Friday, April 20, 2012

MST3K: Episode 424 - Manos: The Hands of Fate

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

Episode 424: Manos: The Hands of Fate

First aired: Comedy Central on 30 January 1993
Availability: iTunes, Amazon DVD (Rhino solo DVD), Amazon (The Essentials), Amazon (Shout DVD: Manos y Manos), Rhino (Solo DVD/out of print), Rhino (The Essentials/out of print), Shout Factory (Manos y Manos), Best Brains (Manos y Manos)

Citizen Kane must not have been available for viewing.
This is it. Possibly the most famous episode ever of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's certainly one of the worst movies ever made. And, it's a fan favorite.

It's been released multiple times on home video, too. It's certainly the most-issued episode of MST3K.

It was one of the episodes released on VHS, back in 1998. It was a solo release by Rhino, as well as part of their 2nd three-pack on tape.

Then, when they began releasing DVDs, it was released twice by Rhino: once as a Rhino solo DVD in 2001, then again as part of The Essentials, a two-DVD pack (the other episode was Episode 321: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) released in 2004.

John Reynolds stole the picture in his portrayal of Torgo.
Oh, and it's been released by Shout Factory. It's paired with the unedited version of the film in a pack called Manos y Manos.

And, it's available on iTunes. However, the chapter markers aren't at the breaks. Rather, this is another one of those where they just put a marker every 10 minutes. I hope they fix that.

What kind of research did I have to do to compile that listing? I had to look at my video catalog. I have them all. Actually, I have two copies of The Essentials. You see, there were two different versions of The Essentials that were released. The standard version had the two episodes, but there was a special limited edition 3-disc version that included a bonus DVD: Shorts, Part 3.

If you want to obtain that version, good luck to you. There's nothing to distinguish it, until you open the case and find the 3rd DVD inside. Same catalog number, I'm saying. So, a hands-on inspection of the open pack is the only way to know.

Torgo is massaged to death.
At the time it was released, you could order the special 3-disc version from a special Website. That was for only a little while. Yeah, I got one. Because I rock. At least, that's the reason I'm giving. The real reason doesn't make me sound awesome at all.

Anyway, you know the story behind the film, right? Harold P. Warren was a salesman in El Paso, and bet someone he could make a film. He won the bet. Who lost? Everyone else.

The film was poorly-made, mostly because of budget. Rented equipment had to be returned, and they filmed as many scenes as they could as quickly as they could. The actors were actual local theater actors, except for Warren himself.

Note the clapperboard on the right of the scene.
The story goes that the scene of the couple necking, which had no connection to anything else in the film, had to be done because of a commitment to have that particular actress in the film. She broke her leg before filming, and couldn't play the role of the wife, as intended. When Warren was forced to include her anyway, rather than do a major re-write, they just made up the scenes of the couple necking, so the actress could appear with her leg cast hidden.

The equipment didn't record sound, so every voice -- everything -- was dubbed. Poorly.

It was a flop at its release. The premiere audience laughed at the film. Well, those that stayed did. It played for a little bit at some drive-ins in Texas and New Mexico, then disappeared. Until it showed up on MST3K.

The movie has since been released on Manos: The Hands of Fate. Oh, and it's being restored.

Go figure.
Just when you thought the movie couldn't get any worse, we give you The Master's child bride.Michael J. Nelson as Torgo, pizza delivery man.
The Invention Exchange was great. The Chocolate Rabbit Guillotine was a classic. I want one! And Joel's Cartuner, that combines newspaper cartoons to make unfunny cartoons funny, was good. The Mads still won, but Joel's would have won most days.

Chocolate Rabbit Guillotine. Could have used one of these at Easter.Hired, Part II is as just as funny as Hired, Part I.
The episode is a treasure. They finished up the Hired! short. Joel & the Bots had tons of fun with it. I'm ready to not go buy a Chevrolet already.

The movie riffing was top notch. It's almost a shame that the season had to end. J&tB were on such a roll. On the other hand, this is a great one with which to end the season.

I don't know if someone who has never seen MST3K should be exposed to this episode as an introduction. It's one of my favorites, though. But, perhaps because I'm accustomed to the show.

Whatever the reason, I love this episode.


  1. This is very likely the worst movie I've ever watched.

    But yeah, good episode.

  2. I can't bring myself to watch the unriffed version. It came as part of the Manos y Manos DVD I own. I just can't bring myself to watch it.

    You're a better man than I am, Harvey.


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