Monday, June 22, 2015

50th Anniversary Coming Up

As you probably know by now, I’m writing a “behind the scenes” book with my co-author Laura Mazzuca Toops about Manos: The Hands of Fate and with a little luck and a lot more work, it will be available by the beginning of 2016 which also happens to be the 50th anniversary year since Manos was first thrust upon an unsuspecting world.  Good timing, I’d say.  The Restoration of Manos will be released by Synapse later this year in mid October and I’ve learned that an LP of the Manos soundtrack is in the works as well.  In the ensuing years since January 1993 when MST resurrected Manos from a dusty bin of full of bad public domain movies and aired it on Comedy Central, our beloved little film has inspired a number of creative projects and has steadily gathered new fans.  Those fans share it with others and the awareness of Manos expands.   It has leaked into the main stream on a number of occasions and been included in a couple of television programs. “Elementary” which gave John Reynolds and his character Torgo, more than a cursory nod and also a mention on an episode of “How I met your Mother”.  I love what I think of as the Manos revolution and I love that I am able to be a part of it.  To me, it’s one of the quirkier things one could be known for.  Diane Mahree, who played my mother Margaret in Manos once said she thought it very funny to think that out of her entire life and a very successful modeling career, she should be known best for being in Manos.  Such are the ways of cosmic humor.  Suits me quite well.

The process of writing and researching a book like this has been challenging but includes feelings of success when I find people who I thought were not to be found.  I’ve discovered the fate of many of the other originals and uncovered names of participants who were mysteries until now. 

Hint: I now know who the woman was who dubbed all the women’s voices in Manos, including my voice.  I also know the names of all the musicians who played the soundtrack to the film and the identity of the woman who sang “Forgetting You”. 

I’ve learned more about the film and the people behind it than I imagined would be possible.  My own understanding of what makes it the phenomenon that it is, has grown through hearing different perspectives from a variety of people and I would really enjoy hearing from fans what it is about this film that captures and holds your interest.  Please connect with me here or through my Debbiesmanos facebook page and let me know.  I may include some of your responses in the book.

Recently, I was able to connect with Joel Hodgson, the brains behind MST, to interview him for the book.  He has given Manos some thought and has interesting insight that I can’t wait to share it with you.  Since our first talk, he has generously given me advice on my plans to promote the book while attending events in the next year.  I’m sure we will meet in person at one of them as I plan to travel  to a number of Cons around the country and possibly into Canada.  Finally getting a passport at 55 years old.  About time.  I’ve been getting a list together of the events that may be interested in having me.  So again, I rely on the fans to help me with suggestions and contact the organizers to let them know you would like Debbie from Manos as a guest.  I’ll do my part to make it happen, because if anyone enjoys talking Manos, it's me.  I look forward to seeing you!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Crypticon Seattle 2015

Just returned home from a weekend at  Crypticon Seattle and have to admit that this was my very first Con.  Not only that, but I got to go as a guest.  Wow! What a really great time we had.

It all began when Calvin McCarthy of 7th Street Productions contacted me to ask if I would do a small cameo in his film and I, of course, said yes, as I do.  He then asked to interview me on camera and again, I acquiesced.  He drove to my home in Western Oregon from his in Vancouver Washington. I did my part for his film, we had a nice talk, he left and I forgot about it.  Months later I'm again contacted by Curtis. "Hey, that interview we did a while back?  Well.  I submitted the documentary, 'Manos: A Conversation with Jackey Neyman  to Crypticon and guess what?  We're in the short film festival." He went on to ask if I would like to attend.  Well, yeah, I would like to attend. The second thing I said was "Documentary?  What documentary?"  Long story short, three weeks later, my fabulously supportive boyfriend, John and I arrive in Seattle with me dressed in the Manos t shirt that has my dad, The Master emblazoned across the front, and postcards with a little info about who I am for anyone who showed recognition of the shirt design or said anything about Manos.  I didn't have a table and wasn't listed anywhere as a guest since it was short notice but although I was there for just one event, I had entry to the Con for all three days so I took advantage of the amazing opportunity to meet people and find out how the whole thing works.  It was beyond any expectation I could have had when a little buzz began that the little girl from Manos was wandering around.
 It was even more fun when Rachel Jackson creator of Manos: The Hands of Felt, came to hang out with me and brought The Master puppet with her.  We enjoyed causing a little stir. 
As a result, I am invited back next year as a celebrity guest and I know they want to see Rachel and The Master again too.  I also connected with a couple organizers of other Cons who want to talk about their upcoming events and on top of all that I had a chance to meet some of the wonderfully talented guests. I have special gratitude for the time that Ken Foree (best known for Dawn of the Dead) and Michael Berryman of my personal favorite "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" each gave  to answer questions and to offer advice.  Charming men indeed.

