Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Manos, The Hands Of Fate (1988)

Starring: Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson
Vince Rodriguez, Trace Beaulieu
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Color, Full-screen
Rhino Video
DVD Features:
MST3K "Poopie" blooper reel (30 min.), MST3K collectible postcard



Gigli, the recent much-maligned Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez starrer has the dubious distinction of being the lowest rated movie on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) by users.

Now, I'm not using the term dubious distinction in the way you would think I am. There is no way that Gigli (even though I haven't seen it) can be the worst movie ever made. Anyone who makes that claim has obviously never seen Manos - the Hands of Fate, the movie which it replaced as the worst-voted movie . . .

There is no way that Gigli can be worse than Manos - the Hands of Fate. At the very least I suspect that this recent big Hollywood budget movie will have decently framed shots and that most of the picture will actually be in focus. Much of Manos for instance is out of focus and the shots aren't even properly framed.

People who think that Gigli is the worst movie ever made are probably motivated out of sheer spite and malice aimed at Hollywood couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.

Heck, I can dig personal invective against the rich and famous as much as the next guy. You don't want to get me started on the likes of Mark Shuttleworth (a South African IT mogul who got mega-rich after a luck shot during the dot com boom and blew millions on becoming the second so-called space tourist), Princess Diana (she's dead, but that doesn't mean she's not fair game), Mother Theresa (ditto) and so forth.

Rich smug Hollywood couples? Hell, I just bloody hate Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas as much as the next guy. J-Lo? She can't act or sing. See?

But much of the vituperation aimed at Gigli was simply a media feeding frenzy. When the blood rage is over one day, people will realize that there are worse movies than Gigli and even long-standing favorites such as Waterworld, The Postman and Battlefield Earth out there.

Heck, we're not just talking about the likes of Jaws - the Revenge here, but the likes of Eegah, Pod People and The Brain That Wcouldn't Die here; the sort of movies that make up the culinary diet of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K).

While I'm always surprised at how few people outside the States are even aware of this show, I?ve done my bit introducing this now defunct TV show here and here. Suffice to say that MST3K is a hilariously funny show that pokes fun at incredibly bad movies and is highly recommended. If you like The Simpsons, South Park and Futurama then you'll like this too.

And I do mean incredibly bad movies. Manos (Spanish for ?hands? by the way - so that'd be Hands - the Hands of Fate then) was made by a Texan fertilizer magnate after taking a bet with a friend that anyone could make a movie. No one in this movie has ever acted in another movie before and no one in it has ever appeared in another movie again. It was filmed in the mid-1960s using a hand-held camera that couldn?t hold film stock longer than 30 seconds.

IMDB users who gave Gigli a lower rating than Manos ? the Hands of Fate either hasn't seem Manos or they simply aren't being honest here.

And I'm not just hyping the reputation of Manos here. It has for long been infamous for being considered the worst movie ever featured on MST3K by the show's makers. It has also replaced Ed Wood's famous Plan 9 from Outer Space as the worst film ever on the IMDB. Manos deserves its reputation even though it probably isn't the movie which I've hated the most (there's a difference I think).

THE DISC: Unlike the other single episodes not bundled as a box set, Manos ? the Hands of Fate is not included as a standalone movie. (Discs such as The Brain That Wouldn't Die and Eegah! gives one the option of viewing the movie with out the jokes and riffs ? something for devout masochists!)

Manos has no such option, but I couldn?t imagine why anyone would ever want to do this. However, if you do want to maybe subject yourself or unsuspecting guests to such torture, you can always get the standalone DVD at Amazon. Psychiatric help would however be in order then, you sicko . . .

The only extra is a 30-minutes so-called Poopie feature consisting of bloopers - the sort of thing that regular fans of the show would appreciate more than newbies.

WORTH IT? The worse the movie, the funnier the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I've come to realize. As you might deduce with Manos being so horrendously bad, this particular episode is extremely funny.

In fact, along with Mystery Science Theater 3000 - the Movie and Eegah! this one is definitely shaping up to be one of my all-time favourite episodes.

Besides the movie, there is also a second part of an old 1950s Chevrolet training movie that is spoofed. Some of these shorts given the MST3K can be especially hilarious and this is one of them.

Usually I don't particularly like the so-called host sequences of MST3K (the bits in which they don't watch the movie, but do stand-up comic routines basically), but this episode is an exception. The hosting sequences here are quite funny. All-round this is an excellent episode. Very, very funny stuff.

RECOMMENDATION: Unfortunately all MST3K episodes are only available as Region 1 (U.S. & Canada only) DVDs. Fortunately seems to have lifted its ban on selling Region 1 DVDs to customers falling outside this zone. The discs themselves aren't too pricey, but international postage is always a hassle. In this case it is however very much worth it. Order Mystery Science Theater 3000: Eegah along with it . . .

Oh, obviously you'll need a region-derestricted DVD player, but you already knew that, didn't you?

  • A site visitor sent me the following e-mail: It would be news to Mary-Robin Redd that no one in this movie has ever acted in another movie before and no one in it has ever appeared in another movie again. She has appeared in The Group (yes, along with Candice Bergen and Larry Hagman and Hal Holbrook) in the same year as Manos and was in at least seven afterwards, including Airplane II. (That's not even counting TV-movies, either.)

    The part about the bet is mostly urban legend, as well. The actual origin of the movie is more interesting: Stirling Silliphant (whose own filmography is fascinating in its highs and lows) was scouting locations for his TV series Route 66 and struck up an acquaintance with Hal Warren; apparently everything that Silliphant told Warren about making movies inspired Warren to make his own. Even more interesting is to compare the premises of Route 66 and In The Heat Of The Night (probably the high point of Silliphant's career) with the premise of Manos: people who were just passing through a place get entangled in the ongoing struggles of the permanent residents . . .
    If you'd like more information about Manos (including the dispelling of several of the persistent myths about it) there's an excellent article available on the Web (and, I just discovered myself, a follow-up) at and, with first-hand information from cast and crew.



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