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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 

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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 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 ... 16
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #41. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Didi
I saw this on MST3K, and I thought the episode was decent as far as humor goes.  But about the movie.. It seems obviously poorly done, as far as the editing, and picture quality, and how everyone is dubbed.  But... I didn't hate the movie.  
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #42. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Drama Mama
I must also salute the man (or anyone for that matter) who viewed this movie sans MST3K; if it weren't for MST3K, I wouldn't watch "Manos: Hands of Fate" over and over again.  Anyway, the real reason I am commenting.  I read somewhere that after the movie failed, Torgo, the woman who plays the mother, and the woman who's continually making-out with her guy over a bottle of liquor killed themselves because the movie failed so horribly.  Crazy, but not hard to believe.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #43. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Kilraven
I'm just sorry that John Reynolds didn't live long enough to see how the character he played (Torgo) became a cult-movie icon. Just think at what kind of reception he'd have gotten at an MST3K convention.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #44. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mike
For some reason, the defining moment of the film for me is the moment towards the end where the crew is clearly having trouble getting that dog to bark on cue. The dog just sits there and stares at the camera for several minutes, and finally lets out a grudging "woof". It's almost as though the dog was trying to intentionally sabotage his big scene, hoping maybe he'd get cut out of the film. Unfortunately, he failed to consider that they'd probably use up their editting budget long before then, and thus this gripping scene was presented in it's entirety.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #45. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Jazz
Mm... I don't know if the number has been corrected yet, but I gather from imbd that 5 of the castmembers committed suicide in 1966.  It was that bad.  Those suicides intrigue me more than the thought of how such a comical piece of s**t could've been made, personally.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #46. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by The Main Man
The user above is wrong saying Torgo is Greek for "vulture". "Vulture" in Greek is "γύπας" ("gúpas"). Torgo is just a name.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #47. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mike
This may be the best "bad" movie ever...there is not one quality of decent filmmaking here.  It's badly edited, acted, and makes virtually no sense.  It may be funnier WITHOUT the MST3K additions...a true must see for any fans of bad film.  Torgo rules!!
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #48. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Tom Neyman Fan
As an efficianado of cheeseball movies, This is naturally my favorite movie of all time. From the opening scene where Mike says cut (though you can't hear it, you just lip-read) to the cameo by Mr. Clapboard, to the obvious zipper on the Master's cape, to the rather gratuitous suprise ending. For us freaks, this movie is bliss.

P.S.: I believe I am the first person to notice the delayed sound effect when the make-out couple are first found by the fuzz. The officer closes the door just as the light on the roof starts flashing, and roughly 3/4 seconds later, we hear the sound effect. I haven't seen this in any reviews, therefore I am proud. Yet still a freak.
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Lesson Learned:
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