Yoinked from Entertainment Weekly and Wikipedia but with my own extensive bad movie knowledge ...
"Manos: The Hands of Fate is a campy 1966 American horror film written, directed, and produced by Harold P. Warren. It is widely recognized to be one of the worst films ever made. In 1993, television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), a show based on the premise of mocking B movies, featured Manos: The Hands of Fate, giving the film cult status.
The plot of the film revolves primarily around a vacationing family who lose their way on a road trip. After a long drive in the Texas desert, the family is trapped at a lodge maintained by a polygamous pagan cult, and they attempt to escape as the cult's members decide what to do with them. The film is technically deficient with significant editing flaws; its soundtrack and visuals are not synchronized, and several scenes are inexplicable or unconnected to the overall plot.
Leave it to a fertilizer salesman to make the crappiest film in history. Harold P. Warren (Hal to friends and family) may have sold manure for a living, but he dreamt of leaving a different sort of imprint in the soil. Warren was active in the local El Paso theater scene, wrote books and plays, and was constantly seeking new adventures. (Once, after watching his children Wendy and Joe play with LEGOs in the basement, the aspiring inventor came up with the idea of creating giant cement LEGOs to use for building real houses. He called them Superblocks. Okay, not exactly Edison material, but still. . .)
But it was during a meeting with Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant at a Texas coffee shop that Manos was born. Warren had previously met Silliphant while filming a walk-on as a bus driver in an episode of the TV show Route 66. During the conversation, Warren boasted that making a movie wasn't so hard. Anybody could make a movie. Heck, even he could make one. Warren bet Silliphant that he could take a film all the way from conception to completion. Tellingly, the first outline for his master script was written right then and there on napkins. The story was standard B-grade horror — family (husband Michael, wife Margaret, and daughter Debbie) gets lost en route to a vacation and stumbles upon a horrifying fate. Less standard, however, was a half-man, half-goat character named Torgo, or the mysterious cult leader known simply as the Master who walked around sporting a robe with giant red hands on it. Perhaps the film's first sign of ineptitude was the title itself, Manos: The Hands of Fate, which translates a tad redundantly to Hands: The Hands of Fate.
After raising $19,000 from neighbors and friends, Warren went about assembling his dream cast. He started with. . . himself. In addition to writing, directing, and producing, Hal would also play the husband. The rest of the cast came mostly from either local theater (including Tom Neyman as the Master and John Reynolds as satyr Torgo) or the Mannequin Manor modeling school (from which Warren plucked women to play the Master's multiple wives who would spend the majority of their screen time catfighting in oversize girdles.
Under the working title The Lodge of Sins, the movie was filmed in mid 1966. Filming mainly took place on the ranch of Colbert Coldwell, a former judge of El Paso County. Most of the equipment used for production was rented, therefore Warren had to rush through as many shots as possible to complete filming before the deadline for returning the equipment. Footage was shot with a 16 mm Bell & Howell camera which had to be wound by hand and filmed for only 32 seconds. This has been suggested as a possible explanation for the many editing problems present in the final cut. The Bell & Howell camera was incapable of double-system recording, and thus all sound effects and dialogue were dubbed later in post-production, reportedly by only three or four people including Warren.
To portray his character Torgo as a satyr, John Reynolds constructed what is described as a metallic rigging worn under his trousers. The effect conveyed by his work was to leave his character with oversized knees and difficulty in walking. Fake cloven hooves may have been made by Reynolds for his costume, but they were not worn during filming, as he is clearly shown wearing boots in several scenes, which can even be seen in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version which superimposes the silhouettes of theater seats and three of the show's characters over the bottom of all the films they feature. Seemingly operating in his own special universe, Reynolds bumbled, stumbled, and very slowly convulsed his way throughout Manos, with an awkwardness that for viewers is equally engaging and enraging. 'When you watch the film,' says Jackey Neyman (now Jones), who played Hal's on-screen daughter, Debbie, 'you gotta figure he was stoned the whole time.' On Oct. 16, a few months after production ended, the troubled thespian/shipping clerk, the son of a military officer at nearby Fort Bliss, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was only 25.