The short film festival was very well attended and had a really interesting line up of films from documentary to animation to gut wrenching horror.  It was an honor to be featured in a chosen film and I want to thank Calvin McCarthy and the rest of the 7th St Production crew, Arianna Kindsfather, Natalie Lucia and Josh Dietrich for inviting me and for being such enthusiastic young film makers.  Great job.

As you might have surmised, I am gearing up for next year and the 50th anniversary of Manos: The Hands of Fate.  2016 will see both Ben Solovey's HD Bluray Restoration of the film and my book "The Untold Story of Manos: The Hands of Fate".  Who knows what other projects could arise by then?  I vote for a ManosCon, but that will have to be up to people much more organized and funded than myself.  If anyone is up to that task, please be sure I get an invite.  In the meantime, check out my new website and thanks for reading.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Return of Debbie

I'm back here posting after nearly one and half years.  It's not that I had nothing left to say, it's that life gets in the way.  My art, family, relationship and all the normal things in everyone's lives.  Turns out, I have lots more to say on the Manos subject.  I had wanted to write a book for years but just didn't know where to start or how to go about doing it.  I put feelers out on Facebook from time to time looking for someone who could help me.  During the process, I met a very talented woman in Chicago.  I'm in Oregon and I love how social media and technology opens previous boundaries of communication, because she is perfect, and more than anyone I was hoping for.  She is an accomplished editor of many years and a published author of four books.  She's also a huge Manos fan and has become a good friend.  Together, we are co-authoring "Little Debbie Reveals All.  The Untold Story Of Manos: The Hands Of Fate", a behind the scenes book of my favorite family film.  Speaking of my own family, of course.   Laura Mazzuca Toops and I began in October and are well on our way to getting the book done.  We have found a fabulous publisher with Bear Manor Media.  My personal goal is to be done with the manuscript by the end of this summer and hope the book can be published by the beginning of 2016.
When we began, I thought it would be just about my memories and my dad's and maybe memories of a couple other folks I already knew.  This thing has grown into so much more.  I have done a tremendous amount of research and have unearthed so many things I had not previously known.  I have discovered other things I thought I knew and was wrong about.  This is truly a labor of love and I can't wait to share it with you.  And, in case you didn't know already.  2016 is also the 50th year anniversary of Manos: The Hands of Fate.   The Hands of Fate have a life of their own and it is the will of Manos this book be done.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I love Manos

My dad and I have a pretty weird relationship.  Honest to God.  I know, I know.  Everyone says their family is weirder than everybody else's and it's true that I've heard some really bizzare family tales but I just need to know that mine is not a regular family type story.  I mean, seriously.  I don't see myself as a drama queen or someone who is insecure enough to inflate things to a degree that the story is unrecognizable to anyone else, so I think I'm fairly on target with my statements.

He feels so fragile in his love.  I know he loves me but there is so much history and pain and separation in it that we don't know how to be.  We just dance along the edges and surfaces.  How is it that a 54 year old woman becomes a child in her heart when she sees her dad?  How is it that our conversation seems so at ease and yet hides such depths of things unsaid.  It's a test.  Don't you see?  For all of us.  The last two times I saw my dad was by chance at Safeway.  Once in produce and once in the meat dept.  We chatted and kept shifting to allow other shopper to work around us.  Today, I saw him a third time as I worked in my home studio on paintings, I looked out and saw him slowly drive by.  I ran out hoping he would go around the block and come back so I could flag him down.  Waiting in the cold without my jacket because I didn't want to miss him.  I saw him on the corner, hesitating, while I went into the road to wave.  That is our relationship.  It's all by chance.  So much love that has no way to be expressed.  No freedom to just spend time together.  I cherish it because it is all I have with my dad.

Manos: The Hands of Fate is our connection now.  It is really the one thing that gives us permission to be together.  Ever.  So when I say I love Manos, believe me, I mean it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Manos Rocks" Part One

Greetings Manos Fans. 
Today, I would like to introduce you to a guest writer, Matias Nicieza.  Matias lives in Spain and has been a Facebook friend for some time and a Manos fan for much longer.  He came up with an idea for me to list the top 15 reasons why "Manos Rocks".  I thought that was a great idea and I posted on The Official Manos: The Hands of Fate Fan Club asking for listing ideas.  In the meantime, he sent me his own list of 13 reasons why Manos Rocks.  It was so good, I thought I would share it, unedited.  He wanted me to let you know that this particular list is devoted only to the film itself and doesn't include the community of wonderful people united by Manos fandom.  That's a whole other list! 
Next post will be the list the fans are working on.  Feel free to chime in.  Why do YOU think Manos Rocks?

