Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Worst Movie Ever

Dear god, save us from his felt-y grip!

There are a lot of painful memories from my days at the University of North Florida.  It was the place where I really developed into this worst-Dan that I am today.  One of the formative events that took place in that bygone era was my initial viewing of the movie "Manos: the Hands of Fate."

A little background: our beloved Alma Mater is (or at least, was at the time) situated within several acres of natural wildlife preserve, surrounded by woods, the nearest source of entertainment was a Publix that you could walk to (alongside the highway, without the benefit of sidewalks).  Me and my car-less friends were often stranded for long stretches of time within the confines of the dorms.  In the last years of my journey through University, I had befriended two scholars "Clever" Dan Richardson and David Barron.  These two would quickly become bastions of humor and sanity in my final years as a student there - we shared a great many things in common - one of which was a love of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This was a time before reliable torrent sites and a time after VHS tape trades, so finding copies of the venerable series was always a chore, until we found the motherload.  A website that claimed to have all of the episodes - and that they would burn them to blank DVDs (an innovation of the time) for peanuts, all in the name of spreading the joy.  We sent out for every title that looked like it might involve a side-boob (Girl in lovers lane, Fire Maidens of Venus) or grotesquely under budget fantasy (Deathstalker, Merlins shop of Wonders).  In the mix we threw in "Manos: the Hands of Fate", just as a whim, because you had to have a certain number of selections before they'd ship to you for free.

What a whim.  We ran through those videos with a passion - when you are trapped in a university apartment for hours and hours and hours with no women (on purpose, you don't know the women we were avoiding), no alcohol (no choice, there wasn't a place close enough to buy any) and nothing on TV (because there is NEVER anything good on TV) having something that eats two hours of otherwise dead-time is a lifesaver.

We made it into a kind of event, all of us would pile into my apartment, sit on the bed and the one chair, and mock these terrible movies.  We usually held it at my place because I had a mostly absentee roommate.  But I recall that time, he was home - and we decided to have the thing at David's place.  Up in that hot loft, looking on at his tiny screen, we geared up for the next video in the queue: Manos.  We couldn't get more than 10 minutes into the vile thing before David got violently, physically ill.  He spent most of the time in real physical, bowel-wrenching pain (the rest of us managed to keep our pain on the mental tier of anguish).

Looking back on it now, he was the lucky one - trapped in the singular bathroom for stretches of time - or he would have been the lucky one, if the other Dan and I hadn't decided to pause every time David left.  If we were going to suffer through this film, by gods, so was he.  I think it must have taken the three of us over three hours to finish this 90 minute movie.  I am pretty sure that is over the recommended dosage of exposure to Manos (which, for the record, states that "0" is the preferred amount).  We survived, barely.  But there was always a sense of betrayal - that good friends wouldn't have let you suffer so - that we all carried.  I still carry it to this day.  Friends don't let friends watch Manos.

This nutter is Re-Mastering Manos
David Barron, writes better things than Manos.
Manos, in puppet form!

What is your worst movie?

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