The film premiered at the Capri Theater in Warren's hometown of El Paso, Texas on November 15, 1966. Warren arranged for a searchlight to be used at the cinema, and for the cast to be brought to the premiere by a limousine, in order to enhance the Hollywood feel of the event. Warren could afford only a single limousine, however, and so the driver had to drop off one group, then drive around the block and pick up another. The premiere was attended by numerous local dignitaries, including the mayor and local sheriff. But soon after the film started, the crowd in attendancxe started giggling quietly, then laughing loudly, at the film. Perhaps the crowd had never witnessed entire scenes out of focus before. Perhaps they had never seen such things as a marking slate or an insect bumping into the camera lens actually make a final cut. Or perhaps they were trying to figure out why every single voice in the movie was dubbed — badly. Since the camera used for Manos could not capture sound, all the dialogue was recorded in a studio by Warren, his wife, Neyman, and Diane Mahree, as well as two others who did all of the other voices.
Humiliated, Warren and the rest of his cast made a hasty exit. The film ended with a mixture of laughter and applause. The following day, a review of film was featured in the El Paso Herald-Post, which described the film as a 'brave experiment', although it criticized some elements such as the attempted murder of Torgo by being 'massaged to death' by The Master's wives, and Margaret's claim of 'It's getting dark', while she stands in front of a glowing sun. Following the premiere, Warren claimed that he felt Manos was the worst film ever made even though he was proud of it, and he suggested that it might make a passable comedy if it were to be redubbed. The film was briefly distributed by the Emerson Releasing Corporation. Following its debut, the film had a brief theatrical run at the Capri Theater, as well as a few screenings at various drive-in theaters in West Texas and New Mexico towns, including Las Cruces. Reports that the only crew members who were compensated for their work in the film were Jackey Neyman and her family's dog, who received a bicycle and a large quantity of dog food, respectively, would seem to indicate that the film failed to break even financially. Official box office figures for the film are unknown, if indeed they ever existed. Although the film received poor reception, Warren did win his bet against Stirling Silliphant, proving that he was capable of creating an entire film on his own."
Music courtesy of the file folks at Monster Movie Music:
"The majority of the cast and crew never appeared in another movie after Manos. Harold P. Warren attempted to pitch another script he had written called Wild Desert Bikers, but with the failure of Manos, no one he approached showed any interest in producing it. Attempts to turn the screenplay into a novel were equally unsuccessful. But more than 25 years later, writers for a Minneapolis-based television show called Mystery Science Theater 3000 were sifting through a box of tapes sent from Comedy Central headquarters in New York City. 'We started watching it, and had never seen anything like that,' says Mike Nelson, head writer at the time. 'We kept saying to ourselves, There is no way we can do this movie, it is just too bizarre. But we finally decided, No, we must bring this to the world.' On January 30, 1993, Manos was not only back from the dead but playing to a nationwide TV audience. A new generation of fans — okay, a first generation of fans — was born.
The book Hollywood's Most Wanted lists Manos as the #2 in the list of The Worst Movies Ever Made, closely following Plan 9 from Outer Space. However, the June 10, 2005 issue of Entertainment Weekly contained an in-depth article which officially proclaimed Manos 'The Worst Movie Ever Made.' The scene in which Debbie is dressed as one of the Master's wives has also attracted the attention of observers due to the implications of pedophilia. The crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 later included the scene in a list of the most disgusting things they had seen.
Two comedy stage adaptations of the film have been made. The first, by Last Rites Productions, was given in Portland, Oregon in early 2006. The second, a musical titled Manos: Rock Opera of Fate by the New Millennium Theatre Company, was launched in Chicago in October 2007. In March 2008, the 'Ten Sessions' episode of How I Met Your Mother featured the main character arguing Manos to be the worst movie ever made even when compared to Plan 9 from Outer Space. The show featured a brief discussion of the film, and an ultra-condensed twelve-second screening of the film as part of a two-minute date."
