Manos is Permanent!...or so it seems. Fifty years now since the year Manos was first created and then fizzled out in a grand spectacle of humiliation. Most everyone who had anything to do with it preferred to go on with little to no mention of it at all. Many of them successfully completed their time on this earth doing just that. Most everyone except for one observant kid. She just couldn't let it go and carried the memories and stories with her through her young life. If fact, this child grew up to be a woman and still carried those stories with her and shared them with friends from time to time. She kept them alive as one does with precious memories, knowing them never to be re-lived.
Many years went by. Twenty seven of them to be exact, and then something strange happened. Practically a lightning strike kind of a thing. A lottery win kind of thing. A small cable television program in the wilds of Minnesota unearthed that long lost and rarely seen film to a open and willing audience. And suddenly the movie that ran a cast and crew out of a theatrical premier in shame became a beloved hit. A funny sort of hit but one nonetheless. Many more years went by and the interest, fascination and love for it grew and grew until 50 years from the 1966 premier. The 50th year of 2016 has seen a number of notable markers. Especially for me personally.
Aside from Manos and because of it, I was in three films this year.
My book Growing Up With Manos: The Hands Of Fate: How I was the child star and lived to tell the story
was released end of March with a foreward by Joel Hodgson and an epilogue by my dad, The Master himself.
Five months later, after a successful Kickstarter, we filmed our sequel Manos Returns
with a talented group of actors, crew and filmmakers. We began actually shooting on July 23rd and ended 10 very long days later. The Manos Returns legacy cast includes my dad returning as The Master, Diane Mahree as Margaret and me as grown up pissed off Debbie, all fifty years later. Bryan Jennings who's father played the original Sheriff is our Sheriff and Nicki Mathis the original female vocalist on the soundtrack has reprised her songs Forgetting You and Love Inside This Magic Circle both available for your listening and purchasing pleasure on Bandcamp
. In the midst of production we had a cast and crew party as part of our Kickstarter reward for our very special backers who earned the right to be part of the movie. My dad came to that party and for one grand moment in his life, he truly got to receive and absorb the love people have for Manos and for him.
Tom, Diane, Bryan and Jackey
Manos Returns is in post production and will be released in 2017 to the public after screening it at a few upcoming film festivals. It's coming along beautifully and we are all really happy with the level of talent, support and resources the the Primal God Manos seemed to have arranged to help us make something we will be proud of. Check out our Teaser Trailer Here
Over the years since Manos: The Hands of Fate was shown on Mst3k in January 1993, I have had the honor to participate in Manos driven projects and have attended a few screenings but this year was my first as a celebrity guest at a fan convention. I appeared at Crypticon Seattle
in May and found an opportunity to chat with one of my favorite celebrities Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. We traded when I gave her a signed copy of my book and she gave me a signed photo while telling me that Manos is her favorite bad film. She asked questions about John Reynolds/Torgo and wanted me to say hi to my dad. It was truly a golden moment in a shining weekend and I had a little geek out dance once I walked away around the corner safely out of eyesight.
On November first, I took my dad and youngest sister to a screening of Manos: Restored at The Darkside Cinema in Corvallis Oregon. The Darkside is a small community theater and it was a low key event, but for me, it was really special because it was the first and only time since the 1966 premier that dad and I watched Manos The Hands of Fate together in a movie theater. Joe Sherlock Director of Photography for Manos Returns was there and we got a great photo in the lobby together with dad wearing one of the fan made Manos tshirts I bought him.
On November 11th I appeared onstage Chicago Music Box Theater to introduce the beautifully restored Manos The Hands of Fate, to talk about my family's role in the original film and our involvement in the popular resurgence of the last twenty three years.
I took part on a panel that included my co author Laura Mazucca Toops, Jeremy Guidry (Son of Bob Guidry Manos original DOP), vocalist Nicki Mathis and was moderated by Ian Simmons.
I signed books and met face to face with fans in the lobby before and after the show. All in all, a truly magical evening.
The next day, Saturday was a day off to see some of the beautiful city of Chicago and prepare for my Bucket O Blood booksigning for Sunday afternoon. Early Saturday evening, I got a message from my fathers neighbor that the EMT's had been at his house and taken him to the hospital. For the next few hours, I sat in my hotel room 2,193 miles away trying to get more information, eeventually receiving a call from the hospital charge nurse saying they needed permission to call code and were unable to reach anyone else. That all became a moot point when the nurse said if she were with me, she would give me a big hug. It was over. His heart was done and I was not prepared. You never can be.
The next morning on the 13th, I determined I had to go ahead with the scheduled book signing and podcast interview that afternoon and set about trying to let everyone know so I wouldn't have to explain it raw at the event. Rough day, but I knew dad would have wanted me to go ahead with the plan.
Most who came were informed and offered hugs and prayers. Others were happy to meet me and wanted photos with Debbie from Manos so I obliged with a pale face, puffy eyes and somewhat lesser smile than usual, hoping they were OK with that. They were.
Once the signing wrapped up, Ian Simmons, Laura and I went to another room for our interview. The initial intention and direction shifted as it became a beautiful tribute podcast to Tom Neyman. I could almost feel him sitting with me as we talked about him.
Click for Podcast below
I traveled home on the 14th just wanting to hide somewhere and be alone and then the next day was the long awaited 50th Anniversary of Manos: The Hands of Fate since it premierde on November 15th 1966. It was a quiet day of accepting the countless offers of condolence and support. Sadness and comfort all in one. The 23rd of November would have been his eighty first birthday and on the 24th, The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon announced Manos: The Hands of Fate as the MST3k All Time Fan Favorite.
Since then, of course the Holidays and New Years and all that goes along when you celebrate these things and have family. So much reflection this time of year as many do. For me, the events of the past year and especially the last two months have created new determination and purpose. Time is always too short. There are always excuses to to not do something. Through the dark there is light.
I have been playing this Manos game for many years and I've had incredible experiences and great fun while meeting the most creative diverse and joyful people imaginable. Through it all I've been a single mom and self employed artist, I bought a 100 year old home on an acre and half in a tiny Western Oregon town in which to raise my boys. The only income the fame of Manos has ever provided me is what I created myself through merchandising tshirts and things I make (I am an artist, after all), and believe me, it doesn't pay many, if any bills. I have donated my time to people and causes longer than I can remember. In my town, I was on the school board for 4 years and I spearheaded and ran our community Arts Center for 16 month until it fell apart due to lack of funding. I've always been for others while seeking my own bliss because it was blissful to watch other flourish, but for us, it's always been a struggle and it's time for that to change because I may have finally learned that the Greater Good includes me too. When I flourish, those around me can too.
My sister Juli, grandson Jayce, Dad, Me and my eldest son Jack
I will honor myself while there is still time and I will honor my dad's memory in ways he never could do for himself. I'l give you The Plan in my next post. Stay tuned!
May you and your loved ones be Blessed in this New Year!