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Episode Guide: 424- ‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate (with short: ‘Hired!’–Part 2)

Short: (1941) In the conclusion of a two-part short, our sales manager hero gets advice from his handkerchief-wearin’ dad.
Movie: (1966) A hapless family on a car trip in rural Texas takes refuge at a “lodge” that turns out to be the home of a deadly cult.

First shown: 1/30/93
Opening: Joel has programed the bots to agree with everything he says
Invention exchange: The Mads present the chocolate bunny guillotine; J&tB show off the cartuner
Host segment 1: J&tB’s car trip sketch is ruined by Manos footage, Frank apologizes
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the physical attributes that would make them a monster
Host segment 3: Joel dons a Manos cape, Dr. F. apologizes
End: The bots reenact the lady wrestling scene, Torgo’s pizza arrives
Stinger: “Why don’t you guys leave us alone?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (345 votes, average: 4.82 out of 5)

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• Whatever else they study, every Civil War buff has an opinion about Gettysburg. Whatever else they grow, every gardener has an opinion about tomatoes. No matter which team they root for, every baseball fan has an opinion about the Yankees. And every MSTie has an opinion about “‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate.” So much has been written about this awful, awful movie, and this justly famous episode, that it’s hard to make a fresh observation, but here are a few thoughts.
• This episode was issued by Rhino as a single, and also as part of the “Essentials” set.
References
• This is one of two or three episodes that I practically have memorized. I can pretty much do all the riffs right along with J&tB.
• There’s been a lot of “Manos” news, including the sequel (featuring cast members from the original movie) that now seems to have sputtered out, the work to restore the movie and create a high-definition version, and the re-riff by RiffTrax. A fascinating recent article in Playboy investigated the bitter legal battle for the rights to the movie.
• Paul Chaplin once noted that many MST3K movies are “made by oily guys who elect to direct the camera largely on themselves.” He was talking about TISCWSLABMUZ, but this is another perfect example.
• At several MSTie parties I have attended where this episode was screened, people handed out napkins, which people unfolded and put on their heads at the moment ol’ Dad in the short does so. Has anybody else done this, or do I just hang out with weird people?
• The opening bit is great, and I suspect every fan of Joel has felt a little like the programmed bots at one time or another. You see this butt? Kick this butt.
• There’s a funny clank as chocolate bunny guillotine falls. I’m guessing it’s the weight that held the blade up falling to the floor somewhere off camera?
• The last issuance of The Cartuner isn’t really that strange: It sounds pretty much like something Gary Larson would have actually done (if he wasn’t afraid of getting sued by the Bil Keane empire). God, I miss The Far Side…
• Joel seems a little touchy when Crow suggests this might be a snuff film! Does Joel really know the limit of the sort of evil the Mads might try?
• Stuff about the movie you may already know: The movie was shot with a camera that could only shoot a small amount of film at a time, making long, continuous takes impossible. Hence the “dissolving to the same scene” Crow observes early on. Also, the long pointless driving scene was supposed to have credits supered on it, but Hal forgot.
• I had the opportunity, a few years ago, to exchange emails with Hal Warren’s daughter, who told me that her brother wore the Master costume on several Halloweens and that the painting of the Master adorned a wall of her home for many years.
• Joel’s looks of disgust and horror in segment two are great.
• As I was watching segment 3, my wife wandered through and said, “You should have worn THAT to the costume party at one of the conventions. I could have made that.” I had to break it to her that about 20 guys were wearing versions of the Master cape.
• Joel mentions Mentos, commercials for which were being seen regularly on MST3K.
• Then topical: “The Tasters Choice saga.” Remember when people cared about THAT nonsense? Also, I’m betting fewer and fewer people remember who Marilyn Quayle is.
• That’s Mike, of course, in the first of several appearances as Torgo. Let me just get your complementary crazy bread…
• There is no cast and crew roundup for this movie.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson. This was intern Curtis Anderson’s last show.
• Callback: “Torgo, you’re the laziest man on Mars.” (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians). “He tampered in God’s domain” (Bride of the Monster).
• Fave riff from the short: “Gah! Flying elves are back!” Honorable mention: “Seein’ as how we’re salesmen and all.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And now the Manos Women’s Guild will re-enact the Battle of Pearl Harbor.” Honorable mention: “Yeah, here I go! Vroom!”

Next week we will do the MST3K Scrapbook and we’ll start Season 5 the following week.