Steve's Snacks Of The Week:
That's About It
Here are, for your viewing enjoyment, the original AND Mystery Science theater 3000 versions of today's feature.
Enjoy the show, y'all!
And here are the sunday movies we have seen so far ...
December 7th: Godzilla VS Mecha-Godzilla
December 14th: Godzilla VS Mothra (free to watch)
December 21st: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (free to watch)
December 28th: Lord of the Rings (Rifftrack edition)
January 4th: Godzilla VS The Sea Monster
January 11th: Series 7 (free to watch)
January 18th: House of Wax
January 25th: Police Story 3
February 1st: Left Behind the Movie (free to watch)
February 15th: Godzilla VS Megalon
February 22nd: Jesus Christ Superstar (free to watch)
March 1st (part 1): Duck Soup
March 1st (part 2): Godzilla Final Wars
March 8th (part 1): Godzilla VS The Smog Monster
March 8th (part 2): The Three Caballeros
March 15th: Sonny Chiba's "The Street Fighter" (free to watch)
March 29th (part 1): I Bury The Living (free to watch)
March 29th (part 2): Drive-In Massacre (free to watch)
April 15th: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (free to watch)
April 25th (part 1): Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
April 25th (part 2): Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S. (free to watch)
May 3rd (part 1): Sex Madness (free to watch)
May 3rd (part 2): Frankenstein Conquers the World
May 10th (part 1): Muppet Treasure Island
May 10th (part 2): La Bamba (free to watch)
May 17th: Mothra (free to watch)
May 31st: Mega-Shark VS Giant Octopus (free to watch)
June 7th: Tommy (free to watch)
June 14th (part 1): Roger Corman's Fantastic Four (free to watch)
June 14th (part 2): Rodan (free to watch)
June 24th: MST3K's Godzilla VS Megalon (free to watch)
June 28th: Last Man On Earth (free to watch)
July 5th (part 1): Over The Top
July 5th (part 2): Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (free to watch)
July 12th (part 1): Air Guitar Nation
July 12th (part 2): Cockfight/We Are The Children (free to watch)
July 19th (part 1): Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saves the World) (free to watch)
July 19th (part 2): Turist Ömer (free to watch)
August 2nd: The Marx Bros' At the Circus (free to watch)
August 9th (part 1): MST3K's Marooned (free to watch)
August 9th (part 2): First Spaceship On Venus (free to watch)
August 16th (part 1): The Atomic Cafe (free to watch)
August 16th (part 2): MST3K's Night of the Blood Beast (free to watch)
August 30th: God Told Me To Kill (free to watch)
September 3rd: Rebirth Of Mothra (free to watch)
September 6th: Cinema Insomnia's The Wasp Woman (free to watch)
September 13th (part 1): A Bucket Of Blood (free to watch)
September 13th (part 2): Cinema Insomnia's Prince Of Space (free to watch)
september 21st: Theater of Blood (free to watch)
September 27th (part 1): The Brain That Wouldn't Die (free to watch)
September 27th (part 2):MST3K's Amazing Colossal Man (free to watch)
October 11th: Horror of Spider Island (free to watch)
October 18th (part 1): I Woke Up Early The Day I Died
October 18th (part 2): Earth VS The Flying Saucers (free to watch)
October 25th (part 1): Frogs (free to watch)
October 25th (part 2): King Kong Escapes
November 1st: The Thing With Two Heads (free to watch)
November 8th: Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth (free to watch)
November 15th (Franken-Week, Day 7): Frankenstein Conquers the World (free to watch)
November 22nd: The Giant Gila Monster (free to watch)
November 29th: MST3K Gamera Triple Feature (free to watch)
December 6th (part 1): She Demons (free to watch)
December 6th (part 2): MST3K's The Incredible Melting Man (free to watch)
December 13th: A Triple Threat of Riffs