  • For an amateur production, it’s actually pretty well made. Believe me, I know my stuff. I’ve watched a good number of amateur movies, and collaborated in quite a few. In that respect, I’d say Manos blows most of them off the water both technically and narratively. It has a well-sustained plot, pretty good continuity (including color and light being consistent from shot to shot –with the exception of the borrowed snake footage, that is- something really unusual in this kind of production) and, contrary to popular opinion, the camerawork is quite good and stays in focus. Just check the restored version. And the sound quality is also pretty good, despite some unfortunate cases of dubbing (hello, Debbie).
  • It’s about a cult. This is, of course, totally subjective, but I’m a sucker for movies about twisted religious cults. Everything from the original The Wicker Man (I refuse to watch the remake, thank you very much) to Beneath the Planet of the Apes. So, I was born to love Manos.
  • The ending. Yes, for a lot of people this is the final nail in the coffin, so your mileage may vary. But for me, the fact that they dared to do something this creepy and downbeat in 1966, with the Studio System and the Hays Code just making its exit, is quite remarkable. If made in Hollywood, the producers would have forced a happy ending on it, thus destroying the achievement.
  • The dreamlike quality of it all. The effect watching Manos produces, is of witnessing a movie made on Mars. Out of this world. It has the feeling of a dream (or should I say nightmare), which makes it captivating despite all its shortcomings, or in fact because of some of them. Dreams don’t have total coherence, and don’t need to.
  • The found footage-like look. MST3K said that every frame of the movie looked like someone’s last known photograph. Which, to me, just adds to the eerieness of it. There’s just something about that look (usually believed to be 8mm) that I find hypnotic. And it makes it work like a neat time capsule.
  • The setting. Particularly the altar/columns area, which is like watching a cross between a Church of Satan ritual and a 1920s silent film extravaganza. Manos does play a lot like a silent, despite having sound and dialog. The stylized acting of Tom Neyman as The Master helps.
  • The music score. It’s a really excellent jazz/easy listening/bossa nova blend. Some parts may seem at odds with the images, but it works for a movie that’s well described by the word “odd”. Even the much-maligned “haunting Torgo theme” was in the style of horror movies of the time. Just check the beginning of Hammer’s The Revenge of Frankenstein, which includes a few notes that seem to be announcing the arrival of our favorite big-kneed henchman. And “Forgetting You” is a terrific love song.
  • The art. Apart from playing the Master, Tom Neyman did provide the art pieces we see through the movie, and the Master’s robe. Which all add to the atmosphere. We can believe this is a real cult, with all that hand symbolism. And the robe is quite a sight. One of my favorite pieces of horror wardrobe, ever.
  • Diane Mahree. It’s not fair to judge her acting since her voice was dubbed, but gosh, did that woman have screen presence. She made the camera fall in love with her. And Torgo, too.
  • The Master. Manos is frequently criticized for its acting. But there are two performances that I genuinely consider to be more than half-decent. Tom Neyman’s is one of them. His previous experience on stage (on more than one kind of stage – more on that later) does show. I don’t know if that was the intention, but his performance does channel both Boris Karloff in The Black Cat and Christopher Lee’s Dracula to me. He had great presence and became an unforgettable villain.
  • Torgo. Who doesn’t love Torgo? Puffy knees aside, he’s a character to pity. He may be part of a demonic cult (probably reluctantly) but all he wants is a little love. Like everyone of us. He may be creepy but he’s also an underdog to root for. And, of course, John Reynolds is that other decent piece of acting I referred to. I do believe that he could have had a career in movies as a reliable character actor. Which makes his sad ending twice as unfortunate. Imagine him working under a professional director with real talent for actors.
  • "Well, whatever it is you're not doing, go don't do it somewhere else." The necking couple scenes are useless and would be better off excised from the movie. Except for the fact that one of them includes this line. Don’t tell me it’s not a great quote.
  • The Master’s speech. “O Manos, thou of primal darkness…” This is my favorite scene in the movie by far, ever since the first time I watched it. It does have all the flavor, mannerisms, and inflections of a real sermon/prayer, of no matter what religion, which is what makes it so effective and one of the creepiest moments of the show. Of course, years later I learned through Jackey two things that make it even more awesome: that Tom Neyman was at one point an ordained minister, which explains why he does the scene so perfectly, and even more amazingly, he did write the whole speech himself, to have something to say during a scene that, in the script, only required him to stand there and display the robe. So, with anyone else than Mr. Neyman in the role, my favorite moment from the movie and one of the main reasons I’m a fan of it would have never existed. At all.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Manos Story: List of Posts

Here's your chance to see the list of all my Manos Blog posts so far with convenient links to each post. 
Thanks so much for reading and I look forward to our Manos journey in 2014!

