Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dedicated to Hal

Today, I would like to pay tribute to a man without who’s drive, determination and Texas ingenuity, Manos, The Hands of Fate could not exist.  Harold P. Warren.  Writer, Director, Producer and Star.  Today is the anniversary of his death on December 26th, 1985 and I would like to say a few words to honor him. 
Hal Warren came up with the idea for Manos on a bet with Hollywood screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (who had worked on the show Route 66).  Hal said anybody could make a movie.  Even he could make a movie…and so he did.  He raised about $19,000.00, mostly by selling stock in the film.  At that time, Hal was working as manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Co. in El Paso, Texas and was active in local civic groups and community theater.  Through his connections he was able to secure many of the things and necessary people he needed for little to no money.  The Festival Theater, now known as The El Paso Playhouse was where Hal met my father, Tom Neyman who was a regular actor and director.  That was where he also met John Reynolds/Torgo and William Bryan Jennings/Sheriff.  Hal had a knack for recruiting people with a variety of talents.  Mr. Jennings was an attorney in his day job and had worked for the D.A’s office.  I am only speculating here but I imagine that was the connection to Judge Coldwell who supplied the film locations of the house and the Master and wives resting place.  Besides playing the part of the Sheriff with the classic line, “Whatever it is you’re not doing, go do it somewhere else”, Mr. Jennings is credited with being President of Sun City Films and the lawyer for Manos.  Bob Guidry was a cameraman for a local television news station and Bernie Rosenblum was a local photographer.  I understand that Bob, Hal and Bernie’s six hour Manos editing session happened one evening at that television station using the stations equipment.  My father, Tom Neyman was/is a very talented artist and my mother was a talented seamstress, so my father agreed to not only be The Master, but to clothe him, create his environment and decorate it with artwork.   My dad also supplied the kid, the demon dog and the family car.  Diane Mahree fell into the picture when she responded to a classified ad for an acting job.  Although, at that time, she had no acting experience, she needed a job.  She tells a story of arriving for the audition and then kept there for many hours reading lines.  She was going for a part as a wife and could not understand why he needed her to do so much reading until he finally announced that she was the lead actress.  After Manos, Diane left El Paso and launched a very successful modeling career in New York and Europe.  The wives were students at the Mannequin Manor Modeling School in El Paso.   During filming, Hal was heard to yell at them to stop walking the runway.  The wives costumes originally did not have the red strip of cloth underneath, but the lead wife and the owner of the modeling school were not comfortable with the revealing nature of the dresses and insisted on something more conservative.  So, based on time and budget the piece of red cloth was added.  At the premire, Hal had found a red carpet for his cast and crew to walk upon into the Capri Theater and borrowed spot lights from a car dealer to place in front of the theater scanning the sky to create a Hollywood feel.  He rented a single limo to circle the block picking up cast members and delivering them to the red carpet.  He even added the detail of autograph seekers in the form of young street boys with paper and pencils.  To be sure.  Harold P. Warren was a visionary and it would be great to hear what he thinks now of his baby.  I’m sure he would be thrilled with the Love of Manos that has built up since MST3000 brought it back to life in 1993.  So, thank you Hal for your contribution to this world and I hope you have many blessings in the next.

Blessings to you all in the upcoming New Year of 2013.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your Manos fandom.  “Hands down”  Manos fan are some of the best people I’ve met and I appreciate you all so very much.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Growing Up Manos

