Not long ago I was in San Diego, rummaging through a storage space full of old film and wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
I’d been tipped off about an e-bay auction that no one had bid on, probably because the freight was too high. It was boxes upon boxes of 16mm and 35mm film, titles that had lapsed into the public domain, all of which had belonged to a distributor called Emerson Films. Emerson’s properties were familiar to anyone that had watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day, and on the list a few familiars jumped out at me. Six copies of The Atomic Brain in 16mm. Hamlet in 16mm and 35mm. Two copies of Manos: The Hands of Fate (Wikipedia IMDB) in 16mm. “A piece of film history”, I had thought half seriously, not intending to do much about it. But the more I thought about it the more I was wanting to get back into 16mm collecting, which is a hobby that can have an enjoyable social side to it. Who doesn’t want to host a movie night and show actual film?
I e-mailed the seller and made an offer on a small slice of the collection, about what you’d expect to pay for two or three 16mm prints, and offered to pick them up. I’d decided that I’d like to own The Atomic Brain and Manos, assuming they were in good enough shape. I got a reply the next day:
“You can have all the boxes… if you choose to eliminate some of them, so be it… (we are) moving to Florida on the 27th, and we don’t want them to be part of the move.”
The following Sunday I was driving back from San Diego with my car completely stuffed, a bill of sale tucked onto my dashboard. I had looked at a few reels on a loupe and found them in great shape, with no acidic odor. The one Manos reel I had been able to inspect was a little faded but otherwise good. Considering its rarity, it was well worth the trouble. I looked forward to checking out the others.
When I got home, I found the other copy of Manos. Immediately I saw the label, which read “WORKPRINT”.
And the leader, which had an alternate title I’d never heard of.
When I unwound a bit of the film, I noticed dual perfs and an immaculate Ektachrome image staring back at me.
It seems that, in a cost cutting measure, Manos: The Hands of Fate had been shot on 16mm reversal stock and edited using that same stock. A 35mm blow-up internegative had been made and theatrical prints had been produced from that internegative in turn. Audiences at the time would have been watching a copy of a copy, and along the way cheap labwork had cropped the image on every side and compromised the color.
A VHS transfer made from this material after 30 years of wear and tear is the version most commonly seen, and it’s no surprise that, compared to the workprint, it looks like you’re watching it through a shower drain.
A common refrain I’ve heard is that without Joel and the Bots, the movie is “unwatchable”, but I suspect a big part of that is the bad visual presentation that the movie has always had. When you divest Manos of its grimy, unpleasant patina, you are still left with a weirdly dubbed, strangely edited, small town, outsider horror film. But with a clearer view of the production design (paintings, metalwork, and stone sculptures by Tom Neyman, a local artist who played The Master), the off kilter handmade world the film presents, and the shaggy but poppy Ektachrome photography by Robert Guidry, 45 years later Manos assumes a different identity as a fascinating bit of 1966 ephemera.
Here is a truly independent horror film from the 60’s, a contemporary of 1962’s Carnival of Souls and 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. The main difference being, of course, that those movies came from career filmmakers Herk Harvey and George Romero, who had already made commercials and industrials and knew how a set should be run. Hal Warren, director of Manos, did not have that sort of experience and the deck was truly stacked against him. Although he had not yet infamously sold fertilizer- that would come later- he was a good salesman and was able to rustle up a reported budget of $19,000 (over $132,000 in today’s money) to get his script made.
If you yourself have ever been involved in an independent movie, Manos becomes somewhat poignant as you see evidence of the problems that have arisen and have been worked around or willfully ignored. Actors dropping in and out of the production, a broken leg that stranded two in a car for their entire screen time…
A lack of reliable electricity, which creates a murky, crudely lit effect at night…
Animals that were unwisely written into the movie and refuse to cooperate…
It’s all very relatable stuff. And because this is a movie where the artifices of filmmaking are constantly crumbling and being rebuilt, a little shakier every time, it holds a certain fascination to film buffs that places it above worse and more boring films (which there are no shortage of, then or now). Simply put, it’s memorable. If you’ve seen it you’ll remember Torgo and the Master. You’ll remember the interminable driving that opens the movie, the weird squabbling of the Wives, the loungey soundtrack, the unconvincing dubbing, the Scorpio Rising-esque invocation of Manos, God Of Primal Darkness. All this in a film that’s only 70 minutes and change.
So rather than have Manos fade away as a footnote with only a cruddy video transfer to remember it by, I’ve resolved to make it a personal project to restore it.
I put up a simple website to share my project with friends and soon afterward made it public. The very idea of seeing Manos on Blu-ray started as a joke but now has become something more real and, in a way, natural. Making a living as a cameraman I’ve become familiar with postproduction and the steps necessary to properly remaster Manos. The scans you see were made by me on a simple desktop scanner so I could better share the potential of this workprint- a professional motion picture film scan will look even better with far more dynamic range.
The spare 16mm print will be used as a source of audio and as a reference to the movie as it was originally edited. The workprint has undergone a professional cleaning and been properly stored, and after I secure funds it will be captured in 2k to DPX files and given a touch of digital scratch removal. All the while I will be taking pains to preserve the original grain structure of the Ektachrome film (which in that era was quite prominent).
In addition to making a digital restoration of Manos of sufficient quality to produce a new print or digital projection files, I will be creating a limited run Blu-ray and making the restoration available for repertory screenings. While it remains to be seen if this film is for anything but a niche market, I also feel that if I don’t restore it no one else will.
