Thursday, October 15, 2015

Manos The Hands of Fate (Synapse Films) - The Case For the Blu of the Bad

Oh Manos The Hands of Fate how you have come a long way baby. From the drive-in to the Mystery Science Theater riff desk to a Blu-ray produced by Synapse, restored to the best of anyone’s ability and ready to be enjoyed in an archival way… For those of you who have only been privy to the movie via the MST3K visor of comedy, this is a rather funny little movie in its own right. Without the benefit of the tomfoolery of a few robots, Manos shows itself for what it really is… low budget filmmaking that is perfect for the grindhouse floor though almost more innocent. Manos isn’t exactly the sexually charged work you’d find on the b-roll on 42nd Street. It comes by its eerie moments honestly and showing all its flaws.

I’m not going to pretend that I adore Manos. I do love the unintentional humor that exudes from this movie due to low budget, bad writing and questionable casting. Really what you need to look for with a movie like Manos is the time capsule effect. We’re talking about a movie that has survived the ages to still entice an audience in, albeit with humor and not the Horror that was initially intended. The reason this particular release from Synapse is so important is that it need a restoration before it was simply too late. This release is flawed and by that I mean that the film is scratched, but clean. There are things on the picture that simply cannot be removed by any restoration process because those elements are a part of the original material. What you have here is a release of the best possible elements that could exist before the sands of time sought to destroy the film. That’s important, and while you may get a giggle from Manos, it really stands out as a film that “made it out alive”. Enjoy the imperfections as if they are battle scars and evidence of how dark fantasy was accepted and produced on meager budgets in the 60’s.

Some things to note: the commentary track did not entice me. It felt like I had two voices laughing at the movie the whole time. I don’t mind laughing at Manos, but I guess I wouldn’t expect that in a commentary track. The restoration featurette is so important. It details much of what I was talking about, the important of archiving films before they’re gone for good. This should be a great primary for those of you new to the restoration process or who have never been privy to a Criterion or Vinegar Syndrome restoration reel. Very cool stuff. The making of featurette is as interesting as the entire movie Manos and almost runs half the length of the feature film.

You buy Manos to preserve a piece of history and to understand its place in 60’s drive-in fare. You also buy it to put your own laugh track to the movie and create your own, succulent riffs. Torgo lives!

You can order Manos: The Hands of Fate now from Synapse Films.

Not from the Synapse Films transfer.

From Synapse:

Mike (Harold P. Warren) and Maggie (Diane Mahree), on a road trip with their daughter and family dog, take a wrong turn in Texas and become trapped at a weird lodge inhabited by a polygamous pagan cult. They soon find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between caretaker Torgo (John Reynolds), cult leader The Master (Tom Neyman), and two warring factions of the Master’s wives. As the family tries to escape, the worshipers of “Manos” decide their fate…

MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, the sole directorial effort of Texas fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren, perplexed even the most jaded Drive-In audiences and was deemed by many “the worst movie ever made”. Nearly lost, the original 16mm Ektachrome film elements have been finally unearthed and lovingly restored by Ben Solovey to create the definitive version of this accidental masterpiece. There’s no other movie like MANOS… now in HD with picture and sound unseen since 1966.


All-new 2K restoration of MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE
Audio commentary featuring Tom “The Master” Neyman and Jackey Raye “Debbie” Neyman-Jones
HANDS: THE FATE OF “MANOS” – Featurette (31 mins.)
RESTORING THE HANDS OF FATE – Featurette (7 mins.)
FELT: THE PUPPET HANDS OF FATE – Featurette (4 mins.)
[BLU-RAY ONLY BONUS] MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE – “Grindhouse” Unrestored Version

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