Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: Manos: The Hands of Fate

When I decided to join Ryan's excellent Blind Spot Series, I had a very clear purpose in mind. One of Ryan's purposes was to help push us into seeing films "of some significance" that we haven't yet gotten to. I had a bunch of these movies in my own collection, just sitting there waiting to popped into the DVD player. One of them was a movie you probably shouldn't watch. I'd say it's of some significance because many deem it the worst movie ever made. Since I get a twisted pleasure out of many bad flicks, I'd say that qualifies as significant. What I was hoping for was something so bad it's awesome. What I got was something so bad, it's truly awful.

The story follows Michael (Harold P. Warren), his wife Margaret (Diane Adelson), and their daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) who appears to be about four years old. They're going on vacation...somewhere...and get lost. They wind up driving down a road that goes nowhere. And by nowhere, I mean the pavement just runs out and there is absolutely nothing around. Yeah, they keep driving because well, you know, us guys can't ever admit we're lost. Anyhoo, they wind up at a strange house where they're met by the very sweaty, awkward Torgo (John Reynolds). He babbles a bit about The Master who has "left this world, but he is always with us." Then he tells them they can stay, but only one night, and that The Master would not approve because he doesn't like children. Eventually, The Master and his six wives wake up and a really bizarre night ensues.

Needless to say, we get some inept filmmaking, bad acting, bad writing, and bad whatever else you can think of. The sad part of all this is that the premise isn't a bad one. It's been used and re-used hundreds of times, both excellently as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and poorly as in Wrong Turn 6. Yup, there are six Wrong Turn movies. Point is, a good movie, even an excellent one can be made from the exact same starting point. It just gets botched all to hell. It's obvious that writer/director Harold P. Warren, yes the same guy who plays Michael, doesn't quite get some essential things about the craft in which he is engaging. Lots of his troubles stem from the handling of the camera. Shots are framed oddly and linger on the actors too long after they speak. This leads to some strange moments along the way. A character will say something then just kind of look around while the camera stays on them. Often, he just shows too much. We've all seen a movie where someone is supposed to be watching a child who is shown and then is off-camera while the adult is busy with some other thing. The adult and the camera then turn their attention back to where the child is supposed to be, but is not. The adult is then reasonably alarmed and a search commences. A similar scene happens here except the child is visible throughout the entire middle part where we're not supposed to see her. We the audience watch her walk out of the room and go outside. The implication is the same, but the cinematic result is not. There is no suspense. It doesn't help that instead of actually going out to look for their daughter, Mom and Dad grab a flashlight then just stand in the doorway and shout her name.

I'm guessing those are The Hands of Fate
That scene also brings up the writing, in general. It's like each character has about four lines they keep repeating throughout the movie. They don't say them exactly, but with slight variations. Most annoying is Margaret. She is a damsel in distress to the nth degree, on top of not being very bright. In one scene she is startled to screaming when she realizes that Torgo is right behind her making would-be orgasmic faces at her. Then the dude starts touching her rather creepily and jabbering about how she would be his. Understandably, she recoils. Also understandably, she bargains with him to let her go and she won't tell her husband. Well, hubby shows up a second later...aaaaannnddd...she acts like it never happened. Speaking of screaming, it's what she does best. She spends most of the movie screaming, crying, then saying "Mike. Mike. Where's Mike?" How sad is it that I was really hoping someone killed her? Besides that, Manos isn't even in the damn movie.

I've loved lots of movies with similar problems. Seriously, I will watch Ed Wood's disastrous Plan 9 From Outer Space a hundred more times before I watch this again. How come I don't love this one? Unlike Plan 9, Manos didn't have me howling with laughter. All of the humor is completely unintended in Plan 9, but it doesn't seem to take itself seriously and that's part of the fun. Manos lacks they same sense of fun and passion that Ed Wood brought to Plan 9. While there is some unintentional humor, it's not enough to keep this from being a dreadful experience. The one major exception to this is Tom Neyman, who plays The Master. Dude is hilarious. He chews up scenery and comes up with some great looks of a guy who is just fed up with all the bullshit he gets from his six, yes six wives. They constantly bitch and moan then break into mass catfights. Very poorly choreographed fights, mind you, but fights nonetheless. Then we get to the ultra-creepy in a bad way ending. A really bad way.

Torgo is using his Hands of Fate!
Is Manos: The Hands of Fate the worst movie ever made? A strong case could be made for it because even for those of us who love a terrible film this is fairly painful to sit through. I seriously doubt I'll be giving this one a go anytime soon. Or ever again. Still, I'm glad I watched it. The curiosity is finally satisfied. That said, it's now time to bring on the good movies from my Blind Spot list. April will bring us baseball season. For me personally, that means Eight Men Out will be stepping up to the plate. Can't wait.

Okay...I can't quite go out without revealing the whole truth of my time with Manos. Over the course of a week, I tried to watch this movie at least four times. I fell asleep each of the first three times. So the last time, yesterday, I took the bull by the horns and live tweeted my way through it even if none of you were paying attention. It worked. I got through it. If you care, here's what I said to myself...even though I was saying it to the whole world...or something like that. If you don't care, just skip it and leave me a nice comment (or your condolences) because this is the end of the post.

