"Torgo...I just met a fella named Torgo..."
January 8, 2006 10:37 PM   Subscribe

"The Hand That Time Forgot" - Richard Brandt interviews two men who worked on the now-classic train wreck of a film, Manos: The Hands of Fate. Find out what drives someone to gather $19,000 and make what is by many accounts the worst film ever made! Also available is the followup, "Growing Up Manos," in which we gain another perspective ("It was so obviously bad that even a seven-year-old could see it") from Jackey Jones, who played the little girl.
posted by Monster_Zero (111 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would argue that Manos is merely incompetent, and sometimes engagingly so. Mel Gibson is a far worse filmmaker, because he is artistically corrupt beneath a veneer of competence.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 PM on January 8, 2006


Sadly, John Reynolds, the guy that played Torgo, committed suicide in the same year Manos was filmed, which makes me cringe a little when I laugh at the movie.
posted by tweak at 11:05 PM on January 8, 2006


I thought I read somewhere once that most people believed that Plan 9 From Outer Space was the worst film ever made.

No matter. Whether it be Plan 9 From Outer Space or Manos: The Hands of Fate, my vote for the worst film of all time is, and still remains, Double Team (followed closely by The 5th Element).
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:33 PM on January 8, 2006


Manos is awful. It's bad awful. Zardoz, on the other hand, is good awful.
posted by Revvy at 11:41 PM on January 8, 2006


I loved the 5th Element. It has to be the best film with a blue alien singing an aria ever!
posted by qwip at 11:57 PM on January 8, 2006


Effigy2000, why are you hating on the 5th element? It's mindless sci-fi pulp fun!
posted by tweak at 12:00 AM on January 9, 2006


I always loved Manos too, largely for humor value because it is so pitifully awful.

Also, the MST3K episode with Manos was hillarious because the "bad" people (Pearl, the brain guy, the POTA monkey) kept coming on privately to apologise to mike for sending such a horrid movie.
posted by mystyk at 12:00 AM on January 9, 2006


Damn. I was thinking this would be a gawdawful movie about that other hand of fate, Mandos.
posted by mono blanco at 12:01 AM on January 9, 2006


Effigy2000: "Whether it be Plan 9 From Outer Space or Manos: The Hands of Fate, my vote for the worst film of all time is, and still remains, Double Team (followed closely by The 5th Element)."

Don't forget Street Fighter: The Movie.
posted by mystyk at 12:01 AM on January 9, 2006


Plan 9 should not be knocked. It's technically inept, but you can tell it's a labor of love. If it just sucked we wouldn't be talking about it to this day.

For pure suckiness, Alone in the Dark can't be beat. Half the movie is taken up by the opening expository (yet unilluminating) title crawl.

The 5th Element rocks, by the way.
posted by brundlefly at 12:07 AM on January 9, 2006


Maybe someday I'll find out how my favorite movie ever somehow made it into production.

My only explanation is that they won the filmstock in a contest or something. Seriously, that stuff's expensive!
posted by Afroblanco at 12:23 AM on January 9, 2006


Manos: the Hands of Fate is pretty awful, but I still say the worst movie of all time is What's the Worst That Could Happen?. You'd agree with me if you were forced to watch it twice in a over six hours long bus ride.

This is followed closly by Biodome, and just about any other Pauly Shore movie ever made.

Also, I agree with brundlefly. The 5th Element rocks!
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:30 AM on January 9, 2006


Manos was brilliant fun. If you really want to choose a categorically worst film, go for something by Andy Warhol.

But really, I think you have to judge a film in the context of what it promised. For me, the worst film is The 51st State aka Formula 51.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:52 AM on January 9, 2006


Oh yeah, sorry, forgot about Uwe Bollywood.

5th Element rocks
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:53 AM on January 9, 2006


mystyk: Also, the MST3K episode with Manos was hillarious because the "bad" people (Pearl, the brain guy, the POTA monkey) kept coming on privately to apologise to mike for sending such a horrid movie.

Just to be nitpicky, I believe Manos was not only an episode with TV's Frank & Dr. Forrester, rather than Pearl and friends, but it was even a Joel episode, a good half season or so before Mike became the host. Mike did play Torgo in the host segments, though.

/nitpick

Man, I love that episode. It's that, Monster A-Go-Go, or Deathstalker fighting for my favorite episode of all time. Deathstalker isn't quite as bad, but it's just so damn ridiculous.
posted by Swervo at 1:02 AM on January 9, 2006


Yeah, Manos was bad, Plan-9 was bad (I'm not convinced it was as bad as Glen or Glenda tho') but neither are nearly as soul crushingly bad as Stanley.

Stanley was so bad it cost me at least a year of my life to watch it, and I have seen some real crap.

In my circle of friends we still manage to sit down and catch a handful of foul classics years after we first started watching them. Some of my favorites:

Death Ring - Mike Norris (Chuck's brother), Don Swayze (Patrick's brother) and Chad McQueen (Steve's Son) team up in this absurd and delightfully racist retelling of "The Most Dangerous Game".