An old article was recently brought back to my attention.  I believe this was my first interview about Manos, The Hands of Fate.  It was titled “Growing up, Manos”, published in Mimosa Magazine August 2003 and written by Manos Historian Richard Brandt.   From the time of the initial airing of  MST3000 in 1993 until I discovered that Manos actually had a historian in 2003, the film was, to me, still just something I had done with my family as a kid.  I joked about it to my friends but no one actually wanted to watch it, even after I discovered it in the Cult Movie section at Block Buster Video.  The few friends who insisted I watch it with them never made it more than 20 minutes into the film and the few other’s who borrowed my copies, rarely returned them. You know who you are.  As soon as I got my first home computer and learned about the internet, I began searching for anything Manos.  During one of my forays, I found an article by Richard in the May 1996 Mimosa Magazine titled “The Hand that Time Forgot”. I was intrigued by the idea that other people wanted to talk about Manos too so I contacted him.  Today, I’d like to share the story “Growing up Manos” and update or clarify a couple things in the story.
First of all.  Yes Hal was a fertilizer salesman later on but at the time of  Manos, he was a respected insurance salesman.  I do however, understand how a Texas fertilizer salesman making the worst movie ever does have certain ring to it.  Up dated info on the voices is that Diane did not do the women voices.  Hal Warren, Tom Neyman, William Bryan Jennings and John Reynolds went to Dallas to do the dubbing and a voice actress from Dallas did all the women voices. The only other change I would make is that although it would have been cool to attend, I did not attend Berkeley.  Great story and well written, Richard.  Will you ever write about Manos again?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Extremely limited Manos Posters available. Only here, Only now

In response to the many requests from fans for Manos memorabilia and autographed items, I'll begin posting offers as they become available.  These will include artwork, photos and a few other ideas we're working on.  

To start with, I obtained a few of these new spiffy movie posters from the Rifftrax Live Manos the Hands of Fate show on Aug 16th.  I also talked my dad, The Master into signing them and I will also sign them and personalize them for you. 16 posters in all have been signed and some already distributed. Only 5 of these are now available for sale and this is the only place they will be offered.  So...ready...set...Go.

                                                                 27 X 40 inches
                                                            $95.00 plus shipping
                                                           I will ship international

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The continuing story of Hotel Torgo

I just have to share this awesome video by one of this blogs followers, MovieViewerMan.  Great job.  I'm honored and thank you.  Enjoy and share, share, share

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Official World Premire of Manos

Hello!  Back from Hollywood California.  Crazy, huh?  It doesn't make any more sense to me now than it did last week.  I'm invited to the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in the town that is all about making movies to celebrate a West Texas film commonly referred to as "The Worst Movie ever Made".   And the reason I'm there is because people want me to tell them what it was like to be part of that film.  So...Crazy.  Huh?

On Tuesday, December 5th, the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival screened the official World premire of the restoration of  Manos, The Hands of Fate at the New Bev Cinema in Hollywood California.  My  appreciation goes out to the organizers and the theater for a great venue and gracious hosting.  Thanks also to Ben Solovey whose time and dedication to this restoration was evidenced so clearly on Tuesday night.  The color and sound was much better than the original and allowed us to see this classic film in all its glory.  The moths, the uneven make up, the masters jeans rolled up under his robe.  There's a lot more but you'll just have to discover that for yourselves when it becomes available.

I also enjoyed seeing familiar and friendly faces.  Several Facebook friends came and it was great to meet them face to face in real time.  Bryan Jennings who's father played the Sheriff in the original was in attendance.  He and I spent most of Tuesday watching independent films until the Manos screening and then were invited with Ben for a Q and A afterward.  We had a great time sitting in the back of the theater watching the audience watch Manos.  The audience was fabulous.  It was as though they had done Manos together before.  Choreographed beautifully with laughs, groans and a chorus of "Seriously?".  I'm telling you.  Manos has all the makings to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Just think about it and let me know whether you agree or not.

 Since we were the last film of the evening, we were able to extend our Q and A.  I believe it was around 1:00 am when we were kicked out of the theater (sorry guys) with "You can keep talking, just go outside please.  We have to get up and do this again tomorrow".   Great fun.  Great to go and great to be home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Debbie does Los Angeles

Sorry all.  I've been out of touch for too long.  Te truth is, all the public (and private) harassment from Hal Warren's son has me frustrated and I'm trying to take a higher road by holding my tongue so that's all I'll say on that...for now.  On a more positive note.  I'm currently sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room preparing to go to the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival this afternoon at the New Bev Cinema in Hollywood.  The organizers of the event invited me as a special guest to the screening of Ben Solovey's completed restoration of Manos The Hands of Fate.  Ben's done a remarkable job and I can't wait for people to see it looking even better than it did in 1966 at the original premire.  Not sure what the plan is tonight for me but I'll be there at the 9:30 screening.  Hoping for the opportunity to do a Q and A.  Another thing I just learned is that the New Bev Theater is owned by Quentin Tarantino.  One Manos story states that he is a big Manos fan.  Oh. how I would love the chance to ask him about that.  Keeping this short today and will report back tomorrow about the event.  If you are in the LA area and can make it tonight be sure to say hi. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Master

