The Concession Stand

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

Turkey Month: “Manos: The Hands of Fate”

One of the oldest rules in Hollywood is to never put one’s own money into a film. The thinking behind this is that if an auteur can sell an idea to someone else, then the idea must be worthwhile. If the idea is a hard sell to others, then maybe  it isn’t the foolproof hit that one thinks it is. 

One such film was Manos: The Hands of Fate. The film was directed, written and produced by El Paso fertilizer salesman Hal P. Warren, who believed that anyone could make a film. It was a legendary chance meeting between Hal and Hollywood screenwriter Stirling Silliphant in a hotel bar that inspired Hal to put his money where his mouth was and try making a film.

Stirling Silliphant

Hal acquired a camera that could only film 32 seconds at a time and couldn’t record sound at all. He assembled a cast of people he had worked with before in community theater, plus some professional models. He told his cast and crew that he couldn’t pay them and offered shares in the film instead.

Hal P. Warren

The production was disastrous and it was apparent to the cast that Mr. Warren didn’t know what he was doing. Mr. Warren would insist that every problem could be fixed in post-production, however. The premiere was even more disastrous. The cast was so embarrassed that they quietly snuck out before the film was finished. 

The movie would fade into obscurity until Mystery Science Theater 3000 made fun of it on an episode of the show. This exposure would finally bring the film and Mr. Warren the fame he had hoped he’d get from the film’s initial release. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t live to see it.