MST3K Review: Manos, The Hands of Fate (424)
By Matt Jones Sunday, 15 Apr 2007

The Movie –

Hired! Part 2 – GOOD

Manos – BAD

Beginning this episode of MST3K we have the “stirring conclusion to Hired!”, a rather odd short about selling Chevrolets. It’s a weird kind of short because typically, the shorts seen on MST3K were either educational dialogues intended for high schoolers (one about Benjamin Franklin teaching about making a budget or some guy talking about proper speaking traits) or entertaining shorts made for kids (ie. Gumby shorts). This short is all about the proper way to manage a team and get the most out of your employees. Now that I think about it, I might want to show this to my supervisor, because he clearly does not know how to get the most out of us. In the first part of this short, which was shown in the previous episode, some car salesman supervisor is upset because the promising young salesmen he has hired over the last year or so have not performed very well, even though he thought they would be excellent salesmen from the start. He goes home to complain about it to his dad, who likes to put handkerchiefs on his head to avoid bugs apparently, and his dad gives him some homespun wisdom, which is where this half of hired picks up the story. Dad tells son to help guide the employees, son does so, everyone benefits, the salesmen become good salesmen, the end. What’s really impressive about this short is that a lot of the pauses and moments of montages are so perfectly timed for jokes. It’s almost as if they knew this show would come around in 40 years to mock it. Plus, the shorts are always really over the top with their message, making it easy on the boys. So that’s in the Good.

As for the film, Manos is one of those legendary titles amongst MST fans, and there is some reason for it. It’s one of those movies that you watch and you think, “Man, some dumbass Texas fertilizer salesman must have made this movie.” In this case, you would be absolutely right. Manos starts off painfully enough and gets worse as time goes on. The story centers around a family: husband, wife, daughter, and Pepe, the dog. They are on their way to God knows where in some bass ackwards part of some godforsaken state when they get lost. The getting lost segment is about five minutes of driving footage with elevator music in the background. PAINFUL. Finally, they arrive at what appears to be a house to ask for directions. An odd man named Torgo, who speaks of “The Master” (No, it’s not “Man, the Master”), greets them at the door looking like a deranged psychopath. Somehow the husband is not only oblivious to the complaints of his wife (who is sensible enough to know when she’s in the presence of a lunatic) but also stupid enough to ask for shelter from the freak. After much “debating”, Torgo allows them to stay, where basically everything goes from worse to worse (no, I did not mess that up.) Along the way we meet “The Master”, Pepe is mauled by a larger, meaner dog, the Master’s wives debate whether to kill everyone who is not the wife, Torgo makes passes at the wife, and the wives start wrestling. The ending will disturb you, according to any other site you read about this film, but I was so beyond caring about this film that I was not all that disturbed.

The reasons I have for not rating this movie Ugly were twofold. First, the wife is freaking hot. Second, characters like Torgo and the Master are so over the top and loony that they make for great riffing. But this movie has side characters that add nothing to the film, too much bad music, and too much stupidity for me to personally like it.

The Host Segments:

Starts off with Joel adding something to the Bots that make everything he says and does seem brilliant to them. Makes him feel kinda empty inside. Hmmm, reminds me of my thoughts on this host segment.

Invention Exchange:

Deep 13 Invention: The Chocolate Bunny Guillotine. Allows you to cut the heads off of Easter bunnies without getting your hands all chocolaty. The little bits about how the rabbit is condemned (“stealing eggs in a time of famine”) and seeing Frank in an executioners outfit are pretty good, but kind of a “meh” overall.

Satellite of Love Invention: The Cartooner. This invention takes two different kinds of comic strips and combines them to make them funny. They mix The Far Side and Family Circus, Cathy and the Lockhorns, and Blondie with one of those outdoor ones, I forget the name. My issue with this invention, and others from this season, is that it’s pretty evident that Joel was not the driving force behind the Invention Exchanges anymore. The original premise of the invention exchanges were that they were outlets for Joel to do his prop comedy and fill time. When it became clear that Joel’s brand of prop comedy was no longer the thrust of this part of the show, they started to kinda suck in my opinion. There are exceptions, but kinda weak. Plus, this one isn’t all that funny.

Rest of the Host Segments: Okay, so first off, they aren’t funny until the very end, where Mike Nelson (head writer and eventual host) does his killer Torgo impersonation. But before that part, it’s a bunch of the crap host segments that I hate, where Joel and the Bots either do something silly but not funny or they start making lists of crap (in this case, lists of monsters with really bad “frightening” attributes, a la Torgo and his big thighs).

Second, this is the second episode in the series at this point where Joel and the Bots start crying about how bad the movie is. The first one was Castle of Fu Manchu, and in both of those episodes, the host segments suffered because of this crying. In Fu Manchu, at least, Dr. F and Frank were celebrating that they were making J&tB cry. In this one, they apologize. Now, the reason this pisses me off is because we’re watching the film, we know how bad it is. We don’t need the writers and actors to constantly remind us that they think this film is bad. WE KNOW. But because they keep drawing attention to the fact that the movie sucks it kills us from enjoying the riffing, which I will talk about next. It’d be like if you’re watching a good movie, and someone keeps poking you and reminding you it’s a good movie, it kind of takes away from the experience. This is my problem with these host segments.

The Riffs:

Okay, so this movie runs hot and cold with me. I love the riffing from the short. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s raunchy at times, and best of all, it’s funny. So A+ work there. As for the film riffs, it bounces back and forth from being as boring and tedious as what they are watching to being creative and hilarious. The beginning part is definitely the former, while the parts with Torgo are almost all funny. Torgo is just one of those characters that brings out a lot of good lines from Joel and the Bots. So is the Master. But there is just too much other stuff that doesn’t keep the audience interested. I’m not really going to write too much about this, because I’m just not enthused enough either way to talk about it. It’s a movie that draws everything down.

I think that this film is probably overrated in its popularity. It has its moments, but there are so many other episodes that are funny throughout, have better host segments, have more entertaining movies to riff, and give the people making this show energy that I can’t heartily endorse this one. I’m going to rate it a Poor, because I personally get no satisfaction from watching it anymore. Do yourself a favor and watch Space Mutiny or Godzilla vs. Megalon or Pod People before this one.

One Response to “MST3K Review: Manos, The Hands of Fate (424)”

  1. Zach Says:

    just from the box art of Manos, you can tell its a classic.

    i really need to watch some more episodes of MST3K. i’ve fallen off the wagon.

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