Oh, my God, you guys. I've never been happier to be wrong.
When this was first announced:
It's not that I don't love me some Rifftrax. I LOOOOOVE me some Rifftrax. I've attended all the live shows and bought the DVDs, the better to drive my beloved crazy with my thirty-fifth watching of Reefer Madness. I watch the Christmas shorts in July. I have howled my appreciation for Kevin's masterful reading of "Let's get crunked, Bitches!" from House on Haunted Hill into an empty living room Lord knows how many times. I got Rifftrax's back. They're my buddies. I trust them.
But...but... this was Manos.
If you've ever watched any MST3K you know what I mean. Manos (Show 424) is considered the gold standard/high water mark/ pinnacle of the show. Even if you love other episodes more or like Mike better then Joel (staying FAR AWAY from that debate, now and forever) or whatever, Manos was special, for so many reasons.
It was the perfect blend of all the elements that made MST what it was: superlative riffing, fabulous host segments, even a brilliant short subject.
This makes total sense.
And, of course, a truly wretched movie.
The whole point of the show was, of course, mockery of the wretched in cinema, but Manos was the Kentucky Derby, Superbowl, and Tour de France rolled into one. Its history has been exhaustively documented http://www.agonybooth.com/recaps/_Manos__The_Hands_of_Fate_1966.aspx here, among other places, so head on over for the details. Suffice to say, the backstory is vastly more entertaining than the movie itself could ever hope to be.
And this one was made of suffering. It was ghastly. Two of the host segments had both Dr. Forrester and Frank independently apologizing for what they were putting Joel and the 'bots through. They cried and sobbed and sat catatonic afterwards, stunned by the glimpse of the Old Gods, knowing that a small part of them had never come back from the darkness.
And their pain was our gain, because that shit was HILARIOUS. Manos has never been out of my rotations. I go through periods where I want to watch this or that, or not this or that, but Manos is always ready to go in my head. It was, well, it was MST3K. Its essence, its very self.
So how could they do it over???
The Master awaits your answer.
My reaction was all over the place: "OHMIGOD! But wait! But OMIGOD!!!! But it's MANOS! OMIGOD!!!"
That seemed to be the general initial response, but things swiftly tilted towards the positive. After all, this wasn't unheard of--the guys had reriffed Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and done a great job. And Mike had been head writer on the original show, with Kevin playing Tom. They knew what they were doing.
That's what it came down to. These guys knew what they were doing. And I trusted them.
So I purchased my tickets something like three months ahead of schedule and commenced holding my breath for that sacred date: August 16, 2012, the day MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE would reoccupy the silver screen.
We headed out an hour early to secure good seats and enjoy the preshow. The preshow is a loop of the guys singing silly songs from previous live shows (I heard "Reefer Madness" twice) while a delightful parody of those " did you know?" slides played onscreen.
And we clapped hard enough to bring Tinkerbell back!
They ran through twice, with some new ones mixed in, until-- lights down, connection to Nashville up, and....SHOWTIME!
Guys, it was great. Just amazing. Superlative. Outstanding. Marvelous. Magnifique. It was...great.
The guys opened with some patented onstage patter, and ended up with two actors who are making a sequel to the orginal film yes for real yes coming out and doing a little sketch involving pizza boxes and vague threats. Ahhh, it was like old times! Also have to give a shout out to the set:
You can't see the doggie statues, but they're there.
It was so cute! Really, that's the right word. With the master painting and the doggie statues and...well. Look, it really was adorable.
In the Great Rifftrax tradition, the guys began with a couple of shorts. First up was "Norman", a film about a man trying to leave an airport parking lot that is apparently located in one of Dante's Circles of Hell. Really, that's it. This put upon shlub in a horrible seventies suit tries to leave an airport parking lot. He can't get into his car, he leaves his briefcase on the roof and the runs over it, he can't find his way out of the lot, the couple in front of him at the pay booth can't find their ticket, he finally exits, only to find himself in another parking lot, and... the end.
Yep, that's the end. If you can call just "stopping" an ending. It was perfect fare for a Manos pregame.
Norman presents his life-loving self to your soul.
Then came the next short, made by the same not-stoned-at-all geniuses that previously had presented "At Your Fingertips...Grasses" for our viewing pleasure. This one, however, made "Grasses" look like a graduate seminar in atomic theory. I don't even have any screen captures for it because everyone who attended and had phone just...couldn't...nooooo...my soul....fading...fading....
But thank God for the guys, who lampooned with grace and savagery that left me wiping my eyes and crossing my legs so I wouldn't pee myself. When a girl with very seventies ponytails and need for validation uses an old salt container and black construction paper with holes punched in it to create sad, sad versions of constallations and the narrator announces "It's like having an actual planetarium in your room!" Mike's simple yet exquisite reply, "Is it?" brought down the house.
Oh, and in between was an actual ad from like 1847 for prune juice. Don't you feel wonderful?
But anyway! Time to start! And I had some last minute butterflies because what if they repeat old jokes or there's awkward silences or what if it just doesn't....
But those worries faded like a mist over a fertilizer depository, because these guys know what they're doing. The jokes were fresh and crisp, as was the new print of this misbegotten horror. Torgo provided new depths of hilarity, proving beyond all doubt that hiring a young acidhead who built his own goat feet and stuffed two sofa pillows down his pants was the director's touch of genius.
Torgo, I just met a fella named Torgo...
And on and on, through gauzy gowns and panties catfights...
Who is this appealing to? Besides your mom.
And the longest "getting up" scene in the history of cinema...
Ah, damn man. Why'd ya let me drink 4 Loko?
And so on, until finally they wrap up with that famous ending...
Which there is no picture of, so here's Sissy Spacek in a hat.
And all through, just genius riffing. The "White Trash Twilight Sketch" had me in tears. "Well, I guess two hunnert years ain't enough time to move that broken washing machine offa our lawn!" "Well, why don't ya get a werewolf to move it for ya? Yeah, I went there!" My only complaint was sometimes the laughing drowned out the riffs.
So, there's my review of a perfect evening, and also why it's good to trust people. They won't mess up your memories or let you down, they'll just add to your general store of happiness.
Now, off for the countdown until this bad boy comes out on DVD!
And in the meantime, what the hell is this???
Somebody explain this.
Until next time....
GIVE YOUR NEW HUSBAND A HUG!