‘I take care of the place while the master is away!’

If you know nothing about “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” you really cannot imagine the true awful badness that this film represents. It tops many “Worst Movies Of All Time” lists, beating out even “Plan 9 From Outer Space” because of its unique combination of senseless plot, mind-numbing dullness and worse-than-amateur cinematography. To put it more simply: Viewing “Manos” is an exercise in pain — the kind of pain that leaves lasting psychological scars (not to mention the physical damage that can result from attempting to claw your eyes out).

The hands! The hands of fate!So naturally, Back In The Day, the people at “Mystery Science Theater 3000” got around to featuring “Manos” in an episode. The “Manos” episode, while not the funniest MST3K show, is probably the most famous. It is the one where Joel and the robots come closest to snapping after being forced to watch the film (if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, here’s the premise and history of MST3K). And to this day, every time I see the Manos “driving” scene, I feel that I know what it’s like to be waterboarded.

Shout! Factory, the company also responsible for the terrific reissue of the T.A.M.I. Show film, has just put out a special deluxe issue of MST3K’s “Manos” in all its epic, nausea-inducing glory. I Amazon’d it, and it arrived in the mail while I was away on vacation.

I’ve been watching the many special features of the two-disc set and tried tonight to watch the original “Manos” without the MST3K riffing. That lasted about three minutes before I was reduced to an intractable puddle of sadness. I didn’t even get to see Torgo before I shut down the television to preserve what little was left of my well-being.

Friday night, my wife and I are going to watch the MST3K version of the movie. She’s seen some MST3K episodes, but none of those comes near the putridity that is “Manos.” I have been trying to prepare her. She thinks she is ready, but I assure you: She is not prepared for the Hands of Fate!


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