I have a nasty cold today, (2-18-2014) so you can consider this post a work in progess.
There's a buttload of great Manos material on the web, and I'm going to take my time assembling what I manage to find.
Before Manos, Ed Wood Jr's Plan Nine from Outer Space was the supposed "worst movie of all time". This was always a misnomer. In spite of a relentless incompetence that is downright childlike, Plan Nine has a transcendent energy that makes all those mistakes truly entertaining. There were scores of sci-fi horror movies in the fifties that would force you to sit through an hour of terrible dialogue leading to a climax you no longer cared about. Plan Nine had action-- not like DieHard had action, but it had a story that keeps moving forward. It stumbles right along.
Over the past two decades, MANOS: The Hand of Fate, the bizarre story of a family on vacation that encounters an evil, supernatural cult, has gradually claimed the title of the worst movie, and it's a lot closer to a bona fide contender. This time, there are long stretches with neither dialogue nor action, including endless shots of obscure locations shot from a moving car. What dialogue there is is obviously dubbed onto silent footage, often using different voice actors than those who appear on film.
And yet, there is much that is distinctive and haunting about Manos: location shots that capture a time and place that's lost forever, rural Texas in the 60s, an odd and lovely jazz/bossa score performed by who knows who, a truly sexy and beautiful leading lady, and, most tragically, a supremely odd, not-exactly-bad performance from a promising young actor who died by his own hand before the film could play before any audience at all.
|John Reynolds 1941-1966|
It was Mystery Science Theater 3000 that rescued this film from eternal obscurity in 1993, and it instantly became a fan favorite, and a ubiquitous cosplay subject at every convention. I remember seeing Manos for the first time on a Saturday afternoon in 1993. It may have been that same afternoon that Tom Neyman, one of the surviving stars, was amazed to see the film for the first time in almost 30 years.
Manos, the Hands of Felt
A reenacted version of Manos, starring adorable puppets. Funded by kickstarter, the DVD was released to the public only last month.
MANOS in HD
Another kickstarter project, an attempt at restoration. Still alive, and underway.
Jackey Raye Neyman-Jones played the little girl, Debbie. Her father, Tom Neyman, played "The Master", and contributed much of the art for the movie. She's an artist herself now, cuter at 50plus than at seven, and as dedicated to MANOS as any fan. Her blog is an irresistible source of history, inside information, and terrific links.
Entertainment Weekly: The Worst Movie of All Time
Article from June 6, 2006
Hotel Torgo (2004) from Charlemagne Films on Vimeo.
A documentary, told mostly from the point of view of an aging, grizzled cameraman.