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Sampo & Erhardt

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Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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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 (351 votes, average: 4.83 out of 5)


• 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.
• 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. I may be wonderful, but I think there’s a reference not listed on References link. When Torgo knocks Mike out and ties him to the tree, Crow says, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” which I always thought was a reference to A Fish Called Wanda (?).

    “Centaur gets the most sales cuz he’s a shape shifter!”


  2. Big61al says:

    Ahh yes, Manos. Amatuer film maker with an inferior camera using non actors, dubbed in dialog and creepy theme music gets you – MANOS: THE HANdS OF FATE. A truly bad film but a great episode of MST3K. This should never be watched unriffed.


  3. snowdog says:

    My tastes must be changing. As with “Monster A Go-Go”, I found “Manos” much more entertaining this time around than when I last viewed it years ago. The host segments are all good to great, the riffing is mostly top notch, although personally, I think they overused movie’s title as riff by at least twice.

    Favorite non-riff:
    “His only crime was being born delicious!”

    Also, as with “Monster A Go-Go”, I’m glad they waited until the end of season 4 for do “Manos”. I can easily imagine this stinker overwhelming the Brains in Season 2 or earlier, creating an unwatchable episode.


  4. Dark Grandma of Death says:

    I HAVE watched Manos unriffed, and came through it okay, but then, I’m a little strange.

    I’m just going to say it: Joel has never been cuter than he was while discussing the Protocol Module in the opening segment. (And that’s saying a lot; Joel was often just so darned cute!)


  5. Neptune Man says:

    The episode is great, but it’s overrated. My favourite riff is that long riff almost at the end, when the movie threatens us with looping itself. I guess that the longest riff in the show’s history, right?


  6. sol-survivor says:

    I have the SE but have not yet tackled the unriffed version. I’m having a couple wisdom teeth pulled in two weeks so I might try it after that and then decide which hurts more. :pain: Of course, I have watched “Skydivers” uncut several times and survived that.

    I now can’t hear anything referred to as “Part II” without automatically inserting “Electric Boogaloo” after it in my mind. Since my bosses at work seem to rely mainly on mental telepathy for communication maybe they should watch. I’m guessing that wouldn’t get me very far.

    I haven’t heard anything about the plot for the sequel, but I thought that it might be interesting if it was about a grown-up Debbie being discovered in a mental hospital and unable to remember any of her past trauma. It’ll be interesting to see if they can recreate the same “magic” as the original.


  7. Fred Burroughs says:

    Manos is great and for most people, lives up to its legend. Part of the legend is that J&TB build up the idea by not being able to complete a sketch without sobbing, and the Mads contribute by actually showing remorse. This plays right into the show’s theme, that it’s not just a hosted riff show, it also has its own plot of Joel being tortured by the Mads for purposes of evil world domination.

    And I have to say, after seeing other bad / incompetent movies, that I agree there are a few things going for Manos. It did have a plot that was simple enough to follow and yet swelled to a climax; it was actually edited together, which takes a certain amount of skill. I would also say things like “most of the time the camera was pointed at the actors,” but that isn’t even true. one observation is that the screenwriter (Hal Warren, I guess) did make use of a lot of repeated lines, which oddly works well to increase tension, especially in the occult environment. examples:

    “The Master would not approve…the master would not approve”

    “Debbie’s my little girl, she’ll understand…Debbie’s my little girl, she’ll understand.”

    “The woman yes, the girl no…the woman yes, the girl no.”

