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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 ... 9 10 [11] 12 13 ... 15
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #81. Posted on September 22, 2007, 10:13:07 PM by Javakoala
I'm sorry.  I must have given the impression that I hated Manos.  Sorry for the misconception.

I liked it.  I almost wet myself during the near-grope scene with Torgo and the wife.  I had to back up that slap about three times just to believe what I saw.  The little girl has a long future ahead of her as a store mannequin.  And the catfight scene reminded me of those "re-enactments" done by the small town women's league in all those Monty Python skits.

There are movies that are cheese, and there are those that are just bad (Adam Sandler, anyone?), but Manos is one of those that really defines the "bad" movie genre, or, as I call them "crap" movies.  Grand discussions of the film's "artistic" qualities aside, this film keeps you spellbound by the constant variety of "What the hell was that?" and "What the hell were they thinking (trying to do, getting at, etc.)?" comments your rational mind throws out.

So, for what it is worth, I don't hate this movie.  I like it, but, man, it sure gave me a mental beating that I'll remember for years.  Plan 9 never gave me so much to keep up with.

And am I wrong, or did I lose karma over this?  Heaven help me if I should ever suggest Quentin Tarentino be flayed for crimes against humanity.
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #82. Posted on September 22, 2007, 10:21:41 PM by ulthar

 I like it, but, man, it sure gave me a mental beating that I'll remember for years. 


Check out A TOUCH OF SATAN if you want to increase your beating.  Oh mercy me, I watched it this week and wondered if I could be justified calling it worse than MANOS.  No, not quite.  But not so far behind either.
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #83. Posted on September 23, 2007, 04:18:58 AM by RCMerchant
I'm sorry.  I must have given the impression that I hated Manos.  Sorry for the misconception.

I liked it.  I almost wet myself during the near-grope scene with Torgo and the wife.  I had to back up that slap about three times just to believe what I saw.  The little girl has a long future ahead of her as a store mannequin.  And the catfight scene reminded me of those "re-enactments" done by the small town women's league in all those Monty Python skits.

There are movies that are cheese, and there are those that are just bad (Adam Sandler, anyone?), but Manos is one of those that really defines the "bad" movie genre, or, as I call them "crap" movies.  Grand discussions of the film's "artistic" qualities aside, this film keeps you spellbound by the constant variety of "What the hell was that?" and "What the hell were they thinking (trying to do, getting at, etc.)?" comments your rational mind throws out.

So, for what it is worth, I don't hate this movie.  I like it, but, man, it sure gave me a mental beating that I'll remember for years.  Plan 9 never gave me so much to keep up with.

And am I wrong, or did I lose karma over this?  Heaven help me if I should ever suggest Quentin Tarentino be flayed for crimes against humanity.

I would never ,ever, give bad karma to someone who disliked a movie, or who's opinion is different than mine. That would be just make the whole purpose of a forum useless. Different opinions and points of view are what makes the world go round!  Smile
My kids think my taste in movies is insanely  off track...too put it mildly. They'll watch some of my movies...but if I plug in something like...ohhh..ADVENGING DISCO GODFATHER or TEENAGERS from OUTER SPACE...I get practically booed out of the living room! Of course-it's my TV,so I watch it anyway (heheheh!)  TeddyR
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #84. Posted on September 23, 2007, 11:49:49 AM by DistantJ
O god, this is such an awful film. I dunno how I'd handle the full film without the MST3K commentary, and yet for some reason I want to try it.
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #85. Posted on September 23, 2007, 11:54:33 AM by Jim H
I haven't actually seen this film, but I heard a MIDI film of Torgo's theme on a website a while back.  I actually thought it was a fairly decent piece of music, which I was kind of amazed about considering the film's rep.  Not great and ultra-repetitive, but still in the range of competent, and something that could be used effectively.  I dunno, maybe if I heard it in context I'd disagree.

http://www.torgo.org/media/sounds/torgo.wav
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #86. Posted on September 23, 2007, 04:42:23 PM by Ometiklan
I haven't actually seen this film, but I heard a MIDI film of Torgo's theme on a website a while back.  I actually thought it was a fairly decent piece of music, which I was kind of amazed about considering the film's rep.  Not great and ultra-repetitive, but still in the range of competent, and something that could be used effectively.  I dunno, maybe if I heard it in context I'd disagree.

http://www.torgo.org/media/sounds/torgo.wav


Do Youself A favor don't see it!!
Unless You watch the MST3K verison!
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #87. Posted on September 25, 2007, 05:23:57 AM by DistantJ
You've yet to see Torgo's theme the way it's used in the movie :P
Re: MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE
Reply #88. Posted on September 25, 2007, 06:16:07 PM by Torgo
Manos Riffs
*"Why don't we sing a song to pass the time." - "Lets sing something from Pearl Jam."- Mom/Servo as Lil' Girl
*"Been hittin' the Thighmaster, Torgo?"
*"NO! Now their going back the other way!" - "Let's just pretend we're watching 'Trip to Bountiful" - Crow/Joel
*"Could you hold that one card up? What's it say? Oh, yeah -- 'Arf!'" - Crow as the dog
*"cUt it OuT yoU feM!" - Crow as Torgo, as the Master waves a stick in his face.
*"Every frame of this movie looks like someone's last known photograph." - Joel
*"Manos was filmed on location in a vacant lot." - Joel
*"He's got Earl Campbell thighs!" - Crow on Torgo
*"Ambiguity is scary." - Joel as the wife
*"It's like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop." - Servo
*"See, your feeling better already." - "Rolling in filth will do that for you." - Mike/Joel
*"Wants me? What kind of talk is that" - "Why, it's oily, sleazy talk." - Wife/Crow
*"When Carney's flrt." - Servo
*"I LeFt a piEce of cHeWed uP GuM on yoUr pilLoW" - Crow as Torgo
*"Uh, the dog is sharp again mommy... see" - Crow as Lil' Girl
*"His only crime was being born delicious!" - Crow
*"Kids worship the darndest things!" - Joel
*"Tonight: Manos gets caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse..." - Servo
*"Great, Torgo's giving him a snuggy" - Joel
*"You know, this is the alternate ending to "Beaches" - Joel as women wrestle
*"If you persist in this foolishness..." - "I'll take your credit cards!" - The Master/Servo
*"Torgo, you're missing the fight! Put your dress on and get in there" - Servo
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