Therefore, color me unsurprised that Shout! Factory has pulled out all the stops to showcase the stellar ep in a two-disc special edition. How special? Like, “even if you already own the ‘MST3K: Manos’ disc” special. But true MSTies know that already.
According to IMDb, movies don’t get much worse than “Manos,” the 1966 horror flick funded (apologies to the words “horror” and “funded”) by Texas fertilizer salesman Hal Warren, who wrote, directed and acted in the film. (He never did any of those things again, proving a higher power indeed exists.) If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely have to, but only with the “MST” gang to help you through the pain of the world’s dumbest family and the mind-burrowing theme of Torgo, cinema’s unlikeliest evil sidekick. They do the job so well, you’ll want to — and will — watch it again and again. It’s the funniest hour and a half I’ve ever seen on television, and that’s no exaggeration.
This set is so “Manos”-rific that it also includes the unriffed version, if you feel so inclined — and Godspeed if you do. But do delve into the many other bonus features with outright abandon. Perhaps most notably, some of the Satellite of Love survivors (the ones who now comprise Cinematic Titanic) discuss how they happened upon “Manos” and lived to tell about it, in an interview segment titled “Group Therapy.” Joel Hodgson says the episode was “a slog” to write, and one they would’ve turned down, had it come to their attention in the first two seasons. Trace Beaulieu puts the film in perspective this way: “You’ve gotta aim high … to fail so big.”
Also included are the “MST Hour” wraparound segments, in which Mike Nelson as Jack Perkins describes Torgo as “a curious, goatlike hospitality worker,” and the 2004 half-hour documentary “Hotel Torgo,” depicting the filmmakers’ search for anyone from the “Manos” cast and crew still alive. It’s unspectacular, but I’ve always wanted to see it, so there.
In the aforementioned “Group Therapy,” Joel credits part of the success of their “Manos” episode to the second part of the instructional short that preceded the feature, “Hired!” Appropriately enough, you can find both parts reassembled here, as well as a tongue-in-cheek doc on ephemeral films guru and “Hired!” producer Jam Handy; created by and starring Larry Blamire (of “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” fame), it’s awfully fun.
With such a slew of features, even The Master would approve. —Rod Lott