Film restoration is something that too often falls by the wayside in troubled economic times. Though it’s doubtful I will change anyone’s minds about Manos, I would like to send a message that every film, regardless of the place it holds in movie history, deserves a fair shot to be maintained and presented in the best way possible.
(The preceding article has been crossposted by request from the forum at somethingawful.com, to which I owe a tremendous amount of the exposure this project has gotten.)
This is a tremendous thing you’re doing. Very awesome and I will gladly buy this on Blu when you’re finished with it.
I would love to help with whatever I can, I do know a few people I can get you hooked up with!
Reading this page reminded me painfully of my own “Manos” I did back in college using only myself (camera, editor, script writer, producer and/or director), and my siblings as actors in a short film that went nowhere and accomplished nothing, yet I still bothered trying to get it finished but never got a passing grade. Sometime later I made a crappy video transfer of it and stuck it here if you like to check it out!
Wow. Not only am I amazed by the fact that this may be happening, I’d be glad to be of assistance in any way possible. I’ve watched the film dozens of times (even un-MSTed) and would love it if a fan commentary were to take place, etc. Bravo – those stills are gorgeous.
This sounds like something that my library needs to add to our film series when it is complete.
please add me to your emailing list, if one exists.
WOW, I can’t believe this has been found and is being restored. I’ve always had a soft spot for this movie. My Alpha DVD is barely passable and would love to see a restored version.
Are you planning on doing a Kickstarter fund to help raise cash? If so, I would gladly contribute if it included a pre-order for the blu ray.
I’m so excited for this. Thank you for undertaking this project!
Kickstarter has approved my submission, but before I begins I am putting together some donation incentives. Since the Blu ray will take months to produce, I’d like to give donors something good and tangible soon after they contribute… stay tuned.
Just tossing out there – a lot of Kickstarter projects that I’ve kicked into for filmmaking offer a digital copy as an advance release edition. So when you have a digital file suitable for blu-ray, a lower-resolution digital download might be an option. It would still show off the uncropped frame and brighter colors.
This is a Kickstarter I’ll definitely be watching for, and I’ll be sure to post it to the Kids on the Street site when you’re ready to start fundraising.
+1 on the Kickstarter idea. I would totally contribute.
One question: can you actually see the “hooves” in Torgo’s outfit that were supposed to actually brand him as a satyr?
If they’re there, I haven’t seen them yet.
The hooves are covered by his boots.
I applaude your efforts, and would love to secure a copy of this on DVD format if/when the time comes.
In the meantime, let me again offer my kudos to you for taking on this type of project. I find the whole story of this film somewhat melancholy, and some TLC is way overdue.
Sure, it’s an odd film, but all that you have said regarding it’s independent nature is spot-on.
This is a great find. Rare film deserves to be archived and preserved, and MANOS is a strange and beautiful little film, well worth preserving. Good luck with this, and get that Kickstarter campaign up!
I suspect there are a lot of people willing to buy this on Blu Ray. It’s certainly a niche release, but I’m eager to see it restored. What a great find!
This is incredible! Thanks for doing it! I wonder, have you considering contacting Joel? Maybe they would re-record their show against the higher quality film?
Imagine how epic THAT would be.
You’re doing God’s work (or Torgo’s?), my friend. Bless you.
I would be happy to contribute/purchase the Blu! I know plenty of people that would flip if this was released!!!
Would also purchase, but if possible on just a regular old DVD. We don’t plan on “upgrading” to a blue-ray any time soon. how do we sign up?
Good work! Inspiring! You’re absolutely right that every film deserves some dignity.
You’re absolutely evil. I am appalled that you’d attempt something like this.
Good work, nonetheless. 8)
This is awesome — what an undertaking. I’m looking forward to seeing the restoration!
I second Greg’s request. We don’t have a Blu player in our house, but I know my husband and I would be incredibly grateful for a DVD or digital download copy (still happily paid for).
Have you considered selling prints of individual frames? It looks like some of these compositions would still be stunning (if creepy) as still images.
WOW!!! Have you considered using kickstarter to raise funds? Im sure you could get this done very easily.
One of my favorite MST3K movies! I know my husband and I would enjoy a BluRay of the movie. Awesome project!
Fantastic! You totally have to get MST3K on board. I’ll pay big dollars for the classic MSTie episode on Blu-Raym alongside the original movie. It’s an amazing discovery and I hope you’re successful.
Wow…I’m totally with you on this, I just wish I had the money to help out! I’ll do my best to help, tho, and spread the word. BTW…your site is on Fark. I’m betting you get a lot more people helping out. Awesome!!!
I’ve been freelancing for a few other DVD labels devoted to reissuing forgotten films of the past. Could you email me privately? I’m wondering if in your haul you may have picked up elements on some of the titles I’ve been researching. You can go to Dennis at SLIFR and Peter at Mr. Peel for character references if need be.
I’ve definitely seen you around at a few repertory screenings. Happy to help out, expect an e-mail from me soon.
I just found your link on Fark. Right now I may be sitting at my desk typing… But in my head there’s a geek fanboy standing on his chair, whistling, yelling, applauding, and throwing confetti in the air.
This is SO. FREAKIN’. COOL.
On Shout Factory’s MST3K release of Bride of the Monster, it is pointed out in an interview that Ed Wood movies don’t qualify as “bad.” If they were truly bad movies, why are they still being talked about and watched decades later? If you want a bad movie, look at any Lifetime Channel Disease-Of-The-Week dreck, or some romantic comedy (probably starring Meg Ryan) from fifteen years ago.
