As mentioned in the Bye Bye Man preview, Manos: Hands of Fate doesn’t fit traditionally into BMT because of its pre-1980 release. Buuuuuut, since it is so iconic, we felt like it deserved the real preview / recap respect. Shot in 1966 on a super low budget by a random Texan businessman/amateur theater actor I have no more expectations for this than I would a film like Birdemic. It’s just an amateurish film made by a delusional person that should never have seen the light of day. Will likely be a bore, but that’s what this cycle is all about. Finding out whether these categories are as boring as we assumed when we precluded them. Let’s go!
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) – BMeTric: 88.1 (#5 on the IMDb Bottom 100)
(Obviously the reason we are here. I’m most interested in that jump in 2013. I found two plausible explanations in the wikipedia page. First there was a kickstarter that year to get a puppet version made. I think that is a bit niche and thus unlikely. That was also the year they announced a prequel being made. I’m more inclined to believe something like that’s when the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode went on netflix, but I don’t really have any evidence for that. A mystery, although likely an extremely solvable one.)
?????? – ??? stars – ????
(I couldn’t really find a review for this film at all. There are some … but they are about at the level of this blog anyways (and our monthly hits are … not impressive). Rather than confusingly link to something like that let’s marvel at the fact that a film can be as revered at this one and yet no legitimate news source has decided to retroactively review the film. C’mon … that’s weird.)
(I mean … like what the fuck? Just like … what the fuck?)
Directors – Harold P. Warren – (BMT: Manos: The Hands of Fate; Notes: Often referred to as a fertilizer salesman even though he actually sold insurance at the time of filming.)
Writers – Harold P. Warren (screenplay) – (BMT: Manos: The Hands of Fate; Notes: Ultimately even though he admitted the film was terrible he remained proud of it and would often where his costume throughout the rest of his life.)
Actors – Tom Neyman – (BMT: Manos: The Hands of Fate; Notes: I going to be be in some strange revival of the film (Manos Returns) next year, may God help us all.)
John Reynolds – (BMT: Manos: The Hands of Fate; Notes: Helped to design the trademark “knees” of Torgo in the film, for which he would become (mildly) famous.)
Diane Adelson – (BMT: Manos: The Hands of Fate; Notes: Became a rather accomplished model after Manos and is currently, seemingly, an antiques dealer.)
Budget/Gross – $19,000 / N/A
(Not real obviously. This film made no money basically only being shown in El Paso, Texas where is was made. The budget it seemingly real at least.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (1/14): No consensus yet.
(I’ll have to make a consensus: Barely a movie, in that soul-crushingly not-fun way we all know and love. Oof. Always though with films like this since all of the reviews are from now. Was a 0% until literally months ago for example.)
Poster – Manos: Sklogs of Fate (F)
(This certainly didn’t have a poster when released. I think everything online is probably from the post-fame era of the film’s existence. Still an F.)
Tagline(s) – It’s Shocking! It’s Beyond Your Imagination! (F)
(I doubt this had any taglines in reality. It was basically not released so why would it need a tagline. I kept this one as a warning to all those that attempt to pass something like this off as a real tagline. I don’t accept it!)
Keyword(s) – family in peril; Top Ten by BMeTric: 88.1 Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966); 57.7 The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007); 17.4 Supremacy (I) (2014);
(NOPE. Hilarious that Seeker comes up in both this and Bye Bye Man in a way though. Although in the most tangential way possible. This movie shares a keyword with it. The Bye Bye Man’s main character’s brother was in Seeker … small world?)
Notes – Cast and crew recall that John Reynolds was on LSD during filming, explaining his confused behavior and incessant twitching in virtually all of his scenes.
The entire film was shot with a hand-held camera that could only record 32 seconds of film at a time. It was also shot without sound; all the lines were dubbed later by two men and one woman. Jackey Neyman Jones cried when she first heard her dubbed voice.
The film had a gala premiere in El Paso. Many local dignitaries attended. Members of the audience began heckling the film during the premiere. Many of the film’s cast and crew sneaked out of the theater before the film ended, to avoid having to admit being part of it.
The only cast members who were paid for their performances were Jackey Neyman Jones, who got a bicycle, and the Doberman, which got a bag of dog food. The rest of the cast was supposed to receive a cut of the movie’s profits, which never materialized. Director Harold P. Warren also gave the crew shares, instead of a salary.
Lighting was limited for the film, which explains the infamous scene in which two cops literally take two steps to investigate, then turn back.
Despite the film’s negative reception, Harold P. Warren was so proud of it that he began wearing the Master’s robe every Halloween. His son Joe Neal Warren has carried on the tradition.
The film was popularized by a 1993 episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (1988), in which Joel and the Bots, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, go mad while suffering through the film’s endless boredom. The creators of the show called this the worst film that had been featured.
In 2011, Benjamin Solovey found the work print, made from the original 16mm reversal stock. It was in pristine condition. Solovey released the digitally restored film in DVD and Blu-ray formats in October 2015. A new short documentary about the Making of Manos, including interviews with surviving cast members, was included.
The endless driving sequences at the beginning were supposed to have the opening credits over them.
The snake Michael shoots looks a lot better than the rest of the film because it was stock footage lifted from a Disney nature documentary. It’s also why the snake is on purple carpet.
Harold P. Warren only did two takes of each shot. If things didn’t go well, he reassured the novice cast that the magic of Hollywood would fix any errors in post-production.
As filming dragged on and on, the increasingly disgruntled crew began to refer to the movie as “Mangos: The Cans of Fruit”.