Rolling Vengeance - A farmer who's loved ones come under attack from a small town crime ring converts his tractor into a flame-spurting-drill-spinning-armor-plated monster truck to extract revenge. Featuring Ned Beatty in a flock of seagulls haircut. Sassy!

Trapper County War - When two Northerner's don't know when to leave our southern girls alone we have no choice but to defend our honor, and our wimmin! Another Don Swayze classic, the real star of the show is a broken spirited Ernie Hudson as the mountain claiming Vietnam veteran.

One Armed Executioner - He just wanted to run a restaurant, but they killed his wife and took his arm! Now it's time for payback... I gotta be honest, I have no idea how this movie ends. All three copies I have found at various flea markets cut off before the end. Oddly enough, all three stop at totally different parts, weird. But even without the ending, it's got plenty of laughs.

Slaughterhouse - "Buddy has an axe to grind, a BIG axe!" Wow, so you know it's classy. A hog-farmer is about to be evicted so he turns his mentally deficient son loose on those whom have wronged him.

The son talks in hog-speak.

Yeah.

But in my opinion, the best B-movie ever? Robotjox - In the future WAR has been OUTLAWED. A blistering polemic of cold war politics, an examination on war's self-sustaining nature, an intriguing study of free will, all with giant ass robots, atrocious sets, silly dialogue, absurd casting and the greatest ending of any movie ever!

We can live, We can both live!

I seriously regress to the age of 12 every time I watch it. When that theme music kicks in... Ooof, I'm in heaven. Watch it with someone you love.
posted by Jezztek at 1:11 AM on January 9, 2006


I'm very wary of any attempt to knock Ed Wood from his throne , but there are many good young pretenders.
I've missed a lot of the latest godawful movies these days , is michael medved still around ?
'It Came From Hollywood' really tickled me.
Any exhaustive lists of bad movies in this thread would be appreciated , i saw a clip of 'jesus christ , vampire hunter' which looked really good.
There was an advertising campaign for a bank recently which paraphrased criswells intro from plan 9:

" the future , for that is where we are going to live the rest of our lives"
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:34 AM on January 9, 2006


Jezztrek's writeup of Robotjox made me think of another pretty schlocky vehicle, Freejack, which had a pretty intriguing cast but managed to absolutely slurp.
posted by alumshubby at 3:06 AM on January 9, 2006


Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.

The only film I have ever had to stop watching. After 15 minutes. Racist unfunny drivel. Really, really hated that film.

And that's saying a lot, considering I've seen Ankle Biters. Among other gems.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:02 AM on January 9, 2006


Funny how Manos still beats "Glitter" by one spot on IMDB's bottom 100...
posted by clevershark at 4:06 AM on January 9, 2006


Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is delightfully bad. Totally awesome, the only thing it's missing is handclaps in it's musical numbers. It's actually so well done it's not even bad, on the strength of it's premise and vision.

Zardoz is awesomely bad. Mustachioed and Ponytailed Sean Connery in a red diaper and shotgun bandolier, revolver always in hand (he doesn't have a holster, so he can't reall put it down). Lots of pointless, realistic murder of innocent peasants in the service of a 'god'. It's also actually so well done it's not even bad, on the strength of it's premise and vision.

Manos is awful. NO MERIT WHATSOEVER. Not even for being so bad does it in any way find redemption. I've watched the MST3K version of it 7 or 8 times, and the original unadulterated film twice.

It is so fucking bad. Ed Wood films are amusing, Manos doesn't even have much dialog at all. I'm pretty sure many of the few lines there are were dubbed in later, due to unusable live sound.

It opens with about 15 minutes of aimless driving scenes that repeat themselves, set to awful music.

The first time I saw it without the talking heads and interludes I was chained and taped to a chair. I fell asleep while watching another movie and woke up watching Manos, unable to escape. It's really intolerable in it's original form, not because of the lack of commentary, but because of the lack of the breaks from the movie that the MST3k gimmicks provide.

I have a DIVX copy of MST3k'd Manos (though this shouldn't be hard to find a torrent of), and a copy of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, which is considerably harder to find on P2P networks, though you can now get it on DVD from amazon. My e-mail is in the profile if you want a copy of either of these.
posted by blasdelf at 4:14 AM on January 9, 2006


Yet another bad movie, but with a title that still makes me chuckle: Surf Nazis Must Die.
posted by alumshubby at 4:28 AM on January 9, 2006


I'm a MSTie to the level that I had already read this article a couple of years ago (I had found it on the Information Club website, the Church of the Subgenius for all your bad-movie needs), and just never thought to post it to Metafilter. There's another article, "Growing Up Manos," on the same site and by the same guy, here.

One of the things about MST3K that might surprise newcomers to the show is that the worst movies do not necessarily make for the best episodes. There's interviews with Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy (voice of Tom Servo from season 2 on) where they state there were plenty of movies they screened to decide if they were acceptable that were far too bad to air. In the Amazing Collosal Episode Guide, they say that right until they did the episode, they were unsure if they could make Manos work.