For this reason, Manos doesn’t count as a bad movie. Professionally challenged? Oh yeah… But it’s too entertaining, on too many levels, to count as being “bad.”
Go baby go! Woo woo! Me some want too!
I love your idea. I’m quite fond of works like this one, that may not be in the end very good, but that certainly had someone behind them with love for what they were doing (or at least sheer stubbornness). They wanted to do something, and through everything, they did it. I think that’s something worth remembering.
PLEASE keep me posted on the Kickstarter fundraiser through the e-mail I’m including with my post. I will give whatever I can. This is an amazing project!!
I would be happy to contribute to this at some point.
And incidentally–has anyone forwarded this story/info to Rifftrax? If there was ANYONE who’d be willing to support this, it’d be them…
Awesome! I would love to help out with this project! A blu-ray release would be spectacular!!
By the way, what other films did you pick up?
I love that sentiment.
What I ment to cite:
“Though it’s doubtful I will change anyone’s minds about Manos, I would like to send a message that every film, regardless of the place it holds in movie history, deserves a fair shot to be maintained and presented in the best way possible.”
Might be interesting if the MST3K shadows and audio could be transferred to the new version as well at some point … I know that’s even more money, but it was the first thing I thought of. I have no idea how hard it would be to do.
Holy crap! You are a Hero! My bro and I were astonished at these screen captures. It’s really great to finally see Torgo in such high quality. I can’t wait to watch the final product!
Would be incredible if your restored print made the rounds at cross country screenings. This is an incredible thing you’re doing. I’m in Chicago and would love to see this at the Music Box theater.
Email if/or when you’re selling this. I’m down for at least a copy. Then get hold of Best Brains and get it over dubbed.
I will ABSOLUTELY buy this when it’s ready.
I too would contribute to a kickstarter campaign, and I would certainly buy the blu-ray.
You’re doing the lord’s work. Godspeed.
(and by “the lord” of course I mean Manos)
Where do I shovel the money for this?!?
Seriously! I didn’t see any contact/list/subscribe links anywhere, but it seems there are lots of people dropping their email addresses here and asking for it… so me too!
I would gladly contribute to both some form of kickstarter campaign as well as buying the resulting BD.
If you start a Kickstarter campaign, money will flow.
Well, today you’re being Farked and Slashdotted. Suffer by having too many visitors.
This is awesome news! I’m really hyped. I can’t get over how good those frame scans look. It’s a revelation, man.
Add this self-proclaimed cult-film buff’s voice to the chorus. What an absolutely amazing treasure–it’s a Holy Grail of a find.
Count me in for a sure-fire donation.
Count me in for a copy of the BD/DVD release. I already own ‘The Room’ on DVD, so this would complement it nicely.
I salute you on this, sir!
If you can make some of those other public domain movies available through Archive.org, you will be doing the world a great service.
This is great. By now you kow you’ve been Slashdotted so success is guaranteed.
I’d definitely contribute to a Kickstarter project on this, and would prefer a full-resolution digital download rather than BluRay (I’m boycotting Sony and won’t buy a BR device).
I think it’s cool what you’re doing and I agree, the film is memorable, but I still have no interest in a Blu-ray release. Yes, it would look great, but we’d still be stuck with a terrible story and even worse acting. It’s only 70 minutes and change, but it felt like 3 hours, and that’s WITH Joel and the bots. But hey man – Kudos. It’s cool you stumbled upon this!
Are you sure it’s a workprint? Can you actually see the splices, and do the latent edge numbers skip across cuts? It could just be a low-con or an IP that Emerson struck, or a dirty dupe Warren struck for sound work.
These are a mixture of ektachrome dupes and the original camera materials. You can see the splices and edge codes for yourself on a few of the scans here.
It’s really cool your doing this, I will definitely buy the Blu-ray when completed. Also I’m a graphic designer and if you need any help with creating a case jacket let me know, I’d be glad to lend a hand.. of fate!
One word. Wow!
This is amazing. The old joke about this film being so “out of focus” and “blandly colored” is clearly out of line. I’d be very interested in a copy of the restored version, but as some above have said for themselves, I don’t have a blue-ray player, and don’t intend on getting one any time soon. Might a dvd format be made available? I’ll also second the idea of reproducing some of the stills as artwork, albeit creepy niche artwork.
All the best towards your efforts.
Is there some way I can financially support this? I would love to have an HD copy at some point as well as see this in a theater. I would be willing to support both initiatives financially as much as I can as a graduate student.
A Kickstarter is forthcoming, and I’m working on some nice incentives for those who donate.
awesome. is there mailing list for info?
At the moment I only have Facebook, Tumblr and the website itself, but enough people have expressed an interest in a good old fashioned mailing list. I’ll launch it along with the fundraiser.
Have you thought of getting into contact with Best Brains? It’d probably print money if you two could make an agreement to let them use a copy of this master and remaster (even if that means just upscaling the MST3K video elements) the reason this film means anything into HD.
What an awesome happening. Finding the previously unknown workprint is the best part of the whole story. To a film buff like me, this is almost like finding the workprint of The Magnificent Ambersons. Maybe even better, because did anybody even know there was such a high-quality workprint even around? Has it just been in storage since 1966? Good thing that Emerson didn’t discard it, or send it out to a TV station.
I would definitely contribute to Kickstarter, and not expect anything until the Blu-Ray is ready.
The INTERNET ARCHIVE would love to copy ALL these films to preserve them for all mankind. They are doing film, books, music, tv, personal mmorabilia. You should get in contact with them.