Happy Birthday Master
November 23 1935.  Thomas Ivy Neyman was a premie, prematurely born and in those days, believe me, things didn’t work out as well as often as they do today.  No incubators.  You were snuggled up to mom and if you made it…well, you went home to start your new life.  Little Tommy didn’t remember his dad because Thomas Neyman Sr. died in a plane crash when Tommy was only 18 months old.  Thomas Sr. was an airline pilot for Pan Am and one of the first international airline pilots ever.  His plane crashed into a mountain in Mexico in 1937.  His mother never remarried.  She was an independent woman, especially in those days.  She was one of the first airline stewardesses for Pan Am and went on to a number of jobs including becoming the first female crane operator on the docks at Galveston, Texas.  Thomas Ivy Neyman grew up as an only child but often lived with cousins and his grandparents in Florida, Oklahoma and Brownsville, Texas

He grew up, went to TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.  Met and married my mother and they had me.  We moved to El Paso in 1963 where my dad became Executive Director of the South El Paso Boy’s Club working with the youth on the El Paso side of the Rio Grande river separating the US from Mexico.  My mother became a school teacher and we lived in a 100 year old adobe house.   Tom then became involved with the Festival Theater where he performed in and did set design for many quality plays.  That’s where he met Hal Warren, Producer and Director of Manos and John Reynolds, the legendary Torgo.  Little could any of them have imagined what their 1966 future would hold.  

So, Happy Birthday dad and hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. 
More Manos revelations coming next week.  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2012

What a long, strange trip it's been. Manos style.

Yesterday on November 15th 2012, Manos the Hands of Fate turned 46 years old.  The World Premire of Manos played in El Paso Texas at the Capri Theater on the evening of November 15th, 1966.  So, I'm thinking.  If Manos is 46...well, that makes me than that.  How did that happen?  and more importantly, how did this obscure little low budget film become the darling of so many?  As a Texan, if we were to refer to this film as  we would of the slightly odd Walmart greeter, or your kids schoolmate who always wears his shoes on the wrong feet, we would say, "Bless his little heart".
Seriously.  How did this happen?  I understand the part where a television program is built around the riffing of really bad movies.  I understand the part where Manos is then described as one of the worst of the worst.  So bad, in fact, it earns the title as "Worst Movie ever Made".  OK.  So someone gets that title and although there are many horrible films, Manos got the prize. What my dad, The Master, and I are having trouble coming to grips with, is why do people love it so much?  We are certainly not complaining.  Just wishing to understand.  We literally look at one another with mouths open and a slightly puzzled expression when we see how much energy is building around it.  The other thing that we find incredible is that you fans are not the "voices in your head", underground, creepy alley dwellers.  You all are really engaging, intelligent, interesting and a lot of fun.  I am enjoying this adventure so much and now that he's gotten past his disbelief, so is my dad.  I appreciate all the comments and connections and look forward to much more.  So here's my question to you.  What do you love about Manos?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Manos V/S The Curse of Bigfoot

Ha. Got you to look. There is no V/S. They are both horrible to watch and actually "The Curse of Bigfoot" is probably worse than Manos. Something they have in common beside making you want to gouge out your own eyes, is...Me. I find it odd that my film career consists of films such as these. I pray it's not an on going trend and that the films I'm currently involved in fare better. "The Curse of Bigfoot" was so strange in that it was originally filmed in 1958 and then shelved before completion. Then it was picked up in 1976 and other scenes were filmed. Then they called it good and released it.  Our little group of volunteers (yes, it's true.  I didn't get paid for that film either) showed up on a Sat. morning and spent most of that day just milling around while the director figured out what he wanted to do.  Pretty boring all in all but there is one little trivia you may be interested in.  The frizzy haired kid sitting to my right was one of the actors in the original "Bad News Bears".  He was a nice enough guy although a bit self important because of his self proclaimed celebrity status.  That same year, I became the youngest student director to direct a student play and he was one of my actors.  Edward Albee's "Zoo Story".  Only two characters in the whole play and attempting to direct him was like herding cats.

