You know...there are certain flaws in this film.
September 25, 2015 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The Battle Over The Worst Movie Ever - Just who has the rights to Manos: The Hands of Fate? (SLPlayboy - article SFW)
posted by Chrysostom (67 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
“Every frame of this movie looks like someone's last known photograph.” — Joel
MST3K had an episode devoted to this film. Well worth finding if you can.
posted by Fizz at 2:50 PM on September 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Strangely, I was looking at the word "Manosphere" earlier today, wondering if it secretly had something to do with Manos....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:54 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well worth finding if you can.

Here.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Strangely, I was looking at the word "Manosphere" earlier today, wondering if it secretly had something to do with Manos....

Every time I see the word "Manosphere" from now on, I'm going to imagine the writer is referring to an extraordinary universe of satyrs and nightgowns and endless driving where everyone is dubbed.
posted by thetortoise at 3:00 PM on September 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


Can it really be the worst movie ever if it brings so much joy to so many? And then there's Plan 9 From Outer Space, which I think really is the worst.
posted by Splunge at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


J: "You know..." *air quotes* "Manos"

S: "Yes."

C: "Not in so many words."
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


> MST3K had an episode devoted to this film. Well worth finding if you can.

manos the hands of fate
posted by christopherious at 3:04 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Manos in HD, previously.
posted by ckape at 3:08 PM on September 25, 2015


Yeah, sorry, I guess I assumed that people with an interest in bad film would be aware of the MST3K version. Should have mentioned it, though.

Post title is a quote from the episode.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:18 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cue the haunting Torgo theme.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 3:20 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


They'd also be aware of it if they'd read the article...
posted by Sys Rq at 3:26 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


CUE ThE hAuNTinGToRGo THeme.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:32 PM on September 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


Has MetaFilter or MetaChat done anything similar to MST3K? A live event of members collectively chatting/riffing/watching a terrible film? It feels like something that could be lots of fun.
posted by Fizz at 3:33 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, isn't that basically why there were open threads for the Republican debates?
posted by Wolfdog at 3:34 PM on September 25, 2015 [29 favorites]


@ Wolfdog - so true.
posted by dougzilla at 3:53 PM on September 25, 2015


Here Is the relevant SA thread, with lots of nice examples of the restored film.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 3:59 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can it really be the worst movie ever if it brings so much joy to so many? And then there's Plan 9 From Outer Space, which I think really is the worst.

Do you want to know how I can tell you've never made it all the way through Red Zone Cuba?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:01 PM on September 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


Manos is far, far from the worst movie ever made.
posted by kafziel at 4:02 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Has MetaFilter or MetaChat done anything similar to MST3K? A live event of members collectively chatting/riffing/watching a terrible film? It feels like something that could be lots of fun.

ahem
posted by JHarris at 4:05 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Thanks JHarris. :)
posted by Fizz at 4:08 PM on September 25, 2015


Great article! I remember wondering who technically owned the film when the Manos restoration Kickstarter went up. I admit, my initial instinct was to take sides with the restorer over the director's son, since I've been following the restorer's progress and I'm excited to see the finished movie. But the little details about how the director displayed the painting of the Master in the family's house, and the son wore the original robes as a Halloween costume...it's gotta be weird for the son to see all these strangers suddenly assuming expertise/ownership over pieces of his family's history.
posted by brookedel at 4:12 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The main link seems to have died, it's giving me an error message at least.

Can it really be the worst movie ever if it brings so much joy to so many? And then there's Plan 9 From Outer Space, which I think really is the worst.

Plan 9 From Outer Space's reputation comes from being named the worst movie ever made by a book called The Golden Turkey Awards, by brothers Michael and Harry Medved. It was a follow up to an earlier book called The Fifty Worst Films Of All Time, by the two plus Randy Dreyfuss.

The Fifty Worst Films Of All Time names Robot Monster (shown in the first season of MST3K) as the worst movie of all. It seems that "fans" of Plan 9 wrote in to convince them that their "favorite" movie was worse, which resulted in its enthronement in Golden Turkey Awards. Most people who say Plan 9 is worst get that claim either from GTA or from someone who ultimately got it from there.