And here's the thing about Manos, as well as a few other MST3K classics like Monster A-Go-Go, The Wild Wild World of Batwoman and Red Zone Cuba: if you're familiar with and love the show, they're absolute gold, but if you're a newcomer, especially if you're a skeptical newcomer, well, there are better introductions. They're what has been termed "graduate level episodes," a description so accurate that I use it all over the place myself now. Manos, indeed, should not generally be the first MST episode seen by a newbie at risk of chasing them off, for while it's certainly possible to enjoy it on a first showing if you're of a certain turn of mind, there are more accessible eps out there: good ones are Cave Dwellers, Pod People, Godzilla vs Megalon (not available on DVD sadly and probably never will be because of rights issues), and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which has a pleasing veneer of goofiness to help viewers swallow such loathsome treats as (ugh) Droppo.

As far as Manos' quality goes, I had a long-running argument with a friend about which was worse, Manos: The Hands of Fate, or the horrible lethargic unfocused Red Zone Cuba, a movie so bad that the Cuba bits don't come at the end of the movie but in the middle, and a short way through the characters make it back to the states, forget they've ever been to Cuba, and, you know, kinda just do stuff for a while, before fate catches up with them in shots that you can tell were intended to be artsy, but instead end up being oh, so fartsy. Anyway, I maintain Manos is the worst film they've done, while he says Red Zone Cuba is. We may both be right: when you get down to that level, badness generally cannot be expressed as a siding scale, but exists in discrete quanta of rotten. The two movies share an electron shell orbiting a rancid nucleus.

But one of the things about these movies is that, in a way, each and every one of them is better than, say, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Doom, Underworld, House of the Dead, or Ballistic Ecks vs Sever. Because all the MST movies I've described here (and in many ways The Fifth Element is their spiritual progeny), however laughable, were made with an artistic focus in mind, as a method of communication between the director and his audience, while those more recent films are just excuses to put explosions and breasts up on the screen, and as movie-making technology progresses will go obselete faster than my old Commodore 64.

I don't believe there are such things as "popcorn flicks," that term is only used to excuse bad moviemaking. It is entirely possible to make a good mindless action movie, look at The Mummy, and none of the films in this list are that thing. The reason I'd rather see The Mummy again instead of Resident Evil again has absolutely nothing to do with its being a popcorn movie. It has everything to do with whether it sucks.
posted by JHarris at 4:41 AM on January 9, 2006


They picked up Shirley Bassey hitchhiking, and rode right into history.
posted by gimonca at 4:57 AM on January 9, 2006


The say that nobody sets out to make a bad movie. AS evidence of that, I offer The Devil's Candy, an excellent behind-the-scenes look at what happened with The Bonfire of the Vanities.
posted by Man-Thing at 5:23 AM on January 9, 2006


I still say the worst movie of all time is What's the Worst That Could Happen?

I can respect that opinion, though having left after fifteen minutes, I must reserve total endorsement. Curious that Donald Westlake's first rate books almost invariably become atrocious movies.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2006


Ghosts of Mars was on TV here last night. Unbelievably bad.
posted by Joeforking at 5:37 AM on January 9, 2006


this is awesome. yay!
posted by shmegegge at 5:46 AM on January 9, 2006


I never heard of Manos before, may have to look for it. What a fun story! Great post monster_zero.
posted by applemeat at 6:10 AM on January 9, 2006


Ah, a Manos post. Thank you for rescuing this bleak Monday morning Monster_Zero.

Another good "insider" story of the making of Manos can be found here.

You can also see a scan of the absolutely hilarious review of Manos that appeared in the El Paso Herald-Post the day after the movie premiered. (From the excellent "Tom's Temple of MST3K Stuff").

Also worth checking out is the Torgo Homepage.

JHarris, I would have to agree with your friend. I think the Coleman Francis MST3Ks are the absolute worst movies ever done on the show. Although, I would pick "Skydivers" over "Red Zone Cuba." It's just one big non sequitur of a movie jumbled together without even a pretense of a coherent plot. But MST3K proves that there are many different flavors of bad, from cheesy 70's to sword and sorcery to 50's space to Gorgo, they pretty much cover it all.

Also, bad movie fans should check out Something Weird Video. A lot of their stuff is available on Netflix.
posted by Otis at 6:22 AM on January 9, 2006


And for all those who require subtitles, that's "Hands: The Hands of Fate"
posted by hal9k at 6:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Excellent post.