I would love to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign. Have at it!
I definitely want a high-definition copy of this film. If pressing the BluRays or DVDs is too expensive, you could just sell us a h264 MKV file. I’d gladly buy it.
Please include me in the updates when this film is released to BD/DVD, and when the Kickstarter page is available.
Definitely a release for my collection.
This is amazing, I would love a blu ray copy of Manos. I don’t suppose there is any way to add the MST3K crew to it, but maybe the audio can be isolated and then added as an extra? I have no idea. Awesome project, and as I said, I’d purchase a copy in a heartbeat.
This is excellent news. The Master will surely be pleased. Please contact me for any donations and Blu-Ray purchasing. I’ll gladly donate to make this happen!
I am delighted to hear of this opportunity and project, and may the gods of cinema smile upon you and grant you success in your endeavor.
Manos is an unequivocally bad movie, but it is very, very noteworthy, and deserves to be preserved.
The university film theater I used to work for in the 1980s rented 16mm films from Emerson. I probably still have an old Emerson film catalog floating around.
This project looks really interesting and I agree that all films deserved to be archived in some fashion. Bad or not, it’s still part of the U.S.’s film heritage.
If you could get Rifftrax and/or Cinematic Titanic to do alternate soundtracks as well, I can bet you could sell quite a few more, there’s a LOT of mst3k fans out there..
This is terrific. I agree that “Manos” is totally worthy of the full archival treatment. I’ve watched the MST3K version perhaps dozens of times, but I’ve also watched it without their riffing and found it bizarrely compelling. A crisp Blu-ray disc would be most wlecome in my collection, so sign me up for that! And thanks for sharing this. Good luck with the project.
This is terrific. I agree that “Manos” is totally worthy of the full archival treatment. I’ve watched the MST3K version perhaps dozens of times, but I’ve also watched it without their riffing and found it bizarrely compelling. A crisp Blu-ray disc would be most welcome in my collection, so sign me up for that! And thanks for sharing this. Good luck with the project.
Just superb! I, too, have seen Manos many times. It’s a true good bad film. I actually have the B. I. A. Films version of it on my iPhone, so I can drive people nuts with it whenever I want. I can’t say this about many other films, but I would be thrilled to donate to your restoration project. The world needs to see the look on Margaret’s face in all it’s true color every time she intones that famous line, “Mike. I’m frightened”.
Please also consider contirubint a copy of the film in some HD form to the Internet Archive ( http://www.archive.org )
Amen to that. The Internet Archive is an invaluable resource for all things Film History. This would be warmly welcomed content for sure!
Please don’t make this a limited Blu-Ray release. Try to find out if a big, indie movie company would be willing to help you sell the movie on a more expansive level.
Those stills are GORGEOUS. Much worse movies have gotten big number Blu-Ray releases, this one deserves to be saved!
We will see! The outpouring of support that this project has received hasn’t gone unnoticed….
I love what you’re doing!! Hooray for Manos! I’ll buy any format you put this out. I’ve bookmarked this page and will keep checking on your progress.
I enjoyed this thoroughly. I was quite surprised to see the difference in quality between the movie we’ve seen and the 16 mm.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been, because I’ve had this experience with movies from MST3k before. The best example I can offer is “The Killer Shrews,” which I find nearly unwatchable in its MST3k version due to terrible picture and sound. Imagine my surprise though, when I saw it on Turner Classic Movies a while back and found it much crisper, clearer, and easier to understand.
Danger: Diabolik is another example! One of my all time favorite films, and after seeing it on the crisp DVD from Paramount quite a few of my friends have felt the same way.
I can’t wait to buy a blu-ray copy of this when it is available. I really appreciate what you are doing. You rock!
let me know if you need someone to do the menu and cover art!
This is going to be so rad. Thanks for finding this and thanks for doing this.
This thing is film festival gold.
The Master would approve.
And I do too, count me in for funding and a BluRay.
This is so exciting! The stills are wonderful, and I agree; this is an indie horror gem that deserves to be preserved. Best luck to you in your endeavor and I too will happily contribute funding for your project.
dude, this is beyond awesome! too bad i live across the ocean, i could help with fundraiser or so:) best of luck and keep us posted!
I also want in on this Kickstarter action — please email me when you start your fundraising!
But… C’mon you guys… the write up was great, AND I think it’s a noble project – BUT C’mon you guys, this is a bad movie.
The redeemable part of it was the MST3k voice over track.
the fact that it is so bad, is part of what made it so good… However by many of your comments, it’s clear that there really is some one, (more than one someone even,) that actually thinks that this is a good show!
why, that is preposterous! absolutely preposterous!
That said… if your Blue Ray get’s a ‘riff trax’ or MST3k treatment done to it as a way that I can watch it, even I would probably pitch in for this.
I had a HOOT laughing along with the Mystery Science Theater guys with my friends several years ago.
I still remember finishing the show, and some one said…
“I think that is the worst show I have ever seen!”
another friend said, “lets check the votes on IMDB!” so we did, and it was, by like a land slide.
Since then other shows have topped that list, but at the time it was so funny that it really ‘Was’ the ‘Worst show ever.’
anyway, I just wanted to say, I applaud the project, and it’s author – but some of you, that are waxing eloquent about the show – well, your freakin me out man. :-P
that said, to each their own, and good luck with this!
What a find! I was living in El Paso when Manos was made, Tom Neyman being a close friend. Went to the “grand opening” – what a night! I didn’t learn until 2006 that Manos was available on DVD – my son found a copy of both it and the Mystery Science Theater copy. What a treat to see so many friends after so many years, and with the majority of them having died. Please keep me posted on your progress – I’d love to have a copy of yours also.
