Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

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1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10

So-bad-it-is-good

Everything

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Manos:  The Hands of Fate

Studio:  Sun City Films

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  November 15, 1966

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

manos-the-hands-of-fate-torgo-makes-a-pass-at-margaret

If a guy like Torgo makes a pass at you as smooth as this, how can you turn him down?

Michael (Harold P. Warren), Margaret (Diane Mahree), their daughter Debbie (Jackie Neyman), and their dog become lost in the desert countryside.  Finding the home of a man named calling himself the Master (Tom Neyman), Michael and Margaret convince the houseman Torgo (John Reynolds) to allow them to stay for the night.  When the Master and his harem of wives learn that there are visitors, the Master and his wives must decide what to do with the new visitors.

Directed by Harold P. Warren (who also played the father and wrote the story), Manos:  The Hands of Fate was originally called The Lodge of Sins and was made because of a bet made by Warren that anyone could make a horror film during his shooting of a Route 66 episode.  The movie received a small theatrical release (where it was panned), and disappeared until it gained cult status by being featured on one of the most popular episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K #5-24 January 30, 1993).  The movie gained a huge cult following and since its MST3K appearance has been made into a fan made video game and even is scheduled for a Blu-Ray release.

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So, you’re telling me that you have a problem if I bring home a six-year-old for my cult of women? You’re so square!!!

The reason for this fanfare becomes obvious if you see the movie…It is one of the worst things ever made.  The first glaring problem is the technical issues.  The movie was shot with a camera that could only record thirty-two seconds at a time and as a result the movie is full of weird cuts and edits.  The film is jumpy and the night shooting doesn’t allow you to see anything (and neither could the actors).

The next problem is that the audio.  The actors were dubbed separate from the recording…a common thing, but the audio here doesn’t sync up at all.  The voices are so over-the-top that just hearing them makes you laugh, and the looping of dialogue leads to the already strange script being heard multiple times.  Added to this is the horrible sound track (though I do have to admit I love Torgo’s walking music).

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Those no good kids, always kissing and making out…and doing nothing else for the plot

With these technical problems, a horrible script doesn’t help, and Manos:  The Hands of Fate has this going for it (or not going for it) also.  The basic premise is sound, a family lost in the desert is menaced by a cult…it has been used before and movies like The Hills Have Eyes used it really effectively…Here we have the bizarre Torgo (who was meant to be a satyr but it is never shown or said…but explains his walking) and the Master and his brides…who don’t seem to do anything.  We also get the famous making-out couple that aren’t part of the plot either (the actress in the couple was meant to be the lead Margret but got sidelined with a broken leg).  I actually like the kind of dark Twilight Zone-eque ending where they’ve all been converted into the cult…even the little girl which is kind of twisted.

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There’s always room for more Torgo!!!

Manos:  The Hands of Fate is a must see for fans of bad cinema.  Along with Ed Wood classics like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda, the movie definitely delivers and keeps you wondering on why Warren thought it would work.  The actors didn’t really work again, and the actor who played Torgo unfortunately committed suicide before the release (no, it wasn’t because of the movie).  Most of the actors weren’t paid for the film (the girl got a bike and the dog got some dog food) but given the option of profits…I hope that deal still exists for their relatives because the little, horrible movie is now famous.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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