…just the worst of the competent films.
Having just re-watched Manos, the Hands of Fate, (seriously, twice here. recently with the MAD’s. And previously the Rifftrax Live, Manos. What is wrong with me?) I thought I would share a little idea I have had. Something I call the Manos Line.
The question was asked tonight, is Manos the worst film? I don’t believe that it is. And many others agree. I don’t even feel that it is the worst MST3K did. Red Zone Cuba is a wretched affair I would not want to watch without the riffs. And Fu Manchu is such an incredible bore-fest.
Back around the turn of the century, I was a film critic for a local cable station. And for those who do not know, critics don’t just see the good films. Lots of “B” flicks. Even some “C” flicks. Think the stuff that used to be on USA, Up All Night. Then quite a few of what I call “Z” flicks.
Some productions just suffered from low budgets. Others were amateurishly put together by people who had a camera and wanted to have fun. And quite a few where the director had a story to tell, but clearly didn’t study film or understand story structure. (Man, you see a lot of those at the film expos)
But while watching these, I had a term I often used when comparing films. I called it the Mano’s Line. To be really considered garbage by me it had to be below the Manos Line. Yes, Manos is a BAD film. But the plot goes from A to B to C. The characters followed their own internal logic. I could actually hear what was said. Nobody started on their mark and then began moving after the cut. NO BOOMS IN SHOT!
So while Manos is not one of the worst films ever, it is at the bottom of what I will call decent films. Yes the sound can be heard, barely. Yes it is edited competently, barely. Yes it is properly lit, barely. It literally meets the bottom of all standards. So that is why, for me, it sets the bar for what I would consider a truly bad film.