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MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE - Skull
Not Rated
Copyright 1966 Norm-Iris Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 30 March 2003

The Characters:  

  • Mike - As fathers and husbands go, he is a pretty poor example.
  • Margaret - The expendable mother and wife.
  • Debbie - She is the product of two useless people, so that makes her something of a pariah.
  • The Smoochers - With all that booze, you would think that they might be a little farther along.
  • The Police - They spend their days (and nights) keeping track of the smoochers.
  • Torgo - The weird and uncoordinated caretaker of the Master's house. Clawed to death by sexually frustrated women.
  • The Master - He looks like the stereotypical UPS man, but is the leader of a cult dedicated to Manos.
  • The Master's Many Wives - I think that he is an old school Mormon.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Thanks to the efforts of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, lots of people are familiar with this movie. I have received numerous requests over the years to review it. It is a classic MST3K episode, but can you comprehend the horror of watching the movie alone and unedited? After only thirty minutes, I could actually feel the blood slowing down as it moved through my brain.

The memory is not getting any better, so let us begin.

The happy little family unit of Mike, Margaret, and Debbie are on a road trip when their luck takes a turn for the worse. No, not a family of mutant cannibals, but lots of driving does bring them to the front door of a forsaken lodge. Torgo lingers in the doorway, acting like a mentally challenged freak. Tired after a long day on the road, dad says, "Gee, this place looks like a good place to spend the night." He instructs the creepy caretaker to carry the family's bags inside.

Meanwhile, the two smoochers are discovered by the roaming policemen and told to move along. This turns into a running gag, with the amorous pair kissing, drinking, and eventually leaving when the officers find the latest roadside love nest. Have you ever kissed someone with several hours of cheap whiskey on their breath? Not the best way to get in the mood.

Inside the lodge is a depiction of the Master and his faithful Doberman. Mike and Margaret spend what seems like (and nearly is) ten minutes obsessing about the painting. They are frightened by the aura of menace that surrounds the canvas. These two should try looking through a book of Giger's artwork (which, by the way, makes a great baby shower present).

That night, Mike investigates chilling howls near the house and an unseen creature kills the family poodle. Then the luckless father discovers the Master's desert shrine. The priest lies upon a stone altar, while his women decorate nearby pillars. All of this is too much for Mike; he runs back to the lodge with every intention of leaving.

Torgo has been using the idle time to chat up Mrs. Useless. He obsesses about the Master and his wives, angry that the polygamous pontiff wants the newest female arrival for his own. The Master wakes after these revelations, so perhaps the servant is telepathically bonded. You know what? I do not care. I want this movie to be over.

The Master rouses all of his wives at the same time, which only proves to me that he is some sort of freaking idiot. The women immediately start arguing and, eventually, fighting over the fate of their guests; the disposition of Debbie seems to be a major point. One wife refuses to harm the child in any way. The debate spirals into chaos as slaps and sharp fingernails start flying. The fight lasts for about twenty minutes.

Elsewhere, the Master has a stare-off with Torgo. The idiot (that would be Torgo) loses and is consigned to death. The priest has to stop his consorts' battle royal en progress (thank goodness), but soon the dissenting wife and Torgo are tied up and ready for slaughter.

Speaking of staring, if I was a goldfish and could not blink, this movie would be the death of me.

Failing to start the car, Mike is forced to drag his wife and child into the desert. They get absolutely nowhere. Clear night, not too bad terrain, and the bozo cannot lead them to safety. Look for a glow on the horizon or find Polaris and get your bearings, you worthless sack of flesh! I refuse to believe that we are the same species. Mein Gott! Mr. Useless eventually gives up and settles on the bright idea of hiding at the Master's house. Soon the cleric of Manos has them in his power, despite Mike's revolver (useless, just like its owner).

The title alone should warn people away. "Manos" is Spanish for "hands" and that is about as clever as the film ever gets. Listening to the Master crowing about his deity's power or staring at ten minutes of women arguing is nothing to be proud of.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Hell is filled with bad lounge singers.
  • Hooch, not Big Red, is the best way to hold a kiss for hours.
  • Poodles make for poor guard dogs.
  • Moths are attracted to light sources. (The filmmakers did not seem to learn this lesson.)
  • Trying to beat someone's brains out against soft, sandy ground, is futile.
  • Women are impatient when they are horny.
  • I need to get out more.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Punch buggy blue!
  • 12 mins - Goat man walking.
  • 21 mins - You know, if I were Margaret, I would be worried that "The Master" was a euphemism.
  • 42 mins - A little something for the guys... ...what am I saying? This is idiocy!
  • 50 mins - Stared at my toes for five minutes. That was pretty cool.
  • 61 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A RATTLESNAKE!
  • 63 mins - What is it with poor jump edits and the police?
  • 68 mins - This movie cost me $20. For $8 I could have purchased a can of paint and watched it dry for sixty-eight minutes.