    Or it could just be a lazy director padding a 20-minute plot to a 2-hour movie. The first viewing I didn’t follow what was going on. Who is the Master? the Cleese/Zappa/Mercury guy? I thought he was away or was he just intranced as is his wont with the wives? Who is Manos; is he going to show up as well, or is he some fake deity this cult is devoted to; or is that just a fancy name this devil-worshipping cult gave its object? And I was most sympathetic with Joel: “When is this guy going to show some basic competence?” He(Mike/Hal) is on vacation, natch. A stressful time of fear for any suburban dad; but he gets lost about a mile off the interstate, car inexplicably stops working; and he seems unable to identify whether there is ever any danger to himself or his family. How did he tie his shoes that morning? Ugh. I’m not creeped out by the ‘shock’ ending, which has a tiny flair to it, but I am creeped out by knowing how badly the film and all the crew fared afterwards. Much like “Teenagers from Outer Space” which had a similarly ugly backstory. But at least we got a gem of a movie to enjoy for all their hard work.


  8. Dan in WI says:

    I think it’s safe to say this episode is more highly regarded than Castle of FuManchu or Monster A Go-Go. All of them show Joel and the Bots having breakdowns as the movie goes on. All of them sell these breakdowns through the riffing and host segments. (As I type the Deep Hurting of Hercules Against the Moon Men also comes to mind.) The only real difference is this time the Mads actually give apologies for inflicting this horror. Here’s a question: Since this isn’t the first or even the second or third time we’ve seen Joel and the Bots have a breakdown why is this the episode that is so highly regarded for said breakdown? Hech, in the past running gags like “Sessions Presents”, “Jim Henson’s _______ Babies” or even this episode’s repeated “Manos the Hands of Fate” repeated during the dead spots typically don’t fare well on this discussion board yet the running gag of a movie so bad it causes a breakdown scores its biggest here.
    In my case, though those other three episodes chronologically aired first, Manos was the second of the four examples I saw. So it was fresher than a fourth instance running gag to me.
    Someone should write a master’s thesis on this.


  9. fatbarkeep says:

    Disturbingly terrible movie.
    Great episode.
    It always brings to mind Buzz Aldrin’s description of the lunar landscape: Magnificent desolation.
    …….. after the robot holocaust only one movie survived……
    Raise your glasses high to “Manos: the Hands of Fate” the cockroach of cinema!


  10. Jeff McMahon says:

    I hate to say it, but I’ve never quite gotten the ‘Torgo’s Pizza’ joke at the end. Can someone explain it to me in very simple, literal terms?


  11. jjk says:

    This episode is the reason MST3K was created, to rip apart truly awful movies like this. It’s so bad it’s strangely interesting like a car wreck you can’t look away from. Plus two words “Crazy Bread”.


  12. Dan in WI says:

    Jeff #160> See post 104. That is as good a theory as any.


  13. Neptune Man says:

    #160: Torgo kept the pizza warm by putting it down his crotch.


  14. Keith Palmer says:

    Although I took note of the “graduate-level MST3K” comments, when I watched this episode (back in “VHS days”) I’d only seen a few before it. Nevertheless, I survived the experience.

    I suppose I’ve wondered a bit if a small part of what gives this episode its standing is that it was available on videotape early on (as opposed, I suppose, to the “legendarily lost” Sandy Frank episodes), but as I wonder that I can also turn that around and say “it was one of the first to be released on home video because it was memorable.” After all, the Best Brains kept bringing Torgo back as a guest character…


  15. This Guy says:

    The odd thing about “Manos” as a horror movie is that it DOES unnerve me, but not really through its content. It’s the fact that, as Joel puts it, “every frame of this movie looks like somebody’s last known photograph.” It all makes it seem like the cinematic equivalent of words scrawled over and over in blood on the walls of an empty, padded room.

    For years, I thought that the scenes of the Master and the wives around the altar/sleeping slab and the pillars were filmed indoors and meant to be set underground. Really, truly. I never thought of any other possibility–until I saw a photograph someone had taken of the location in the daytime and learned it was all outdoors, in the open air. That’s a pure expression of Warren’s incompetence. I had no idea how Torgo was supposed to have escaped in this scenario, but that’d hardly be the only plot hole in “Manos,” which is really more hole than plot.

