Worse than Plan 9
For years, I've felt ashamed that my wife renews Entertainment Weekly. I know it's one of the dumbest magazines out there (thank you Lucky for lowering the bar) but this week it redeemed itself with an article entitled "The Worst Movie Ever Made."
1966, El Paso, Texas: on a bet, Harold "Hal" P. Warren, a fertilizer salesman, decided to direct a movie. He scribbled down the outline for the plot on a napkin. He cast himself as a man who accidentally drives his family into the clutches of some undefined kind of monster. He raised $19,000, which today with cheap videotape and editing equipment might have been enough but in the days of film, it wasn't enough to record a wedding.
Only two cast members were paid: the six-year old daughter (given a new bike) and a dog (50 pounds of dog food). The script called for the family to ride in the car for what seems like 45 minutes. This isn't filmed inside the car, providing meaningful dialogue; it's mainly filmed outside the car. You just see a car riding down the road for the first half of the movie.
Those of you in the know are already saying, "Hey, that's Manos: The Hands of Fate!"
Manos is some sort of vampire-like fiend who calls himself "the Master" and wears a black cape with red hands. He doesn't really do anything but the audience is expected to fear him for some reason. The Master has a harem of wives who wear filmsy white dresses and fight each other by rolling around on the ground and making strange noises.
Easily the best part of Manos was Torgo, the Master's version of Rensfield. Shipping clerk John Reynolds took the role of Torgo who is supposed to be some kind of a satyr but you never see any evidence of it except his kneecaps seem swelled up under his pants. Cast members believe Reynolds was high on acid the whole time during filming. Sadly, almost exactly a month before the November 15, 1966, world premier of Manos: The Hands of Fate, Reynolds shot himself through the mouth, ending any chance of Torgo's revenge.
Warren kept a good sense of humor about the movie and wore the Master's robe every Halloween. He died of lung cancer in 1985 and never got to see the Renaisance of Manos in 1993.
At first the writers of Mystery Science 3000 thought Manos was too terrible for even them to use. Finally they broke down and aired it. (For those of you unfamiliar with MS3K , the premise is that a mad doctor and his assistant, tv's Frank, torture/experiment upon a test subject by showing him horrible movies. Manos was so bad that both the doctor and Frank personally apologized.)
Although it hasn't been released yet, Hotel Torgo , a documentary on Manos , has been completed. I don't know much about this yet but you have to figure that pressure was off the director. He knew no matter how bad a movie he made, it couldn't be worse than the subject.