Quotes: 

  • Torgo: "But master, you have six wives. Why can't I have one for myself?"
    The Master: "You are not one of us. Therefore you cannot have one of them!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note manos1.wav Mike: "Where did this place come from? It wasn't here a few minutes ago."
Margaret: "I don't care; let's see if we can get some directions."
Green Music Note manos2.wav Torgo: "I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away."
Green Music Note manos3.wav Torgo: "There is nothing to fear madam. The Master likes you. Nothing will happen to you. He likes you."
Margaret: "Likes me? I thought you said he was dead."
Green Music Note manos4.wav The Master: "Arise, my wives, give ear to the words of Manos. Arise, my wives, and hear the will of Manos!"
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

ImageImageImage
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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipmanos1.mpg - 3.0m
The Master dominates Torgo and then preaches to the screen. Half the movie is like this.

I take that back, this is one of the good parts.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 12 13 [14] 15 16
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #105. Posted on July 13, 2008, 09:55:21 AM by Cthulhu
I think there are lot of people who misunderstand the surreal masterpiece, that is Manos. After the first view, I despised it.
But then I watched it again. 4 times. Now, I can see clear. It is a movie, that my wretched words cannot describe. I'm not worthy. I saw the genius of it...it was like a shot with diamond bullet, right into my forehead. There is no other movie like this, this is a truly unique experience. It is so depressing, yet it will let you become one with the universe...it will make you feel alone.
Maybe next year, I'll go to a pilgrimage, to El paso.
Now you are probably thinking I'm some kind of Psycho, and you are pretty much right. TeddyR
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #106. Posted on November 16, 2008, 08:39:24 PM by Alexthegreat
The funny thing about the MST3K episode is that they make the thing enjoyable despite this probably being the worst movie they've ever seen. But the Castle of Fu Manchu was probably better filmed yet was so boring and horrible the MST3K crew couldn't make it enjoyable. I'll never watch that episode again, and I have the MST3K Manos episode on DVD which is neat.
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #107. Posted on March 28, 2009, 02:42:51 AM by annoymous
Harold P. Warren must of been sniffing that fertilizer while he was making this film. Because some of this seems like a idea by a guy getting high off of something.
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #108. Posted on May 14, 2009, 05:53:25 PM by avenger the eagle
The cops in this movie are idiotic, they stalk the smoochers and yet seem completely unconcerned with gunshots. They have got to be som e of the most useless cops ever captured on film. But anyway, good review.
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #109. Posted on September 25, 2009, 04:44:29 PM by randy109
MANOS is the worst movie ever made. NOT Plan 9......Manos.

The world should gauge every bad movie
made by mankind with this standard and no other.

I have this movie, seen 80% of it
and  honestly can't watch the rest. Might be
"talked into it" for a special occasion. Like, at gunpoint.

Even then, i'm not watching the scene with the family
singing "row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream."
It a viscious attack on the dignity of the family unit because it
was included in this movie
and I really think they sung that song at a pitch that
conflicts alpha/beta waves of the human brain.

MANOS should be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution
as the worst movie ever concieved by man.
It's a disgraceful, inept movie stealing all good ideas from movies
made prior to it. To top it all off it was filmed in 16mm!!!

MANOS looked really good years ago on UHF TV
when the reception was poor, like on a rainy day.
At least then it had an excuse to be bad.

Only the few, the priviledged know the truth:
MANOS is the worst......not Plan 9.
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #110. Posted on October 29, 2009, 01:26:56 PM by D.N. Ayer
I watched-"Manos: The Hands Of Fate"..3 days ago via Utube, This movie is so bad, But yet so good! I loved this movie. Now that "It" has a cult following, this Ultra Low Budget Z Movie Will Live On Forever. I dedicate these comments to Actor John Reynolds (Torgo) R.I.P.
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #111. Posted on December 19, 2009, 10:10:48 PM by El Misfit
manos is bad, but addicting TeddyR
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #112. Posted on July 09, 2010, 05:19:52 PM by flanderosa
MANOS is the worst movie ever made. NOT Plan 9......Manos.

Have to agree. There's a fair few people on the site saying that Plan 9 is the worst film ever made. They are all wrong of course. This is most definitely it. Plan 9 is bloody awful, but not in the same league. If Plan 9 is the Citizen Kane of bad movies, then this is The Godfather of bad movies. I watched this over New Year 2010 with a very good friend of mine. We had watched our fair share of s**t on drunken bad movie nights in the past - Troll 2, Shark Attack 3, Grotesque, The Room (a personal favourite  TongueOut), but nothing prepared us for this. It was bad enough watching the MST3K version - I'm really not sure I could sit through the whole unedited version of it i.e. as Hal P Warren intended it. After the extremely long driving sequence at the beginning, I was just like the robots, practically sobbing into my beer (and no, beer does not make this film any more bearable)...

But,

I still keep getting drawn to this pile of crap (the MST3K episode anyway), like moths to lights. Torgo's "Sexy time" has gotta be the most awe-inspiring scene in movie history:

"The Master wants you but he can't have you, I want you!" BounceGiggle



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