    An article I once read took the MST3K crew to task for mocking the non-specificity of Torgo’s monsterdom, while supposedly concealing with their silhouettes Torgo’s cloven hooves. I call no way. There are several shots where you can see Torgo’s feet, and he appears to be wearing ordinary shoes. Even if he were an obvious satyr/man-goat, it wouldn’t improve the movie. We’d then be faced with a scenario in which Our Hero Mike stops his family at a creepy, stained cult compound, SEES A MAN-GOAT, and still decides it’s fine for them to spend the night there. That’s a level of Idiot Plot that staggers the mind.

    Sampo, no doubt many of us miss The Far Side, but if you look at the various comic strips that have been going on for umpty-ump years and long since become devoid of any redeeming qualities they may or may not have once possessed, you’ll probably conclude that Larson was right to quit while he was still at the top of his game (ditto Bill Watterson.)

    I say “Ah, my rib!” a lot when fake-laughing, even though I’m still not entirely sure what it means (I suppose it’s a sarcastic declaration that one has laughed so hard as to injure one’s ribs.)

    CROW: Aah! He’s evil!
    TOM: Mm-hm.


  16. Cheapskate Crow says:

    It seems odd to me that this episode has come to be regarded as a classic. Like Blast Hardcheese (#144), this episode definitely separated the hardcore MST from the casual fan as back when this first aired, me and several friends would watch new MSTs together. The more casual viewers could not survive this episode while us hardcore viewers loved it. I always used Gamera movies as MST introductory shows and they worked well.
    As to the actual episode, it is a classic and shows Joel and the Bots are firing on all cylinders that they can make a cinematic train wreck like Manos watchable. I have to say I have no interest whatsoever in the Manos remake/sequel whatever it is that is going on, this movie is a disaster and is better left in the cinematic graveyard. I am not sure how Rifftrax is going to redo this and make it watchable and haven’t decided yet if I will find out.


  17. snowdog says:

    @166 I’m very much looking forward to Rifftrax take on it. I almost didn’t re-watch the original for the Guide entry this week because of it, but I’m glad I did.

    Watched the Rhino Essentials version. I had Manos on VHS earlier, so I was hesitant to shell out for the individual DVD. When the box came out, I was one of the few MSTies who didn’t get ripped off by Rhino.


  18. Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    I love Torgo! He’s the demon that makes the dark side fun!


  19. Alex says:

    “Cheese maybe.”

    There’s something about Manos that is dark and twisted and as Joel so observationally put it ‘every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photo.’ It’s what you expect your last photo to look like right before you mysteriously dispear and they never find you again. Technically the worst episode they ever ran. It doesn’t even have any on-set sound. It’s all dubbed afterwards with people sometimes doing the same voice for different characters.

    “Mary Kaye… Kaye. Kaye.”

    What a funny episode. When I saw it on television, My brother mentioned it to me and then we said to each other “Manos.” Like they do in the episode because nothing is happening. People are just driving around. How did they do this on MST3K? They made this movie not-only watchable, but funny. Even though the film is terrible in every way possible. Nothing happens for a long time and It’s made my someone who obviously has no skill making movies. Frank and Dr. Foresster even apologize separately about how bad the movie is. Yet, it’s still funny.

    “Torgo! I just met a man named Torgo.”


  20. Cubby says:

    Nearly four years later, my fave riff is still the same: “You know, every frame of this film looks like someone’s last known photograph.”

    I love their reaction to “Dad” in the short, “Ahh! He’s evil!” But I really love Crow’s lines for our manager: “I’m gonna dance!” and of course, “Good night, stay pink, soft and oily.” Words to live by, to be sure.

    The costume ball at Conventio-Con II left an indelible impression on me. As it was such a common costume, they had a parade of Torgos. But there was one quite clever take on the whole thing: Mr. B Torgo, in a sky-blue Torgo costume bedecked with musical notes. And then, later, I saw Mr. B Torgo busting moves on the dance floor. Just try to get that image out of your head.