As for bad movies, I take it none of you have seen They Saved Hitler's Brain, or you wouldn't be touting that bunch of pretenders. To quote the User Comment:
Let me just say that I love bad films. I just get a kick out of them and while I am fully aware that they are bad, for the most part, they are still fun to watch. Not this one!!! I'm sure we all know the story behind this movie. It's actually two films spliced into one and combines a 1950's Nazi/Exploitation/Sci-Fi movie with some sort of espionage 1960's outing. The result is a mess and an incredibly tough experience to get through. Again, if there was a fun factor to it, I probably would have been entertained but the thing was so boring and seemed to drag on forever that I had a tough time staying awake... If you want a "so bad, it's good" kind of experience, stick with Ed Wood because this one is really a total bore.
Except, as the User notes, for the moment when Hitler's head, in a jar in the back of a car, shouts "Mach schnell! Mach schnell!!" But it's not really worth putting up with the rest of the movie for.
posted by languagehat at 6:27 AM on January 9, 2006


Speed 2: Cruise Control is, without a doubt, dollar for dollar, the worst movie ever made.
posted by anomie at 6:28 AM on January 9, 2006


In the scope of bad-awesome movies, nothing can eclipse the wonder that is Turkish Star-Wars. I mean, wow.

That said, I'm suddenly nostalgic for some MST3K. My circulated VHS tapes help little in this age of DVDs, so I was wondering which of the various DVD sets would be the best buys for the show?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:33 AM on January 9, 2006


5th Element? You may not like it but it is not the worst (or second worst) movie of all time.

Check out MST3K some time.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:38 AM on January 9, 2006


Except, as the User notes, for the moment when Hitler's head, in a jar in the back of a car, shouts "Mach schnell! Mach schnell!!" But it's not really worth putting up with the rest of the movie for.

Oh, thanks a lot languagehat!
Now I really want to see this film. The preceding warning has left my brain and is completely replaced with this image.

I must find this film.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:43 AM on January 9, 2006


I have a soft spot for Gymkata.
posted by JanetLand at 7:08 AM on January 9, 2006



posted by JeffK at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2006


The largest collection of mst3k resources currently available are:
The MST3K Digital Archive Project
MySpleen
posted by mimi at 7:24 AM on January 9, 2006


None of you have ever seen Shokumentia, a movie so worthless it doesn't even appear in the IMDB.
Made sometime during the early '90s, it follows the "adventures" of a guy with a classic car (Lincoln?) who decides to... uh... go to a bunch of national parks or something? While shouting poetry?
The best part is when the people filming, and this is ostensibly non-fiction, are "looking for Elvis" and get backstage at an Elvis impersonator's show, only to be kicked out while shrieking at security. Those five minutes are the only worthwhile things in a movie over two hours long.
posted by klangklangston at 7:31 AM on January 9, 2006


"Manos" is my favorite episode of MST3K, but the un-MSTed movie makes "Plan 9" look like an Oscar winner.
posted by mike3k at 7:36 AM on January 9, 2006


What was this documentary I saw a while ago about these guys in rural America (Eastern WA, perhaps?) who want to make horror movies, but have little discernable talent and no budget whatsoever? They end up enlisting their extended family as actors and extras, and I remember this scene where a character in the film slams a cupboard door on someone's head and they scored the cupboard so that the guy's head would pop through but it didn't work and they had to reshoot it a bunch of times, giving the guy a headache.

The doc was good, but it was interesting as a kind of insight into the lives of "bad" filmmakers. Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness bit, but I suppose someone here must know what film I'm talking about.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:44 AM on January 9, 2006


Here we go. It was American Movie (review).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:48 AM on January 9, 2006


And yeah, I got a ton of factoids wrong, read the review for the straight story.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:52 AM on January 9, 2006


The American Movie guys had a cameo on Family Guy last night.

"They Saved Hitler's Brain" was often played during the afternoon B-movie shows of my youth. It's a hoot. Also of note (but not mentioned so far): "The Creeping Terror" (it was some sort of carpet/vacuum cleaner hose contraption) and "The Giant Gila Monster".
posted by First Post at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2006


Oh dear god Robotjox. I had managed to block that from my memory. Thanks for nothing, Jezztek.

I love bad movies, but that was so bad I had to take it back to the video store after 15 minutes and demand a refund.
posted by adamrice at 8:09 AM on January 9, 2006


For me, Manos tops my list. It beats They Saved Hitler's Brain, Plan Nine, Attack of the Crab Monsters, and Terror of Tiny Town (an all-midget, musical western).
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:18 AM on January 9, 2006


I respectfully submit The Crater Lake Monster as the worst film ever. There are 20 minutes of completely random bank robbery footage in the middle that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie and that's the mark of genius. Also, you can only ever see part of the monster on screen and you can almost see the guy shaking the rubbery tentacle. Brilliant, brilliant.

But this thread wouldn't be complete without a nod to badmovies.org the first and still the best source for all your bad movie needs.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:22 AM on January 9, 2006


goodnewsfortheinsane, you have to watch The Coven, the film they're making in American Movie...

It's bad.
Hilarious bad!
posted by slimepuppy at 8:27 AM on January 9, 2006


Anomie beat me to it. It took me a few tries to make it through even the MST3K version of Manos, and Speed 2 is still the hands-down worst movie ever made.
posted by MadDog Bob at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2006


Submitted for your consideration:

Curse of Bigfoot.
posted by ltracey at 8:55 AM on January 9, 2006


Another MST3K favorite would have to be Mitchell with Joe Don Baker. I believe this little epic was Joel's last gig as host.
posted by Ber at 8:55 AM on January 9, 2006


I simply cannot understand how no one has mentioned Billy the Kid versus Dracula.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2006


Holy cow, I had forgotten about Robotjox! Stuart Gordon also made Re-Animator... one of the best b-movies of all time. Unfortunately, he also made Castle Freak.

