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The Spin Sheet

DVD review by David Steigman of The Digital Bits


Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Manos: The Hands of Fate (DVD)

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Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Manos: The Hands of Fate
1966 (2011) - Shout! Factory
Released on DVD on August 2nd, 2011

Dolby Digital

Film Ratings (Original/MST3K): F/A+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/A


During the 10 year history of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, many bad and obscure movies appeared on the series - Red Zone Cuba, Hellcats, etc. But when given the MST3K treatment, they often found new popularity. Of these, one film in particular achieved a humongous cult following: Manos, the Hands of Fate.


One of the worst films ever, it actually became one of the most popular, iconic episodes of MST3K, inspiring websites, forums and even a Facebook page.

The film itself is about a family (Michael, his wife Margaret and their daughter Debbie) that goes on vacation, gets lost in the desert and reluctantly spends the night in a mysterious house in the middle of nowhere. The house is that of Manos, who lives therein with his brides and housekeeper, Torgo. As it happens, Manos wants to take Michael's wife for his own… but keeping Debbie is something of a toss-up. As you watch, you won't believe just how poorly executed this film is. From start to finish, it's nothing short of an ambitious train wreck. Manos himself is quite menacing, and his costume design is pretty inspiring. But that's about all that's done well here.

Manos now holds the record as the only MST3K episode to be released three times on DVD. The first was a stand-alone DVD from Rhino Video, while the second had the film paired with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Thankfully, the third time is the charm with this incredible two-disc set.

The first disc includes the MST3K version of the movie - the show portions are very good looking, with vibrant color, while the film itself looks as murky as ever. The disc also includes a couple of great bonus features. Group Therapy (with Frank Conniff, Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson and Mary Jo Pehl) runs about 20 minutes and is an informative look behind the scenes of the film and the series itself. You also get MST3K Hour Wraps, hosted by Michael J. Nelson in the role of Jack Perkins. One important tidbit that I should mention is that before Manos begins, we get the Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 424 - Reel One introduction, just as it appeared in 1992.

The second disc contains the uncut, original Manos movie, which runs just over 65 minutes and features a few scenes that aren't in the MST3K version. They include a few more moments of driving, a 'peeping Manos' scene and a pleasant moment with Manos slapping around his wife who cries "Your Power Fails You!" The picture quality here is just adequate, with crushed blacks - the MST3K version looks better. Extras on this disc include Hotel Torgo (featuring Manos historian Richard Brandt and Bernie Rosenblum), a short B&W film from Ballyhoo Productions called Jam Handy to the Rescue on the life and times of the educational film producer Henry Jamison Hardy, both parts of the famous Hired! Short and the 8-minute My (Educational) Short Life interview video.

On both discs, the Dolby Digital audio is fine - basically everything is loud and clear.

You should be aware that this release doesn't include the Poopie 'outtakes' bonus feature from the previous MST3K Manos releases. So if you want that, be sure to keep your old disc. Despite this one gripe, given the plethora of new bonus features found on this release, I highly recommend it. It's the rare DVD title that's actually worth the double - or for many of us, triple - dip.

David Steigman
davidsteigman@thedigitalbits.com



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