New program revives classic B-movie horror

With the advent of new technology in the projection booth, patrons can now be connected with some of their favorite cult movies like never before.

By use of satellite, moviegoers can now view more live content. One result of this advance is the re-discovery of “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” a 1960s horror film written and directed by amateur filmmaker Harold Warren and streamed from Nashville to theaters across the country Thursday.

Warren was a fertilizer salesman by day who made the film as the result of a bet with Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant that he could produce an entire movie by himself. The errors in editing and acting have helped the film reach a cult status.

Recently, the writers behind “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” a cult television show in which one man and several robots watch classic sci-fi movies and make snide remarks about the production, started a series called Rifftrax. Through the program, live feeds of the show’s writers making snide remarks about a movie are broadcast to theaters during a presentation of said movie, which gives audience members a chance to sit in on the “Theater 3000” experience.

“Manos” was a target of ridicule on the “Theater 3000”’ original television run. During a live event at the AMC Showplace Carbondale 8, “Manos” was once again in “Theater 3000”’s crosshairs.

And several patrons, including patron Dan Brown, were very thankful for that.

“I’ve seen ‘Manos’ several times on the ‘Mystery Science Theater show,’ Brown said. “And I was digging some of the old jokes, but it was nice watching it again with some new material.”

“I think the different take (was my favorite part),” said audience member Chris Settles. “I’ve seen the old MST version. Seeing it updated with references — some of the “Twilight” stuff was funny.”

The writers focused some of their jokes on current pop culture trends, including the teenage franchise.

The riffing featured shots at some of the film’s well-known parts; one lampooned sequence involved a man and woman making out in a car. The same sequence appears several times throughout the course of the movie, without an explanation of its importance to the plot.

Slides ran on the screen that ran jabs such as “Next summer, a ‘LOST’ movie will answer all of the show’s unanswered questions. It will be 38 hours long,” and “The ‘Spider-Man’ franchise has been rebooted six times since you sat down in this theater.”

After the show, patrons gave advice to people who might be interested in joining the “cult” of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

“Manos” could cause issues for uninitiated people.

“I’ve got friends into it and I never started with ‘Manos.’ It’s something you build up to.” Brown said.

Settles also mentioned another launch point: the original “Mystery Science Theater 3000” movie.

“The movie’s a good start, a good jumping off point because it goes back and explains the origins of everything,” Settles said. “That, or start with some of the earlier episodes when it’s still kind of campy.”

Rifftrax will return later in October with a commentary of the 2008 film “Birdemic: Shock and Terror.”  Keep an eye on
Rifftrax.com to see when the next event will arrive in our local movie theaters.

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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