Castle Freak deserves to be on any list of bad movies. It's not Manos bad, but it's pretty hard to watch.
posted by brundlefly at 9:34 AM on January 9, 2006


Gymkata!
posted by eddydamascene at 9:39 AM on January 9, 2006


I must mention Barn of the Naked Dead. Truly abominable.

Of course, the I celebrate the entire catalogue of St. Paul-born Ted V. Mikels, but 10 Violent Women has longed reigned supreme as the worst fucking film I've ever had to endure.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:46 AM on January 9, 2006


I have never seen Manos but I seem to hear about it everywhere. Okay, almost everywhere. I propose that someone is doing a great job at publicizing this movie.
posted by snowjoe at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2006


I would say that Plan 9 and the other Ed Wood movies are notable and unintentionally funny for roping together a cast of personalities into amazingly inept films. You have Tor paired with Vampira bookended by Lugosi and The Amazing Criswell. The end result is camp as heck. Many of the most notable actors in Ed Wood films were reasonably good entertainers in their own little niche, but find themselves in a badly written, badly shot and badly edited mess of a supernatural thriller movie featuring aliens.

Manos is just plain bad, so bad it's hard to feel sympathy for anyone involved in making it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2006


Curious that Donald Westlake's first rate books almost invariably become atrocious movies.

Almost. Point Blank was quite good (if we're counting adaptations of Richard Stark).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2006


And then Mel Gibson had to go and trash it with Payback.

And we come full circle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2006


Yesterday I saw 'Never Too Young To Die' starring none other than John Stamos and Gene Simmons who happened to play a hermaphrodite bad guy/girl. There's obviously much much worse, but it was delightfully bad, and I highly recommend it.
posted by imaswinger at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2006


Paging User #17747!
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2006


Damn. imaswinger just beat me too it. Worth seeing for the Gene Simmons stuff alone. That and the "Stargrove" theme song.
posted by Cyrano at 10:25 AM on January 9, 2006


Ber, Mitchel beats Master Ninja I for my my favorite MST3K episode for the fact that it was Joel's last episode (never really got into Mike). To this day I still sometimes shout "Mitchel!" in moments of disbelief.
posted by dobie at 10:39 AM on January 9, 2006


Who's the puffy guy who's a big blurry sex machine?

Mitchell!
posted by Otis at 10:50 AM on January 9, 2006


Two words... Space Truckers.
posted by boogah at 11:07 AM on January 9, 2006


First Post: Both The Creeping Terror and The Giant Gila Monster are subjects of MST3K episodes, with Creeping Terror one of the "Z-list" movies that can be mentioned in the same breath as Manos. That one's of such quality, however, that anyone can MST it themselves, completely ad-libbing the jokes.

snowjoe: Actually, Manos has had horrible publicity until very recently. It was completely off everyone's radar until MST3K showed it. *All* of the movie's current 15 minutes of fame can be traced back, ultimately, to that episode. And it's been around ten years now since that episode was aired on Comedy Central.

It's only very recently become available on DVD outside of MST3K's treatment. I was almost impossible (if not *really* impossible) to find on VHS.

JanetLand: Gymkata was never shown on MST, but it was referred to once. It was once used by them as a synonym for their more commonly-used joke "Hikeeba," as a hapless martial arts attack phrase (which dates back to a 1st season episode). Yeah, I realize that that knowledge gives me a couple dozen geek points. I hope you realize that, now that you know that fact, you're due them too.

Ber: Mitchell was, indeed, Joel's last episode as host. But he did appear in one later episode, as a guest in the last-season episode Soultaker, which also had (T.V.'s) Frank Conniff. The geek points just keep piling up....

robocop is bleeding: As far as single episodes go, if you find copies of Beginning of the End I'd snap it up, because it's being withdrawn from circulation due to rights issues.

Concerning compilations:
MST3K: The Essentials is a mini-compilation containing just two movies, Manos and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, both A-list shows. That's a good start. As a bonus, the Manos disk contains an MST blooper reel.

Highlights of the primary compilations (each of which comes with four disks):

Vol. 1 has Creeping Terror, Coleman Francis' awful Skydivers, and the little-seen Catalina Caper.

Vol. 2 has Joel-hosted faves Pod People and Cave Dwellers, as well as a collection of Shorts which are great if you don't have two hours to devote to watching a whole episode.

Vol. 3 has more shorts and Sidehackers.

Vol. 4 has Space Mutiny and PBS Raul Julia vehicle Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, but it also has a production of Hamlet made for German television!

Vol. 5 has Touch of Satan and the loathsome Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues, which features BOTH an unsettling outhouse scene and Old Man Crenshaw, the most disturbing, most disgusting character ever seen in an MST movie.