It's impossible to come up with an objective measure of badness, just as there can be no objective measure of artistic worth. It's all opinion. That said, and as I've said here many times before, I would rather watch something like Monster A-Go-Go unriffed than one of Michael Bay's Transformers movies, because on the scale of badness mere ineptness is slight compared to obnoxious pandering and willful offensiveness.
posted by JHarris at 4:34 PM on September 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


There are worse viewing experiences, but I'm pretty sure that something worse than Manos doesn't even count as a movie.

For example, The Castle of Fu Manchu is worse, but parts of it aren't even in focus.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:47 PM on September 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's clear that neither Plan 9 nor Manos could be the worst movie ever to anyone who has seen Spider-man 3
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:47 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I donated money to the restoration. And I have a T-shirt.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:55 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's impossible to come up with an objective measure of badness, just as there can be no objective measure of artistic worth. It's all opinion. That said, and as I've said here many times before, I would rather watch something like Monster A-Go-Go unriffed than one of Michael Bay's Transformers movies, because on the scale of badness mere ineptness is slight compared to obnoxious pandering and willful offensiveness.

You say this, and it can sound correct, but then have you ever seen Live Freaky! Die Freaky!? Because I think that movie proves that things can be objectively awful.
posted by kafziel at 4:56 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only MST3K episode that I really, really just can't get through on re-watch even with the riffing is The Wild World of Batwoman.
posted by AndrewInDC at 4:56 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Has MetaFilter or MetaChat done anything similar to MST3K? A live event of members collectively chatting/riffing/watching a terrible film? It feels like something that could be lots of fun.

I recall this happening during the live stream for the film "Food fight". I think ColdChef is only just now recovering.

Manos is far, far from the worst movie ever made.

I maintain that the only reason that BLOOD FREAK was never covered by MST3K was because it broke them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree that 'bad movie' is too subjective to mean anything. That said, Black Devil Doll From Hell has to be one of the worst movies with lots of swears and naked boobs.

Seriously try it. Go ahead. I'll wait.
posted by item at 5:21 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Having listened to this week's Flop House Podcast (as well as viewing the film under review), I can say with no small amount of certainty that Neil Breen's Fateful Findings is unquestionably a worse film than Manos on basically every level.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:22 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought Red Zone Cuba was a triumph of Beckettian absurdism and Bergmanesque minimalism.


oR at LeASt tHats WhAt thE MaSTer tOLd mE it WAs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:25 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can't kill me, I quit!
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:27 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody knows it belongs to the master now
posted by The Whelk at 5:30 PM on September 25, 2015


The Abyss. It was the last time my wife got to choose a film for movie night. In fact, it was the movie that killed movie night. That movie makes Twister look like Citizen Kane.
posted by 4ster at 5:37 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


A movie isn't the worst movie never made, or anywhere near the worst, if it's compulsively watchable on some level, the way Manos and Plan 9 and so many others touted as "classic bad movies" are. You know what a really bad movie is? When people start chatting during it and no one tells them to shut up. Lots of movies qualify for this category; back in the day, they'd get used to fill up the underticket of a double feature (a literal B-movie, although that term has lost its focus to include quite a few movies that were the A-movie of their day and are still quite good), the theater owners liked them because they could be had for cheap and the audience didn't mind because quite a few of them were getting it on. The modern equivalent is straight-to-video.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:52 PM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm shocked that Zardoz hasn't even come up yet, but it sounds like this one might be on a whole higher plane of bad...
posted by saulgoodman at 5:53 PM on September 25, 2015


I'm shocked that Zardoz hasn't even come up yet

Hey now. Whatever else you say about Zardoz, it is an abundantly competent film.
posted by thetortoise at 5:56 PM on September 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


fateful findings seems about equal to manos on every level, I love it. That flophouse podcast is the worst thing I've ever heard.
posted by Bistle at 6:08 PM on September 25, 2015


I have defended Zardoz before and will do so again... now!

So, yeah, the trappings and decoration of Zardoz are pretty silly hippy-dippy nonsense, especially to people in 2015. But look at what the movie is actually about -- immortal posthumans who rode out some sort of hard singularity and who, as part of their transcendence, edited their own mentalities to prevent themselves from interfering in their own control and maintenance mechanisms. When some tire of this and want to die but edited themselves so they don't know how, the only thing they can do is slowly breed, well, a kwisatz haderach who will be about to penetrate their secrets by sheer mental power and manipulate him into doing so.

