Even though this year had plenty of downer moments, there were quite a few highlights that I think are worth mentioning. I know it is easy to remember the bad stuff that happens in our daily lives that I think we tend to forget all the good things, no matter how simple or small they might be. I think these are the moments that we need to focus on throughout lives, instead of the negative stuff. I think we’ll all find there are more of these high points than we realize. Here are a few of those moments that I’d like to revisit with you.
The Real Picture of Dorian Gray
I’m not sure why it took me so long to actually do this, but I finally made it out the Chicago Art Institute and got to see Ivan Albright’s painting that was used in the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was taking my wife into the city for a little break from reality, knowing that she is a fan of the museum, even though it has been decades since she’d been there. My appreciation of artwork has grown considerably over the last decade or so, which might have something to do with the fact that I have several friends that are professional artists, who always blow my mind with their talent. So I knew this was going to be an interesting tour. Plus, I knew that Albright’s piece from one of my favorite films is on display there, and I’d really like to see it in person.
Wandering through the huge maze that is the Art Institute, we eventually came around the corner and there it was. This piece was just huge, standing just over seven feet tall. This massive painting is just stunning to look at in person. The colors, the details, the darkness to the painting as well as the subject matter, was all just mind blowing. Standing before this masterpiece, it is kind of like standing in the Evans City cemetery, where the opening to the original Night of the Living Dead was filmed. You’re not just looking at movie history through your TV screen, but you’re standing right in front of it. I now know how people can just stand in front of a painting, gazing into it, getting lost in the colors and the brushstrokes. Almost like stepping into an emotion.
I know it is a bit expensive, but if you’re in Chicago and have the chance to go to the Art Institute, I would highly recommend it. I’d say if only to see this painting, but there are some other amazing pieces there as well.
For those who might not know (meaning this must be your first time at the site since I’m always going on about it), but I have a lot of reference books on the horror genre and those that have worked in it. While I try to read as much as I can, with everything else going on, it is so easy to slip by and not get any reading done. So last year I set a goal for myself to get through at least 12 books during the year, figuring a book a month on average would be a good start. At the end of that first year, I think I was one title away from hitting that goal. But this year, I blew by that goal, actually hit a grand total of 14 different titles.
They were: Spanish Horror Film by Antonio Lazaro-Reboll, Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu, Cult Horror Films by Welch Everman, The Unholy Three by John Hamilton, Father of The Blob by Jack H. Harris, Katzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future by Mark Thomas McGee, I Cannot, Yet I Must By Anders Runestad, The Supernatural Cinema of Guillermo del Toro Edited by John W. Morehead, Sex, Sadism, Spain, and Cinema by Nicholas G. Schlegel, Giallo Cinema and Its Folktale Roots by Michael Sevastakis, It Came from the 80s by Francesco Borseti, Little Horrors by T.S. Kord, Growing up with Manos by Jackey Neyman Jones, and When Animals Attack edited by Vanessa Morgan.
Out of all of those titles, I have picked my favorite 3 from those.
Growing Up with Manos: The Hands of Fate
By Jackey Neyman Jones with Laura Mazzuca Toops
Published by BearManor Media, 2016. 138 pages
Any serious fan of horror, cult and exploitation films, not to mention Mystery Science Theater 3000, knows of the film Manos: The Hands of Fate. Known to the world as the worst movie ever made, even beating out anything that Ed Wood Jr. ever created is a tough race to win, but it has. A film made by a bunch of locals in the small town of El Paso, Texas, all with dreams of stardom in their eyes, created a film that still lives on to this day, something that has gone farther than any of the ones involved ever thought possible. Maybe not in the way they all hoped, but none the less it has.
Jackey Neyman Jones appeared in the film as little Debbie, but also had a greater connection besides her little part. Her father not only appears in the film as the infamous The Master, but also did the makeup, was the set designer, and quite a bit more. Her mother also worked on the movie, making quite a few of the costumes in the film. There were promises of payment and percentages, but we all know those how those go, even the movie making state of California. But instead of payment, what Tom Neyman and his daughter got was immortality because of their connection and appearances in Manos. Sometimes it makes you wonder what is better.
The ultimate in bad cinema, Manos: The Hand of Fate will be screening next month at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, on Nov. 11th at 7:30pm. Actress Jackey Neyman Jones, who appeared in the film will be there for a Q&A about the film and her experiences being part of this cult classic. Joining her will be author Laura Mazzuca Toops, who co-wrote, along with Jones, the book Growing Up with Manos: The Hands of Fate. For the details about this event, just click HERE.
If you can’t make it to the screening, Jones will be having a book signing at Bucket O’ Blood on Sunday the 13th. No real details have been listed yet, other than this bit of news being mentioned by Jones herself. Once we get more details, we’ll be sure to announce it here. In the meantime, here is the link to their website. Just click HERE.
For those of you that have not yet….experienced Manos, now is not only your chance to change all of that (as well as your life), but you also have the opportunity to meet someone directly involved with the film, as well as picking up her book about the making of it. Not a bad way to spend an evening, don’t you think?
If you want to order a copy of this book ahead of time, you can do that from the publisher, in either hardcover or softcover edition at BearManor Media, by clicking HERE.
We all have our favorite “bad” movies that we enjoy. Hell, I hold two events a year dedicated to these kind of movies. For years, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space was regarded as the worst film ever made, but I know from personally experiences that not to be true. But there is one title that seems to have risen to the top and is one that is brought up the most when talking about the top turkey! And that film would be Harold P. Warren’s 1966 epic film Manos: The Hands of Fate. A film of this caliper has to have its stories and now you can learn more about this film than you probably ever wanted to!
Growing Up With Manos: The Hands of Fate: How I Was the Child Star of the Worst Movie Ever Made, And Lived to Tell the Story was written by Jackey Neyman Jones, who played the character of Debbie in the film and has all the stories behind it. You will learn of the behind-the-scenes tales of this bizarre little film that has gone on to have a cult status, such as the bet the director made with a TV producer that “anyone could make a movie” to the tragic suicide of actor John Reynolds, who played Torgo, and all the other little historical facts about this strange movie. Hell…they even have the forward written by Joel Hodgson!
Co-written with Laura Mazzuca Troops, BearManor Media is releasing this title upon the world in both a softcover ($14.95) and hardcover ($24.95) versions that will be available soon. You can always check out their website HERE for all the latest details on this book, as well as the many other great titles they offer.