Vol. 6 has Teenagers from Outer Space (TOR-CHAAA!), but unquestionably the highlight is the shorts disk, which contains Mr. B Natural, the funniest thing they ever did.

Vol 7. has two Hercules movies, plus the B&W Japanese kiddie sci-fi Prince of Space (which gave the world the irrepressible Krankor) and a handful of shorts, including Assignment: Venezuela, which was never actually aired on TV.

Vol. 8 is the last compilation released to date, and has fave Monster A-Go-Go and the shockingly poor 80's Gremlins wannabe Hobgoblins.

This concludes today's lecture, remember we've got a test next week, and an essay due the week after that.
posted by JHarris at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2006


My vote for worst movie of all time is The Avengers.
posted by ND¢ at 11:24 AM on January 9, 2006


Please. Battlefield Earth owns you.

Also worth noting:
Once Bitten (early Jim Carey).
Kazaam + Steel
and no list would be complete without Maximum Overdrive.
posted by filmgeek at 11:24 AM on January 9, 2006


Oh, c'mon, filmgeek. Maximum Overdrive? You gotta love a movie where a steamroller squishes a little leaguer while AC/DC blares in the background.
posted by brundlefly at 11:31 AM on January 9, 2006


While we're talking MST3K, can anyone ID the movie that lingers in my mind as my fave episode? It was a Japanese sci-fi flick -- actually it may have been episodes of a TV series spliced together and dubbed into English -- featuring a team of orange-suited space adventurers. The main character was "a space loner" named "Ken."
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:37 AM on January 9, 2006


Artifice_Eternity: There were two of those, Fugitive Alien and a "sequel" made out of later episodes of that series, Fugitive Alien II: Star Force.

It is unlikely that either will ever see a commercial release because the film rights are owned by Sandy Frank Enterprises, and Sandy Frank really dislikes the treatment the MST guys did on his movies. (Their invention of the "Sandy Frank song" in Time of the Apes probably didn't help his mood any.)
posted by JHarris at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2006


I've seen the MST3K version of Manos (and I did enjoy the mocking of it), but I have to say that The Creeping Terror takes the cake as the most godawful movie of all time. I saw the MST3K version of that, too, and it was like having teeth pulled without anesthetic. The actors apparently aren't good enough, so there's a narrator telling you what they're saying while they're speaking. And that's only scratching the surface of how bad this movie is.
posted by fossil_human at 12:01 PM on January 9, 2006


fossil_human,
Supposedly the soundtrack to the Creeping Terror was lost and that's why they had to use so much narration instead of dialogue.
posted by Otis at 12:19 PM on January 9, 2006


We have a Christmas tradition out here of watching the first two Silent Night, Deadly Night films in a row. Nothing is more wonderful than finishing the first and then seeing where the second is going to go.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:34 PM on January 9, 2006


Starcrash (or "Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione") in its original undubbed Italian is, without a doubt, one of the funniest worst movies ever made.

I caught it on TV twice when I was younger, both times completely by accident, and both times I had a fever. That may explain why I found it so funny, but the coincidence is disturbing to say the least.

It stars David Hasselhoff.

No more need be said.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2006


JHarris: Fugitive Alien! Of course! Thanks.

*fires up BitTorrent* :)
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:55 PM on January 9, 2006


That said, I'm suddenly nostalgic for some MST3K. My circulated VHS tapes help little in this age of DVDs, so I was wondering which of the various DVD sets would be the best buys for the show?

You should of course buy any that you want that are available. Especially seeing as how the Best Brains people can't have made jillions of dollars off the show.

But.

There are fairly complete catalogs out there on the net that a quick googling will reveal unto you. Some are people with collections who will burn you a dvd of an otherwise-unavailable episode for a small fee. Others are Projects that Digitally Archive episodes that are unavailable for purchase so you can get them, usually through edonkey. These will usually be ~700MB DIVX/XVID avi's.

alt.binaries.multimedia.mst3k will deliver you a complete set if you wait long enough.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:58 PM on January 9, 2006


My vote for worst movie of all time is The Avengers.

Please. Battlefield Earth owns you.

Ohh, I don't know. Just the eye candy and the production values of The Avengers puts it above the typical ScFi Channel feature. Likewise, production values alone bump Battlefield Earth from the worst film categories.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2006


JHarris - thanks for the lesson!

ROU_Xenophobe
- thanks for the info! I have been wondering why the different MST3K "volumes" were not "seasons". And have been upset at not being able to purchase every episode. Now I have a mission...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2006


Perhaps it will only be especially terrible to those who have read Gibson's short stories, but Johnny Mnemonic was really bad. Keanu Reeves' performance was the best part about it, it was so bad. Probably not worst movie bad, but it still bears mentioning.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:31 PM on January 9, 2006


Since we're mentioning BIG bad films, I can't help but say two words. Well, three.

