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.


  1. ...and what a history it is becoming...

  2. You never saw Manos in the 27 years between the premiere and MST3K? The movie must have become something entirely different in your mind, perhaps slicker, to what you eventually saw in '93!

  3. Not slicker, no. Even as a young child, I knew there were many, many things not right about what we were doing. When the VHS copy arrived from the nice guy at HBO, I watched it once and then put it away and only brought it out to watch when friends would insist. I was just so happy to have it in my possession. After a few times of sitting through it with those same friends who would complain all the way through about how bad it was, I would just refer them to the cult movie section at Blockbuster video. The real enjoyment for me comes from talking to and sharing with Manos fans. They are the ones who have helped me appreciate it.

  4. Hey Josh, Was thinking back and realized that while watching Manos for the first time in 27 years, I was most struck by how much it looked like I had expected except for the MST guys, of course. Much later, when I saw it without the riffing, I found details in the film that I had forgotton were there but also remembered a few things we had shot in 1966 that weren't in the final film.

  5. I remember when I first discovered "manos", I went on a tear showing everyone I possibly could the MST episode. After two weeks of this, I knew I had to see the unriffed version, and set about to find it. I believe the word I most often heard was "HUH?", with "HEH" being a close second...
    Once I finally procurred the (wretched) Internet Archive version, I too noticed the little details (only time I didn't actually miss Joel and the Bots!), pixellated and drab as they were. So I kind of know what you mean about noticing things...the damn thing is like some hypno-serum!
    anyway, I've seen the thing (between MST'd and IA edition) something like 350-400-ish times, most often showing it to virginal "potentials brides of manos (and potential aides to torgo, to be gender neutral)". The reactions change (though commonly linked by a universal WTF?), but the story remains the same...
    Like a relatively innocent "Salo", you can't and don't unsee "Manos". It lives with you. It endures.

    Try to say that about any of the Shit coming out of Hollywood these days. Honestly, try...

  6. Good story, I would have loved to seen Tom's reaction to seeing the film on Comedy Central, it must've been surreal for him.