Manos faded into obscurity for decades, but Jackey's always held onto the memories. She had a lonely childhood, describing herself as a weird kid who had trouble making friends. And Reynolds' suicide was a precursor to the suicidal feelings that both Jackey and her father would struggle with (not because of Manos; just because of, you know, life). Their relationship was strained, but Manos' popularity has been something they can bond over.
"What makes Manos so significant is that it's one of those bright, shining moments you hold onto. Because after that, things got so dark for so long. That was always something my dad and I did together, and no one could take that away. There's been a lot of family issues through the years. And the resurgence of Manos, having people give us opportunities to come together, has created healing that I never imagined could happen. I let go of so many things, and here we are in a whole new place, and I can honestly say that's it because of Manos. It's weird, but true."
There are stranger ways to bond with a family member ... None that we can think of, but they probably exist.
Jackey quietly kept those memories in the back of her mind until her dad called her one day.
"I looked for [a copy] a bit in college and then gave up. And then another 10 years go by, and all of a sudden my dad calls me out of the blue and says, 'You'll never believe what I just saw on television.' It was insane. He's a Mystery Science Theater fan, so he called me after he watched it."
So Jackey phoned Comedy Central.
"Hello? May I speak with Tom Servo, please?"
"I said, 'You just played this movie, and I've been looking for it my whole life, because my family was all part of it. Is there any chance I can get a copy of it?' He asks what the name of it is, I tell him, and then there's this long, long pause. I thought he hung up or got disconnected, my heart was beating. And then he goes, 'Oh my God. Are you Debbie?' So that was the first time I had any inclination that anyone else on the planet knew anything about this film."
"You sound ... different."
They were happy to send her a copy. That was in 1993, and it slowly snowballed from there. Manos got a DVD release, then a carefully restored Blu-Ray funded by a 48,000-dollar Kickstarter campaign. There have been theatrical adaptations, a rock opera, a puppet musical, a video game, and a documentary. A tongue-in-cheek sequel is in the works. There's loads of fan art. It's been referenced in How I Met Your Mother and Elementary. Jackey's been blogging about Manos since 2012, she has a book coming out, and she's had a ton of fun doing interviews and going to conventions. Her dad's been involved in the fandom, as well.
"If you can't be the best, make the best of being the worst. My dad gets a kick out of it too. And if you could see my dad on stage, he was very good. But that film ... when he and I did a commentary, he hadn't seen it in years, not since he saw it on MST. And he goes, 'Oh God, this is awful.'"
That's part of why Jackey's so active in the fandom. Because almost 50 years later, it's still a great way to hang out with her dad.
Via Jackey Neyman Jones
"Everybody smile and say 'The End?'"
You can learn about Manos Returns here and check out Debbie's website here. Mark has a Twitter and a story collection.
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