Batman & Robin

I rest my case.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:50 PM on January 9, 2006


Never, ever rent 2001: A Space Travesty. Seeing Nielsen in that movie is like having your wife send you a video of her screwing your worst enemy. It's just awful.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:32 PM on January 9, 2006


Space Truckers? BLASPHEMY. It's a perfectly fun little B-movie. I mean, it's got easily-transportable square pigs, for crissakes. And a hawt zero-G sex scene. What else could you want?

I'm surprised no one has brought up Dungeons & Dragons. That's MY favorite bad movie from the past few years. I can never decide whether the best part is Damon Wayans openly mocking the other actors and having it make it in, or how Jeremy Irons' eyebrows put on an entirely separate performance from Jeremy Irons himself.
posted by InnocentBystander at 3:54 PM on January 9, 2006


The remake of Willard starring Crispin Glover gets a big Manos thumbs up for being more drecky than imaginable. Especially when you get the DVD and see Crispin's accompanying music video. And especially more when you listen to the pitiful director explain why the movie sucked as bad as it did and he wasn't able to do one thing to fix it.

PG-13 rat slasher movies suck. This should be a law.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 5:29 PM on January 9, 2006


Oh, dear, I do so love bad movies. (The Fifth Element isn't bad -- it's SUPPOSED to be a comedy!)

Fave unknown bad movie is Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell. I saw it when I was young and it made a big impression on me (as in I laughed an awful lot) -- Yvette Mimieux is a frumpy house wife until she gets possessed by the spirit of the dog and then becomes all hot and vampy. Mmm, trash movies!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:30 PM on January 9, 2006


We here at the house had a VCR and no DVD player for far longer than most of the rest of the civilized world, and a video store with interesting films on VHS, so we watched quite a few of them (until, for some reason, our VCR decided it would only play our tape of Ladyhawke).

Here are some of our favorites:

Hard Rock Zombies. The soundtrack by Paul Sabu, of sub-KISS band Sabu (natch) and awesomely bad special effects make this totally a rolling in the aisles zombo-rocker.

Murdercycle. Arguably just bad. See, this meteorite comes down and hits this dude on a motorcycle, right? So, the logical thing happens: it becomes a Power Rangers-esque killing machine, infiltrating a government installation, and has to be tracked down by a psychic and a couple military officers who look like they're from Mad TV.

The Prophecy. No, not that one. The other one, made by John Carpenter, about a paper mill whose chemicals unleash some sort of jujubee bear upon the population. Best scene? When, after escaping the bear by swimming across a lake, they sit on the beach and watch the bear from about 50 yards as it slowly closes the distance to 10 feet before they start running again.
posted by klangklangston at 7:11 PM on January 9, 2006


We here at the house had a VCR and no DVD player for far longer than most of the rest of the civilized world, and a video store with interesting films on VHS, so we watched quite a few of them (until, for some reason, our VCR decided it would only play our tape of Ladyhawke).

Here are some of our favorites:

Hard Rock Zombies. The soundtrack by Paul Sabu, of sub-KISS band Sabu (natch) and awesomely bad special effects make this totally a rolling in the aisles zombo-rocker.

Murdercycle. Arguably just bad. See, this meteorite comes down and hits this dude on a motorcycle, right? So, the logical thing happens: it becomes a Power Rangers-esque killing machine, infiltrating a government installation, and has to be tracked down by a psychic and a couple military officers who look like they're from Mad TV.

The Prophecy. No, not that one. The other one, made by John Carpenter, about a paper mill whose chemicals unleash some sort of jujubee bear upon the population. Best scene? When, after escaping the bear by swimming across a lake, they sit on the beach and watch the bear from about 50 yards as it slowly closes the distance to 10 feet before they start running again.
posted by klangklangston at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2006


Damn klangklangston, those sound like some solid Saturday afternoon presentations.
posted by dobie at 7:48 PM on January 9, 2006


Johnny Mnemonic was really bad. Keanu Reeves' performance was the best part about it, it was so bad.

Oh yes. Everything about that movie was bloody awful.
posted by clevershark at 7:51 PM on January 9, 2006


My favorite pet bad movie is Luc Besson's Le Grande Bleu. And mostly because its a shitty, mediocre, soulless film that was loved in France, and that says it all.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:08 PM on January 9, 2006


*still waiting for a comment from Hands of Manos*
posted by ooga_booga at 8:36 PM on January 9, 2006


The Prophecy. No, not that one. The other one, made by John Carpenter

Frankenheimer, not Carpenter. It's actually not bad; the action scenes aren't great but the plot is decent and the monster being just a deformed bear makes the movie a lot less dumb than standard b-grade schlock. And it has Robert Foxworth.

My Worst Movie Ever is probably The Mangler 2, which has no connection whatsoever to King's "The Mangler" story or the movie made from it. But it is set at Royal Collegiate College, which is that college that's very, you know, college-ey. Painful, boring dreck.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 PM on January 9, 2006


Mike Nelson, in Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, wrote of Batman & Robin that it was not the worse movie made.

No, it was the worst thing, of any type, ever produced by man.

