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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
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 ... 6 7 [8] 9 10 ... 15
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #57. Posted on November 28, 2004, 01:29:41 AM by Henry Le Corno
My bro bought me a copy of this dvd at Tower Records  for $7.00. What would I do without him?
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #58. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by PAZ
Coming from El Paso, where this movie was made in the 60s, I find that this movie is well in a league of its own. I have seen bad movies and really bad movies, and MANOS ranks as the best film I have seen in years. Whether it's the MST3K version or the original I had fun and cried tears of joy finally buying it. If Quentin Tarantino; director of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1&2; says this is one of his favorite movies, then that's good enough for me.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #59. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by The horror, the horror
OK, there are far to many reviews about this subject (I will not use the term "film" or "movie" for a thing like this, in fact I won't even mention the title of this piece of trash 'cos if I would, it would cause a similar effect like mentioning Sauron.
On IMDB there are about 500 reviews on this one. So I won't go into all this "makes Ed Wood look in comparison like Kurosawa" or that all the living descendats of the creator (Spelling out his name would cause a paradox in space-time for it is by reason or logic not possible that such a spirit could ever has existed in our universe.) should be killed outright, because these reviews are all far to optimistic and defending. As a matter of fact I doubt that many of them made the experience for they seemed o come through alive. I for my part scarcely survived and only I used certain filters, such as only watching parts of 2min a time, then resting my senses a year (Thus I only finished watching these days), plus filtering both sound and image.
Still I am convinced words of any language cannot describe anything about it. One has to use the whole thing as an applicative definition for horrors no man experienced before , a new feeling against all that is good and right in the world. Future generations might with scientific and technological advancements be able to at leat withstand it.
If Hell for filmmakers exist the soul, creating this is in the 9th circle: Treachery on the Human Race.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #60. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Sora the B-Movie Alchemist
I was unfortunate enough to see the non-MST3K version. I was about to commit seppuku with my Kingdom Hearts disc for boredom.

Sora the B-Movie Alchemist's Ratings
This goes off the charts
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #61. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by badbrains
    Walt, I'm putting $55 in an envelope and sending it to you right now.  The $5 is for a pitcher of beer.  The $50 is for a hooker. (Two if you're a careful shopper)  You sir, need to get out more
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #62. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Bob3
I remember catching the second half of this one night (sans Joel and the Bots) at 3 in the morning on some cable station that had reached the bottom of the barrel. I had been flipping around one last time before I went to bed - but this was like a train wreck - I couldn't take my eyes off it. I remember thinking, as slip wearing women wrestled in the sand and some weird guy with big knees talked funny and Frank Zappa showed off his new coat -  that this is the worst thing I have ever seen. Ever. It was like watching someones bad acid trip. I was haunted. My mind whimpered and howled and scratched at the back of skull in a vain attempt to escape. I couldn't stop watching until the end.
The only thing I didn't catch was the movies name. I supose that was my brain trying to protect itself. So imagine my horror/delight when I buy the MS3K tape of Manos and discover - I'd seen this film before.
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #63. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Walt Freeman
Manos:  The Hands of Fate

From the opening shot of the horror film Manos:  Hands of Fate one thing is perfectly clear:  the audience is grippingly propelled through a taut, well-crafted tale of terror that is easily the most influential film ever made.  It is safe to say that every modern classic made after 1966 has worked hard to mimic the technical and artistic proficiencies of this film which, in its own right, is a tribute to every great work of art ever written or filmed prior to 1966 back through William Shakespeare and beyond.  There is not time nor space to trace the elements of the cultural landscape that inspired the film, nor explore fully the depth and breadth of its influence, but…what the hey…let’s give it a shot.  

The plot of the film is 68 minutes of pure joy for any devoted fan of tautly crafted horror.  The film is 68 minutes long but seems to take place over 8 minutes of actual time, a trick enhanced by altering the reality of the audience’s perception of time.  For example, the opening driving sequence appears to be a landscape travelogue of the entire distance between Mexico and Canada, but in reality is only a few miles.  Anyway, in the film a loving and devoted nuclear family (mother, husband, child and poodle) arrive at a lodge and never leave.  In the middle, they lose and find their child and we see a group of women slap each other for 45 minutes.  Oh, and they slap a man into a coma, but he recovers.  For trivia fans of horror and education, here is what can be learned from the plot of Manos:  Hands of Fate:
•   Satan keeps his dog on a leash.
•   Apparently you can’t slap a satyr to death.
•   Don’t maintain a stable of undead wives if they won’t listen to you when you repeatedly tell them to shut up.
•   If you don’t kill your defiant minion immediately, you will have to burn his hand off later.
•   Men can be rendered unconscious by tapping them lightly on the back with a large wooden staff.
•   If your child disappears into the desert at night, do a thorough search of a ten foot radius then give up.  She will eventually wander back with Satan’s Doberman.
•   Firing bullets directly into the face of Satan will not kill him.
•   Police search and rescue techniques consist of shining a red plastic covered flashlight into the desert for 4 seconds before they abandon the search.
•   A make-out session is always enhanced by a gallon of whiskey.  Men take note;  women be warned.
•   Satyr’s have flammable hands.
•   Miss Manners says:  “It’s not polite to point;  it is even less polite to point with the flaming severed hand of your minion.”

