Saturday, November 26, 2011

Project Terrible: Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Maynard, start running. I have finally stopped playing Uncharted 3 long enough to grudgingly watch Manos: The Hands of Fate and all I can say is... YOU. ARE. SO. FREAKING. DEAD. I am literally two minutes into this movie and I'm dreading the next hour. I mean, this has to be a joke, right? This can't really be an actual movie, can it?

Well, yes and no. A quick search on the Wikipedia tells me that Manos was made on a bet by a fertilizer salesman. A fertilizer salesman. Okay. It was shot in and around El Paso, Texas with some community theater people as the stars and a budget that was pooled together by everyone from what they could find in between their couch cushions. How in the hell did they even get this played at a theater?

Anyway, the "plot" of the movie is as such: A family of three - mother Maggie, daughter Debbie, and father Mike - get lost on the road toward their vacation spot and end up spending the night at some house where there's a weird guy named Torgo who worships some "Master" and the Master has six ugly wives and nothing else makes sense or is worth talking about. Oh, there's also a random couple that keeps making out in their car. What do they have to do with the plot of the movie? Nothing. Grrrrr.

Where do I start with the bad in this movie? The obvious thing is the production quality which is... well, let's check out for all the synonyms for "bad": abominable, atrocious, garbage, godawful, beastly, inferior, inadequate, poor, substandard, unacceptable. Yup, that about sums it up. The people who made this movie admittedly didn't know what the hell they were doing and dear goodness, does it show. The editing, however, is a thousand times worse. There are countless mistakes in continuity and an obscene amount of jump cuts that made me cringe every time it happened. Oh, did I mention the part where the clapboard comes into frame? Bad, so bad.

And the sound - jeebus. For the first twenty minutes, there is absolutely no ambient sound at all which is something I have never seen before. All you hear is the shitty dialouge and the annoying music that sounds like it would be more appropriate in a jazz bar. There were times, though, that I would have preferred no sound over the incomparable shitty acting by these theater geeks. When they weren't just standing there delivering their lines like pieces of wood, they were giving stupid awkward pauses that lasted about five seconds before delivering their lines. Several times there were awkward pauses where everyone in the scene stood around and didn't say anything! It was so freaking aggravating.

Let's talk about everyone's favorite crazy guy - Torgo! He's the Master's crony and man-bitch who does his bidding. He's also a guy who repeats himself a lot and walks around like he's either really drunk or trying to hold in a large dump, I can't decide. All I have to say is that I hope the actor was drunk while making this movie because that way he would have no memory of the horrid stuff he did.

The Master is actually played pretty well by whatever-his-name-is but the women playing his six wives are another story. They suck. Really, really suck. Which is kind of sad considering that the Master's wives don't do much except argue with each other for ten minutes about whether or not they should kill Debbie. It's really the worst argument I've ever heard. They literally say the exact same thing about seven times so it's no surprise that they can't come to an agreement. The wives also (famously) get into several spectacular cat-fights with each other for no apparent reason. They include some random bitch slapping and the shoving of faces into the sand, but I found that these fights were sadly not as sexy as they could have been. For shame.

So, Maynard, congratulations. This is the worst, most obscure movie ever made and I can now add my name to the very short list of people who were able to sit through the whole thing. Hopefully I will never have to do it again.

I did kinda dig the Master's cloak, though. When he spreads his arms out there are these two huge red hands on it. It'd be awesome to have that thing just to wear around the house.


  1. "I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away."

    LOL I knew you would hate it. Please forgive me :-)
    At least, the tagline on the poster does not lie: it's shocking! :D

    You may watch it a 2nd time but this time funny:
    yes, it's the uber-hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 Version!

  2. What I can't understand is how this film had a 19,000 dollar budget. This movie does not look that expensive!

    And to leave you with pleasant dreams, there are movies out there that make Manos seem like The Shawshank Redemption! Torgo and the Master are only the tip of the iceberg!

  3. "Manos" is the best bad movie ever. It's kinda sad that the guy who played Torgo committed suicide shortly after this movie before he could see the cult figure he's become.

  4. Look at the bright side, you didn't get 'Red Zone Cuba.'

    In case you didn't know, someone has been pooling together resources to make another one at some point in 2013. It makes you really hope that the whole '2012 End of the World' thing is true...

  5. Believe it or not there is talk of a sequel being filmed soon -- don't ask my how or why. My little brother was stationed in El Paso for quite a while and talk was they were going to film it near his base again. My brother and many of his soldier friends who used to always show this movie during their bad horror movie night marathons really wanted to try and get on as extras once it began filming. It's a goal he is still is hoping to achieve. I think I will head down with him if it becomes a reality.

    By the way, if you get a chance to see the Mystery Science Theater version of this do it. It's pretty good, though still hard to hard even with the wonderful commentary.

  6. @Maynard: I might actually watch the MST3K version because everyone says it's great. Then hopefully I will be able to scrub the memory of this awfulness off of my brain forever! :)

    @Chris: Seriously, $19,000? What the hell did they spend that on? Food? Because it certainly didn't go far in raising the production value!

    @Geek Juice: I gave the Torgo guy a bad rap in my very short review but he is actually kind of great. Could have been a really good character actor.

    @Tim and William: WHAT? A sequel? To this movie? NOW? That's almost 40 years later, and it's such an obscure movie that no one outside of.... well, us... has ever heard of. How successful do they think that will be?

  7. In my opinion "Manos" is one of the few films (alongside "Red Zone Cuba") that even the MST3k version can't make entirely watchable. O_O It's very funny, but even they can't make the long dead stretches in the film entertaining. Now that's an accomplishment.

    I'll have "Something Beneath" up this week.

  8. I don't even know how you sat through the non-MST3k version of this...

  9. Yes, it's true. Torgo Lives! Well not the original actor, sadly, since he committed suicide before the movie came out. However, The Master returns along with Maggie and Debbie and the son of the original sheriff.

    Manos: The Search for Valley Lodge will be out sometime next year.

    P.S. I love Manos: The Hands of Fate and I don't mean the MST3K version. I've watched the unedited version about 4 or 5 times. There, I said it. I don't care who knows it. Let the record show that I think Torgo rules! You know darn well you would all kill for The Master's robe too. It's a thing of beauty. Those big red ominous hands are so hypnotizing.

    Tom Neyman who played The Master will be wearing the very same robe in the sequel. How cool is that? I can wait for Christmas. I can't wait for the Manos sequel.