No one has mentioned it yet, but I figure I should say a word about the attitude of MST fans who distribute episodes, both online and otherwise. You might also consider it a reward if you're still reading the thread at this point.

That is this: they take the old "keep circulating the tapes" message in the credits as permission to trade episodes, but most of them choose to abide by a code of honor (especially the dapcentral guys) concerning them. If it is possible to buy an episode by any means, then they withdraw the episode from trading. Since there's 198 shows in all, and many of them are locked off from sale due to rights issues, they will probably never be lacking for shows to trade. This is probably the best you can do with some classics, like all the Gamera movies or anything else Sandy Frank brought over to the U.S., or the two Godzilla movies they did. One of the performers (who it should be said is no longer employed by Best Brains, Inc.), Kevin Murphy has said that episode trading is okay by him. BBI has been silent on the issue, but they certainly know about the internet trading by now and haven't stamped it out, and the self-imposed restriction on downloading for-sale episodes could be seen as the community' thanks for that.

Note that, unlike other groups who trade movies and such online, the community actually cares about the MST guys' continued success. They don't see BBI as a faceless corporate entity, but as the small (now even smaller since they're now basically a merchandise and licensing company) Eden Prairie outfit they've always been, and Jim Mallon (former voice of Gypsy) still runs the outfit. Having the good will of your fans is an important and wonderful thing guys. If you ever create your own brilliant cult TV show, remember that.
posted by JHarris at 3:10 AM on January 10, 2006


(spoilers) I'm not sure it's in the same league, but I'm surprised no one has yet put in a word for Van Helsing (imdb). You get laughably bad, over-the-top CGI and a script that runs roughshod over several classic horror stories. But what sells it is the ending, where the dead Kate Beckinsale's face--complete with a tear running down it--looks down on Hugh Jackman from the clouds. It's so precious moments I wanted to puke.
posted by wheat at 6:36 AM on January 10, 2006


Van Helsing is also the movie where they Kate Beckinsale look totally and completely yucky. Ya gotta wonder what she did to piss off the costume and makeup departments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:03 AM on January 10, 2006


Well me buckoooooo's it's time for......

'The Dungeons of Harrow'. Even better..... 'The Beast of Yucca Flats'. Enjoy.
posted by doctorschlock at 9:26 AM on January 10, 2006


I recieved two -- count 'em two -- copies of The Beast of Tucca Flats at a Midnight movie, and I already own a copy, so I have been regifting them. I gave one to my girlfriend's parents. They watched it and then snuck it back into my apartment Sunday night.

I once wrote an adult film called Timeless in which I had an adult actress claim she was in a movie called The Beast With Two Backs of Yucca Flats. The actress playing the role got the name wrong, though, and called it The Beast With Two Dicks from Yucca Flats, which is less clever but arguably funnier.

Come to think of it, Timeless may be the worst movie ever made.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2006


Tucca? God damn these claw-like Atro Zombie hands.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2006


I'm pleasantly surprised that no one has brought up Showgirls.
posted by brundlefly at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2006


Until now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 AM on January 10, 2006


i cant get you via email blasdef---
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2006


Right, Frankenheimer. Sorry. It's still atrocious.

Astro Zombie: I've always wondered: How do you get to be a writer for adult films?
posted by klangklangston at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2006


You need to have a friend whose good at hustling up crappy bottom-feeder Hollywood writing jobs but has problems with actually writing complete scripts, who often calls you after the deal has been put in place asking you to help write the script.

There may be other ways. This was mine. The director, Jim Holliday, called me to ask me what name I wanted in the credits. I told him I wanted my real name. "Nobody ever uses their real name," he replied.

I did. Otherwise, who would believe I actually wrote it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2006


Roller Blade.
posted by rodii at 1:54 PM on January 10, 2006


Artifice_Eternity: There were two of those, Fugitive Alien and a "sequel" made out of later episodes of that series, Fugitive Alien II: Star Force.

Why oh why did I return to this thread? Now I've got the forklift song stuck in my head!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:03 PM on January 10, 2006


thanks for all the movie recommendations and links : )
posted by suni at 10:41 PM on January 10, 2006


Has noone mentioned Troll 2?

Wow.

Go see Troll 2. Now. Do it. Buy it.

Troll 2

Troll 2
Troll 2
posted by deafmute at 11:49 PM on January 10, 2006


AMEN, deafmute.

Troll 2 is the stuff of which dreams and joy are made.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:40 AM on January 11, 2006


He TRIIIIIIED to kill me with a forklift..... olé!
posted by JHarris at 5:29 AM on January 11, 2006


From the MST3K info site:

"If, in the next couple of weeks, you step outside and find yourself surrounded by Portland, Oregon, you might want to know that a group called Last Rites Productions is presenting an adaptation of one of our favorite movies, 'Manos' The Hands of Fate. The show is being presented at Theater!Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont St., January 26-28 and Feb 2-4 at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; $8 for students. For more information, go to http://www.lastritesproductions.org/main.html or www.mthof.com."
posted by Otis at 8:20 AM on January 26, 2006


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