Today is the 25th anniversary of the day Mystery Science Theater aired the film, Manos: The Hands of Fate. The low budget independent film was made in the spring of 1966, premiered on November 15th of that same year and then virtually disappeared for twenty-seven years until January 30th 1993 when Joel and the bots riffed it against their better judgement. This was an episode in which they actually apologized to viewers…and they meant it.
The audience loved it in a train wreck sort of way. It was just so bad, they couldn’t look away. Even The Master himself was watching the show that day in stunned silence.
For me? I was thrilled to finally find what I thought of as my family movie, and to verify all my surrounding memories after having given up the search so many years before. I was able to get a VHS copy mailed to me, watched it alone, put it away and thought that was that. I was satisfied. That was not the end though. Now was it?
Since that fateful January day in 1993, a staggering number of Manos related and inspired creative projects have been birthed through theater, music, art, literature and film. There have been amazing collaborations, along with a few battles. Manos has been part of events and friendships. It has traveled to festivals in other countries. It was rated as the MST fans all time favorite at the 2016 Annual Turkey Day Awards and is on Netflix as the first episode of the classic Mystery Science Theater show.
Most important to me in all this, is the time that the resurgence of Manos: The Hands of Fate gave my dad and I to spend together. After years of estrangement, Manos related activities became an acceptable way and we took advantage of those opportunities. The Master, Tom Neyman radiated joy when I would catch him up on the Manos world. He loved hearing about the fans and the projects and our last visit together a couple days before he passed away was focused on Manos when I showed him footage of himself in my new soon to be released film Manos Returns.
I love my role in this Manos world. I love the places it has taken me and the journey that continues.
Thank you, Mystery Science Theater, for dusting off an old relic and bringing it into the light twenty-five years ago.