  21. @157 Your point about the way the host segments build up the movie is spot on. It’s precisely why I like standard Rifftrax and live Cinematic Titanic less than their counterparts (live RT and studio CT). Without the context, it’s just people talking over a movie. They can still be funny, of course, but it’s that little bit extra (the host segments in MST and Film Crew, the “stop the film” moments in CT and the talking “around” the movie in RT Live) that makes it something more. And no MST exemplifies this better…than MANOS.


  22. Droppo says:

    5 stars, first ballot Hall of Famer, as essential as any episode in the whole series.

    First of all, I’ve never seen a movie like Manos. Ever. It’s so singularly bizarre and inept. The protracted silences, the dubbing, Torgo….it’s jaw-droppingly awful.

    I agree with those who have said the only genuinely effective moment in it is: “I am Michael. I take care of the place while the Master is away.” I can only assume it was accidental, but, Hal Warren stumbled into a mildly “good” idea.

    I love Hired: Part II. The entire porch/flying elves sequence is one of my favorites in the series.
    “Ah! He’s evil!”

    I love the host segments throughout. I appreciate that they played to just how punishing the film was and always loved the added touch of Dr. F and Frank apologizing. It was validation that Manos was a new level of awful. Joel almost laughing twice just adds to the charm. And Mike as Torgo is a perfect capper. I love that Mike got to be a part on camera of such a monumental episode.

    The riffing is truly outstanding. It’s an amazing feat to make Manos watchable. And Joel, Trace and Kevin give virtuoso performances. All 3 of them are in top form and have so many wonderful moments.

    Tom’s narration at the end is one of his all-time best sequences.

    “the haunting Torgo theme.”
    “way to go Steve!”

    But, I really do think the star of this episode is Joel. Both his riffs and the delivery are the highlights of the episode for me. I think it’s probably Joel’s strongest performance of any episode which is really saying something:

    “Every frame of this film looks like someone’s last known photograph.”
    “Do something!”
    “I’m thinking of having that tattooed on my face, dearest.”
    “Just one guy.”
    Silence “is golden!”
    “You never had a dog. I want you to stop this foolishness about a dog.”
    “You know, I bet the Master and I would really get along, I’d like to think that.”
    “That poor kid…”

    Joel’s unique (and IMHO, legendarily great) delivery perfectly suits the horrors of Manos. His fatherly ways towards the bots, his general bemusement….it just works.

    I love this episode. It’s really the ultimate MST3K experiment.


  23. Neptune Man says:

    #171: So, the part you like most from a show based on riffing movies is the part where they don’t riff the movie…Okay. I thought that the host segments were just accesories to the main event, but I guess I was wrong, I was living a lie.


  24. Neptune Man says:

    The Ultimate Mst3k experiment, the Citizen Kane of Mst3k, the quintessential Mst3k. You guys sure love hyperbole! Silly me, thinking there were other great episodes, it all boils down to Manos.


  25. MarcusVermilion says:

    One of my earliest memories of MST3K was the Manos Brides having it out on the beech. Yep, even in my mid 20’s I was already a dirty old man! At that time, mid 90’s, I only saw a few parts of the show here & there along with the movie. Thanks to college and post graduation job hunting I wouldn’t watch MST3K on a regular basis till after the show moved to Sci-Fi. When I did begin to watch I kept reading over at the “DUH” (the Sci-Fi Channel’s Dominion message board for MST3K) about “Manos” and how many consider it to be the flagship episode. Well, I got the Rhino VHS and found it to be funny along with me thinking “How did The Brains sit through this “piece of work” without going insane?”.

    Well, it’s now one of my all time favorites. I did make the mistake of showing this to my sister. At the time she had never seen a Joel episode (she mainly knew Mike and Pearl)and the only Dr.F appearance she saw was “MST3K” the Movie. Well, I showed her “Manos” and she barely survived! She got sucked into the wretchedness of the film and the riffs mainly went over her head. “That was the worst f**king movie that I had ever seen!” was her reaction after the tape was over.


