Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Is it wrong to laugh at the MST3K version of "Manos": The Hands of Fate?  

For me it's serious quandary. I would have glided through the experience just fine if the friend who lent me the movie hadn't mentioned in passing that the man who played Torgo killed himself just a few months after the premier back in the 60s.  

The Wikipedia entry states that his suicide had nothing to do with the failure of the film, that Torgo had no social life and a non-existent relationship with his father:  

"John Reynolds (Torgo) committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun on October 16, 1966, although the incident reportedly has no relation with Manos. He had a depressing social life as well as being a drug addict and had almost no connection with his father."

One thing that strikes me here is the rationale that the incident had no connection with the failure of his BIG CHANCE. Finally, something is going right in his life. Here's his chance at success. His ship has come in. He's going to be in a film. He'll get some recognition. Directors will be lining up outside his door. Torgo was just the beginning.  

But no. Manos was a flop. His dreams went down the drain. What's left?  

What I find alarming is his capacity to kill himself with a shotgun. Is that common? Seems like it would be very difficult, and I know it's macabre of me to bring it up, but honestly, I just can't picture that. Not that I want to. But I just can't begin to imagine how someone could hold a shotgun up to their head and reach the trigger, though I'm not one to go around putting guns of any sort up to my head.  

So it seems to me that they WERE RELATED. It's like saying the rampant growth of the tomato plants in my garden has nothing to do with the soil, rain, or water. They just grow independent of those things.  

Poor Torgo.  

OH. AND BY THE WAY. That thing about the drugs and Torgo, did I neglect to mention his drug abuse was related to his role in the film? Oh, yeah. Right. Well, according to the Wikipedia entry, during shooting, Torgo wore this metal rigging to make him look like a satyr (ohhhhhhhh, he's supposed to be a satyr!), BUT he wore it backwards. And no one told him. It damaged his kneecaps permanently and it was, apparently, really painful. He self-medicated with drugs until his death.

Anyway, it's funny how those two facts are so far apart on the Wikipedia entry. Not that I'm accusing Wikipedia of some conspiracy to cover up the truth about Torgo or something. It's just interesting.

And sad.  And it made me feel incredibly guilty to laugh at everything Torgo did, particularly the "itsy bitsy spider" part, where he's trying to seduce the unconvincing actress who played Mike's wife.  The "itsy bitsy spider" scene is one of the best.  Well, pretty much everything with Torgo is hilarious, from the Torgo-music to the wives molesting-him-to-death scene.  

But how can I laugh when I know that Torgo killed himself due to the film's failure? I just can. Call me cold-hearted. Call me evil. But maybe Torgo would be really happy to know that his film has achieved cult-status. That they're making a sequel. And a production company in Nashville redubbed the audio track last year and I guess there's a documentary on the director in the works. 

Someone should also make a documentary about Torgo, because I sense a good story there.  

So I guess it's not entirely sad. It's just rough to know that it was someone's failure and they got depressed enough about it to die. You know?   


BIGMANlittleWORLD said...

While the film probably could have influenced him not to kill himself it's not so hard to believe that perhaps it wasn't a deciding factor. Alexander McQueen was a genius, both with his style and with how he modernized a very boring drawn out catwalk, he was very successful and accepted in the fashion world as well as his normal life. Unfortunately, this did not stop him from committing suicide either.

But as for Wiki being decieving that is somewhat common. Whoever decided to submit that entry very well could have purposefully distanced those facts and if it doesn't go contested, it would remain that way.

Nicole Grotepas said...

It's true that sometimes people commit suicide regardless of how great things are in their lives. I have known individuals who seem to have everything going for them, but somehow they're still so messed up as to want to do it and to follow through with it. It still makes me feel heartless to laugh at the MST3K jokes about Torgo. But I can't help it. B) Have you seen it?

joe said...

He killed himself before the film premiered, so the failure couldn't have had anything to do with his suicide.

Nicole said...

Wait. A purported Torgo expert named you happen to have a VHS/Beta version of Torgo that you willingly lend to friends?

Nicole said...

I meant Manos. Not Torgo. Lend Manos.