Rifftrax gets rowdy as it massacres the madness of Manos at area theaters

by Mark Burger

Recently, the NCM Fathom Events series of exclusive screening events has offered such diverse entertainments as the National Theatre, the Grateful Dead in concert and The Grateful Dead Movie, The Tempest with Christopher Plummer, a slew of live sporting events, the Metropolitan Opera and even the 50th anniversary special edition of Singin’ in the Rain — and plenty more are scheduled for the coming months.

This Thursday, Fathom Events has joined forces once  more with Rifftrax to present a special, one-night-only screening of the grade- Z 1966 cult shocker Manos: The Hands of Fate. For those familiar with that title, you know that this is no ordinary film. But, then again, this is no ordinary screening — not by a long shot.

Rifftrax is the offspring of “Mystery Science Threatre 3000,” the Emmynominated and Peabody Award-winning comedy series that ran a whopping 11 seasons — first on Comedy Central (now the Comedy Channel) and then on the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) — amassing a fervent worldwide following along the way.

Each week, a cinematic atrocity would be screened on the “Satellite of Love” while those in the audience heckled, jeered and joked. Many times, the “commentary” was far more entertaining than the movie… which, in some cases, wouldn’t have taken much!

“MST3K” is gone, but Rifftrax lives on. Following in the same laugh-filled tradition, Rifftrax features some of the “MST3K” masterminds including Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. They’ll be offering their unique spin on Manos as only they can, broadcasting live during the screening from Nashville, Tenn.

Manos: The Hands of Fate will be screened at 8 p.m. Thursday at both the Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road, Greensboro) and the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave., in the Friendly Center). It’s a once-in-alifetime experience for movie mavens to join in the fun. In addition, audience members will also receive a free selection of digital goodies.

Previous Rifftrax screenings have included House on Haunted Hill, Jack the Giant Killer and Reefer Madness, and now the “Rifftrax Masters” are primed to bring their unique sensibilities to Manos, the low-budget (some would say “no-budget”) feature debut — and swan song — of writer/producer/director/leading man Harold J Warren.

The film follows a family on vacation that takes the obligatory wrong turn into the wrong town in Texas and soon finds itself at the mercy of a murderous pagan cult.

Filled with technical gaffes,  storytelling lapses and some of the stiffest acting this side of the local mortuary, the experience of watching Manos might best be described as “jaw-dropping.”

Celebrated by some as the worst movie ever made — although there’s unlimited competition on that score (and it often seems as if I’ve seen most of ’em!) — the belated embracing of Manos began when it was skewered on a memorable “MST3K” episode in 1993. Alas, poor Warren had passed away some eight years before, and would never know the “lofty” status his one and only film would attain.

“Revisiting Manos again after 19 years will be like running into a dear old friend — a friend who drinks all your beer and hits you up for money,” Nelson said in an official statement. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring this timeless classic to the big screen.”

Then he confided: “Don’t tell anyone but I seriously love this film.” (He’s not alone — just ask any Manos maven… if you can find one.)

Nelson, Murphy and Corbett all honed their skills as writers for “MST3K,” with Nelson taking over as host when series creator Joel Hodgson departed, Murphy playing the red robot Tom Servo, and Corbett providing the voice for Crow T Robot (version 2.0) and playing myriad characters throughout the show.

Tickets for the Brassfield screening are $12.50, $11.50 for senior citizens and students, $10.50 for children. Tickets for the Grande 16 screening are $12.50.

For more information about this screening and upcoming events, you can visit the official Fathom Events website ( and the official Rifftrax website (