  26. Edward says:

    @172 – I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on Joel in this ep. Nearly every laugh I get is from him. I’ll add: “Torgo, I wouldn’t burn any bridges yet if I were you” and “Yeah, here I go. Vroom”, to your list of great Joel lines.

    As for the ep itself, it took me three viewings to actually finish. The movie is so bad in every respect I just could not stand it. Now, because of Joel, it’s one of my favorites. But I loved the Torgo theme the first time I heard it. Just goes to show that something good can come from something bad.

    However, I don’t consider this the worst movie ever. It was made by someone who had no experience making a movie. Of course it would be terrible. If I made a film it would suck too. The worst movie has to come from someone who has done it before and still can’t make it good. So a Coleman Francis or Ed Wood movie would be worse than Manos to me.


  27. noordledoordle says:

    I showed this episode to my parents a month ago. My mother still hasn’t QUITE forgiven me for inflicting it on her, although she did have a pretty epic laughing fit at the nightgown wrestling scene.

    It might be cliched to say I love this episode, but I do. I enjoy bizarre stuff, and find the ineptness of the movie more entertaining than boring. Never had much trouble sitting through it, plus I think nearly every single riff is amazingly well-timed.

    And I always get a kick out of “FRANK! I’m out of the shower. Come towel me off.”


  28. Dr. Batch says:

    To be honest, not one of my favs. Aside from the movie being so horrible, there’s nothing memorable about it. A couple funny riffs, but overall average episode.
    Would this episode be considered such a classic if it would’ve been SciFi era?


  29. ggreon says:

    An important part of the Torgo’s Pizza is that “Togo’s Pizza” is a real chain.


  30. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Aaaaaand we reach the end of Season 4. Wow. What a ride. This is a great season, possibly the best season of the show (we’ll save that argument for later), and oh yeah, “MANOS,” possibly the most legendary MST episode of all. The film is freaking iconic; MST made it famous and now it’s been accepted into pop culture. (I can recall an episode of ‘How I Met your Mother’ that referenced Manos, and that show’s on CBS!) Like a lot of you, I’ve watched this episode countless times and I think it’s great. The ‘Hired!’ short (part2) is a top 3 short, just hilarious. Host Segment #2 is also a standout. “One large flared nostril, on the inside, matted red hair.” Ahhhgh!! And I like Joel’s Cartuner Invention. “Ziggy had Garfield neutered?!”

    Watching MANOS last night for the first time in a long while, I found myself bursting out in laughter (the kids call it LOL) on numerous occasions, and I was watching it alone, so it had to be real honest laughter, which was good, I needed it. It’s been a long couple weeks..

    Also, this most recent viewing was my first viewing of the new 2-disc MANOS DVD from Shout! Factory, which I bought myself back at Christmas time and was saving for when it came back around here in the weekly episode guide. Great release, with some really good extras. I hope Shout! does some more of these double disc-ers (I want MITCHELL!!)


    I never noticed before how Frank points at the chocolate bunny accusingly before lopping its head off. Funny.

    Dr. F: “You have stolen painted eggs in a time of famine.”


    Crow: “Previously, on ‘Hired!’.”

    old man swats hand around his head,
    Servo: “He’s having an episode!”

    Joel: “GAH, flying elves are back!”

    At one point in the short, the guy says something along the lines of, “you’ll buy your next 10 cars from us,” and Joel’s reaction is apt and one I share: “10 CARS!!??!”

    Crow: “It’s Dr. Giggles.” —the manager guy does really kind of look like Larry Drake..


    “MANOS” Theee Hands of Fate..>

    little girl holds dog to her ear,
    Crow: “It’s heartbeat’s irregular.”

    Crow: “NO! Now they’re going back the other way!” (response to the poor use of screen direction during the driving scene..)

    Joel: “Every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photograph.”

    Crow: “Hitting the thigh master, Torgo?”

    Servo: “It’s a Frank Frazetta of Frank Zappa.” —-Servo does almost flub this one, but it’s still great..

