Behold, Manos, your loyal servants await you! Doth thou commandeth us to honor your divinity with a sacrifice? Well, can we please sacrifice ourselves, because we’re not sure how we’re going to live with ourselves after watching your horrid movie.
There are many things wrong with “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” (1966) so it isn’t really clear where we should begin.
As reviewer Eric D. Snider pointed out: “Just as Citizen Kane is a textbook example of how to make a quality film, Manos: The Hands of Fate is exemplary in showing us, step-by-step, how to make a bad one.”
So, that being said, lets try to unpack this monstrosity.
First thing is first: the plot. On paper, the plot doesn’t sound all that bad. In fact, in the hands of a competent director, this might have even been a decent film. The basic premise is this: a family gets stranded in a desert and must flee a cult. There. A one-sentence summary which is nearly infinitely better than the movie.
As “Mystery Science Theater 3000” brilliantly pointed out, every frame in the first few scenes looks like someone’s last known photo. The audience is treated to a poorly framed car ride as the opening credits role, a truly invigorating way to start a horror flick.
Soon after the slow and not-at-all furious, we meet Torgo, who seems like a character straight from the imagination of the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” character Charlie Kelly.
Torgo stumbles about in a similar fashion to the mescaline scene in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and his unintentional comedy is irresistible, for a while. Torgo’s antics overstay their welcome by the end of the film.
Perhaps one of the most laughable scenes features a cult wives free-for-all showdown. Far too much time in the film is spent on several of the wives, all dawned in white gowns, wrestling each other to the ground. It would be a neat idea if it had anything to do with the actual plot.
The antagonist, The Master as he is known, an uncomfortable, short-haired Frank Zappa, parades around in utterly absurd robes with his bickering wives/slaves, shouting about how he will not tolerate insolence. He sacrifices Torgo for lusting after one of the wives (and then reanimates Torgo, and blows his hand off, for some reason).
We won’t spoil the ending, but we can inform you, it’s not great. “Manos” delivered some true so-bad-its-good moments, but was ultimately a boring cringe fest. If you are going to watch this, we recommend catching it on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
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