Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) at Screen 13’s TV Party 1979-1983 – plus some words of Thanks
11-15-66, El Paso – The World Premiere of Manos: the Hands of Fate. True to legend, it only played a few screens in it’s first run, but I have a feeling that there’s a few more waiting to be documented as Emerson Film Enterprises had some connections to the independent theaters across The US. Although it had a short run, it showed up on a few Late Shows from 1979 to the Early 80’s at the most appropriate of times around the 1 to 5 AM slots, like the TV version of a movie that appeared here and there at various theaters through the years leaving clues to solving a mystery about it’s run. A few people in North Carolina and the Bay Area of California can report of their sightings of this legendary movie on late night TV through 1979-1983 with confidence – this first installment of Screen 13’s TV Party has got their support.
In 1979, as if it were destined to be by The Master, is was shown on a TV station in Charlotte, NC, programmed out of one of the major centers of Exploitation through the 60’s and 70’s …look at the last show in the list at 5:30 AM on Saturday…
3-2-79, WCCB, Channel 18 Charlotte, NC (Clipping: Greenville, SC)- In the days when the Drive ins were folding up, turning mainstream or XXX, a lot of wild films were on UHF, including those we originally thought never to have seen a TV Guide. This includes Manos seen just before sunrise at full force without Comedy commentary, movie signs, or invention exchanges (not a dig at MST3K, that was the way people like me saw them). Being on terrestrial TV, those with poor reception were possibly thinking if they were watching something from another world or if they were having the worst hangover ever
Note: This You Tube was posted in 2012, to get the Full Metal Manos, head over to Synapse, link at the bottom.
If Plan 9 from Outer Space made it feel like 2AM, then Manos would seriously by 4AM with a strange feeling. I wonder if Flesh Feast would make it feel like 3AM with a serious buzz.
Someone at WCCB must have liked to throw on that film when there was a gap, or actually liked it, because it showed up a couple of months later!
4-21-79, Channel 18 shows Charlotte and the surrounding area it’s Sunday Morning showing of Manos at 4:30. Note how Christopher Lee’s name is shortened in a couple of the films he was including The Virgin of Nuremberg. Manos was after Creation of the Humanoids. another Emerson Film Enterprises release, although one that had quite a bit of TV play before.
Kevin Hefferman’s incredible book Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold told the tale of how Horror movies and films that were considered to be “Orphans” – picked up films that were just shipped over to TV, maybe with a couple of theatrical showings – were wound up into TV packages by Independent movie companies in the golden days of Shock Theater (The most famous was AIP’s legendary TV wing). By the Late 70’s, a lot of Indie companies that collected up a mass amount of movies from others that closed up by the Mid 70’s and sometimes took chances by picking up other movies in the hope that there was still a market for them were finding out the hard way that their time was seriously over and had to find a way to get rid…I mean, sell what they had and knowing that the real audience was sitting at home wide awake at 2 in the morning waiting for any kind of weirdness to show up on the screen (A big library that was with Cougar and Libert Films had Zaat!/The Blood Waters of Dr. Z in it for example). Around that time, other companies that were barley treading water were also throwing in the towel and taking what they can offer to TV, like Emerson Film Enterprises.
6-12-81, KICU-TV, San Francisco (Clipping: Ukiah, CA) – “The Perfect 36” was known for the Movies ‘Till Dawn. Betrayal, on at 3AM was a TV Movie shown on ABC in ’74. Only the Movie Ghouls turned to a film with “no information available” in a time that had some killer competition including the first Smokey and the Bandit, Tomorrow, and Backstage Pass (a music show in the days before MTV).
Although I can’t say that this was from the show that week (still looking for some program guide), Videowest’s Backstage Pass had stuff like this. This was the proof that you were either into the Music or The Master…it was a tough choice, if it was like this, then I would have chose the Music for that half hour while flicking back and forth during the commercials.
Emerson closed up shop around 1977 with a very interesting list of films to it’s credit ranging from cult movie favorites like Manos and Psyched by the 4D Witch to Sexploitation (Wife Swappers, Candy’s Lustful Nature), imported films like the version of Hamlet that was riffed on by MST3K, and even an attempt to go into respected films in Samuel Fuller’s Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street before fading away without being noticed with Fugitive Lovers with Stephen Oliver exchanging his motorcycle rides for a rugged Country setting and the G-Rated Mark Twain: American among it’s final releases, In 1976 or 77, Emerson either sold off what it can to another company or formed a TV division that played it’s films, or what it can actually show, on the TV circuit for a few years before Something Weird Video got a hold of a few prints of the films it released (of which Manos was #4793) while someone working for one Dr. Forester at Deep 13 chose a couple of it’s films to show in it’s experiments which are now legend.
A word of Thanks on this day: In tribute to Tom Neyman, “The Master” of Manos: The Hands of Fate who passed away on Nov. 14, and in return for the AV Club’s mention of The Scene of Screen 13 a while ago, here’s a post about the actor and the movie he will be forever remembered for. Thanks to Tom and his family who are a part of the world of Manos and thanks to The AV Club for giving a mention of The Scene which helped me move into blogging more.
Also head on over to Debbie’s Manos site.
Plus, a Thanks to Something Weird Video and Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as the Late Night and All Night movie shows of the past who brought us these classics back in the days before VHS was all around.
One last word for now: Synapse has unleashed what will be considered the ultimate release of Manos on Blu. The Mater commands!