 In 1976 I was a High School Junior in Southern Ca. at Montclair High School. Our Drama teacher Mr. Tim Tackett was my favorite teacher. He had trained in martial arts with Bruce Lee and taught us meditation as a way to prepare for the stage. Somehow, through a friend of his, our drama class was asked to be extras for a classroom scene in "The Curse of Bigfoot". I recently discovered a photo of that scene in a contest "Which one is the little girl from Manos"  I already answered that question on the contest but if you don't read my comment there, you can make your own guess.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The "Master" creator

My dad, Tom Neyman, who played the part of The Master in "Manos the Hands of Fate" is an artist of many mediums. In El Paso, we lived in an adobe house with walls over one foot thick that was built in 1887. We know that for sure because when my parents bought the house they were told that the builders had placed a silver dollar somewhere in the walls or floor that had the year the house was constructed. During one of our endless remodeling projects, that coin was found in a wall in a closet. The house was at the top of a hill, tucked up tight at the base of Mount Franklin and just below Scenic drive where the hapless Micheal, Maggie, Debbie family begins their journey to Valley Lodge. It was just three miles from Juarez Mexico and we could see the Rio Grande river from our front porch. The family that lived in the house in the early days were able to watch and hear the battle across the border in March 1911 where the decisive victory of the Mexican Revolution with the capture of Ciudad Juarez occured.

In our back yard was the only big tree in our neighborhood, a patio arbor and a small rock house where my dad had his art studio. When he was home he was either making changes to the house or working in the studio. I loved hanging out, poking around his supplies or simply sitting on a stool watching while being bathed in music like the theme song to Zorba The Greek. He painted, sculpted, welded and carved. We would sometimes drive out into the desert searching for things he could include in his work or in the house projects. Weathered wood from a dilapitated shack, railroad ties and nails, or anything that might catch his eye. We used an old electricians truck, named Tobbacca Roada from the 40's for our scavanging adventures. Eventually, in a burst of creativity, Tobbacca Roada succumbed to the welders torch to be incorporated into art.
One time, my mom and I came home from shopping and she went to hang the laundry on the line only to discover my dad had cut down the poles holding the line because he needed more metal for a piece ASAP.

My dad was my idol and I observed him closely. My current creative life certainly underscores that. I am much like him in that regard and you can see just a fraction of what I do on my website I remember him making the hand sculptures in Manos. I watched while he painted The Master's painting and I recall him figuring out and building Torgo's leg braces. I remember the sketches he did for the Masters robe and the laying out and cutting of the fabric. My mother was a very gifted seamstress and gladly worked with him to design and construct the robe. Those were happy times in my childhood and I think I remember them so well and so fondly because life changed so drastically just a few years later. The one constant in life is change, and I for one prefer to focus on the good experiences. I am so blessed that some of the best ones of my youth are immortalized in the famously bad Manos, The Hands of Fate. As I often say, "If you can't be the best, make the most of being part of the worst". Thank you all for making that happen. I appreciate you all so very much.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hotel Torgo

To begin with, this is not an endorsement of Hotel Torgo, the Manos documentary. It must be mentioned however in any examination of Manos The Hands of Fate because as far as documentaries go, it's not all that much better than the film it's documenting. Which of course, makes it perfect for Manos.

I got a call from Richard Brandt, the Manos historian at the time. He let me know that he had interviewed for a documentary in the making and thought I should contact the film makers and offer info. I called the guys and had a quite brief discussion that went something like this, "Hello, my name is Jackey. I played Debbie in Manos, my dad was The Master". I understand you're making a film about Manos and thought I could help you out." The response. "Wow, that's great. OK, um, yeah. Well, we'll get back to you." I heard nothing back and later saw "Hotel Torgo" had been released. I didn't get around to watching until a few years later when someone asked if I had seen it and what did I think of the opening credits that say something to the effect "All cast and crew have either died or mysteriously disappeared" I imagine I never received a call back because my dad and I turned up inconveniently alive and it didn't fit with decisions they had already made. The only cast or crew they had found to interview, Bernie Rosenblum, still lived in El Paso and had his name painted on the street door of his photography business. The film makers did, however, locate the property where Manos was filmed and sadly, the place had been vandalized repeatedly over time with little recognizable other than the columns and block of stone where Torgo was massaged almost to death.

