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?


  1. I can't speak for others but for me it's the interaction between Torgo and The Master. I just love those two characters, especially when they're on screen together. It's easy to see that they have theatrical experience despite the script they were given to work with. They kind of remind me of Dr. Tongue and Bruno from SCTV. I even love the name 'Torgo'. Much more original than the rumoured 'Igor' that was originally intended as the servant's name.

    Also, the story itself is not bad. In fact, with a little more polish and an experienced director, it could have been legitimately good. Even considering the script's weaknesses, it has a somewhat shocking and controversial ending.

    I also like the iconic look of The Master on screen. That robe with the ominous, giant red hands is just hypnotic and visually compelling. When he extends his arms out to his side and starts reciting his prayers, those are some of the best moments. Not all of the film is muffled dialogue and out-of-focus shots.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot another reason. Diane Mahree is gorgeous.This will be even more apparent when the restored HD version is released.

    I know most people discovered Manos through MST3K and won't watch it any other way. Although I find that episode funny, I'm one of the few that actually prefers to watch it in its original form.

    Manos must be served!

  2. Joe, although your Dad might have bitten off more than he could chew, I do think his script for Manos was not bad and had a lot of potential. I have to admire the fact that he followed through on his bet and was able to make something that is now a cult classic. It's too bad that he is not around to enjoy the film's new-found fame.

  3. I will write stories about your dad and everyone else, Joe. Just quit yelling at me. Sheesh!

  4. Dear Joe,
    UPPER CAPS LOCK???? or just pissed?
    Why don't you start your own blog and tell your own story about your own dad, like Jackey is...or are you just content blasting others?
    You need to stop with all the yelling and threats!
    I really don't understand all your anger.
    Someone needs a nap!
    Have a nice day,

  5. I completely agree with everything MovieViewerMan has stated. And to all that I would add the whole dreamlike quality the movie has. It's just like someone found a way to get inside people's heads and film actual dreams. And like actual dreams, Manos is both fascinating and not completely coherent.

    Another plus factor is the music. I think it's great! Right, not always does it fit with the images, but for me that just adds to the aforementioned oniric feeling. And "Forgetting You" is a beautiful song.

    Also, as I've frequently stated, as far as amateur movies go, and I do know them first hand (heh), Manos is above average. I've seen much more inept, even from people who should know a bit better. At least you can actually understand the dialog in Manos!

    No, I don't think Manos is a "good" movie in the conventional sense. But I don't think it should measured against the conventional standards either. If you want ultra-polished Hollywood filmmaking, then yes, Manos will suck. But if you want ultra-polished Hollywood filmmaking, what the hell are you doing watching Manos to begin with?

    -Matías Nicieza

    1. I like the dream analogy Matias. That is a good way of describing it.

      How could I forget about the music?! "Forgetting You" is indeed a beautiful song. Does anyone know who the singer is?

      I enjoy Torgo's theme also when he is fetching the luggage.

    2. The music! Absolutely. Torgo's Theme!

  6. Outside it's obvious flaws(and there are many)Manos still works as film, having a narrative you follow and appreciate. Having watched both Mst3k and the original, Manos has odd, haunting quality that draws you in and keeps you watching despite the aforementioned flaws. What great characters! Torgo, the Master, Debbie, Michael, Margeret, the wives! As with any film, if you suspend disbelief and are patient with it, this movie pays off (The ending is disturbing in a very conventional horror movie way). As an actor I can appreciate Tom Neyman's, John Reynolds' and Diane Mahree's hard work. And now knowing more of Neyman family's other contributions to the film gives me a greater appreciation on how hard it is to make an independent film. Lastly, I have to give Hal Warren his due in the same way I do with Ed Wood. He worked hard to get his film made and at the end of the day, he got it made. Once Manos casts it's quirky spell upon you I think you'll love it the same way I do.

  7. Love it! Great comments. Everything you all are telling me helps me to understand it better which will help tremendously when I'm out doing public speaking on the subject. Blessings and may Manos be with you.

  8. I forgot to say that my family also had a pet doberman when I was a kid and watching Shanka always reminds me of our dog Sheba. Great pet although she was terrified of thunder.

  9. Sheba and Shanka. They would have made a great pair. Dobermans have a bad rap as they are often very sweet dogs. Poor Shanka was totally dominated by our dauchsund, Ricky.

  10. It works both as a stand alone film and with the MSTK commentary. I'd heard talk of the movie years before seeing a tape of it. Don't think it ever played TV prior to MSTK.