MST Week: Manos The Hands Of Fate (1993), or I’ve Never Imagined A Movie Could Be Like This…

17 07 2009

Well, here it is, folks. The end of MST Week. It’s been a delightful ride, hasn’t it? I’ll always relish the experience of being able to relay my love of this show to you. But even good things must come to an end, so I stop this thrill ride at the exact moment this show became important to me. It is one of the most enjoyable episodes in the history of the series, but it is one of the worst movies I can think of. This is a perfect dichotomy of fantastic and bullshit. On the last episode of season four, Joel and the boys unearthed a movie that defied all explanation and logic, something so horrendous that it should have been stricken from the record as a movie. Gird your loins and make sure all small children have left the room, everyone, because today I’m talking about Manos the Hands of Fate! *feminine shrieks in background*

Let me give you a quick run-down. There’s not a whole lot to say, though, because honestly this movie has very little plot or structure or… anything, really. Made by a fertilizer salesman in Texas during the late 60s (ah, don’t you just LOVE Texas?), it tells the story of Michael and his family (a nagging wife, their cutie-patootie daughter, and her dog Peppy) trying to get to Valley Lodge, wherever or whatever that is. Along the way, they make a wrong turn somewhere and are lost in the Texas wasteland. After exploring the roads around this wasteland for ETERNITY, Michael finds a dilapidated shack in the middle of nowhere, where the freakiest guy in the world makes his home. His name’s Torgo, and he’s SUPPOSED to be a satyr, but it just looks like a regular guy who has unfathomably large knees. Anyway, this guy’s a total creep in every sense of the word, and he tells Michael that his Master is not pleased with having visitors and does not wish for them to stick around. But Michael wants himself and his family to spend the night there (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) so they can start their journey fresh in the morning. Torgo changes his mind at the last second and lets them stay. That night they stay there will be the most “terrifying” night of their lives, filled with human sacrifices, dead dogs, and huge knees. Can bitchy Michael, annoying wife Margaret, and adorable daughter Debbie make it out of this hell-hole alive?

What a fucking mess. I have rarely, if ever, seen a movie so ineptly produced. Made for $19,000, this film shames me every time I see it. There is ZERO production value. The acting is awe-inspiringly bad. There are characters that exist outside of the plot whose sole purpose is to eat up 90 minutes. The “plot” is jumbled and difficult to follow. The music is repetitive and immensely bothersome. There is not one aspect of this film that I like. All these things together culminate into an almost disturbing, dreamlike experience. This is as close as you can get to a home movie without technically being a home movie, which gives the surreal impression that this kind of stuff actually went on in Nowhere, Texas in the late 60s. Imagine what a snuff film would look like, only that what’s being killed on the screen is your sense of love and beauty. Here’s just a little taste of what the movie is like WITHOUT the guys:

(DO NOT WATCH WHILE TAKING ANTI-DEPRESSANTS)

Joel and The Bots really turn shit into diamonds here. This might be my favorite episode of all time. They’re just turned ON 100% of this episode. All the imaginative ways they keep this horrible film entertaining is beyond me. They keep your wheels turning when all you want to do is look away from this ugly brown shit-stain on the TV. You even get to share in their pain when even THEY get frustrated with the film, which happens pretty regularly through the 10 minute long (WHAT?!?!) driving sequence. The riffs are smart and fast, the host segments (all involving the ridiculous nature of this quote-unquote “horror film”) are awesome, and we’re even treated to a short film at the beginning of our feature, like they used to do back in the olden days of cinema. This short is about being a manager at Chevrolet Motors in the 1930s, and how to get the best out of your sales-force. It’s very accessible, and I can see how anyone could relate to that situation.

So I hope you enjoyed this week. You can find almost all these episodes either on DVD or YouTube. This is a seriously funny show that I think many of you would like if you gave it a chance. This show is readily available all over the place if you know where to look, and if anyone has any fond memories of this show, like I do, feel free to post them on the comments section (I’ve probably seen more than half of the 198 episodes, so I’ll probably know which one you’re talking about). If you come out of MST Week with anything, let it be this: bad movies can be VERY funny with the right catalyst. All you need is something ready to mock, a couple of friends to mock it with, and some snacks and BAM!, you’re your own comedians. Of course, I highly recommend you watch good movies in a responsible ratio to keep your perspective in the right place, but making fun or laughing at bad movies is a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Some movies just shouldn’t be watched without MST3K though; I would leave Manos to the experts. After having watched this without Joel and Co., I am 90% certain that I have less joy in my life than I did before I watched it. It’s a shameful cacophony of poop that has no business masquerading as a serious horror. And the surprise I told you about on Thursday? Well, remember this day, folks, because I don’t know if I will EVER give this rating again, but I give Manos the Hands of Fate as a movie 0 Peppys out of 10. Zero. Nothing. It’s completely worthless. Don’t even bother. But this episode of MST really takes the cake, and I am supremely impressed what they did with this scant material, so I am pleased to award it 10 big knees out of 10! My highest recommendation!

Come back on Saturday for my long-awaited review of the new Harry Potter movie! Thanks for indulging me with my MST Week, everyone; I leave you with a final, touching scene from Manos:

Go to www.mst3k.com for news, merch, and any clips on this great series! Or go to www.youtube.com and type in MST3K to watch entire episodes!

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2 responses

20 07 2009
366weirdmovies

It’s a testament to the strength of the series that few people’s list of 5 favorite shows is alike. You picked great episodes, but the only one that would have appeared on my favorites list is MANOS (the other four being I ACCUSE MY PARENTS, MITCHELL, TIME CHASERS, and MUTINY IN SPACE).

1 09 2009
Robert Voorhees

All I can think about is the remix song someone did from sound clips of this movie.

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