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Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024
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Movie Reviews

Manos Day: Celebrating the Long Life of a Cult Classic

The first ever Manos Day is here, courtesy of Dumb Industries. The day celebrates the 1966 cult classic, “Manos: The Hands of Fate” (referred to as “Manos” by fans), considered one of the worst films ever made in some circles, but lauded by Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans because of fun riffs and the character of Torgo, a satyr who takes care of the house for The Master. If you know, you know.

Part of the charm of “Manos” is its super-low budget and the determination of director/writer/producer Harold P. Warren to commit his story to celluloid. The prints circulating for years included murky visuals, bad editing, dubbed acting, and an incessantly jazzy score. After a workprint was discovered in 2011,an industrious fan restored “Manos” and released the new print in 2015. The restored print has crisp visuals and sound–and bad editing and dubbed acting. The incessantly jazzy score sounds much better, though. Just writing about it has given me a Torgo’s theme earworm.

The Nerd Element spoke via email to Chris Gersbeck, founder and CEO of Dumb Industries, about dedicating a day to a movie that may have stayed obscure if not for its resurrection on MST3K and its subsequent fan following. 

The Nerd Element: What prompted you to create a day to celebrate “Manos”?

Chris Gersbeck: Ryan Labriche, who has been helping Jackey with her social media the past year, conceived of it entirely. He and Jackey pitched me the idea of collaborating on a celebration of all things Manos on the anniversary of its premiere a couple months ago and we’ve been plotting everything together since then. It’s a true collaboration between the three of us and all of the fans and creators who have contributed so much to the Manos-verse.

TNE:  What is it about “Manos” that has made it an enduring cult classic?

CG: I think there’s a certain charm in just how batshit weird the movie is, despite it following a pretty familiar horror storyline. MST3K featured loads of awful movies, but I think the fact that Manos took so many liberties with the concept of what a movie could be and that there’s a lot of iconic imagery attached to it has kept Manos in the conversation of “worst movie ever made.” There’s also an earnestness to what Hal P. Warren was trying to achieve that simply cannot be replicated. 

TNE:  What is the number one thing fans tell you about their love for the film? Or if not one thing, then the top elements they rave about?

CG: I actually legitimately love the soundtrack to the movie. The placement of the songs throughout the movie often makes no sense, but the music on its own is actually quite enjoyable. I also gained a new appreciation for the film after seeing Ben Solovey’s 4K remaster, because all those colors really pop on the screen. 

TNE: What is your favorite scene from the movie?  

CG: I love the scene when the family is finally in the house, they’re looking at the painting of the Master and his dog, and out of nowhere Torgo just seemingly wanders through the set holding all their luggage with that goofy Torgo theme playing. No one says anything, they just kinda stare at him struggling to get to the next room. It almost appears like an outtake that they accidentally left in, but it always makes me laugh because it’s just like… why?! Why was that in there? 

TNE: Chris, how did you get together with Jackey Neyman Jones (who plays Debbie in “Manos”) to provide painting classes through Dumb Industries?

CG: I met Jackey when she was a guest on “The Mads Are Back” in December 2021, back when Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff live-riffed “Manos” for the first time. She was our post-show Q&A guest, and shortly afterwards she and I began discussing ways we could collaborate. Jackey is just so funny, down-to-earth, hard working and has so many great ideas, we just clicked right away and knew we had to work on something. Once we settled on the idea of a B-movie themed online art class, it just blossomed from there. Since then we’ve collaborated on an entire line of Manos-themed clothing, an additional online art class (Jackey Neyman Jones’ Paint Parties) and the production of the audiobook version of her book, Growing Up With Manos.

TNE:  Anything else you’d like to add about the “Manos” celebration or your other projects that we haven’t asked you about? 

CG: I’m really looking forward to the live AMAs we’ll be doing with Jackey on Manos Day and the world premiere of “The Manos Chronicles (Episode 1).” Willow Polson, who created the Manos Chronicles, will also be joining us for an AMA following its premiere and I’m sure folks will have so many great questions to ask. I’m also excited for everyone to get to watch all these Manos offshoots together as a communal viewing experience. We really couldn’t ask for a better group of creators or fans to be involved in this project.

For all things Manos Day and to sign up for Jackey Neyman Jones’ online art classes, visit https://dumb-industries.com/  Be sure to check out the site’s other fun offerings, such as The Mads Are Back and The Mary Jo Pehl Show.

Check out the press release for the event here

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