I am so excited that such a treasure was discovered completely by accident.
As soon as I can donate, count me in to fund it and for a BluRay!
wow! the stills are amazing. i’m buying a blueray when you’re done. :)
Manos on BluRay! And in such fantastic condition, no less. I would definitely help out with this. Would it make sense to take this to Kickstarter?
Do you need money?! I have money! Joel, Trace, Frank, if you can see this, I would buy an HD version of ep424.
Thank you. It’s an accident of history that “Manos” caught on as it did…but it’s still history, and always was, even when it was just a bit of ephemera with a passing mention in “The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film.”
Bless you, sir.
I’m not a religious person, but bless you, sir, for all of your hard work.
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!
I keep throwing my credit card at the screen and it keeps bouncing off. This project, yes THIS project of all… THIS is sufficient reason for me to buy a Bluray player.
Mos def in line for a Blu Ray to this. This movie was so bizarre it was almost believable. Thanks for the undertaking!
For some odd reason “Manos” has never appeared on homevideo here in Australia — your restored bluray version would be perfect for some of the cult film distributors down here like Umbrella or Madman Entertainment — for what it’s worth, if you were looking to deal with someone down here, they’d be your best bets. All good luck with your project.
Nice, man! Looking forward to it. Manos rocks. Go Torgo go!
While what we have here is the entirety of the movie in the vintage 16mm Ektachrome plus a little extra, the materials you have in your possession (which, judging from what we’ve talked about in the past, include 16mm outtakes and the 35mm blow up internegative) are tremendously special and valuable as well. I’m sure everyone here who has commented in affectionate support of your father’s work would agree. I am having a meeting next week with a professional I respect greatly who may want to get in touch with you about inspecting, organizing and preserving the film you have- I’ll facebook you privately with the details.
Neat to hear from the son of a fine filmmaker! That outtake reel or such sound pretty interesting if it’s possible to see it be included as a nice extra for a BluRay release. That book also sounds quite neat too.
Reserve ten copies please! These Blu-Ray’s will make great gifts (myself included)! Awesome!
So looking over at all the support this thing has generated – have you considered approaching one of the smaller cult DVD companies, something like Shout! or Synapse Films – something that has the resources to get a more wide-spread release with loads of extras and stuff? I bet Don May would jump at the chance to release that!
Absolutely- Synapse is one of the best companies operating today, and Shout! has produced lovely releases for deserving films as well.
Awesome project, I’d definitely be keen for the Kickstarter thing too. As far as companies who might be keen on distributing a DVD and Blu-Ray, maybe also Severin Films?
I’m also a fan of Severin- they have a knack for releasing impeccable editions of rare films I want to see.
But any discussions of distribution are a tad premature. A good amount of preservation and restoration work must be done before Manos is ready for a Blu ray release.
Deep respect! :) And yes, another willing potential purchaser here, too!
Dude, that’s seriously awesome.
The worst movie ever, restored and transferred?
I will totally chase this down if you release it on BD.
I mean, Manos is worse than Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, and that reaaaaaaaaallllly says something.
I’d like to see (and be on) a mailing list with status updates as the project progresses.
My joy knows no bounds! Surely the Hands Of Fate intervened. I will be most delighted to know when the Blu Ray when it is ready. How about a mailing list?
Awesome stuff, sir! I too would love to contribute to the project!
Here’s an interview with some of the people involved in the making of this film!
Respect due for this project. And reserve me a Blu-Ray DVD – take my money please!
Best wishes, Matt
Great work you’re doing here!
+1 for a blu-ray purchase, just be sure to ship internationally – to England in particular!! :)
Shot on a spring-wound 16-millimeter Bell & Howell with a maximum wind duration of 32 seconds. Sounds like you’ve got the work print alright! http://jophan.org/mimosa/m18/brandt.htm
Great news, I will get the bluray when its done. Hope you skip adding the MST3k “version” and jsut focus on the best image/sound of the film.
Seems like too many people are requesting the wrong things out of this release when I feel that’s not what this site is about (even the Internet Archive thing).
I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing. You’ve made the leap from fan to preservationist in one fell swoop. I will absolutely get the blu-ray.
Please release this on DVD once you’ve restored it. I (like everyone else on this thread apparently) would love to support you on this project via kickstarter or buy pre-purchasing a copy.
On my copy of “Manos” (alpha video) during the last scene of the couple in the car there appears to be a Dis-embodied hand over her head for about 2 seconds at the same time the guy puts his hand around her waist.
If it’s the moment I’m thinking of, that could be whoever was holding the slate at the start of the take.
I watched it again yesterday and the dis-embodied hand appears at about 33 minutes.
Kickstart that Kickstarter campaign! I want, nay NEED, this beautiful copy of Manos. Spreading word to everyone I know here in Austin, TX. I absolutely KNOW you could get the Alamo Drafthouse theater to screen this.
This is incredible! I would love a Blu-Ray of this film when you finish it, it would be such a treat. And I agree that this film deserves to be restored. It’s a real piece of cult film history.
I currently work as an intern for a gentleman who knows many of the people at Synapse, Media Blasters and Blue Underground DVD…. I’m going to ask him if he’d know anyone who’d be interested in contributing either money or resources to this project.
Thank you Jack. The more people there are that vouch for this restoration, the more likely that we will attract widespread distribution and generate a final product everyone can be proud of.
