When I decided to join Ryan's excellent Blind Spot Series, I had a very clear purpose in mind. One of Ryan's purposes was to help push us into seeing films "of some significance" that we haven't yet gotten to. I had a bunch of these movies in my own collection, just sitting there waiting to popped into the DVD player. One of them was a movie you probably shouldn't watch. I'd say it's of some significance because many deem it the worst movie ever made. Since I get a twisted pleasure out of many bad flicks, I'd say that qualifies as significant. What I was hoping for was something so bad it's awesome. What I got was something so bad, it's truly awful.
The story follows Michael (Harold P. Warren), his wife Margaret (Diane Adelson), and their daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) who appears to be about four years old. They're going on vacation...somewhere...and get lost. They wind up driving down a road that goes nowhere. And by nowhere, I mean the pavement just runs out and there is absolutely nothing around. Yeah, they keep driving because well, you know, us guys can't ever admit we're lost. Anyhoo, they wind up at a strange house where they're met by the very sweaty, awkward Torgo (John Reynolds). He babbles a bit about The Master who has "left this world, but he is always with us." Then he tells them they can stay, but only one night, and that The Master would not approve because he doesn't like children. Eventually, The Master and his six wives wake up and a really bizarre night ensues.
Needless to say, we get some inept filmmaking, bad acting, bad writing, and bad whatever else you can think of. The sad part of all this is that the premise isn't a bad one. It's been used and re-used hundreds of times, both excellently as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and poorly as in Wrong Turn 6. Yup, there are six Wrong Turn movies. Point is, a good movie, even an excellent one can be made from the exact same starting point. It just gets botched all to hell. It's obvious that writer/director Harold P. Warren, yes the same guy who plays Michael, doesn't quite get some essential things about the craft in which he is engaging. Lots of his troubles stem from the handling of the camera. Shots are framed oddly and linger on the actors too long after they speak. This leads to some strange moments along the way. A character will say something then just kind of look around while the camera stays on them. Often, he just shows too much. We've all seen a movie where someone is supposed to be watching a child who is shown and then is off-camera while the adult is busy with some other thing. The adult and the camera then turn their attention back to where the child is supposed to be, but is not. The adult is then reasonably alarmed and a search commences. A similar scene happens here except the child is visible throughout the entire middle part where we're not supposed to see her. We the audience watch her walk out of the room and go outside. The implication is the same, but the cinematic result is not. There is no suspense. It doesn't help that instead of actually going out to look for their daughter, Mom and Dad grab a flashlight then just stand in the doorway and shout her name.
|I'm guessing those are The Hands of Fate|
I've loved lots of movies with similar problems. Seriously, I will watch Ed Wood's disastrous Plan 9 From Outer Space a hundred more times before I watch this again. How come I don't love this one? Unlike Plan 9, Manos didn't have me howling with laughter. All of the humor is completely unintended in Plan 9, but it doesn't seem to take itself seriously and that's part of the fun. Manos lacks they same sense of fun and passion that Ed Wood brought to Plan 9. While there is some unintentional humor, it's not enough to keep this from being a dreadful experience. The one major exception to this is Tom Neyman, who plays The Master. Dude is hilarious. He chews up scenery and comes up with some great looks of a guy who is just fed up with all the bullshit he gets from his six, yes six wives. They constantly bitch and moan then break into mass catfights. Very poorly choreographed fights, mind you, but fights nonetheless. Then we get to the ultra-creepy in a bad way ending. A really bad way.
|Torgo is using his Hands of Fate!|
Okay...I can't quite go out without revealing the whole truth of my time with Manos. Over the course of a week, I tried to watch this movie at least four times. I fell asleep each of the first three times. So the last time, yesterday, I took the bull by the horns and live tweeted my way through it even if none of you were paying attention. It worked. I got through it. If you care, here's what I said to myself...even though I was saying it to the whole world...or something like that. If you don't care, just skip it and leave me a nice comment (or your condolences) because this is the end of the post.
And because I'm not that smart with this Twitter stuff, yet. The whole thing is in reverse chronological order. I know, I suck. And...