I've thoroughly enjoyed seeking out Manos mythology to reveal the truth. Some of the stories are facinating, but I believe the actual events are just as interesting.

Here's a new one I heard just the other day when I met a young man whose buddy is a fan. He texted his friend to let him know he was talking to me and got this text back. "No way. I heard she had Downs Syndrome or something."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hero Massaged to Death in Manos

Was reminded of this article just recently and decided to look it up. One of the funniest film reviews I've read. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1966 World Premire of Manos, The Hands of Fate

Yesterday was  my personal schedule for getting a new post written for all you wonderful Manos Fans and supporters, however, I had a day of preoccupation.  My sweet old doggie, Willis had a stroke Monday night and I had to bury him yesterday.  Oct 30th also happened to be the 2nd anniversary of my mother's death.
I thought I would dedicate today's post to them both and to honor my mother by telling a story that she was physically part of.  The 1966 world premire of Manos, The Hands of Fate.

The premire showed on November 15th 1966 to a full house in the historic Capri Theater in downtown El Paso, Texas, a mere month after the tragic suicide of John Reynolds aka Torgo.  Hal Warren has certainly done his work to prepare for this special evening.  All the El Paso dignitaries and movers and shakers were in attendance.  Spotlights scanned the skies in front of the theater, cast and crew walked the red carpet past a smiling crowd into the theater after stepping from a black limo.  "Fans" pushed forward wanting autographs. It was all a beautiful illusion until the lights went down and the film began.

I have many memories of that day and evening as the preparation and celebration were one of the most significant events to date in my short life.  Hal had worked hard to promote Manos and to ensure he had support from anyone who was anyone in El Paso.  All were convinced that this film would be the catalyst to bringing film making to West Texas.  The spotlights, Hal had borrowed from a local car dealership and he only could afford one limo so the cast and crew were instructed to arrive a block over and wait in the lobby of a close by hotel.  The limo would pick up a few and deposit them in front of the theater, drive around the block and pick up a few more.  Even as a 7 year old (I was 6 during the filming but turned 7 in July), I thought "Doesn't anyone besides me notice that this is the same car and driver?".  When my mom, dad and I arrived and exited the limo, flashbulbs went off, people came forward to congratulate my dad and several young boys approached waving paper and pencils for autographs.  Turns out, Hal had hired several of the street kids to act as fans.  Considering it was 1966 and we were less than 2 miles from the border of Mexico, it's most certain these kids had no idea who we were and that they didn't speak much English.

My mother and I had spent what seemed to me at the time, the entire day in the beauty parlor getting our hair done and my mother had made both of our beautiful dresses.  I was generally a tom boy so felt like a princess that night with perfect hair and a dress covered in lace.  It was truly wonderous and spectacular to one so young.  I acted the part of a perfect little lady as we made our way inside and found our seats.  The lights dimmed, the music and driving scene began and our collective little world began to crumble.  With in a few minutes, we could here people mumbling, then laughing, then out right rude comments started flying around.  I mostly recall sitting with rapt attention waiting to see myself on the big screen.  Up to that point we  had gone to Hals house to see bits and pieces on his home projector, but I was generally more interested in playing with Pepe the poodle and checking out the new baby nursery which was set up and awaiting the arrival of soon to be born, Joe Warren.  Suddenly, there I was on the screen and the next thing I remember is bursting into tears when I heard the voice that came from my mouth.  No one had bothered to tell a little kid the voices had been dubbed.  I was humiliated and devastated and unaware of the extreme discomfort the rest of my family was experiencing, and for a variety of other reasons, as all you Manos fans are familiar with.  I don't remember the rest of the night except for walking to our car a couple blocks away.  I am told that some of the cast and crew slunk out and went to a bar but we were stuck and my dad made the stratigic decision to just sit it out rather than draw any more attention to us than necessary.  So that's it.  The fateful night of the world premire of Manos.  Hope you enjoy these stories and thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Master's "hand" in making Manos

Tom Neyman, the actor who played the part of the Master, in Manos The Hands of Fate, had a hand in more than one aspect of the film.  Tom, Hal Warren, the writer/director/producer and John Reynolds, Torgo knew each other from their involvement in The Festival Theater, a community theater in El Paso now known as The El Paso Playhouse.
Tom acted in, directed and often designed and built sets for the Festival Theater productions.  He was also a professional artist.