I really hope that you can strike up a arrangement with Joe Warren that allows all of the source elements to be used, outtakes, soundtrack and all.
This is also the sort of release that Madman Entertainment in Australia would probably be interested in distributing.
I wish you the best of luck for your restoration! I can’t wait to purchase the Blu Ray!
Working with Joe Warren is something I want very much to happen, and new developments may finally allow me to do so. Negotiations are ongoing, so stay tuned.
One of the issues I’ve had with Manos is the sound quality. Have you watched the work print yet? If so, does it have higher-quality sound?
The work print is silent. Sound was added later on in the production process.
The actual projectable print I have has a nice clear optical sound track with very few splices. Though it would certainly be an acceptable source for sound, I will continue to search for better elements while the project is underway. I’m particularly intent on finding the music in an unedited form, but only time will tell…
It’s been so long since I watched the MST3K version, I can barely remember it. I’m looking forward to seeing it after you’ve finished! I, too, would like to have it in Blu-Ray.
I will most certainly get this when it comes out on Blu, I can’t wait. I remember fondly that this is the film that had the cohones to pan and fade a shot to the exact same pan and fade shot (in the beginning of the film while they’re driving to the house). I both adore & abhor this film!
This sounds like a fun project to invest in. Let me know of you need a few bucks for the project.
I’ve come back to this page to see the great responses and support from believers, but am rather disturbed at the suggestions to get Best Brains, Rifftrax, fan commentary, etc. on the release. Please, PLEASE do not get MST3K or the folks from the show involved with this release. They had their time with the movie, and a release of this type should really be reserved to allow the original MANOS its day in the sun. Additionally, a fan commentary would have absolutely no merit. There are plenty of snarky comments on IMDB that we don’t need to hear on a second audio track. If there will be any supplements, they should be contributions from people involved with the making of the film. Thanks for hearing me out.
I agree with what Casey says here too. This really needs to be seen in it’s own merit than to be saddled with the association it has had for the past several decades.
Hey if you need any help let me know, I’m an artist that works with Lloyd Kaufman and Troma and would love to help out with artwork. I think you’re doing amazing work, so often these films are left to degrade and no one takes care to do the restoration work you are doing.
Hi. I’d be interested in distributing this film. Can you contact me off-site? Many thanks, Tom Holland, Holland Releasing, Los Angeles.
While I’m one of those that feels that Manos is unwatchable without Joel and the bots, I appreciate what you’re trying to do. I’d certainly love to see an updated treatment from the current RiffTrax crew, performed in front of a restored version of Manos. Best of luck!
What you are doing is amazing, and I will be happy to donate what I can. And I will be sure to buy several Blu-Ray copies when they are available.
As I’m certain everyone here will admit, once you’ve seen Manos, The Hands of Fate you never forget it… no matter how hard you try. Personally, I’d love to see Hollywood remake this movie with a 100 million dollar budget.
now THAT would be a BAD MOVIE!! as it stands, the original is merely “optimistically misguided”. throw michael bay and $100m at it?!?
lets just get the original we know and love unmuddied first…
BTW, good luck with the younger warren, ben. i’m so pleased to see him aware and involved. spoke with his sister wendy a few years back…wonderful lady!
All power to you. I look forward to watching it when you’re done.
That is awesome, thx for saving this film. I am very excited to see a finish product, the workprint vs dvd shots are amazing!!
Yes, please and ful steam ahead! The scans look so much better! Please add my name and addy to the mailing list!
Please accept my most grateful thanks for your father’s film! It has given me hours of schlocky fun that I would not trade for anything! (Well, at this point, let’s call that years…)
It wasn’t pretty and it certainly didn’t turn out the way your dad planned it, but so few things in life do, and in the end it has brought so many people together and is more memorable than half of what Hollywood has put out since the industry began!
I’m not certain either RT or CT would want to revisit Manos having covered that ground before, but the idea is not without precedent. CT has redone MST3K films and RT has redone their own films with different lineups. At the least, the possibility exists that either group would do an alt commentary track anyway so adding them into the fold can only increase the exposure and also the moolah coming in to offset your expenses! I can hear Crow now as the film fades in: “Color? Wait, this was in COLOR?!”
Speaking of which, this really clears up something that has nagged me for years: Betty Pierce’s 1966 review in which she stated, “the color came out very well…” Indeed it did! We just had to wait awhile for confirmation!
The review is posted here:
One last thing: Upon final release, it would be interesting to compare the restoration costs to the original $19,000 budget. I’m not in the industry, so I have no clue, but I’ll bet it dwarfs the 19K!
Adjusted for inflation, the reported $19,000 budget of Manos in 1966 would now be around $132,665. That will make this restoration a real bargain!
Has there been a date set for the re-issue Blu-Ray?? Also, are there any plans for theater screenings??
There is no date yet, but the restoration should be done in the fall.
If this has been asked already, I apologize, but did you happen to let the MST3K people know about this, if they don’t know already? They might get a kick out of it, and be willing to help you out.
Also, I look forward to your progress on this. That’s an awesome find.
They’re aware, and they’ve been very encouraging!
I’m sorry, but I still don’t see the justification for this. IT’S A VERY SHITTY MOVIE!! You’re really just wasting everyone’s time and money. I will not be contributing and will be sticking with my MST3K version, thanks.
Agree to disagree!
I am very confounded by your comment. This is not a publicly funded restoration! Private contributors who WANT to see this restoration happen are given their own cash to realize it. No one is taking from you! So lighten up…
Secondly, all film is worthy of preservation, if not necessarily for the art, then from an archeological stand point.
