Just when I thought there couldn't possibly be any more Manos-related developments, another bombshell. First there was the puppet musical, then the 2-disc special edition from Shout! Factory, then rumors of a sequel. And now -- some half-mad film archivist has stumbled across the original Manos: The Hands of Fate workprint, and is in the process of restoring the film to strike a new theatrical print and potentially produce a Manos Blu-Ray.
A fellow using the handle "Ben Solo" (actually, Ben Solovey) over on the Something Awful forums picked up a pile of film at auction that had originally belonged to Manos distributor Emerson Film Enterprises. Among the reels was the original Manos workprint (bearing the title Fingers of Fate). You can read the whole story (along with a lot of technical details) here.
Solovey now plans to restore the film, and has set up a website so we can all follow his progress.
The site includes some stunning frame scans that show just how much image (and color) has been lost in the dupey copies-of-copies of Manos that most of us are familiar with. I've pasted a few below.
You can year an interview with Solovey over at Film School Rejects. Let's all hope he can stay on schedule and deliver on the high-def DVD -- and that some forward-thinking distributor (Criterion, are you reading this?) can pitch in and give a restored Manos the type of release it deserves.
The Dead Next Door is a blog about regional or "backyard" horror and science fiction films made from the late 1950s to the earlyl 1990s (and beyond). These films were released during the peak years of independent film production, created by a motley crew of seasoned pros, gifted amateurs, and enthusiastic genre fans, along with dozens of eccentric dreamers -- doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, publishers, commercial filmmakers, TV production crews and moonlighting pornographers -- all looking for their big break or a fast buck or both.