    Servo: “Come on, fling ‘er, go for distance.” —about the dead dog that dad finds..

    during Torgos pawing,
    Joel: “When carnys flirt.”

    Crow: “It’s the devil and it’s fun.”

    Servo: “His name is Mephisto, can we keep him?”

    close up of Master,
    Crow: “BILL BUCKNER?!”

    Crow: “You know what this movie needs? Marc Singer.”

    Servo: “Torgo, you’re the laziest man on Mars.”

    Crow (as Torgo): “Thanks *for letting *me stay *here last *night, man.”

    Crow: “It’s Mary Kay-Kay-Kay..”

    Servo: “Wait a minute, did the movie lap itself??”

    Crow: “The End? Yes. No! I wanna change my answer..”

    The Master will see you now. . . . . .”MANOS” gets a “5/5” from me.

    the end of Season 4, yes
    end of the show, no
    on to Season 5!


  31. Cornjob says:

    Aside from everything else, I don’t suppose that anyone can unpack the belief system of the cult. Are they satanists, pagans, Lovecraftian degenerates, what? This is the only place I’ve heard of any deity, malignant or otherwise, named “Hands”. Maybe their god was a guy named Hans and they just got confused over the centuries.

    Is Hands a monotheistic loner or a member of a polytheistic pantheon? Or is he something ephemeral like love or children’s laughter? What exactly is the cult’s organization and goals? What steps are being taken to achieve them? Can Mike work his way up to Master if he doesn’t molest the sleeping brides? (One of which is now his own daughter, oh Yuck!)Has there ever been a more vaguely defined bunch of bad guys?

    I guess they just killed Debbie’s Mom.

    Legendary episode.


  32. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:


    Here’s how I would rate the episodes of Season 4 after these most recent viewings I’ve had over the last few months. These are my personal rankings, meant for entertainment purposes only, yadda, etc,etc…

    “Classic” 5 star:
    402: Giant Gila Monster
    424: “Manos” The Hands of Fate w/ short: Hired!-part 2
    404: Teenagers from Outer Space
    407: The Killer Shrews w/ short: Junior Rodeo Daredevils
    418: Attack of the the Eye Creatures
    405: Being from Another Planet
    406: Attack of the Giant Leeches w/ short: Undersea Kingdom-part 1
    421: Monster A Go-Go w/ short: Circus on Ice
    422: The Day the Earth Froze w/ short: Here Comes the Circus!

    “Great” 4 star:
    408: Hercules Unchained
    423: Bride of the Monster w/short: Hired!-part 1
    414: Tormented!
    401: Space Travelers
    409: The Indestructible Man w/ short: Undersea Kingdom-part 2
    410: Hercules Against the Moon Men
    416: Fire Maidens of Outer Space
    415: The Beatniks w/ short: General Hospital-part 2
    419: The Rebel Set w/ short: Johnny at the Fair
    420: The Human Duplicators

    “Good” 3 star:
    411: The Magic Sword
    403: City Limits
    412: Hercules and the Captive Women
    417: Crash of Moons w/ short: General Hospital-part 3
    413: Manhunt in Space w/ short: General Hospital-part 1


  33. Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    I can always enjoy watching this episode, but the movie itself is just too repulsive to place in the comfort food category with some of my true favourites. Although the “last known photograph” riff was my favourite, I really enjoyed the Night Gallery reference when they showed the portrait of the master. It really looked like something that Tom Wright would have done for the show.


  34. @173: I suppose if you want to mis-read what I said, you could take that away. I said that the non-riffing parts *enhance* the experience. Make it something *more*.

    One has people talking over a movie, making jokes. The other has *more*. See? Is that so hard to understand?


  35. Brandon says:

    Re: “I guess they just killed Debbie’s Mom.”

    She becomes one of The Master’s Wives. She appears when Joel says, “Woah, this is blowing my mind.”


  36. bobhoncho says:

    I threw in my two cents the first time around. I have nothing further to say about this episode. Sorry, friends.