I certainly couldn't say for sure, but I would imagine that Hal had my dad in mind when he began thinking how he would get his movie made.  As it turned out, Tom supplied the sets, the artwork, the costumes, the doomed family's convertible,  the Master's dog, and even the child.  That was me, of course.  I got the part simply enough.  He came home one day, got on my level, looked me in the eye, and said, "Honey, I'm going to do a movie and they need a little girl.  Would you like to be the little girl?"   Well, up to that point in my short life, acting had never entered my mind and I was a pretty shy kid to begin with, so I quite naturally replied, "I don't know."  He said "That's OK, Honey, if you don't want to.  We can get another little girl."  I recall clearly, my little kid mind thinking the 6 year old equivalent of "Hell no!  No other little girl's gonna spend the summer with MY daddy."

The Masters dog was our family dog, Shanka.  He was a very sweet gentle doberman.  I love watching him now in Manos.  I remember him as "not so smart", "not so trained", and somewhat insecure.  Perfect for a demon dog and he did have the look.  Pepe the poodle was the Warren's dog.

 The dress I wore came from my closet and it was one my mom had made for me.  My mom was a really good seamstress and made most of my clothes when I was young and then my sister's clothes.  I learned how to sew in self defense when I was 12 so I could make something a bit more fashionable than matching mother/daughter outfits.  The clothes that John Reynolds wore as Torgo came from my dad's closet.  The overalls were big enough to compensate for the Torgo leg braces because my dad is 6'2" and John was around 5'7".  Both my parents worked together to design and make the Master's robe and wives dresses, but more on that next time.

When I saw the Manos The Hands of Fate restoration in August, I was struck by how clear everything is and how many new memories surfaced from seeing it that way.  I noticed things from our home that we brought for the set.  The bed spread in the bedroom.  A side table, etc.  Bizarre, seeing all these things that are long gone but were a part of my life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Master's Wives

Whatever happened to the Master's wives?  They seemed to disappear in a wisp of smoke.  Well, not exactly but there they were, in the movie, at the world premire, and then, poof.  Gone.  Never heard from again.  I just think it a bit odd that at this point not one of them has made themselves known.  I would hope that it's not embarrassment that keeps them away.  I consider them to be as innocent as I was.  After all.  They were just young aspiring models looking for a gig. How could they know what they had gotten themselves into until too late?

The women who played the Master's wives in Manos; The Hands of Fate were "hired" from a local El Paso modeling and finishing school.  Mannaquin Manor.  By some twist of ironic fate, my stepfather enrolled me there as a 13th birthday gift.  He thought finishing school would teach my little hippie ass how to be a lady.  I was horrified.
Anyhow, I digress.  The owner of the school was a very proper and matronly type women who was quite protective of "her girls".  I don't think she had any idea of what she was getting her girls into when she agreed to send them out to the shoot.  They were modeling students and had apparently been perfecting the runway walk when called up for the Manos assignment.  I recall Hal directing the scene where the women attack Torgo on the Masters slab of stone bed.  They were almost afraid to touch him and they were most certainly not willing to really hit him, therefore it appears he is receiving a facial massage.  Actually, I'm sure facial massage was one of the finishing school skills they had already obtained, and therefore, was familiar.

The wives dresses initially were designed without the red stripe underneath that somewhat obscures the granny panties.  That piece of cloth was hastily added after the models and their matron complained the costumes were too revealing.  I've read much speculation as to the symbolism of that red stripe.  Although there may be a deeper meaning, the decision to add it was really a case of modesty.

