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Growing Up With Manos The Hands OF Fate
How I was the child star of the worst movie ever made
and lived to tell about it
Foreword by Joel Hodgson
Equal parts memoir/family saga/film book, Little Debbie’s author is Jackey Neyman Jones, who, along with her father Tom (and the family dog), starred in Manos: The Hands of Fate, a low-budget horror film made over the course of six weeks in 1966.
Considered by many to be the “worst movie ever made” (Rotten Tomatoes gives it no stars), Manos: The Hands of Fate has achieved a cult status on the level of Plan 9 From Outer Space after getting the riff treatment in 1993 on the cable television comedy, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (although MST creator Joel Hodgson credits the film’s cult status with its hypnotic peculiarity rather than the hilarity of the riffs).
But for Jackey Neyman Jones, Manos: The Hands of Fate is, at its heart, a home movie that just happens to be shared with the world.
As a six-year-old white kid growing up in a Mexican neighborhood in 1960s El Paso, Jackey Neyman always knew her family was different—and their skin color was only the start. Fun for the Neymans meant picnics and sledding down the sand dunes at White Sands Proving Ground, where rocket scientist Werhner von Braun blew stuff up, or scavenging the desert for weathered wood for her father Tom’s eccentric artwork. But in April 1966, when the Neymans met producer Hal Warren, things went from strange to stranger.
A schemer with a dream, Hal recruited Tom Neyman and other thespians from El Paso’s Festival Theater to help him realize his lifelong goal of show-biz success. The vehicle? A B-movie called Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Combining her own memories with recent interviews with the surviving cast and crew, Jones shares the behind-the-scenes story of Manos – from Hal Warren’s alleged bet with TV producer Stirling Silliphant that “anyone could make a movie,” right up through the newest Manos-related projects that are carrying the film into the Internet age. Along the way, Jackey debunks myths (no, a Manos curse didn’t kill all the actors, in spite of the claims in a recent documentary), and shares related pop culture facts (Jackey was an extra in another very bad 1976 film, " Curse of Bigfoot.'")
More than a memoir, Growing Up With Manos The Hands Of Fate crystallizes a unique time and place in America, when a crew of actors with a weak script and a borrowed camera set out to make a bad movie—and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Jackey Neyman Jones is an artist living in Oregon. Laura Mazzuca Toops is a writer/editor with more than 30 years’ experience in business and fiction writing. She is the author of three historical novels.