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."


  1. I'll be damned. I never knew the fact that the documentary makers knew about you during the filming. Shame on them.

    You are correct, Jackey, when you say that Hotel Torgo is not all that much better than the film it's documenting. However, it is the reason that I found out about Manos in the first place and is still entertaining. It's what led me to further explore the mythos of Manos. It wasn't until much later that I found out that it wasn't entirely truthful.

    Later on, I found out that Elvira would be showing Manos on Movie Macabre (I never saw the MST3K episode) so I watched it for the first time with no funny riffing except what Elvira would say before and after commercial breaks. That was my initiation to The Master and Torgo. I've seen it about six or seven times since then.

    So even though Hotel Torgo was misleading, I do owe it to them for introducing me to the cult of Manos.

    I look forward to more of your stories.

  2. I will give the Hotel Torgo guys plenty of credit for bringing more people into the Manos fold and to be fair, I may have contacted them after they had figured how it was going to go but I always thought they didn't try to hard to locate anyone in the first place,especially since they had Richard Brandt in the film and he knew where I was (and I would know where my dad was, right?...)

    1. I agree. Those darn Canadian filmmakers! (he said with a Canadian accent ;) They didn't search no further than those cops did in Manos.

      I did find it suspicious that Richard Brandt was in it yet the filmmakers were still unaware of your whereabouts. Did Richard know they were going to add the text at the beginning that claims all others connected to the film had "mysteriously disappeared"?

      I'm thinking the filmmakers were more concerned with creating a sense of mystery, making it appear that the cast and crew were cursed. I would have preferred that they had interviewed you and your dad in addition to Bernie.

      As I said, shame on them.

    2. Wow. You hit it right on the head in my opinion. When Richard Brandt told me about them, he had already interviewed for Hotel Torgo but didn't know they were planning that particular opening. I'm sure he told them about me because he then called me with contact info. When I finally watched Hotel Torgo, I realized that my dad and I would screw up the plan because we were alive. What I'm learning from all this is that any news about Manos is good news for me. It just makes people more interested in what really happened in the making of Manos and in what happened with the people involved.

    3. I was inspired by this post and decided to make a short fan film. It takes a humourous look at the inaccuracy of Hotel Torgo. I like to describe it as a documentary-comedy or a docucom if you prefer, about another documentary.

      It's called "Manhunt: The Search for Castmates". It's only 12 min. long and not meant to be taken seriously so if you want to check it out, you can watch it here:

    4. That's great. I love it! I'm sharing it right now!

  3. I have to admit, their ploy worked as I wanted to find out how the cast members "disappeared".

    Luckily though, there are blogs like yours where we can now get the real story so thanks for taking the time with your posts and replies.

  4. I saw "Hotel Torgo" a few months ago, and have indeed wondered about these "disappearances". Just like MovieViewerMan it kind of led me to see what was going on, and I'm glad I did!

    Interesting story, as usual!

  5. Do the makers of Hotel Torgo realize that they've made fools out of themselves now? You're alive. Your dad is alive. Diane Mahree is alive.

    A weird thing is, they credit you in the beginning as "Jackie Jones". Apart from not being able to get the spelling of your name right, not too surprising coming from them, how can they pretend they didn't know you were alive and well if they used your married name?

    Still, they deserve a little respect. They made the first Manos documentary, in an era in which few people believed Manos was worth a documentary.

    -Matías Nicieza

  6. Great observation. I did notice they spelled my first name wrong in the credits but it didn't occur to me that my married name was used. You're right. They had to have known I was alive. I agree that making a documentary about Manos at that time was rather forward thinking and Hotel Torgo has certainly done it's part as another element in the growing interest of our beloved Manos. Would love to chat with those guys to understand what they were thinking. Maybe they would like to do a follow up some time.

  7. Dear Joe,
    As far as 'your own stories to tell'...
    I own a copy of 'BLOGGING FOR DUMMIES'...
    I would be more than willing to send you the book, free of charge, if it would stop you from these angry, hateful and threatening posts.
    If you want 'your story' told, then for the love of God, tell it, and stop harassing everyone!