All in all, they were very sweet ladies and if anyone out there knows any of them, I would love to say hi and hear some stories.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Manos Tidbits of Info

Funny little tidbits about the making of Manos…

The cast and crew brown bagged it and brought their own lunches (and dinners)to the set during filming of Manos, The Hands of Fate.  There was no money in the budget for food.

The movie was filmed in about 8 days.

All the voices were dubbed in a sound studio in Dallas, Tx..  Most of the men dubbed their own voices but all the women’s voices (including little Debbie’s) were one woman.

The credits were intended to be at the beginning of the film but were left out in the editing and then tacked on at the end.  Helps explain the long, agricultural driving tour as the opening.

The drinking, kissing teens in car scenes were primarily invented because the actress in the car broke her leg shortly before filming began.  She was slated to be one of the wives. The horny teenager parts were created to keep her working and also to give Bernie Rosenblum, her partner, a bit more to do.  He was the stuntman.  He doubled Hal/Mike tumbling down the hill.

The Sheriff, William Jennings, of the famous line, “Whatever it is you’re not doing, go don’t do it somewhere else”, was also Co-Producer and attorney for Manos.

The credits are inflated to seem as if more people are involved.  My dad is listed both as Tom Neyman and as Thomas Ivy.  I believe my mom is listed as Jaqueline Reace but her name was just Jackey, like mine.

The Master’s dog, the Doberman was our family dog.  His name was Shanka and he was very sweet and gentle.  When I watch Manos, I remember him as eager to please and somewhat confused.

People ask me how I can remember so much about the making of Manos, The Hands of Fate when I was so young and it was so long ago.  I recall bits and pieces of my childhood the way most people do.  Memories and huge gaps.  When you have a significant event that then becomes part of your family story, then it is preserved.  Manos was a significant event.  I adored my dad and I loved the Broadway music that thundered throughout our home.  I loved to watch him create his art in the studio and run his lines for a play.  Then he asked if I wanted to be the little girl in a movie, he was doing.  I was thrilled.  A summer to remember.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Torgo's Death Anniversary

As many of you know by now, I played Debbie the little girl in Manos The Hands of Fate and my dad played the Master.  Today's story will continue with John Reynolds aka Torgo.

Today is the anniversary of John Reynolds death.  He committed suicide on October 16, 1966.  He was only 25 years old.

I still remember the day my mother and I heard the news.  We were on our way to school.  She was a teacher on Ben Milam Elementary School on Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and although my family wasn't military, I was a second grader at the same school.  It was Monday morning, October 17th.   Mom was driving while listening to the news on the car radio and I was daydreaming out the window when I heard my mother gasp and then burst into tears.  She instantly pulled over to the curb, and while still crying, said, "John's dead".  I knew who she meant.    She took some time to compose herself as I just sat in the passenger seat waiting for things to be normal again.  Later, I would get the details from overhearing the adults talking about it. That's when I learned he had put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.   Although he was not military, he was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetary.

He died almost exactly one month before the world premire of Manos, The Hands of Fate which was at the Capri Theater in El Paso, Texas on November 15th 1966.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

John Reynolds/Torgo Story I

I remember John Reynolds as a very shy, sweet and gentle man.  My dad, Tom Neyman, and I were on the set location for most of the filming of  "Manos, The Hands of Fate" including the times when one or the other weren't  needed for the day.  That was because I wanted to be there any time  Tom was, and he needed to be there any time I was and since we were never in the same scene, we were both there most of the time.  I think John was happy to have me around during his down times because of his shyness and lack of social comfort.  I was a young child, easily entertained and therefore a very appreciative and safe audience.  I would sit outside the house on a low rock wall while he performed silly skits and pratfalls for me and  I would belly laugh at his antics.  I didn't realize at the time that some of that may have been influenced by his use of recreational drugs.  It was the 60's and other than pot, acid was a popular past time for many people.   I have read Manos mythology that says he became addicted to pain killers due to the agony of wearing the leg braces  incorrectly.  Not true.  For one thing,  he was wearing them the way they were intended and they were quite padded.  Although not all that comfortable, they were not particularly wear. Another myth is that he made the braces himself.  Tom made the leg braces along with designing the sets and costumes, making the costumes and providing all the artwork.
     John and Tom were good friends and had worked together in the El Paso community theater that is now known as the El Paso Playhouse.  Back then it was the Festival Theater.  This is also where Hal met them both.  John and Tom were both method actors, that is to say they required history and background for their characters and often maintained the character even while off camera.  John often disappeared when not needed and no one seemed to know where he went.  We believe it was both due to his social awkwardness and also so he could more easily hold on to his Torgo character.  Method acting in that situation must have been extremely difficult.   Hal, without the experience of script writing, directing or any part of movie production left the actors to their own devices in figuring out how to play the part.  Tom had enough experiencing directing theater to know not to direct the director.  Therefore during much of the film, Hal is waiting for someone to do something and everyone else is waiting for Hal to tell them what he wanted them to do.

