Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hotel Torgo (2004)

Short documentary on the making of the now-infamous 1966 low-budget horror film MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, which was notable for having been directed by a local El Paso fertilizer salesman and has earned the dubious distinction in many circles as the worst film ever made. The doc, directed by Aaron Allard, James Lafleur, and Marco Pazzano, is a fascinating glimpse into regional filmmaking, and the resources that MANOS' director, Hal Warren, drew on to put his rather bizarre vision on the screen.

The thrust of the documentary are the interviews with historian Richard Brandt, and Bernie Rosenblum, who acted in MANOS as well as pulling double duty on seemingly a dozen other crew positions. Rosenblum's stories about the production are delightfully funny and often quite interesting as an insight into the intentions of the filmmaker. His account of the film's disastrous premiere is especially of interest as an indicator of how audiences -- even the very local audience for whom the film was a major event -- reacted to the film at the time of its release. There are also visits to the locations that were used for the house and the Master's lair, neither of which seem to have changed much in the intervening 40 years. An entertaining and revealing doc about a film that has endured much longer than anyone involved in its creation would have expected.

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