urging, but camp-lovers who thus far have resisted the late, great tele-series may want to get on board with this mirth-enriched collection.

Tele-video

In other TV-on-DVD developments, Paramount Home Entertainment looks for laughs in uniform with a brace of comedy series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Second Season (five-disc, $42.99) and the ruder Reno 911: The Complete Fourth Season: Uncensored! (two-disc, $26.98), while HBO Video goes the stand-up route with Louis C.K.: Shameless ($19.97) and Acorn Media imports the academia-set comic British miniseries Porterhouse Blue (two-disc, $39.99), with Ian Richardson and David Jason.

Crime-solving is the name of the game in no fewer than five new sets. Universal Studios continues the Stateside series Miami Vice: Season 5 and Monk: Season 5 (five-disc, $59.98 each), the latter with Tony Shalhoub as a phobic shamus, and bows Psych: The Complete First Season (four-disc, $59.98).

From across the pond, BBC Video showcases future "Deadwood" icon Ian McShane as the titular antiques dealer and amateur sleuth in Lovejoy: The Complete Season One (three-disc, $49.98), while Acorn Media highlights David Suchet in Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Classic Collection 2 (10-disc, $99.99), both accompanied by featurettes.

In the animated arena, Warner Home Video introduces The New Adventures of Batman and The New Adventures of Superman (two-disc, $26.99 each), while Shout! Factory issues the video-game-inspired The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The Complete Series (three-disc, $29.99).

Collectors' corner

Speaking of camp, as we were at the top, Warner Home Video unearths a veritable bonanza with its four new Cult Camp Classics sets (three-disc, $29.98 each).

"Sci Fi Thrillers" assembles the 1958 proto-feminist fear fable Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman along with the dinosaur-run-amok movie The Giant Behemoth (1959) and Zsa Zsa Gabor as the Queen of Outer Space (1958).

"Women in Peril" features Lana Turner in the bizarre LSD hallucination The Big Cube (1969), Eleanor Parker in the harrowing prison picture Caged (1950) and Joan Crawford as a determined anthropologist in 1970's Trog.

"Terrorized Travelers" has the high-octane jaw-dropper Hot Rods to Hell (1967), Skyjacked (1972) and 1957's Zero Hour!

The label concludes the series on a lavish note with "Historical Epics," yoking The Colossus of Rhodes (1961) with Land of the Pharaohs (1955) and The Prodigal (1953).

Dark Sky Films services digital drive-in buffs with the 1970s double-feature disc The Glove/Search and Destroy ($14.98) and the Euro thriller Who Can Kill a Child? ($19.98 each).

The 'A' list

Among recent theatrical releases making their disc debuts, Paramount presents a pair — Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake in Craig Brewer's controversial drama Black Snake Moan and Mark Wahlberg in Antoine Fuqua's action thriller Shooter ($29.99 each), both arriving with filmmaker's commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes.

Three disparate comedies also join the DVD ranks — the serial-killer mockumentary Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (Anchor Bay, $26.98), Heather Graham in Gray Matters (20th Century Fox, $27.98) and John Stamos in Wedding Wars (Sony Pictures, $24.96).

ThinkFilm releases the historical drama The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams ($27.98) and Universal Studios proffers Peaceful Warrior ($29.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am trying to find a Polish movie, "Angry Forest," that I viewed many times on TV.

Lillian S., via e-mail

No luck to date, but it might rate as a good future bet for the prolific foreign-film specialists at Facets Video (facets.org).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@ aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscope mag .com.

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