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Rifftrax Live - ''Manos'' The Hands of Fate

Other // Unrated // August 16, 2012
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Anrdoezrs]

Review by John Sinnott | posted August 17, 2012 | E-mail the Author
No one had heard of "Manos" The Hands of Fate when Mystery Science Theater 3000 first skewered the movie back in 1993, but that 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 you 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 Thursday August 16th.  They riffed on this famously bad film and not only did they do a hilariously wonderful job, but their performance was even better than the original MST3K episode, and 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 Murphy (Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot). They joined together to create a 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, started out 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 trouble getting into his car.  Is it supposed to be a comedy?  A instructional film?  A cautionary tale?  Who knows?  It seems to be none of those yet the Rifftrax guys made it hilarious with their merciless riffing and pointing out that Norman's catch phrase seems to be "ugh."
That was followed by At Your Fingertips:  Cylinders.  This instructional film about using cylindrical tubes and containers for arts and crafts projects was even funnier than the first short.  Mike, Kevin, and Bill jabbed everything from the lack of narration during long stretches ("The narrator went for a smoke and got locked out of the building.") to the absurd 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 shows 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 are looking for a place to spend the night when the stumble across a lodge run by Torgo, a slow moving man with incredibly large thighs who is supposed to be 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 sneaks out too.  When her parents go searching for her they find her with...The Master's hell hound!!! Well, it might have been startling except the dog is quite friendly and not at all vicious looking.  Anyway, "The Master" and his wives 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 dies, just 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 thighs were only mentioned once, briefly.  Instead they came up with a whole new group of things to joke about 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 dad isn't exactly Liam Neeson in Taken, is he?") and beyond they had the whole theater 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 favorite lines.
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 highlight of 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 movie Birdemic. 



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