And because I'm not that smart with this Twitter stuff, yet. The whole thing is in reverse chronological order. I know, I suck. And...


  1. Glad that's over.
  2. Aaaaannnddd little bitty Debbie, about four years old, is now one of The Master's wives. Ewwww.
  3. So, Mike is the new Torgo. Um'kay.
  4. Okay, I'm back.
  5. Oh crap, gotta pause to check the chicken in the oven.
  6. Random make-out couple back again.
  7. Wait, what???
  8. The Master is bullet-proof??? Makes sense with him being all undead and stuff.
  9. Cops hear gunshots, basically shrug shoulders and drive off.
  10. "Mike, I just can't take it anymore. Save Debbie. Save Debbie!" - Margaret
  11. Aaaaaannnnnndddd, one wife down.
  12. For someone called The Master, he sure looks puzzled a lot.
  13. The Master's pimp hand is not strong
  14. False alarm, Torgo's not dead, but...has his hand literally burned off of his arm. Nice
  15. Sssooooo, the wives kill Torgo by rubbing his face to death
  16. Mike's up!!!
  17. Everything is the will of Manos.
  18. The Master having trouble controlling his women.
  19. Mike's wife, Margaret is the most helpless chick of all time. No matter what happens she cries and screams for Mike.
  20. More catfighting!!!
  21. Okay, not so lucky Mike
  22. But he's not Manos!!!
  23. My bad, he is The Master...and there were 6 wives.
  24. Most hilarious 5 lady catfight EVAR!!!
  25. Dude wakes up all of his wives, looks like he instantly wants to put them all back to sleep.

    1. got a great robe, though...

      Tweet text

  1. Oh wait, that dude ain't The Master.
  2. Random couple making out in car. Cop shoos thwm away, ignores open liquor bottle. Hmph, the 60s.
  3. Uh-oh The Master is up
  4. Whoever played the piano for the score should've been paid handsomely
  5. Aaaaaannnndddd Torgo rubbing up on "dead" chick
  6. Finds creepy room full of seemingly dead people, goes looking for Torgo for answers
  7. Since when does looking for your missing daughter mean standing in the doorway with a flashlight?
  8. Mike = most clueless dad/hubby in the world
  9. And lady doesn't mention this to her hubby even though she's scared shitless.
  10. Is Torgo rubbing his junk while standing right next to that woman and ogling her?
  11. Sweaty, awkward dude = Torgo.
  12. Aaaannnndddd, dead poodle
  13. Why does the tiny poodle have the bark of german shepard?
  14. Note to self: when a sweaty awkward dude tells you he takes care of the place while the master is away, leave.
  15. This woozy, jazzy music is killing me!!!
  16. Watching for my March flick. Yup, it's bad.


  1. This post was so much fun to read! I too have urges now and again to watch bad movies, but this one really takes the biscuit! Your tweets are hilarious!
    - Allie

    1. Thanks. It was fun to write despite how bad the movie. It really does take the biscuit.

  2. I've never actually seen this particular one, though based on my experience with b-movies I know how painful the worst of them can be (what you've described sounds a bit like my experience with Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet/Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women) and how amusing they can get (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians). Amusingly, I've actually been told that "Manos" actually translates "hands", which means the title of this film is literally "Hands The Hands of Fate".

    I guess you could defend its quality since, as you pointed out, the filmmakers had pretty much no experience (wasn't it something like a farmer just got his hands on some money and had a bit too much time on his hands so he decided to make a movie?) but there are other films from similar sources that have worked great (The Call of Cthulhu, for instance, which was basically made by a bunch of extreme Lovecraft fans who got some money and a camera). If the stills you posted are anything to go on, it definitely doesn't look very good. However, to be fair, based on what I've seen of b-movies, it's actually not that unusual for them to fail in delivering on what is promised by the title (seeing as there doesn't seem to be any actual "hands of fate" in this movie).

    1. This one is certainly on the painful side, but is amusing in parts. I'm willing to forgive the look since I know they were working with limited funding. Too many parts that could've been better without spending another dime just don't work. Definitely not as fun as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

  3. You are absolutely hilarious! :-) Your tweets are priceless.

  4. I've gotta see this. I just want to know how bad it is. It can't be any worse than the stuff Michael Bay does or anything Adam Sandler has been doing in recent years.

    1. Not a Bay or Sandler fan but yeah, this is even worse than that, lol.

  5. I've seen the original version and the MST3K. I prefer the MST3K for obvious reasons. If you haven't seen Mystery Science Theater 3000's take on it, I highly suggest it.

    I really like that you decided to pick something like this. It IS significant. At least as far as being a textbook of everything you DON'T do in a movie. haha.

    1. I haven't seen the MST3K version. If I ever get over the pain of watching it without their quips I might give it a try. That said it is significant for thw reason you give.

  6. This reminded me of some of the terrible parts I might have slept through myself. Just awful. (The movie, not your witty review!)