Mike Nelson and his robot friends Servo (Kevin Murphy) and Crow (Trace Beaulieu) endure the eye-straining torments of GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS for MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 fans, back on DVD from Shout! Factory.
Desert diner cashier Michele (Leslie McRay, DEATH RACE 2000) is a girl with big city dreams. When shady motorist Buz (Tom Pace) notices her dance moves, he offers to take him with her to Los Angeles where his sister Joanie (Bara Byrnes, THE MALIBU BIKINI SHOP) toplines a popular go-go dancing act. The catch is that Buz is a little short on cash, so Michele cleans out the cash register and leaves her drunken short-order cook father behind (Victor Izay, BLOOD SONG). On the road, Buz runs afoul of a pair of bikers (and doesn’t help things buy dousing their bikes with beer) before picking up college dropout “Critter” (Jody Daniels, POLICEWOMEN) whose bankroll Buz noticed on his earlier visit to the diner. Despite sexual tension between the three coming to blows when Critter kisses Michele (when pressed to choose between Buz and Critter, Michele shrieks “I’m here to be a dancer!”), and Michele’s lukewarm shock and Critter’s non-reaction to Buz robbing a filling station along the way, the three make it to “The Haunted House” – run by Joanie’s sinister boyfriend Leo (former “Mr. Judy Garland” Mark Herron, whose previous film was Fellini’s 8 1/2!) – where Buz’s drugged-out sister schools Michele in the art of go-go dancing. Michele replaces an increasingly twitchy Joanie on the dance floor and on Leo’s arm (“just because he deals in dope, that doesn’t tarnish me”) while Buz falls in with L.A.’s criminal class – running drugs for Leo – and Critter pines for Michele while doing little to stop her downward spiral (in fact, he scores it with folksy vocals).
I’ve only seen a couple MTS 3000 episodes, and I’m not really a fan of the concept; although Nelson and his robots are far less annoying here than Nelson was as a solo commentator bashing NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and CARNIVAL OF SOULS on Fox/Legend Film’s colorized DVDs. Although a couple quips from the participants gained a chuckle (“If I weren’t so tired, I throw some more flowery language at you”), I don’t think audiences really need help with a film like GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS (Leo tells new janitor critter “You look half human with that beard gone,” and he replies “Don’t let that fool ya”). It’s unintentionally funny enough on its own, and seasoned exploitation viewers could probably come up with better jibes than Nelson and co's mimicry and gay jokes about the male actors (although I have to agree with them that Michele makes Elaine Bennes look like a good dancer). Critter's terrible secret and the happy ending coda suggest that Mikels might have been a bit out of touch with the era. I’m not too familiar with Ted V. Mikels either, but I imagine his fans will find it sacrilegious that Nelson and his robots talk over Chris Howard’s unforgettable theme song (Howard also appears onscreen headlining the club’s band and performing the film’s theme song and some less memorable songs). TV actor Pace also appeared in Mikels’ THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES and BLOOD-ORGY OF THE SHE DEVILS. McRay appeared in the latter film, as well as Al Adamson’s THE FEMALE BUNCH and HELL’S BLOODY DEVILS, as well as Jack Hill’s COFFY. Although the non-MST version would have been a nice addition, viewers can skip the interminable six minute intro by skipping forward to chapter 4. Although the spinning MST 3000 globe logo that shows up before the commercial breaks is part of the feature’s chaptering, the longer interludes with Nelson and his robots are separately chaptered so you can skip over them as well.
GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS is one of two MST DVDs just released in the Shout! Factory Selects line available exclusively through Shout! Factory’s website. The original version of Mikels’ film was released in 2001 through Image Entertainment in a 16:9 widescreen transfer with an audio commentary by the director. This version is long out of print. Shout’s transfer is full-frame (the master for the feature has the look of a digitized 1" tape master); however, the TV show is fullframe and the film plays with the silhouettes of Nelson and his robots sitting in theater seats at the bottom of the frame. The print looks good for the most part, but few will have issue with the ratio, the interlacing, or a hilarious jump cut since the Mikels film is not the focus of the presentation. There’s also a bit of pixilation during a close-up of bouncing cleavage, but that’s probably a defect of the projected video master of the feature rather than video master for the MST episode. The version that appeared in Rhino Video’s MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 COLLECTION VOLUME 4 also lacks the original version as an extra, but that edition did offer a trailer and TV spot for the film; Shout’s single edition offers no extras whatsoever. (Eric Cotenas)
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