Hands of fate: 'MST3K' at Shout!

DVD supplier in multiyear pact for cult TV series

Call it "cult meets cult." Shout! Factory, the independent DVD supplier known for its affinity for cult movies and TV shows, has secured worldwide home entertainment and digital download rights to the long-running cult TV series "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

The multiyear deal gives Shout! Factory exclusive physical and electronic distribution rights to all "Mystery Science Theater 3000" branded properties — including a vast library of original episodes that have never been issued on DVD or available for digital download.

Shout! Factory president Garson Foos said "Mystery Science Theater 3000" lines up perfectly with his company, which has released such eclectic offerings as camp TV series "My Favorite Martian," the controversial documentary "Kurt Cobain: About a Son" and the direct-to-video "The Film Crew," a "Mystery Science Theater" spinoff.

The original "Mystery Science Theater" TV series was released on home video by Rhino Home Video, whose principals — including Foos and his brother, Richard — later went on to found Shout! Factory after Rhino was sold to Time Warner.

" 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' is a true cult-classic series," Foos said. "Its high-camp rendition of B-movies to the small screen makes it one of the most memorable pop-culture shows of our time."

Jim Mallon, president of Best Brains and a producer, director and writer of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," agreed that the TV show and DVD supplier make "a great fit."

"Shout! Factory totally gets the world of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' and has shown great respect (for the creative team)," he said. "They have already issued us lockers."

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" was created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains. After a year on KTMA Minneapolis, it went national in 1989 on the Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central), where it ran for seven seasons. The show's final three seasons were on Sci Fi Channel.

The series attracted a huge cult following and won a Peabody Award in 1994 as well as two Emmy nominations, both for writing. The star of the show is a hapless man trapped by mad scientists on a satellite in outer space. He's forced to watch old B-movies — including "Parts: The Clonus Horror," "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and fan-favorite "Manos: The Hands of Fate" — and to keep sane, he provides a running commentary of the film with his two robot sidekicks, lovingly knocking each other's flaws and cracking jokes.

The series lasted 11 seasons and includes 198 episodes, all of which are ultimately bound for both DVD and digital distribution through Shout! Factory.

"We're huge fans of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000,' " Foos said. The show's creative team "understood the beauty of the B-movie and were able to take these undervalued treasures and enhance them possibly far beyond their original luster."