Worst movie ever, take two! 'Manos' star raising funds for comedic sequel

Help "Manos: The Hands of Fate," a famously awful movie revived by MST3K, return yet again with this Kickstarter campaign. The Master approves.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read
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Tom Neyman, 80, played The Master in the original
"Manos: The Hands of Fate" and will re-create his role in the planned sequel.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

It's a simple Spanish word that means "hands," but to those who grew up with "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the word "manos" means something else.

"Manos: The Hands of Fate," made in 1966 by a Texas fertilizer salesman, is a legendarily awful movie about a vacationing family that stumbles upon the creepy Valley Lodge and ends up falling into a cult of ladies in gauzy underwear and a guy with a hand fetish.

It was filmed with a silent camera, so all the dialogue is dubbed. One actress broke her leg, so her character was reduced to that of a randy teen making out in a car. Poor henchman Torgo (late actor John Reynolds) was supposed to be a satyr, but just looked like a sad dude with giant knees.

"Manos" would have died a quiet death but for its 1993 discovery by "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The cult comedy show famous for overlaying comic dialogue on bad movies catapulted it to bad-movie fame with a legendary episode. And in 2012, the three MST3K alums who formed a similar group, Rifftrax, aired "Manos" in hundreds of theaters around the US, with fresh jokes mocking the movie.

Now Jackey Neyman Jones, who played little Debbie in "Manos," is hoping to bring the infamous movie back with a Kickstarter campaign for a tongue-in-cheek sequel, "Manos Returns."

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"Thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000, 'Manos' has become this pop-culture phenomenon," Neyman Jones says on the Kickstarter page. "However, none of the original cast or crew ever got paid...and they haven't benefited from it since then. If you loved 'Manos,' this is your chance to give back just a little bit of that love."

Launching the Kickstarter didn't come without doubts, but Neyman Jones quickly put her "Mano" fame in perspective.

"When I decided to do this project, it was like stepping off a cliff," she told CNET's Crave blog. "I was terrified, thinking, 'What if I fail? What about my reputation?' And then I instantly realized that I'm most publicly known as being in the worst movie ever made. What reputation? So, in usual form, I jumped and have been joyfully amazed ever since."

As of Monday afternoon, she had raised close to $21,000 of her $24,000 goal, with eight days remaining in the campaign. If all unfolds as planned, five backers at the $2,000 level (that equals about £1,400 or AU$2,770) will even receive a walk-on part in the film, which is scheduled to be shot in western Oregon later this year. Neyman Jones plans to hold the film's first screening on November 15, the 50th anniversary of the original "Manos" premiere.

Fan response has been tremendous, Neyman Jones says, with support coming from those who loved the MST3K episode and also those who just love the charm of the goofy movie itself. One fan confessed to giving friends copies of "Manos" for special occasions, "often much to their dismay," Neyman Jones told Crave.

Neyman Jones' father, Tom, now 80, played The Master in the original film, and has already filmed his scenes for the sequel. He appears in the witty Kickstarter video, delivering the infamous line "The Master approves."

Neyman Jones and director Tonjia Atomic say they're not trying to re-create "Manos" (and who could?), but are striving to make the "best film that we possibly can." And that may be the only time the word "best" and "Manos" are used in the same sentence.

Update, 7 p.m. PT: This article has been updated to includeJackey Neyman Jones' comments to CNET.