No one had heard of "Manos"
The Hands of Fate when Mystery
Science Theater 3000 first skewered the movie back in 1993, but
episode made the film a cult classic.
Not only is it one of the best installments of MST3K, but the movie
itself is so horrifically bad, that you have to see it to believe it. That's why it takes more than a little nerve
to skewer that particular film: it's
been done by the best when they were at the top of their form and if
stumble the movie isn't there to save you.
Well, the Rifftrax crew
was willing to take on the challenge and that's
just what they did in a Fathom Events live-to-theaters showing on
August 16th. They riffed on
this famously bad film and not only did they do a hilariously wonderful
but their performance was even better than the original MST3K episode,
that's saying a lot.
For those not in the know, Rifftrax is a trio of MST3K
alumni that consists of Michael J. Nelson (head writer and host), Kevin
(Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot). They joined together to
great series of downloadable audio tracks that could be played along
with a film
on DVD and featured the crew's signature barbed jokes and obscure pop
references. Every one that I've heard is
very funny and harkens back to the best days of MST3K.
For this event the group, filming live in a theater in Nashville,
with a couple of shorts before getting to the main feature. The first was a bizarre and seemingly
pointless short Welcome Back Norman,
in which a traveling salesman flying into his home town airport and has
getting into his car. Is it supposed to
be a comedy? A instructional film? A cautionary tale? Who
It seems to be none of those yet the Rifftrax guys made it
their merciless riffing and pointing out that Norman's catch phrase seems to be
That was followed by At
Your Fingertips: Cylinders. This instructional film about using
cylindrical tubes and containers for arts and crafts projects was even
than the first short. Mike, Kevin, and
Bill jabbed everything from the lack of narration during long stretches
narrator went for a smoke and got locked out of the building.") to the
music ("When I think of cylinders, I think of harpsichord music.")
After a short word from the 'sponsor' about the joys of
prune juice the main event finally arrived:
"Manos" The Hands of Fate. Written,
directed, and staring fertilizer
salesman Hal Warren, this movie is one of the most incomprehensibly bad
ever filmed. As one of the crew said
"it's the worst film even made that's not a Transformers movie."
The plot, what there is of it, is pretty thin. A
family of three; Mom, Dad, and daughter
Debbie, along with their dog Pepe, get lost on a family vacation and
looking for a place to spend the night when the stumble across a lodge
Torgo, a slow moving man with incredibly large thighs who is supposed
scary, apparently. As luck would have
it, the car breaks down trapping the family with Torgo.
Are you scared yet? I hope so
'cause it doesn't get any
scarier. Torgo starts rambling on and on
about "The Master" and his wives.
The family spends a good amount of time staring at a picture of
"The Master" with his hellhound.
Well, Pepe gets out of the house and killed, and then Debbie
too. When her parents go searching for
her they find her with...The Master's hell hound!!! Well, it might have
startling except the dog is quite friendly and not at all vicious
looking. Anyway, "The Master" and his
eventually awaken and try to decide what to do with the family. The wives start fighting in a cat fight that
seems to last forever. When the end
finally comes, you find yourself not really caring who lives and who
so the movie ENDS.
The problem that the Rifftrax crew had is that they couldn't
use any of the MST jokes... those had already been done, so Torgo's huge
were only mentioned once, briefly.
Instead they came up with a whole new group of things to joke
including how insane the family must have been to stay at Torgo's place. From Torgo's first appearance ("Drink me in
folks, it costs nothing to look.") to
the parents less-than-frantic search for their missing daughter ("The
exactly Liam Neeson in Taken, is he?") and beyond they had the whole
laughing constantly. It was a pretty
amazing thing: for the entire run of the
movie I doubt that there were two consecutive minutes when I didn't
laugh. Their riffing was continuously
hilarious. I wasn't alone in that
opinion, everyone leaving the theater was laughing and reciting their
Be sure to stick though the credits too. While
they roll there's a take off of the
song Take it Easy sung by
'Turgo.' With rewritten lyrics that retell
the movie from Turgo's point of view, it was a great video and a
the evening that was filled with hilarity.
In case you missed this showing, mark your calanders for
October 25, 2012. That's when Fathom is
going to host another Rifftrax Live event where they poke fun of the