  37. Neptune Man says:

    #178: it would have been funnier. But the Joelites would lambast it.
    I forgot the highligh of the host segments, Gypsi as a redneck sheriff, man, that was really funny.


  38. MSTie says:

    Of course we all hang out with weird people. We’re here, aren’t we?

    Can’t think of too much new to bring to this discussion. I love the episode because the movie is so truly, truly awful, and it epitomizes what MST3K is all about. I have to say, though, that the high-def restoration makes me realize that the lead actress is much more beautiful than I thought, and Torgo is much creepier.


  39. Sharktopus says:

    Nothing much to add, except that I’m one of the very few voters who gave this ep *gasp* only 4 stars. I love Torgo as much as anyone, but any scene he’s not in – especially those tedious first ten minutes or so – are unbearable TORCHA. (And the Hired musical sketch doesn’t do much for me either, I’m a litle ashamed to admit.) But anytime Torgo’s onscreen is pure fried gold. HeY cMoN aRe YoU gOnNa KiLl Me Or NoT?

    I thought this was as a good a place as any to share this image I made playing around in PhotoShop:


  40. Alex says:

    It’s funny how even the mads knew this was such a bad movie. XD Classic episode, and really looking forward to seeing this movie restored. :)


  41. Mr. M. says:

    “These two…”


  42. noordledoordle says:

    #189… why would you crush my dreams like that? They’re real robots, dammit. REAL!



  43. Keith in WI says:

    Of course much has been said about this already, but perhaps one of the things that interests me is why this episode, of all of the ones they have done prior, has such a mystique surrounding it. Clearly it has something to do with the fact that the movie was one of the few never seen outside of the show prior to it being used as an experiment. But there were other movies that fit that bill, in particular the foreign films, and they did not achieve the status that “Manos” did. I do think that it does have something to do with the way the film was made and the way that it is so obvious to even a casual viewer that this was not a project fashioned by an actual filmmaker. At any rate, I do think that this episode provides an interesting case study, should one ever undertake such an investigation. Sort of an examination of the popularity of the episode and the film in general.

    I never saw it when it first ran, because I had just discovered the show and was not able to see it on a regular basis, but not too long after it originally aired, there was a lot of talk on-line on what a watershed episode it was, how this was the absolute worst movie ever made, etc. It was actually a few years after it originally aired before I saw it. In fact, it was during the swan song of the Comedy Central era when they were running episodes every night for a few months during the wee hours of the morning, that I was finally able to acquire a copy of it. I loved it the first time I saw it, Hired! part II is a riot, although I like part I better, and the film still has me laughing out loud any time I see it. Perhaps it is just one of those episodes that strikes a chord in certain people and others just see it for what it is, a really bad movie that would most likely never have been seen again unless the brains had discovered it. Now millions have seen it, and it has become truly a cult classic.

    I think that it is just one of things that you either like or not. Many have said that it should not be a first episode to view with someone not familiar with the show, but I disagree as I have shown it to many people who had never seen the show and a lot of them were hooked after seeing “Manos.” Some thought it was awful and could not finish the episode. On the other hand, there are those who love the show and can’t stand this episode. I think that a lot of us have episodes or series of episodes like that. I for one cannot stomach any of the Gamera or other Sandy Frank episodes, and there are quite a few of them, but a lot of people love them. I do think that if you love “Manos” there is a good chance that you will love the show in general since it has so many elements of what made the show so unique. If you hate the episode, you might like other episodes, but never warm up to “Manos.”

    Fave lines:

    “Booze, Work, Booze”

    “Fling Her, go for distance!”
    “Stop all of this foolishness about a dog.”
    “When is this guy going to show some simple competence?”
    “Oh look, honey, Torgo has a little altar to Ba’al”
    “The haunting Torgo theme”
    “Mommy, can I play with the silverfish?”
    “Look, the dog is sharp agian”
    What kind of talk is that? “Why it’s oily sleazy talk…”

    Also love Gypsy as the redneck cop. Probably one of the few times Jim Mallon’s voice does not annoy the crap out of me.


