Sunday, April 14, 2013

“Manos” The Hands of Fate—Capital I Productions at IFCC—N. Portland

Worst Movie Ever?
This Sci-fi spoof is playing at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center at 5340 N. Interstate Ave. and runs through May 5th.  The play adaptation is directed and adapted by Brian Adrian Koch from a film written and directed by Harold P. Warren.  For more information go to www.capitalIproductions.com

If Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Elvira features your film on their show, then it’s gotta be bad.  But, as to the worst, that’s debatable.  Ed Wood’s, Plan 9 From Outer Space, has usually held that title.  But, not to be a spoiler, Mr. Warren and Mr. Wood actually thought they were making a good film.  They simply lacked the training or talent in all technical/artistic aspects of making a movie.  They were unaware that, in retrospect, it would be perceived as funny.  Actually, to me, that’s sad. 

A truly bad film is one in which all the parties concerned do have the skills and monies to make a decent movie and it still turns out to be toilet fodder, like Bonfire of the Vanities.  Now that’s what is funny.  Or, like Rocky Horror Picture Show, which intends to be campy and succeeds wonderfully.  But, putting semantics aside, onto the stage spoof.

The story, such as it is, concerns a young couple, Michael (Brian Burger), his wife, Maggie (Jen LaMastra), their daughter, Debbie (a doll, but voiced by the actress who actually played the daughter in the original 1966 film—Jackey Raye Neyman Jones), and their dog, Scruffy (a stuffed animal) on a vacation.  Much of their time is spent in a cardboard car, talking inanely, as the scenery, cacti, road signs, etc. go by (cleverly played by people in black with appropriate dressing), traveling on a desert highway in Texas.

Unbeknownst to them, a pizza delivery boy, Torgo, (Brian Adrian Koch, the director/adapter) has disappeared under mysterious circumstances (prologue video).  They come upon a house to ask directions and the servant of the house turns out to be the self-same, Torgo, now changed into some sort of Goat-man.  They spend the night in this weird place, which is ruled by The Master (Paul Glazier), a god of the eternal abyss, who has a secret stash of “wives.”  Don’t want to spoil the fun, but the story doesn’t turn out well for any of them.

The direction/adaptation by Mr. Koch is spot-on.  He understands the genre and does an amazing job of staging it in a small, essentially bare space, with a minimal cast, playing multiple roles.  And his performance as Torgo steals the show.  His movements, expressions, and voice, all add to the weirdness of this character.  His death throes are hilarious.  And Ms. Jones, who finally gets to put her voice to the child, Debbie, is terrific.  She interprets it perfectly and shame on the film-makers for not allowing her to vocalize it in the first place.

Mr. Glazier as The Master gives us a bit of Christopher Lee with a spot of Valentino throw in, just right for the part.  And, as the young couple, Mr. Burger and Ms. LaMastra, do seem to be an incarnation of Ms. Sarandon and Mr. Boswick from Rocky Horror…  They camp it with just the right amount of restraint.  And the live, three-piece band adds the appropriate music to underscore the suspense and enhance the flow of the show.

The volume on the video segments is too loud, thus much of the dialogue is unintelligible, as with the band’s singer (of course, this might also be intentional).  Also, a side note, Mano is Spanish for “hand.”  Does this mean that translated into English, the true title of the film is Two Hands of Fate or Hand Hands of Fate?!

Also, it is rumored that the organization, I.C.K.I. (International Corporation for Kinky In-animates), is looking into this production for its mistreatment of dolls, puppets and stuffed animals during the show.  It is unclear as to whether this group is seeking to chastise them for this abuse or welcome them to their fold.

I recommend this production, as it is great fun.  Be warned, it is not for everyone because of adult material but, if you do chose to see it, tell them Dennis sent you.