REVIEW: MST3K – Tribute to Manos: The Hands of Fate (2022)

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This is not a review of Manos: The Hands of Fate, although I NEED to review that sometime. This is however a review of the special MST3K tribute episode that premiered on Gizmoplex for the Kickstarter backers for Season 13 of the show. As far as I’m aware this will be made available for general consumption at some point, although the “new material” was a small portion of this near 3 hour special broadcast, which I will soon dissect for you. The Mads for this occasion were Pearl Forrester and her clone Synthia, which is a fairly humorous pairing. It’s crazy how much Mary Jo Pehl and Rebecca Hanson look alike at least with the same make-up and wigs!

The Mads were there to introduce a new short, which I assume will be a continuing segment throughout these monthly presentations. A “random draw” occurred where Synthia and Pearl drew a name of a bowl to assign who got to watch a NEW short. This time it was Jonah and The Bots who were forced to watch a weird film about the importance of water that I assume was an instructional video for people working at some city’s Municipal Waterworks.

“It’s morning on Lake Erie, and Omar comin’ Yo!.” being said as a boat slowly paddles down a river with “Omar” plastered on the side, was one of the first jokes that made me laugh out loud. Stuff like this shows that the hosts can preserve the tone of the older episodes with references that are not insanely way out of date in today’s standards. Some other great jokes are Jonah’s terrible, but somehow amazing Count Von Count impression or Crow saying “Daaaaaaam!” when the camera pans over a shot of a hydroelectric Dam. While not one of the funniest shorts, the riffs were great and made me laugh quite a bit.

It was a surprise to me that this tribute included the full Feature of Manos: The Hands of Fate from the early Joel episode. New material with the new hosts and Mads is sprinkled in, but you see the entire Joel episode in its entirety. Torgo is, of course, the greatest villain ever in cinema and I can’t resist watching the arduously long beginning of the film, just to see his weird shambling walk. I’ll admit that I skipped to the new stuff after this as I have watched Manos way more than any person really should. I even own a copy of the sequel and a remastered Blu-ray of the original because I appear to be some kind of masochist. If you have not watched this movie, you really should as it is bafflingly bad at times, and a true MST3K classic. “Every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photograph.”

The next big feature of this special was a Q&A With Jackey Neyman Jones, the actress that played “Debbie” in the film as a small child. In real life she was the daughter of Tom Neyman, the man that played “The Master”, made tons of the props, and created the art and costumes for the film. She is one of the few remaining actors from the film, so her insight into the making of and fan culture around the movie is interesting. The film was seen as a laughable disaster upon release, so many of the actors had nothing to do with it afterwards. It was not until MST3K that the film got its “second wind” and became the unlikely hit that it became.

One of the better parts of the interview was the story of Jackey and her father bonding because of her finding it on MST3K, and her eventual path to being the “ambassador” of the film basically. This interview was hosted by Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, and Mary Jo Pehl along with Neyman-Jones. If you have ever read Jackey’s book, some of the information was a re-tread, but hearing some fan questions was cool.

The last component of these new specials are a handful of new host segments and some humorous ads done in the style of typical host segments. Some of the jokes were better than others, and I can see some of these ads getting old if we get the same ones in every episode, but these are likely not going to be part of the final product and are just here for the Kickstarter premieres.

Overall, this was a cool idea, and actually ended up better than what I expected which was some sort of podcast. The new segments were fun and the Q&A was interesting. I can’t wait to see what other episodes they have planned for these, as a dozen tributes will be a great bit of extra content for every serious fan of the show. I’m really hoping for something related to The Final Sacrifice!

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