262 Replies to “Episode Guide: 424- ‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate (with short: ‘Hired!’–Part 2)”

  1. EricJ says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: Au contraire, mein amigo. The secret origin of “Manos: The Hands of Fate” is a tale of much more than nightgown grapplement:
    http://teleport-city.com/2009/02/12/manos-the-hands-of-fate/

    Still, even the scene where one of the Wives finds our hero tied to a tree, and doesn’t know what to do except slap him, you can see Warren behind the camera drooling “Ohh, yes, yes….Give him the Aqua Velva treatment!–Thanks, I needed that!”

       0 likes

  2. Be Right There says:

    A fairly recent [“recent” as of March 2016] “Manos” shout out from “Gravity Falls”. The character in the Master’s robe is “The Hand Witch”.
    I don’t have much to say about “Manos” that hasn’t already been said, except that for some reason I always think of it as airing during the tail end of the Joel era. I think it’s because “Manos” is such an iconic MST film I associate it with other big events in MST history.
    “Hired! pt. 2!” has become sort of a go-to reference with me and my friend-whenever a character is being chewed out for not following procedure, we’ll mutter “But…he brought the car!”

       0 likes

  3. Be Right There says:

    http://gravityfalls.wikia.com/wiki/File:S2e6_stan_leaving.png is the image my last post referred to.

       1 likes

  4. Cornjob says:

    During the “exaggerated physical trait for a monster” discussion Joel suggests a regular face with no nose. Was J.K. Rowling watching?

       0 likes

  5. Ian L. says:

    I like this one all right. I can totally understand its inclusion as an “important” MST episode and why the movie itself has such a reputation (not like it’s hard to see why). It’s just, there are funnier episodes of the series, for me.

    It’s funny, everyone always brings up this episode as one of the worst experiments ever (including the Mads!), but Joel and the bots have been through worse movies than this. “Castle of Fu Manchu” basically broke them. In this one, they at least got through it. I think the difference is, “Manos” is more hypnotically bad, “Fu Manchu” is just boring so it feels like torture.

    I will say that the “Mike Nelson as Torgo” sketch at the end is one of the funniest Mads sketches the show ever did.

       1 likes

  6. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    “She had yes yes in her eyes but no nose on her face.” — Fozzie Bear, some Muppet Show episode that I have no idea how to pinpoint

       1 likes

  7. zxcvv says:

    @254
    Krillin from the Dragonball franchise is another character without a nose but otherwise relatively normal.

       2 likes

  8. new cornjob says:

    Ian L.:
    I like this one all right.I can totally understand its inclusion as an “important” MST episode and why the movie itself has such a reputation (not like it’s hard to see why).It’s just, there are funnier episodes of the series, for me.

    It’s funny, everyone always brings up this episode as one of the worst experiments ever (including the Mads!), but Joel and the bots have been through worse movies than this.“Castle of Fu Manchu” basically broke them.In this one, they at least got through it.I think the difference is, “Manos” is more hypnotically bad, “Fu Manchu” is just boring so it feels like torture.

    i thought when i just read your comment – “manos” is -memorable.- and maybe that sums it up in a nice bow! it’s a weird “twisted love letter” from the sixties that always threatens to go over the line, but never does at least too far.

    “bet ya i can make a movie!”

       1 likes

  9. new cornjob says:

    Be Right There:
    “Hired! pt. 2!” has become sort of a go-to reference with me and my friend-whenever a character is being chewed out for not following procedure, we’ll mutter “But…he brought the car!”

    my favorite moment(s) follow shortly thereafter: when joel makes the dead-on pitch-perfect dry-spit-take of “TEN CARS?!?” and not long afterwards snirks, “well… can i keep – the pen?!?”

       1 likes

  10. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    I’ll admit that I didn’t get what was supposed to be “evil” about the old guy putting a handkerchief on his head. That seemed random even by MST3K standards. Shrug.

       1 likes

  11. schippers says:

    There’s not much more that can be said about Manos. It occurs to me that, had it been made 10 years earlier, the Master would have got his comeuppance. As is, the movie has such a downer ending that it feels more like a grotty 70s movie, like I Drink Your Blood.

       0 likes

  12. Dave says:

    Imagine my shock, when driving in Jersey listening to the radio, WFMU 91.1 playing ‘Forgetting You’ the theme to “Manos”. Here’s the links. http://www.wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=2&show=66079&archive=139599&starttime=1:09:38 and http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/66079

       1 likes

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