Now get back to telling people at the bakery that they are wasting their money buying cakes that you don’t like.
Sorry, check that: “GIVING their own cash.”
Don’t listen to Laura, just a troll from mst3kinfo who must have seen the post about this site and decided to come troll over here. Keep up the good work, it is so awesome that you are doing this! Manos most definitely deserves to be restored!
Haha, it’s alright! The important thing is that enough people out there want to see this restoration happen.
I don’t have a publicist, but I do have a community of people that share with me an affection for this film. I owe them every thanks for becoming partners with me in this process, donating and getting the word out, and taking this project as far as it has. I will work doggedly to ensure that Manos: The Hands of Fate survives well beyond our lifetime, and I take that responsibility seriously.
Looking forward to seeing the full restoration of this. Could you also add a subtitles option on the Blu-ray/DVD discs? And if possible, maybe even an isolated (music-only) audio track?
Subtitles are always a plus if you ask me- I’ll make ’em happen!
As for the music only track, well that depends on what we’ll unearth in the coming months…
Been fascinated by this restoration since it was announced and have eagerly followed the news and updates. So happy to see how much encouragement you’ve gotten.
I completely support your sentiment that all films deserve to be properly preserved, regardless of perceived quality. One of the reasons I’m a huge fan of Criterion and their mission.
Having read the arguments about the inclusion of various extras and the MST3K, I feel the need to weigh in with my few cents. There seem to be some vocal critics who argue against including any kind of “fan” or “riffing” extras and want to keep the film a pure restoration.
While I agree that including commentary from fans isn’t necessary, I think it is important to consider the historical and cultural context of the film in what I’d fathom to be the closest thing to a “definitive” or “special” edition Manos will receive.
Without MST3K’s initial riffing, this little film perhaps wouldn’t have been saved by the “The Master” in the eBay auction or received 35k+ in the Kickstarter campaign and might have died a silent death in a dump somewhere.
All I’m saying is that Manos owes a bit to the fine people from MST3K for the exposure that allows the restoration to take place today. A lot of people, me included, learned of this movie from that source and finding a way to include that legacy within the release seems necessary to me.
Personally, the idea of the original riffing or a newly-recorded one would be a lot of fun, if either are feasible. I don’t think the inclusion of that or any other supplementary material referencing MST3K’s place in Manos’ history would diminish the finished product.
All that being said, I have immense respect for “The Master” and what he’s doing and look forward to watching that beautiful 2K Blu-Ray at home in the near future.
Please add me to the mailing list. Will purchase the restoration. Good luck!
WOW! The find of the century!
I’m the guy who brought Troll 2 to the public eye and found the actors for the first time.
I’m in touch with one of the Manos actors who was also Co-director!
My current project has been the world’s first DVD release of “Frankenstein’s Planet of Monsters” which I had a public screening for earlier this week ;)
I would love to help out any way I can! Please contact me.
Lost Media Archive
I found the Kickstarter with hours to spare! Amazing. Yes, it was truly a painful film to watch on MTS3K, but fascinating all the same. If Torgo had only lived to see this day…
Never heard of this movie until Wed Feb 8, 2012 at a friend’s house watching MST3K. Became an instant fan! Love those cult classics and can’t wait for the restored version to come out! =)
Would of posted this somewhere else but cannot find a place, just wondering if the blu ray will be NON region locked (played in all 3 regions). Please don’t lock it to just region one as there are many fans in europe and elsewhere that would love to have this in their collections.
Thank you for doing this. Please inform me when the Bluray is available for purchase. I’m very anxious to replace my poor quality DVD and the stills from the work print look amazing. MANOS has been one of my favorite films for years and your find and restoration is (for me) on par with the finding of the lost METROPOLIS footage. Wonderful!
I sent a message through kickstarter and haven’t heard back – I missed the donation period but I’d still love to donate (at about the $50 level?) if it’s possible at this point. Is it?
RiffTrax has just announced they are going to be mocking Manos.
Make it mocking Manos, Live! August 16th
This is a fantastic project. I am sorry I missed the kickstarter event, but would love to get this on bluray. I also note that a review of other comments suggests that many of the actors and even costume designers are known and reachable.
Can you say….SEQUEL?!
This is gonna be grea-No, hang on…
It’s really cool that you’re restoring this amaz-No, that doesn’t work either.
This is… going to be interesting. Yes, that’s it, Interesting XD.
Put me down for a region-free Blu-ray when it’s done!
This is awesome and I feel like an idiot for not knowing about it until today. Especially since my love of MST3K and Manos has resulted in my being involved in a podcast called Torgo’s Pizzeria Podcast. We will make sure to plug your site and help get the word out about the restoration and if you’ll be doing donations again. Please keep us posted on the bluray, we’ll certainly want copies. You can finds us on itunes or email us at Torgospizzeria@gmail.com.
Ben…. I have been unable to contact you regarding a change to my email address. I am no longer receiving restoration updates, as a backer/donor to this project. How can I email you my current email address? Are you able to pull it from this entry? Thank you.
I’ve been looking, but there’s no way that I’m aware of to manually add a backer’s e-mail address from my control panel. Is there any way for you to change it on your end through your Kickstarter account? Maybe then it’ll updated automatically.
Issue resolved. I just got the last update emailed to me. Thanks again for making this project happen so professionally.
Glad to hear it!
Oh Master, IMDB reports that Quentin Tarentino owns a rare 35mm of Manos, saying it’s his favorite comedy. Does he know about your restoration efforts … maybe he would be willing to help finance the project?
