Manos: The Hands of Fate [retro review]

“It will be dark soon. There is now way out of here. It will be dark soon.”

The Scoop: 1966, NR, directed by Harold P. Warren and starring Harold P. Warren, Diane Mahree, John Reynolds and Tom Neyman

Tagline: “It’s shocking! Beyond your imagination!”

Summary Capsule: Family is terrorized by a man with big knees, women in granny panties and a skinny, mustachioed guy who plays fingerpaints on his outerwear.

Heather’s Rating: Why not “Ojos: The Eyes of Fate”. Now that’s creepy!

Heather’s Review: So… Manos: The Hands of Fate. Made on a bet, fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren created what has been widely touted as the worst film ever made. Why, even the title alone screams incompetence as, literally translated from Spanish, it means “Hands: The Hands of Fate”. Kudos to “Hal” for continuing our country’s long tradition of looking completely ignorant about other cultures and languages. Way to keep the dream alive, man.

Back in 1966 Harold P. Warren met up with Sterling Silliphant, who was scouting for locations for a film, and bet him that anyone could make a film (big words, coming from a turd pusher). Sterling took him up on the bet and the result is an abomination on humanity.

Now I’m skeptical any time that someone says there were no good qualities about a particular film. It’s a wide generalization for a work that involves so many different people and talents and it’s hard to fathom that not one single thing was done right. On that note, I defy you to find even one redeeming quality in this movie. No one involved in this monstrosity had any clue what he or she was doing. Harold Warren scooped together a crew of total amateurs for all of his acting and technical needs (I like to imagine that they were fellow purveyors of poop), but he didn’t stop there. Oh, no! Apparently Mr. Warren’s wasn’t content with merely having sub-par actors; he had to have sup-par equipment as well. He procured a 16-millimeter Bell & Howell spring-wound camera to shoot his opus of offal. The thing couldn’t capture sound and, being spring-wound, could only shoot thirty-two seconds at a time.

Sane individuals would have realized their fatal shortcomings at this point and returned to their day jobs, but not Harold! But then, given the day job in question, maybe I can sympathize a bit with ‘ol Hal.

The “plot” (for lack of a better word) revolves around a husband (predictably played by Harold himself), his wife and their daughter, who are off to vacation at the Valley Lodge. They get lost and wind up at a polygamist pagan cult’s “Lodge of Sins”, run by a black poncho wearing, Fu-Manchu-sporting “Master” and tended by Torgo the Stuttering Satyr. This is seventy-four minutes of ridiculously awkward pauses, laughable dialogue, a horribly blurred and choppy picture, completely incompetent actors and a soundtrack that would better serve as a military torture device. The movie was a huge embarrassment for everyone involved (the crew was literally laughed out of the movie theater where it premiered), and would probably never have been heard of again if it hadn’t been featured on cult TV phenomenon Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Unless you’re of the particularly masochistic variety, I would not recommend watching this movie without the commentary from the MST3K crew. But beware: The Master would not approve.

The couple that stays together, develops matching butt-chins together.

Intermission!

  • Whoever did the dubbing for the little girl’s voice made her sound like Michael Jackson with a head cold and a mouth full of moth balls. So…basically MJ on any given day, really.
  • Holy Overboard-Hand-Motif, Batman!
  • The moths constantly flying by the camera in the nighttime shots
  • Because the camera couldn’t capture sound, all of the voices were dubbed over by three or four people, resulting in many scenes where you can’t tell which character is talking.

Groovy Quotes:

Torgo: I am Torgo. I take care of the place while The Master is away.

Torgo: Dead? No, madam. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always.

Margaret: Mike, I don’t like this.
Mike: It’s nothing to worry about. It’s only your imagination.

Master’s Wife: The woman is all we want! The others must die! They ALL must die! We do not even want the woman!
Cop: [to the drunk teenagers] Well, whatever it is you’re *not* doing, go *don’t* do it somewhere else!
Teenage Girl: Why don’t you guys leave us alone?

The Master: Arise my wives. Give ear to the words of Manos. Arise my wives! And hear the will of Manos!

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Ritualistic beatings
  • Novacaine-free dental surgery
  • Battlefield Earth
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6 Comments

  1. To be fair one could go on and on about what is bad about this film, and to be fair to the one going on and on they would be mostly right. Much has been made about the films bad acting, lousy production, poor technical quality, and ear bleeding inducing soundtrack, etc. Still, if you dig hard enough, it is possible to find a creepy little movie in there. I dare anyone who watches Manos (and retain thier sanity) to not think at least once “You know, with just a bit more polish and a smidge less ego on Warren’s part this might have actually been ok.” The premise is stock but sturdy, the location is atmospheric in its sparceness and the bit at the end when we learn the fate of the daughter does induce a sense of shock and horror. I will give Warren and Co credit at least for making what effort they did. I will also give Warren himself credit. Say what you want about the man and the movie but always remember one thing…

    He DID win the bet. :p

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