Stay tuned.  Next blog will continue with more about John Reynolds.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Part II The inside story of Manos, The Hands of Fate:

Here’s the story of how we re-discovered Manos more that a quarter century from it’s original release...

     As friends of my youth will attest to, I had talked about a film I had done with my dad when I was small and wanted very much to see it again.  It was a point of nostalgia for me considering how involved my whole family, including our dog, was in the making of Manos.  You must remember.   These were the days before personal computers and before the internet. 

     I called around, asking and searching for years.  Libraries, university film departments,  film archives, any place I could think who might be able to give me a lead.  I had pretty much given up when my phone rang 1993.  My dad was calling and said, “You’ll never believe what I just saw.  I was dozing off while watching the Comedy Central channel and heard some strange but familiar music.  When I opened my eyes, there I was on the television.  They just showed Manos, The Hands of Fate!”. He had been so shocked that he didn’t call me until it was over.  I immediately turned on Comedy Central and saw they had an 800 number on the screen to call for information.  So I called the number.  I had reached the HBO offices in Manhattan and a young man named Mathew.  I told him I had an unusual request.  “My dad just saw an episode of Mystery Science Theater featuring the film, Manos, The Hands of Fate.  I’ve been looking for that film for years.  My dad and I were in it and if at all possible I would do just about anything for a copy.”  Next came a looong pause and then “Oh My God!  Are you Debbie?”  I was simply stunned as I pulled the phone from my ear to look at it while my mouth hung open.   He then said “That is our favorite bad movie here in the office.  I just had a copy on my desk the other day.  I would love to send it to you and am so happy to talk with you”.
     And now, as we all know…the rest is history.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Part I The inside story of Manos, The Hands of Fate.

Hello all,
If you know Manos, The Hands of Fate, you know me.  I was Debbie, the little girl who became a wife of The Master in the end.  For any of you that I just gave the ending away to...Sorry, but really, it's not that great a film to begin with.  As fans know, it's the total experience of sitting through it that counts.  Certainly not the plot.
     Manos was truly a family film.  For me personally...not the poor hapless audience.  My father Tom Neyman played the role of The Master (He still quite hale and hearty, by the way).  The Master's demon dog was played by our family dog, Shanka.  My mom made the costumes for the Master and the wives.  She also made the dress I was wearing but that came from my own closet.  My mom made all my clothes back then.  The convertible car that carried the Micheal, Maggie, Debbie family was the Neyman family car.  Torgo's coverall, jacket and hat all came from my father's closet.   That's just a piece of our involvement.  My dad, Tom is an amazingly talented artist and had been in his "hand" phase for several years when Hal Warren asked him to help make the film.  Initially, the film was to be titled, "Finger's of Fate" but in a production meeting, my dad suggested the new title of "Manos, The Hands of Fate"  He reasoned that since he had been asked to not only star in the film but to provided sets, costumes, and artwork (all on a promise of future payment), that he could better put his time to work if he could use some of the art he already had.  Hands, lot's of them.  I haven't actually counted the pieces in the film but all the art, the sculptures and the Master's painting were created by his hand.  Sadly, some of those item's were never returned to my dad.  But hey, I got paid something.  I received a shiny red bicycle with training wheels and my dog, Shanka got a 50 lb. bag of dog food.
     That's it for now.  Thanks for reading and come back soon.  I've got lots to say about Manos, The Hands of Fate