That being said, the origins of Manos:  hands of Fate can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome.  The ancient Greeks and Romans often wrote of mystical beasts that lived among men, both jealous and contemptuous of humanity.  This is clearly seen in the intense longing of the satyr, Torgo, and his passionate attempts to possess the hair of a woman.  His spastic attempts to stroke the pre-Jennifer Aniston hairflip of the lead actress painfully exudes the clumsy frustration of all who desire that which is within their reach but beyond their grasp.  His sorely misshapen knees and goat-like satyr-ness are directly influenced by Caliban from Shakespeare’s classic play The Tempest.  And who cannot help but be terrified, as mortals are, when Gods walk among us?  A theme explored as far back as Aeschylus and as recent as Elektra and that credit card commercial with all the superheroes in it, including Underdog.

Technically speaking, Manos:  Hands of Fate is clearly influenced by Orson Welles’ great film classic Citizen Kane and links the unique camera angles of that film landmark to such modern wonders as The Blair Witch Project and Fox network’s 24.  For example, who needs to see actors framed directly in shots when our imaginations of what they might be saying or doing is likely far greater than what they are actually saying or doing?  Doesn’t the real time driving sequence through almost 40 miles of non-descript landscape prepare us for the slow, inexorable crawl towards death that is our lives?  Doesn’t the woman’s randomly appearing and disappearing scarf suggest the fleeting and impermanent joys of rampant consumerism?  Finally, the random glimpse of the film’s cameraman in the mirror suggests, with a winking nod toward surrealism, that the fine line between art and life is little more than a half-step to the right.  

As for the acting…I pause, lest I swoon.  Who dares question the implied menace of the robe-guy’s glower?  The implied frustration of the hero’s inaction, through his obvious training in status and conflict, in which he subtly, yet effectively transmits an aura of the impotence of modern man as he struggles against forces beyond his control or understanding.  I’d like to see Brad Pitt or even Dustin Hoffman, supposedly this generation’s best actor, remain minimalistically stoic while being simultaneously frenched and slapped while tied unconscious to a pole.  Who else could so effectively portray the domination and neutering of the alpha-male in today’s feminine-sensitive post age of Chivalry?  But the icing on the Manos:  Hands of Fate cake, the good kind with the huge sugary flowers, is John Reynold’s bold, brilliant, bestial portrayal of Torgo the Satyr.  In Reynold’s deft hands, he is a man fighting to control his animal instincts and remain human while struggling against the pull of lust.  Overcome with knees the size of  swollen hams, he is all but consumed with desire when faced with the innocent submissive allure of a woman too weak to run ten feet, yet all too powerful in her ability to depend entirely on every male around her to tell her where to go and what to do.  What man can resist that temptation?  I’ll tell you.  A man of Torgo’s stature and species can.  Reynold’s all but allows his tics and twitches to tell the tale of the inner demons that seek to control him.  In the end, when his hand ignites and separates from his body, he runs off into the desert night, finally a free man free of his hands.  Of fate?  Yes.  His hands of fate, man.  Oh, yes.  His hands of fate.  What kind of man?  I’ll tell you.  A goat-man.  

Costume-wise, never has clothing so defined characters since Superman felt the need to wear a huge S on his chest.  It stood for Superman.  This was so as not to confuse him with the other people in Metropolis who flew or stopped bullets with their chests.  In Manos:  Hands of Fate the servant has two hands on his robe.  Two hands, because in the title there are two hands.  The word Manos, which is Spanish for Hands and the word Hands, which roughly translates to Manos in Spanish.  So there are two hands on the man’s robe and two hands in the title.  One fate for each of the characters in the film and one fate in the title.  But there are many “the’s” in the film’s dialogue, but only one “The” in the title, which goes to show you that we have more articles in English grammar than we do fates in our lives.  Finally, there is an “OF” in the title and that is a preposition.  When you think about it, it’s really very deep.

Lastly, the theme of Manos:  Hands of Fate is multi-layered and timeless.  When the hero is suddenly Torgo in the end, but not a goat, we see the old ways replaced with the new and it is clearly an economic statement about job security and modern manservants replacing ancient mythical goat creatures.  The female fighting scene clearly speaks to the objectifying of women as non-sex objects by having them wear unattractive clothing and fight in the sand.  Clearly, this is a pre-70’s attempt to reconcile the post-70’s manly feminine ideal with the current woman as powerslut image popular among teens today.  Lastly, the scene in which the small girl wanders off in plain view of her parents, prompting a frantic room search before giving up is a statement on the inability of modern parents to control the obvious and simple behavior of their children.  Oh, and when the chick makes out with the guy while he is unconscious and tied to a pole, then she slaps him, well…that’s just good clean fun.  It’s so wrong…yet somehow so very very right.

In conclusion, could Manos:  Hands of Fate be made into a film today?  The answer is no.  The cookie-cutter product machines that serve as directors today lack the auteur visionary brilliance of Harold (Manos:  Hands of Fate) Warren.  In simple math, it goes like this:  if $16,000 can produce Manos:  Hands of Fate and 250 million dollars can produce films like Star Wars:  Revenge of the Sith  then aren’t we getting more film for more money?  Can we afford not to not spend more money so we can get films for less?  Think about it.  Star Wars had over twice the budget of Manos, but aside from a few lightsaber battles and a couple of Wookies, can we afford to sacrifice the human element of films?  I think not.  When considering these artistic dilemmas, ask yourself, “What would Torgo do?”  If your answer is, “Run screaming into the desert night while a madman points at people with the flaming stump of your hand,” then clearly you arrived at the same answer as me.  


Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #64. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Sir Phobos: Knight of Mars
The only saving grace for this "movie" would have to be the commentary from Joel and the bots.  Never have I seen a film with so [perhaps too] much driving, butt ugly scenery, looong moments when none of the actors say/do anything, etc.  Hell, at time lip movements were not in tendem with the badly dubbed voices.  

This film makes watching "Alone in the Dark" seem like a good idea.  Dear God, what am I saying!!!???
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