  44. JeremyR says:

    For the life of me, I’ve never understood the popularity of this movie. Sure, it’s terrible, but it’s also an extremely unpleasant movie. How do people find the subject matter in this even remotely funny, a crazy cult leader turning unwilling women (and children) into sex slaves?


  45. Sharktopus says:


    I could see your point regarding subject matter, if the film were even halfway competently made. A realistic portrayal of a cult of sex slaves would certainly be disturbing, but a gaggle of Hal Warren’s wife’s knitting circle friends rolling around in the dirt wearing nightgowns and trying not to laugh on camera just doesn’t strike the horror/suspense vibe Hal was going for.

    I do get a little uncomfortable when the little dog gets killed, though, I must admit. The little girl’s the most convincing actor in the movie.


  46. Blast Hardcheese says:

    “Hal’s Warren’s wife’s knitting circle friends”–Ha! Hal Warren should be so lucky. They were apparently hired from a local modelling agency–and agreed to be paid out of the film’s profits. I expect they’re still waiting for their cheques.

    As for the subject matter–I think Sharktopus is right: this “cult of sex slaves” has all the steaminess of a book club. Even the effect of the gauzy gowns is dampened by the 18-hour, industrial-grade underwear you can clearly see underneath. Maybe that’s about right for a cult that spends most of its time asleep. I’d also be surprised if anyone could come up with any explanation of who Manos is or how The Master manages to maintain control over his wives (he doesn’t seem to have much power over them during the catfight scene). You can’t really connect the strange Manos-world to anything like our own world, because once you start asking some basic questions (like, “Who the hell are these people?”) the whole thing just unravels in front of you. Again, I don’t think we find the premise of the movie funny; we laugh because we really can’t quite believe what’s taking place in front of us (and in front of J & TB).


  47. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    I cannot say anything that has not already been said.
    Great episode for the “seasoned” MST3K fan.

    Favorite riffs; “Ah the next chapter of the Taster’s Choice saga.”
    I followed those and was disappointed when they stopped them mid-story.
    I thought the woman was hypnotically gorgeous. I’d serve her coffee anytime.

    And the other one no one seems to have mentioned;
    “Designing Women: The Lost Episodes.”

    This “then-current” reference to both the sitcom and the influx of VHS tapes featuring the “Lost Episodes” of shows you forgot were ever on. I think Rhino pioneered the concept.

    Do not know if the upcoming Rifftrax rendition is such a good idea.
    This is a classic and to “update” it would be like re-doing “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”


  48. Steve K says:

    Some of my fave riffs:
    All of the bits from sales montage, leading up to “I was kidding, I was going to buy from the moment I stepped in…!”

    “Know what each man is doing. Work with them.”
    “Name names.”

    and, of course:

    “Why I remember the first thing Harry drilled into me–”
    “Was Harry!”

    From the movie:
    “The dog is sharp again!”

    “You can have the top up, or a birthday present, it’s your choice.”

    [Obligatory Firesign Theater reference] “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.”

    and, of course, “Honk! Honk! Way to go Steve!”


  49. jjb3k says:

    The first Joel episode I ever watched. Unfortunately, it was also one of the only Joel episodes I owned for a very long time, so I sort of watched it to death and had to give it a break for a while. Still, it left an indelible impact on me – for three consecutive Halloweens, I handed out candy dressed as Torgo. I even had the Haunting Torgo Theme playing endlessly in the background as I wobbled to the door.

    A couple of years back, I had a friend over for what I called the MST3K Torgo-thon, an all-day marathon of all the episodes to feature Torgo in the host segments. So it was this, “Operation Double 007”, “Village of the Giants”, “San Francisco International”, “Danger!! Death Ray”, and “Samson vs. the Vampire Women”. We had a blast. :D


  50. Heckubuss says:

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DO SOMETHING!!!!!

    I crack up every single time I see this part.


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