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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection - The Essentials (Manos, the Hands of Fate / Santa Claus Conquers the Martians)

107 customer reviews

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(Aug 31, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Join Joel and his "robot friends" as they're forced to endure two of the worst movies ever made. To maintain their sanity, they hilariously skewer the films' performaces, special effects and dialogue.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu
  • Directors: Joel Hodgson, Harold P. Warren, Nicholas Webster
  • Writers: Joel Hodgson, Harold P. Warren, Glenville Mareth, Paul L. Jacobson
  • Producers: Arnold Leeds
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Rhino Theatrical
  • DVD Release Date: August 31, 2004
  • Run Time: 190 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002M5TOI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection - The Essentials (Manos, the Hands of Fate / Santa Claus Conquers the Martians)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 126 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 15, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an inexpensive, truly essential set from Rhino. I know that "Manos" has been released before, but it is, after all, the number one requested MST of all time, and for good reason.

By now almost everyone knows that "Manos" is one of the worst movies ever made, appropriately by fertilizer salesman (really) Harold P. Warren. (Is he perhaps a distant relative of "Batwoman" director Jerry Warren?) The film is a tale of a family caught in the snare of pure evil, symbolized largely by Torgo, a caretaker with big knees. ("Uh, that's not how you wear your Depends, Torgo.") Everything about this movie is the worst in class; those people who believe that Ed Wood is the worst director of all time have clearly never seen "Manos." As if "Manos" weren't enough, the same episode features an otherworldly short ("Hired, Part Two") featuring a man on a porch in a rocking chair swatting at flies, and demonstrating that it is possible to look demonically possessed with a handkerchief on your head. ("Ah! Flying elves are back!") This is truly a wonderful short. Also on the disc is a reel of outtakes ("poopie") which range from amusing to hilarious. For my money the best of the bunch is the attempted "Torgo's Pizza" sketch. ("Let me just get your complimentary crazy bread." "No!") I would guess that I have seen "Manos" probably thirty-plus times over the years, and it still endures as the pinnacle of MST3K as a concept.

The real treat in the set is "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," an early Comedy Central episode, and one of the greatest of all time. The film stars nobody, but does mark the screen debut of Pia Zadora as Girmar ("Girl Martian," get it?) in what may be her most convincing role to date.
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110 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Echo VINE VOICE on July 14, 2004
Format: DVD
It's about time that there was a release of one of the classic MST3K holiday experiments, just in time for the season. 'Manos' is the definitive example of an MST experiment - goofy, meandering movie with cutting riffs. The 'Poopie' outtake collection is a longer-than-normal selection of bloopers and alternate takes - a must have for any MSTie.
But the real treat of this dual set is "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians". If you're tired of normal holiday fare such as "Home Alone", "A Christmas Story", and "It's a Wonderful Life" place this disk in the player and watch your kids' squeal with delight. "Santa Claus" is a bizarre tale about pathos and depression - among Martians! It seems the only way to cure the holiday blues on Mars is to stage a spectacular kidnapping of the Earthling Santa Claus. Four children (two from Earth and two from Mars) join forces with Dropo, a renegade Martian to rescue Santa, save Christmas on Earth, and bring holiday joy to the Children of Mars. The plot makes sense with the electric performance of a young Miss Pia Zadora. Ok, well maybe not.
Sounds interesting, yes? No? Well, it's a truly awful film, a definite jaw-dropping example of bad cinema. Fortunately, the MST3K treatment is hilarious. Joel and the 'Bots even give us the classic Christmas standard, "A Patrick Swayze Christmas".
I'm chucking my "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" in favor of this twisted classic.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on December 21, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of the reasons that MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was such an entertaining and interesting show was that it illustrated a staggeringly large variety of bad filmmaking. You'd be amazed at how many things it is possible to mess up. There are the obvious things, of course: bad acting; illogical, incomprehensible scripts; cheesy dialog; woeful special effects. The list goes on. But there are many little things that can go sour too: obvious day-for-night shooting, inaudible sound recording, etc. And, yet, with the literally limitless amount of mistakes that can be made, most of the films aired on MST3k fell in to one of two main categories of terrible movies: the films that were so laughably bad they became entertaining in their own right (so bad they're good), and those films that were bad because they were so unbelievably boring, slow and listless (so bad they're painful). This "Essentials" collection features one of each kind, and each is represented by, perhaps, the most outrageous offender of this kind of bad film.

First up is the "so bad it's good" film: SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. At the time I'm writing these words, the Christmas season is well upon us and it becomes childishly simple to name literally dozens of great, classic Christmas movies. They're broadcast continuously on the airwaves starting from the end of Thanksgiving, so it's easy to forget that making your film a story about Christmas is not a guarantee of success. SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS is one of the goofiest movies ever made (and you only have to look at the title to figure out that one). The plot involves a kidnapping attempt on one Mr. Kringle (no, not the annoying dork from the Best Buy ads) by a group of -- you guessed it -- Martians.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David Ballard on October 13, 2004
Format: DVD
Just to let you know, some time ago Rhino polled its fans on which episodes they would most like to see released on DVD. The results of this (and a similar VHS poll) can be found somewhere on

Anyway, Manos was far and away #1 in this poll, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was #2. That's likely why those two episodes were chosen for the set.

Actually, you guys should be VERY thankful...SCCTM just barely beat out Mitchell for the #2 spot, by a scant 6 votes. That, of course, would've resulted in this whole set being stuff that's already been we're pretty lucky that at least something new came out of this.

As for the episodes themselves, what can I say? Both deserve their reputations as classics IMO.
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