365. “And now, the Manos women’s guild will reenact the Battle of Pearl Harbor.”

The episode:Manos, the Hands of Fate,” ep. 424 (Seemed appropriate for my final post)

The riff: Announced in a hushed British accent by Tom as all of The Master’s brides begin to fight in a big, confused melee.

The explanation: This is a reference to a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They did several of these, revolving around the “Batley Townswomen’s Guild,” which would put on dramatic productions of various historical events, including the Battle of Pearl Harbor. Each “reenactment,” though, would simply consist of all the women running at each other and then rolling around on the ground, fighting.

Novelty factor: Nope, nope, nope. I had no idea of the provenance of this final riff.

Thank you all again for reading this blog. It’s been a fun year of deciphering MST3k riffs. If anyone has any further riffs they wish me to look up, simply post them in the “Suggest-a-Riff” section and I’ll do my best to figure it out.


252. “Give ’em hell, Harry!”

The episode:Hired! pt. 2,” the short in front of “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” ep. 424

The riff: Added by Crow after the middle-aged salesman’s father says “You owe a lot of your success to the way Harry Carpenter worked with you.”

The explanation: Rather than just an affirmation of what’s on screen, it’s a subtle reference to a 1975 play and film called “Give ’em Hell, Harry!” about the life and times of Harry Truman. The phrase supposedly originated from the campaign trail of the 1948 presidential election, when a Truman supporter yelled “Give ’em hell, Harry!” Truman’s reply was reportedly “I don’t give them hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s hell.”

Novelty factor: Never heard of this before in any form. Can’t believe there’s both a play and a film based on the phrase.

13. “It’s the Make-out County Line.”

The episode:Manos: The Hands of Fate,” ep. 424

The riff: Deadpanned by Joel as two sheriffs break up a heavy petting session between two teens parked in a car on the side of the road.

The explanation: This is a word gag and sly reference to the 1974 independent film “Macon County Line,” which was apparently about “a vengeful county sheriff out for blood after his wife is brutally killed by a pair of drifters.” The film was presented as a “true story” despite being completely fabricated. The “Macon County” in the title has nothing to do with the one in Illinois where I happen to live–the story takes place somewhere in the South.

Novelty factor: I recognized the nature of the joke when I heard it because I am familiar with the title of “Macon County Line,” but I’ve never seen the film. I’m impressed at the way they combined the film’s subject matter (a sheriff) with wordplay (“make-out” instead of “Macon”). Just an average example of the silly humor of the MST3k writers.