IMDB consists mainly of user-submitted data. When fact checking this often-repeated statement (and even inquiring with the programmers at the New Beverly Cinema, which he co-owns) I was never able to find any solid confirmation that QT has a print. Even if he did, I’m sure he’s much too busy preparing his upcoming film to get involved here…
Manos on blu-ray? Sold!!!
Also, be sure not to miss the Manos videogame recently released for Apple’s IOS devices. It’s actually quite good, with an old-school 8-bit vibe to it. Well worth the $2 purchase price.
Will the re-master be packed together with the sequel?? Also, will it be available on amazon or through this site??
I am not in any way affiliated with the sequel.
I’ll do my best to ensure that the restoration will be available as widely as possible no matter what our distribution situation.
My god, man. What an undertaking. I saw this movie for the first time at a Rifftrax Live screening and I must see this movie restored to its original glory. Seeing the scans you’ve made of the original 16mm print makes me want to see this without the distraction of the Rifftrax Crew, to be “enjoyed” as a piece of movie history. Say what you will about how truly horrible this film’s story and production values were, the fact that a movie was made with so few resources and so many constraints is in itself an achievement that must be recognized. I doubt that Cameron, Spielberg, or Nolan could have achieved as much given the exact same resources and constraints. Perhaps that may be going too far, nevertheless, I applaud your efforts to preserve this piece of film history for future generations. I will be purchasing the Blu-ray disc as soon as it is available. Until that day, I will hardly be able to concentrate on anything as everything will seem so much less important than the release of your restored version of this film. Please hurry. I do not want to lose my job or reputation as a productive member of the community because I am unable to wait for the product of this noble endeavor.
I go to USC and I think my university would be proud to screen it (either the actual film or a digital version if you don’t want to wear the film out).
also, you should use kickstarter to get some funding if you self-distribute. I’m willing to bet you’ll get lots of support.
I look forward to seeing the workprint, since I’ve never actually seen the film before. I avoided the MST3K version because I wanted to see it for what it actually was- an old indie horror film. I enjoy hunting down underground/cult films, no matter the ratings/reviews and usually find that the films have an inherent joy to them, a free-spirited fun in the film that comes from the heart that most mainstream movies fail to capture.
Just to clarify, I’m a student and so I can only, possibly, get you in touch with whoever’s in charge of screening films here. I can’t promise anything.
Wow, Ben! I have to say I’m pretty excited you are doing this. I first saw Manos on MST3K but once Torgo made an appearance I knew I had to see the original!
Hell, hit up Quentin Tarantino for some support funds. He’s bragged in the past about owning a 35mm print of Manos, so he’d probably kick in to get a good print of the movie.
Me, I’m broke and can only support you in spirit (and linking to this page at any opportunity), but will purchase the disc when it is available. Until then…
“MY GOD! MIKE!”
This is a fantastic project! I’ve often wondered just how much of the very beginning of the film was missing after seeing the difference between MST3K’s version and the available “uncut” versions. Have you considered including any special features (poster gallery, production stills, perhaps the “Hotel Torgo” short)? I know it’s a long shot, but could you imagine what an outfit like Kino or Criterion could do with this?? I don’t own a Blu-Ray player, but if this were made available on DVD I’d pay top-dollar for it! I’ll be following this project with interest going forward and definitely donating when I can!!
I just watched Manos (MST3K version) for the first time last night. Although it has to be the worst movie I have ever seen, I have become fascinated by it, and how it came to be made. This is such a worthy project, and I wish it nothing but success.
Please tell me you have a release date set. As soon as I know the date I will order at least 2-3 copies.
Bravo dude! I happen to be a big fan of the movie, in fact, I just finished making my own Master costume! I look forward to seeing this restored!
Me and all my friends are waiting for blu-ray copy of this film every day. We pray for this movie so much. How soon will release?
Do you still need donations to finish the project? Bought a poster off the site – really nice! can’t wait to get it framed – but wasn’t sure if you still needed any help. One of my favorite films, so happy to see it get this kind of care and attention.
Wow! I just found out about this project and I will definitely buy the Blu-Ray when it comes out. I hope shipping to Europe will be an option…
Just lost my job (bummer) so not a lot of cash to hand but I just kicked in $20 via paypal. I have the msft3000 dvd and the quality is awful so i’m genuinely looking forward to picking this up! Will stick a thread up on Cult labs forum if there isn’t one already. This discovery is great news. Will definitely stick more cash into this once i’m back in work.
Please make sure its a multi region dvd / blue ray! cheers and love!
I just discovered this project!! I am so happy to see that a workprint has been found for ‘Manos’!!!! and thank you so very much for restoring the film in HD. I don’t know if this has been discussed already but I was wondering what other films did you get in the collection? There are many ‘lost’ or yet to be uncovered films from Emerson that I would love to see get properly preserved and issued on Blu-Ray or DVD, like the kiddie matinee film “The Jolly Genie” (1963), the gritty Irvin Berwick exploitation drama ‘The Street Is My Beat’ (1966) or Fredric Hobbs experimental ‘Troika’ (1969). Also is there any other negatives or workprints for “Psyched by the 4D Witch” (1972), “Creation of the Humanoids” (1962) and others? I would also love to see the dubbed “Hamlet” get a DVD release!! If you have much of the Emerson catalog I would love to see you get in contact with Something Weird Video, Vinegar Syndrome, Synapse Films or any other genre company to get all of these film perserved and out the public. Thank you so much for your love of film and for saving this collection!!!!