Actor-Inspired Element: Tom Neyman was going through a phase of hand motifs in his art, so when he did the set design, he incorporated some of the sculpted hands he'd been working on, which led to the hand fixation of The Master and his cult.
Amateur Cast: None of the cast had ever acted on film before. Most of the main players (including Harold P. Warren himself) were community theater veterans. The wives were recruited from a local modeling agency.
Author Existence Failure: The planned sequel has managed to get back almost all of the original cast, but the death of John Reynolds means that Torgo had to be recast.
The Cast Showoff: Tom Neyman contributed the various "hand" sculptures and the Master's portrait and robe.
Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: A film review from shortly after the premiere lists Torgo as the film's "hero", though granted he's the closest thing to one. Curiously, the reviewer also focuses in on Torgo's "beautiful set of teeth" as his most prominent feature.
Creator Backlash: In a strange variant, Hal Warren admitted that Manos was a terrible movie, but he remained perversely proud of it all the same. At one point he half-jokingly suggested redubbing the film into a comedy in hopes of obtaining a wider release.
Doing It for the Art: Harold P. Warren was just an average everyday man who went out there with his friends and group of community theater actors and wanted to make an entertaining horror movie with no studio backing and without the risks of Executive Meddling. Tropes Are Not Good unfortunately, as he had no experience in actually shooting, editing, or basically anything regarding movie making and its universally seen as one of the worst and most boring movies to sit through. Still, point for effort.
Fan Nickname: The film was often referred to as Mangos: The Cans of Fruit by the more frustrated cast members.
Incestuous Casting: Tom Neyman (The Master) and Jackie Neyman (Debbie) are father and daughter. Debbie ends up becoming one of the Master's wives. The hellhound was Neyman's own dog, which is why both the Master and Debbie were able to handle him so well.
Jossed: Jackey Newman dismisses the rumor that John Reynolds wore the leg braces incorrectly and ended up with chronic pain and an addiction to painkillers.
Looping Lines: The movie was shot using a silent camera, so Warren and three other actors dubbed everyone's lines.
No Budget: The movie was shot for $19,000 in 1966 money, which was considered shoestring even for the time.
Not only did the cast and crew work on Manos for free, but Warren could only afford a single take for each scene using an outdated camera that shot up to 30 seconds at most. note Which contributed to several errors like him shouting "Cut!" and the clapperboard briefly appearing in the final cut These budget issues also led to night scenes being shot with as little lighting as possible, along with a four hour editing deadline for the film in post. In the end, Warren was only able to compensate Jackey Neyman and her dog for their work on the film (with a bicycle and 50 pounds of food respectively).
Because the budget was stretched so thin, actor Tom Neyman also had to serve as the film's art director (crafting all the props and paintings, as well as the prosthetic legs for Torgo's costume) on top of his role of playing The Master. Warren also chose to record the film's audio in post as an attempt to save money on renting sound equipment.
The reason for the endless driving montage in the intro was because the opening credits were supposed to be added over the footage, but Warren couldn't cover the cost to do so. This is also the reason why the movie fell into the public domain, as a copyright notice wouldn't have been present in the final cut, which was required under copyright laws at the time.
Playing Gertrude: Diane Mahree (Margaret) was 19 years old when they filmed this movie, and is only 13 years older than her on-screen daughter Jackey Neyman (who was six years old when she played Debbie).
The actors who play the Master and Debbie are father and daughter.
The Master's evil dog was their dog, which is why (despite the dubbed-in barking) it's very friendly.
Peppy the poodle was the Warren family's dog.
Reclusive Artist: It's pretty difficult to find any sort of personal information on any of the cast or crew involved in this film. Things that are known about the crew members, such as actor John Reynolds and director Hal Warren, are either rumors or were provided through word of mouth.
Springtime for Hitler: A meta case. Some crew members have recalled that Hal Warren offered them 150 to 300 percent of Manos' hypothetical profits in lieu of immediate payment for their work on it. This was subverted when the film proved to be a Box Office Bomb, not even recouping its measly $19,000 budget during its brief theatrical run at a few New Mexico and Texas drive-in theaters.
Stunt Casting: Inverted. Diane Mahree was signed up for a regional West Texas Beauty Contest that would lead to Miss Texas - just so Hal Warren could say that the film starred "a local beauty queen".
Talking to Himself: Everyone is dubbed by five actors, including Warren himself. When the sheriff points out Mike's burned-out taillight, it becomes an odd Dada experiment in alternate reality.
Troubled Production: The film was made when fertilizer salesman Hal Warren befriended and later made a bet with famous screenwriter Stirling Silliphant that he could make a horror film with a low budget. And it shows. From a severely limited camera (only thirty-two seconds of film, without sound) to Warren's overall ineptitude, it was a struggle to create.
What Could Have Been: Harold Warren apparently talked a well-known Hollywood actressnote Her exact identity has been lost to history, but circumstantial evidence points to Suzanne Pleshette. into flying to El Paso to play Margaret, but after realizing what an amateurish production it was (and that Warren wouldn't pay any money up front), she immediately quit.
The pillars where the Master and his wives sleep is a real location.
The Master's "Lodge of Sins" was actually the ranch of then El Paso County Judge, Colbert Coldwell. Sadly, the house where Manos was filmed burnt down. Hotel Torgo filmed the then abandoned house before it burnt down.
The scene at the beginning where the family pulls into a scenic overlook and talks about putting the top down was filmed on Scenic Drive in El Paso. It looks the same to this day. The city in the background that Joel calls "Beautiful Ground Zero" is Ciudad Juarez.note Given the reputation that Ciudad Juarez has today, that riff becomes all that much more Hilarious in Hindsight.
According to the daughter of Hal P. Warren, his Halloween tradition was putting on the Master robe when he gave candy out. After her father died, her brother continued the tradition.
John Reynolds, who played Torgo, was usually high while filming, according to Jackey Neyman. He committed suicide about a month before the film was supposed to premiere.
Jackey Neyman said in an interview that she had spent some time as a teenager and young adult looking for a copy of Manos in libraries and such, but never could find a copy.note Too bad she never checked the Video Watchdog catalog, which sold copies of it for years before the MST3K airing. Then, one weekend in 1993, she received a call from her father. Apparently, he had settled in to snooze in front of the TV with Comedy Central on, and heard some familiar music during a certain episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Elated, Jackey called Comedy Central in New York, told them that she'd been in this movie that they'd shown, and requested that she get a copy. The person on the other end was absolutely floored when Jackey identified what movie.