October 9, 2012          Part 1. The inside story of Manos: The Hands of Fate

October 11,                   Part 2. The inside story of Manos: The Hands of Fate

October 13,                   John Reynolds/Torgo Story 1  

October 16,                   Torgos Death Anniversary

October 18,                   Manos Tidbits of Info

October 23,                   The Masters Wives

October 25,                   The Masters "Hand" in Making Manos

October 31,                   1966 World Premiere of Manos Hands of Fate

November 2, 2012       Hero Massaged to Death in Manos

November 3,                 Hotel Torgo

November 8,                The Master Creator

November 13,               Manos VS Curse of Bigfoot

November 16,              What a Long Strange Trip it's been.  Manos Style

November 23,              Happy Birthday Master

December 4, 2012      Debbie Does Los Angeles

December 12,              The Official World Premiere of Manos

December 13,              The Continuing Story of Hotel Torgo

December 18,              Growing Up Manos

December 26,              Dedicated to Hal

January 7, 2013         Manos Hands of Fate Puppet Theater

January 24,                  Debbies Back in the World

January 31,                  Diane Mahree is With Us. She is With Us Always

February 6,                How Diane Met Hal

February 14,                Howdy Sheriff

February 15,                Great Article in My Local Paper

March 5,                     Manos On Stage in Portland

March 12,                    Manos/ Route 66 TV Show Connection

March 19,                    Diane. The Texas Beauty Queen

March 26,                    Manos Fame Continues

April 9,                       The Masters Other Life

April 19,                      Debbie Does Portland

April 26,                      The Blessings of Manos

April 28,                      How it all Began 

May 17,                      Manos; Hands of felt Kickstarter

June 17,                      Diane Mahree is Very Much Alive

June 21,                      "Recasting Manos" A Graphic Novel

July 13,                       Tom and Jackey Raye Neyman Present Day

August 2,                    Debbie Answers a Few Questions

August 5,                    Debbies Seattle Appearances

September 6,              Debbie Does Seattle

September 13,            Debbie and The Master Watch Manos Together

September 19,            Before Manos

September 26,            When Things Fall Apart

October 3,                  Torgos Burning Hand

October 11,                John Reynolds as Torgo

October 17,                The One and Only Master

October 24,                Manos Podcast Interviews

November 1,              Manos Happenings

November 15,            Happy 47th Anniversary, Manos

November 22,            Happy Birthday, The Master

November 28,            The Hands of Fate Wish You a Great Thanksgiving Day

December 13,             Happy Manos Holidays

December 23,             Another Manos Film



Monday, December 23, 2013

Another Manos Film

There are always rumors and snippets and thoughts on the idea of Manos remakes, sequels and
 prequels.  However, the only serious efforts in film that I know of, are the attempt at a sequel "The Search for Valley Lodge" in 2010 and currently a prequel in the works.  Can't say anything yet about the latter but I will tell a story about the former.

I suppose I could think of the sequel as a May December romance, of sorts.  It started with a self named star, director, writer, producer who said he wanted to make this epic film.  Sound familiar?  Funny thing is, both my dad and I said yes to this one too. 
So anyway, this fellow got us to agree to all sorts of things and without any firm promise in return.  My dad was to do a cameo as the aged Master and I was to star as current day grown up Debbie.  He was quite persuasive at first but in a short time we began to question why we had become involved.   We did some filming in Oregon in May of 2010 and then did some more filming in
 El Paso Texas in December of the same year.  Things went down hill after that with money issues,  disagreements and many of the other perils that relationships have.  It ended completely with a paraphrased dialogue that went something like this...
 Him  "If you don't do as I say, you don't have to be part of this project.  We will just go find another Debbie." 
Me "Good luck with that.  I am Debbie"

I know that sounds a bit prima donna of me but if you knew the whole story, you would ask why I didn't stand up for myself sooner.

Anyhow, a lot of good things did come out of that.  I met and re met some really great people and have the honor of remaining friends with many of them.  Diane Mahree, who played my mother in Manos was one.  We spent a week together in El Paso and became good friends.  I met Bryan Jennings, son of the Sheriff in Manos, William Bryan Jennings.  He and I and his wife Wanda continue to meet up at various Manos events around the country.  I also took the opportunity to open doors for healing fractured relationship within my family.  It's not like my family is hanging out now but I did have a nice visit with my dad, The Master, in the meat department at Safeway yesterday afternoon.  He was marveling that a roast could cost nearly $100.00. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Blessings to you all.