They do this by means of a giant flying head that pukes guns and shouts about penises, and their kwisatz haderach has a fondness for leather manties and biker 'staches. So, yeah, lots of silly on the surface. But if you look underneath the surface trappings, this is a story that wouldn't be out of place from late-90s/early-00s Vinge/Stross/MacLeod, except they made the movie in 1974.

Also has a pretty good movie lurking under a thick layer of crap: Saturn 3.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:08 PM on September 25, 2015 [23 favorites]


After Last Season.

I have never met a person who has been willing to watch that thing a second time.

Well, I have l met one person who wanted to, but she wisely wrapped herself in a thick, protective layer of *shitfaced* before her first viewing.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:29 PM on September 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Zardoz, Maximum Overdrive, Theodore Rex, Hercules in New York.

I owe so much to the films that the How Did This Get Made podcast has exposed me to. There is great joy in the misery of these films.
posted by Fizz at 6:31 PM on September 25, 2015


> Has MetaFilter or MetaChat done anything similar to MST3K?

The original Sharknado was epically riffed. I have no idea whether anybody made a capture of it, but it probably doesn't make any sense without being there, so there's that.

The MST3k Turkey Day live streams have been meta-riffed on MetaChat. I imagine it'll happen again this year if MST3k streams again.
posted by ardgedee at 6:43 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would like to point out that most of the "worst movie ever" lists were compiled before Atlas Shrugged was made.
posted by TedW at 6:48 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


If the screenplay was copyrighted back in the sixties, wouldn't the copyright have expired by now if it hadn't been renewed? Is there any evidence that the copyright was renewed?
posted by cropshy at 7:05 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Manos is not the worst movie ever made, at least not as long as Charlie Bartlett exists.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:16 PM on September 25, 2015


I have defended Zardoz before and will do so again... now!

Your passion for it has won me over. FWIW, even though I've always considered it a "bad movie," it's always been one of my favorites and I've recommended it to a lot of other people...
posted by saulgoodman at 7:42 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favorite moment in the Zardoz director's commentary is in the scene when the immortal women are rapturously passing around a droplet of Sean Connery's sweat. I think this is happening inside a giant crystal of some sort for some reason. Anyway, during this sequence the director, who had been fairly chatty throughout the movie, goes silent for at least a minute. And then, while the beautiful immortal women continue playing with Sean Connery's manly manly barbarian man-sweat, he sort of laugh-sighs and says:
"maybe this movie just has too many ideas in it."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:19 PM on September 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


RiffTrax has redone Manos.

In terms of terrible movies, The Room has of course a position of pride. It is however a technically competent movie, even if the acting and screenplay are deeply bizarre. After Last Season is probably the weirdest thing I'd ever seen... until I saw Rollergator, recently riffed by the RiffTrax folks. While not as off-the-wall as After Last Season, the "plot" is tissue-thin and self-contradictory, it looks like it was made with camcorders (and it probably was), features incessantly banal guitar noodling, and "stars" a crappy rubber doll and Joe Estevez.
posted by dhens at 10:45 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is a short Manos documentary called Hotel Torgo. It's up on the Yootoobs.
posted by dgaicun at 1:07 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey, my ears are burning!
posted by zardoz at 6:10 AM on September 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


The, uh, hands of fate.
posted by maryr at 7:48 AM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "Can it really be the worst movie ever if it brings so much joy to so many? And then there's Plan 9 From Outer Space, which I think really is the worst.

Do you want to know how I can tell you've never made it all the way through Red Zone Cuba?
"

Only the MST3K version. There may have been chemicals involved as well. For suitably large values of "may".
posted by Splunge at 8:43 AM on September 26, 2015


"Bloodsucking Freaks" is another great bad movie my friends and I used to watch on endless repeat in high school. Louis de Jesus was sort of a hero of ours, and played a role that sounds kind of similar to Torgo in Manos.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:11 PM on September 26, 2015


The 19 Worst Movies Mystery Science Theater 3000 Ever Riffed

I can't say I have seen all of them, but Manos was a joy.

Plan 9 From Outer Space is a terrible movie, but it makes an excellent double feature with Ed Wood.

I've never been game enough to make it part of a tiple feature with the addition of Glen or Glenda.
posted by Mezentian at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


PULL DA SCHTRINKS! <- most of what I remember about GorG. I also have a vague memory of... Wrestling lesbians maybe? Is there something like that?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:16 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find your lack of appreciation of fine angora sweaters disappointing.

