“Manos” The Hands of Fate begins when Michael (Hal Warren), Margaret (Diane Mahree), and their daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) all decide to go on vacation. While sitting on the side of the road we’re forced to listen to them ramble about finding the vacation resort, Valley Lodge, where they plan on spending time catching up on some much needed rest. After driving around for what seems like forever, Michael pulls the car over to ask for directions to the Valley Lodge. At the house in which they end up at, they meet Torgo (John Reynolds), The Masters keeper. They ask Torgo about the Valley Lodge and he simply responds with “There is no way out of here. It’ll be dark soon. There is no way out of here”.
Despite objections from Margaret and Torgo, Michael pushes his way into staying the night. Once inside the home, the family sees a painting of The Master and is deeply disturbed by it. It’s at this point Margaret hears an ominous howl coming from outside the house so Michael heads out to investigate. At the car, Michael retrieves a flashlight and a hand-gun from the glove compartment and heads off into the dark desert only to find his dog, Peppy, dead. Meanwhile, back at the house, Torgo makes advances towards Margaret as he believes The Master already has ‘enough’ wives for ‘himself’. Michael then returns to the house telling Margaret about Peppy. It’s here they decide to leave but when the car doesn’t start, they’re forced to stay.
Michael and Margaret then stumble upon The Master (Tom Neyman) and several of his wives (whom all seem to be in a trance) dressed in shear white nightgowns wearing granny-panties. Torgo then knocks Michael out and ties him to a pole in order to keep him at bay. Shortly afterwards, The Master is awakened. Once awake, The Master decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife (one of the sleeping women in white) to his deity “Manos”. The Master also plans on making Margaret and her daughter Debbie his new wives. With this information, Michael then barricades his family in the house and confronts The Master one final time.
“Manos” The Hands of Fate is an incredibly inept film. It literally breaks every rule of filmmaking and sets new rules on how not to make a film. Direction, cinematography, editing, pacing, set design, sound design and performances are all a complete mess. The dubbing frequently doesn’t match the scene in which its dubbed to. Scenes are often out of focus, out of frame and linger on far too long. There are scenes in the film that I’m guessing were inserted to pad the running time. Such as police officers pulling people over for no apparent reason. Then there’s a couple making out in a small convertible for what seems like an eternity. None of these scenes come back to us in the film with any payoff what-so-ever. If there’s one saving grace in “Manos” The Hands of Fate, it’s Torgo, played by John Reynolds. Reynolds manages to play Torgo extremely creepy and hysterically funny at the same time. His walk and his mannerisms are played brilliantly, yet, not nearly brilliant enough to save this piece of crap film.
“Manos” The Hands of Fate was directed, produced, written and acted by Harold P. Warren. The film was shot in and around the El Paso, Texas area in the summer of 1966 and was released to ‘local theaters only’ on November 15, 1966. Prior to “Manos” The Hands of Fate, Warren was a theater actor in the El Paso theater system and had wanted to make a film on his own. Thus, “Manos” The Hands of Fate was born. Warren pulled together what was estimated to be $19,000 to make his film (not nearly enough) and gathered his theater friends in order to start his project. Outside of seeing a film in a theater, not one person tied to the film had any experience making movies. The rest is history as the film failed miserably on every level imaginable. In fact, Warren himself was quoted as saying “Manos was the worst film ever made”. Yet Warren managed to be proud of his work. John Reynolds (Torgo) killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head one month prior to the film showing in November of 1966. However, the suicide was never directly connected to the film as Reynolds was a troubled individual to begin with.
Over the years “Manos” The Hands of Fate has become a cult classic mostly due to its appearance on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) show in 1993. It’s really a film everyone should see at least once, if for nothing more than to say “I saw the worst film ever made”. And it’s a MUST see with the MST3K treatment. As a stand alone film, the IMDB rating is a whopping 1.5. But with the MST3K treatment, the rating is 9.1 which should be enough to tell you how it should be viewed.
If you’re interested in finding out more about “Manos” The Hands of Fate, the Wikipedia page is a good place start. The history around the film is far more interesting than the film itself. If you’re brave enough to want to buy the film, I have to recommend the Shout Factory MST3K: “Manos” The Hands Of Fate 2-Disc Special Edition as it features the ‘original featured film’ and the MST3K treatment w/extras.
For fans of the film, and there are a few, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an effort underway to clean the film up, getting it ready for HD. Information on this effort can be found here ‘Manos’ in HD.
Favorite Badass or Badass Moment: Torgo, for serving the master so well
Favorite Boobs or Boobs in a Scene: Sorry kids, no boobs in this one
Favorite Death Scene: None, it seriously doesn’t matter
Boob Count: 0 pair
Body Count: 0
IMDB Rating: 1.5 / 10
My Rating: 1.0 / 10
Final Thoughts: This just may be the worse film I’ve ever seen. It’s right up there with Troll 2 and The Beast of Yucca Flats. Yet, I recommend you see it at least once just to say that you have.