The popular answer to the worst film ever made is Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, and it is indeed worthy of that title. But within this dumpster fire of a film one can still glean some knowledge of the art of filmmaking.
Undoubtedly, the worst film ever made is Manos: The Hands of Fate. A film made on a bet in El Paso, Texas, it was rescued from oblivion by the gang at MST3K and has developed a cult following ever since. Now, a Florida State film student, Ben Solovey, is trying to do what needs to be done: a full restoration of the film.
“There’s a certain nostalgia factor to it,” Solovey says. “If you’ve ever picked up a video camera and tried to make something, you recognize Manos: The Hands of Fate.”
The filmmaking mistakes in Manos are legion. Moths flock toward the camera’s lights during night scenes, slates creep into the edge of frames, and actors look gape-jawed for direction when they’re not busy forgetting botched dialogue. It’s a movie to be appreciated for its sheer general disregard for anything that constitutes filmdom. You’ve heard of a movie that seems made for its own sake — if there’s such a thing as a movie made against its own sake, this is it. For filmmakers, Solovey suggests that Manos is a chance to remember their early passions by seeing someone relive all their own dumb blunders. And isn’t that, more than anything else, the definition of a guilty pleasure?
History’s greatest mistakes must not be forgotten, they must be enjoyed for their lack of splendor, lack of intelligence, lack of any and all benefit to society. We must never forget the lowest points of mankind and Manos is truly anti-Art. Kudos to Solovey for making sure history never forgets.
For some more background on Manos, here’s a short film on YouTube called Hotel Torgo. Enjoy! (but probably not, though)