I can't remember any wrestling lesbians in Glen Or Glenda, but it has been 15 odd years. There was some lesbian S&M, but not much more than you could have found in Wonder Woman early on.
posted by Mezentian at 10:42 PM on September 26, 2015


A friend of mine once did a survey of imdb ratings, and was dismayed to find a sort of "MST3K effect" in play. Any film that was lambasted on MST3K had hordes of bottom-of-the-barrel ratings because of course it was terrible or those robots wouldn't have mocked it!

To me this feels uncomfortably like it enables bullying, in its own way.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Feels more like just a spotlight effect - if you've seen MST3K, you are familiar with those films, you may not be aware of other, equally bad, films.

Really, it's the same thing with Plan 9 and the Medveds.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also have a vague memory of... Wrestling lesbians maybe? Is there something like that?

That'd be Racket Girls, which stars Ed Wood regular Timothy Farrell (as the gangster baddie), and is rumored to have been partially written by Wood himself.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:01 AM on September 28, 2015


To me this feels uncomfortably like it enables bullying, in its own way.

I'm not sure I quite follow the logic wrt "bullying" a film, but I think it is true that sometimes a movie's reputation for being "bad" can cloud the average viewer's critical judgment. I agree that the MST3K gang's critiques are occasionally a bit hyperbolic, but the exaggeration is part of the show's premise.

On the other hand, MST3K is also the reason that many of these films were rediscovered by modern audiences, which in turn has allowed the rights-holders to the films (if not necessarily the filmmakers) to fetch a higher price on their properties from potential licensees. And most of the time the riffing is pretty harmless stuff; they only get personal if the films under review (as in the case of Manos or the Coleman Francis flicks) aren't just cheesy or hilariously inept, but actually wrong from a social standpoint.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:02 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I quite follow the logic wrt "bullying" a film, but I think it is true that sometimes a movie's reputation for being "bad" can cloud the average viewer's critical judgment.

I'd swear someone from either the Baffler or N+1 wrote a piece arguing this was specifically the case for THIS ISLAND EARTH (the movie riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE), but damned if I can find it now.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:33 AM on September 28, 2015


There's at least one episode where Joel and the bots remark that the movie wasn't as bad as they expected. Ultimately the optimally MST3K-able movie was one that was sufficiently slow-paced to make room for mockery, but not be so dull as to provide nothing to work with. So some movies can be good but still be worthwhile material for MST-ing -- ultimately it's about how readily mockable it is, a separate consideration from whether it deserves mockery.

On the other hand, I can recall Frank Conniff saying in one of the making-of shows that they've rejected a lot of movies that were too bad and unriffable to base a show around. There are hundreds of B-movie dramas from the 1940s and 50s which are forgettable (and have been forgotten), lacking even the personality and distinctive idiosyncrasies that "Manos" and "Robot Monster" have.

Think about how in the worst movies on MST3k, the hosts will try to hang on to one or two characters, plot points or maguffins and use them to build routines around. But when there's 70 minutes of antiquated exploitation flick moving far slower and less eventfully than I Accuse My Parents, and lacking its sub-Lynchian cast of characters trying too hard to act normal, there's nothing to work with. And so back in the bin it goes.
posted by ardgedee at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


In all seriousness, though, you can't talk about the worst movie of all time and not talk about Catwoman. I mean, that's, like, impossible.
posted by zardoz at 5:09 AM on September 29, 2015


I can't believe I've seen so many bad movies tossed around without a nod to Birdemic. The movie description includes exploding eagles!

I did see Manos when there was a Rifftrax showing a few years back and it was incomprehensible (in the best/worst possible way).
posted by angelchrys at 11:14 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually watched Birdemic this weekend entirely because of this thread. The exploding eagles and script live up to the hype. It doesn't have the delirious quality of Manos, but then not many movies do...
posted by thetortoise at 11:41 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


In all seriousness, though, you can't talk about the worst movie of all time and not talk about Catwoman. I mean, that's, like, impossible.

And:

posted by zardoz at 5:09 AM on September 29 [+] [!]

I feel like this is recursive. And confusing.

But also a fair comment.
I am sure there is an amazing docco about Catwoman to be made.
Am-az-ing.
posted by Mezentian at 7:46 AM on October 2, 2015


This was a pretty fun writeup of Catwoman.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:21 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


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