Film collector stumbles onto the workprint of "Manos, The Hands of Fate" before it was butchered in post-processing.
Why I’m Saving ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’ | 'Manos' in HD
I’d been tipped off about an e-bay auction that no one had bid on, probably because the freight was too high. It was boxes upon boxes of 16mm and 35mm film, titles that had lapsed into the public domain, all of which had belonged to a distributor called Emerson Films. Emerson’s properties were familiar to anyone that had watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day, and on the list a few familiars jumped out at me. Six copies of The Atomic Brain in 16mm. Hamlet in 16mm and 35mm. Two copies of Manos: The Hands of Fate (Wikipedia IMDB) in 16mm. “A piece of film history”, I had thought half seriously, not intending to do much about it. But the more I thought about it the more I was wanting to get back into 16mm collecting, which is a hobby that can have an enjoyable social side to it. Who doesn’t want to host a movie night and show actual film?
I e-mailed the seller and made an offer on a small slice of the collection, about what you’d expect to pay for two or three 16mm prints, and offered to pick them up. I’d decided that I’d like to own The Atomic Brain and Manos, assuming they were in good enough shape. I got a reply the next day:
“You can have all the boxes… if you choose to eliminate some of them, so be it… (we are) moving to Florida on the 27th, and we don’t want them to be part of the move.”
The following Sunday I was driving back from San Diego with my car completely stuffed, a bill of sale tucked onto my dashboard. I had looked at a few reels on a loupe and found them in great shape, with no acidic odor. The one Manos reel I had been able to inspect was a little faded but otherwise good. Considering its rarity, it was well worth the trouble. I looked forward to checking out the others.
When I got home, I found the other copy of Manos. Immediately I saw the label, which read “WORKPRINT”.
. . .