Hollywood After DarkAfter 11 years and 199 episodes, Mystery Science Theater 3000 officially closed their theater doors and ceased their disparaging commentary of disparage-worthy old films. But apparently, you can take the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 out of their title, but you can’t take the… whatever, the MST3K guys (that’s a hip acronym as all hip things need these days) are back in a new setting: they are now called The Film Crew. Back to their old shenanigans, if bashing movies can be qualified as a shenanigan, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, and Mike Nelson are ready to get down to business: the business of mocking movies.

Their first release, due out today (July 10th), is Hollywood After Dark, a poorly made 1968 black and white film about a depressed loner who gets roped into assisting some strip-club owning gangsters with a seaside robbery. In the meantime, he also falls for a “stripper with a heart of gold”, who just happens to be a younger Rue McClannahan from TV’s Golden Girls. Clearly, there’s plenty of joke fodder here, and the guys make ample use of it.

Starting with an introduction to the basic premise of the film crew, the guys describe themselves not as moochers of old films, but as “value added resellers increasing profits for people who aren’t us.” Their task, assigned to them by their boss, Bob Honcho, who calls them and talks to them over speakerphone, is to provide a commentary track for every film in Hollywood that doesn’t currently have one. Their first task, sent to them in a package marked “URGENT” is Hollywood After Dark. The guys pop it in and the fun begins.

The film is desperately bad, obviously a clunker even 40 years ago when it was made. Filled with stripper dance sequences that are almost 5 minutes long, a 15 minute robbery scene with no dialogue, a nonsensical plot, a confusing ending,  and entirely drab dialouge throughout, Hollywood After Dark serves as the perfect opening act for The Film Crew to make their mark with.

Fans of Mystery Science Theater will find little difference between the old style and the new style. Instead of a guy and two robots, it’s three guys. And instead of seeing their shadowy images walk in and sit in an empty theater, these guys sit down with headphones to watch the film, and then the audience actually watches the film with commentary. These are the changes that necessitate the name change.

Fusing biting sarcasm with hilarious pop culture references (“Uh, I’m supposed to meet a Mr. Tumnus at this lamppost”), the film crew doesn’t let up for a second when there’s mockery to be had. Of a silent robbery scene with quiet jazz music: “If Jim Jarmusch made a holdup film.” On Rue McClannahan’s hair: “All I can think of is Justin Guarini in a dress.” The jokes go on, and so does the awkward Hollywood After Dark.

The complete feature is made up of the crew’s intro, 30 minutes of Hollywood After Dark, a brief lunch break, the final 30 minutes of Hollywood After Dark, and then some concluding remarks form the crew. The breaks are quite necessary considering the dullness of the film they’re watching, but the guys perform best behind the camera as commentators, rather than in front of the camera as pseudo-sketch-comics.

Included on the DVD is a rather uninspired short entitled An Ode to Lunch, in which Bill Corbett performs a 90 second “sonnet for lunch” in a Shakespearean dialect that ends with, “alright I’m hungry, shut off the camera.” Stick with the feature here as it offers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and gleefully witty banter. It’s official: the Mystery Science Theatre guys are back… with a hilarious vengeance.

Check out The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark trailer
To order, visit the Shout! Factory.

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