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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 ... 8 9 [10] 11 12 ... 16
Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #73. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Cambot99
Bad acting, horrible dialogue, some lines don't make any sense, what kind of movies is this?
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #74. Posted on August 27, 2007, 12:44:11 AM by Steve Condrey
 Cheers  You managed to sit through this piece of excrement without the aid of Joel and the Bots.  Andrew, you've confirmed for me that Marines really are the toughest people on Earth!!!!
Re: Manos, the Hands of Fate
Reply #75. Posted on August 28, 2007, 12:07:11 PM by HappyGilmore
This movie is, ugh.

I watch it now and then.  But it's terrible.
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #76. Posted on September 21, 2007, 11:30:57 PM by Javakoala
Okay, I think I finally earned my "red wings" by watching this.  It was off of one of the Mill Creek sets so I'm not sure if it was uncut, but then does it matter?

My girlfriend cried, "I stayed awake to watch this?" grabbed one of her Martha Stewart magazines to read and refuse to look at the screen.  She promptly fell asleep.  At least the movie caused enough pain to prevent sleep.

The only thing I can honestly say about this (and I'm sure it has been said before) is "Oh, my God, oh my God, Oh MY God, oh my GOD, OH MY GODOHMYGODHOMYGODOHMYGOD!!!!!!!!!" 

Sorry, I hyperventilated and passed out.  I would ask "Why?' but that would mean actually thinking about this thing. 

I'll give it a year and then watch it again.  Pray for me, and pray for us all.
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #77. Posted on September 22, 2007, 12:31:46 AM by Doc Daneeka
You can do worse than Manos, I liked the atmosphere, which is more than can be said for most horror films today. IMO, slow, pointless, lingering cuts beat cuts so fast you have no Earthly clue what is happening anyday TongueOut!

The characters and glaring continuity errors? Well, if you really overlook bad filmmaking as the culprit, you would see that Manos is one of the most unintentionally dream-like films ever: Super-long stretches of pointless information, lines repeated, glimpsing into totally irrelevant characters lives, capricious character focus changes, physical focus problems, unecessary lines, sense of uninvoked dread (Mike I'm scared! Of what?!), "The end?" you don't know that your dream is ending until you suddenly become lucid and wake up!

Okay, so what if you are a small-minded viewer and totally overlook (or just don't care about) the dreamlike spectacle? Well... It just so happens to be HILARIOUS! You don't need Joel and his robot friends, you can make new jokes for this one with each viewing!

You wanna see a really bad movie? Try one of the hordes that come on SciFi each weekend! They are overplayed to the point that you wonder whether desperation or stupidity made the executives made the decisions they did, and worse, about 4 percent are any good, heck 99 percent is so much of the same thing over and over you'll yearn for the eccentricities of Torgo and his master about 1 hour out of two in!

Well there I went again on the usual rant TongueOut On a similar subject, how is the presentation of Manos on the Alpha disk? The same stunning picture and sound quality we had on MST3K?
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #78. Posted on September 22, 2007, 08:05:23 AM by RCMerchant
You can do worse than Manos, I liked the atmosphere, which is more than can be said for most horror films today. IMO, slow, pointless, lingering cuts beat cuts so fast you have no Earthly clue what is happening anyday TongueOut!

The characters and glaring continuity errors? Well, if you really overlook bad filmmaking as the culprit, you would see that Manos is one of the most unintentionally dream-like films ever: Super-long stretches of pointless information, lines repeated, glimpsing into totally irrelevant characters lives, capricious character focus changes, physical focus problems, unecessary lines, sense of uninvoked dread (Mike I'm scared! Of what?!), "The end?" you don't know that your dream is ending until you suddenly become lucid and wake up!

Okay, so what if you are a small-minded viewer and totally overlook (or just don't care about) the dreamlike spectacle? Well... It just so happens to be HILARIOUS! You don't need Joel and his robot friends, you can make new jokes for this one with each viewing!

You wanna see a really bad movie? Try one of the hordes that come on SciFi each weekend! They are overplayed to the point that you wonder whether desperation or stupidity made the executives made the decisions they did, and worse, about 4 percent are any good, heck 99 percent is so much of the same thing over and over you'll yearn for the eccentricities of Torgo and his master about 1 hour out of two in!

Well there I went again on the usual rant TongueOut On a similar subject, how is the presentation of Manos on the Alpha disk? The same stunning picture and sound quality we had on MST3K?

 You know what? I TOTALLY AGREE!  Thumbup

 I never liked MST3K...I thought it ruined the movies. I always enjoyed MANOS...and  feel alot of 'Bad' movies are not as bad as some of the drek Hollywood puts out today! Give me BLOODY PIT of HORROR over SAW anyday!!! Karma!
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #79. Posted on September 22, 2007, 10:13:18 AM by Just Plain Horse
I've assumed a lot of the cuts had to do the equipment Hal P Warren used to make the movie... I heard somewhere he filmed most of it with some old movie camera that did like 60 seconds of film per reel or something like that- I don't remember the specs- but the jist I got was a lot of his shots had to be short- plus everything was shot closeup back then- that was originally done for television, due to the smaller screens- and Warren probably just unconsciously did the same.

To be fair, it was low budget filmmaking, which was harder back then. The guy had a vision, tried to make it, and Manos is the result. I sometimes ponder what if I tried to make my creative visions into a thing- be it a book, film or art peice- would it become a Manos? Poorly done, badly criticized, most remembered for being mocked... A little unnerving, to be honest. Yes, you truly can do worse than Manos...
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #80. Posted on September 22, 2007, 11:03:19 AM by HappyGilmore
Torgo rocks.  And the Master looks like either Frank Zappa or Bill Buckner. 



 You know what? I TOTALLY AGREE!  Thumbup

 I never liked MST3K...I thought it ruined the movies. I always enjoyed MANOS...and  feel alot of 'Bad' movies are not as bad as some of the drek Hollywood puts out today! Give me BLOODY PIT of HORROR over SAW anyday!!! Karma!

To each their own for MST3K.  Honestly, I liked it.  If anything, that show opened up the floodgates for my interest in the 'bad' movies.  Not just MST, but other shows as well, like USA Up All Night and MonsterVision.  I can see your point though. 
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