Friday, 26 June 2015

Satanic Summer: Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Director: Harold P. Warren
Starring: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, and Diane Adelson
Running Time: 68 min

  I remember seeing this film years ago on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and really digging it.  However, this time watching it, I will be alone and won't have the hilarious rifftrack from the MST3K crew to keep me sane and stop me from banging my head on the desk while watching this "classic" B-movie.  If I don't make it back alive, tell my family & friends I loved them. 

  Michael, his wife Margaret, their daughter Debbie and the family dog, Peppy are going on a vacation in El Paso, Texas.  They drive, and drive and drive and drive and Michael eventually gets lost on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  They drive some more and eventually reach what looks like an abandoned old shack.  Michael and Margaret get out of the car to go to the house and ask for directions but just as they get out of the car, a strange derelict looking character named Torgo comes out of the house and welcomes them to the shack.  Michael asks for directions but Torgo evades his questions with strange talk about his Master.  Michael gets fed up and insists that his family stays the night at the creepy old shack with the even creepier Torgo and his Master.  At first Torgo refuses, but quickly gives in, telling his guests that the Master may be angry but he will let them stay.  Michael forces Torgo to get their bags and takes his family into the shack like a boss.
  Once inside the shack and after putting the bags in the one other room, Torgo excuses himself to speak with the Master.  Michael and Margaret look around and discover an incredibly evil fireplace with statues of hands on it and a creepy painting of a mustached man in a robe with his doberman.  Nonetheless, this isn't sinister enough for them to want to leave like any normal person and it's still better than that Motel 6 they stayed in last year. 
  Meanwhile, Torgo has awakened his Master from his eternal sleep or nap and lets him know that they have visitors.  The Master sees the visitors using some kind of magic thang and decides that he wants to add Margaret to his collection of wives.  This infuriates Torgo because the Master already has six wives and Torgo has none. :(  However, the wives cannot decide if they should kill the little girl Debbie and this indecision causes a huge riff in the Masters' household.  Can Michael and his family escape this crazy little love shack or will Margaret become wife number seven for this fashion impaired mad man!

  This is such a terrible, terrible film and luckily this was the only film that writer/director Harold P. Warren ever created.  He even bragged after the premiere that this was the worst film ever made, which is a pretty bold statement but pretty close to the truth.  There are so many filler scenes of driving with no dialogue in the first half that make you wonder if this film is worth the trouble of watching.  Then, there are a bunch characters that are introduced and have nothing to do with the overall story, which makes you question why were they written in at all and where were was he even going with this?
  Although the film was English, Warren still dubbed all the actors voices and sound effects in post production which caused seven year old, Jackey Neymen (Manos: The Rise of Torgo, Curse of Bigfoot) who played Debbie to cry at the premiere when she didn't get to hear her own voice on the big screen.  However, she was not the only one hurt by the Manos production.  The worst has to be what happen to John Reynolds, who played Torgo, who I believe was suppose to be a Satyr or some kind of half goatman.  First of all, there was no reason he need to be a Satyr because that story angle goes absolutely nowhere.  It's not relevant throughout the story at all and I kept waiting for a big reveal that he is a ferocious goat demon or something but nothing happens.  Even Michael and his family aren't freaked out about it, they just think he's some weird dude with big knees in an abandoned shack.  Unfortunately for Reynolds, he unintentionally put on the metallic leg rigging on improperly to cause this Satyr effect which caused permanent damage to his kneecaps.  This caused him chronic pain after the shoot and the months before his death.
 The worst thing though about the film though is that Manos never shows up... ever!  Manos is the demon that the Master and everybody worships in the film but he doesn't put in an appearance and there is no explanation to why they worship this deity at all.  Funny thing about Manos is that it's Spanish word for hands, so the title of this film is actually Hands: The Hands of Fate.  I read that this amused the crew of the film so much, they would refer to the project as Mangos: The Cans of Fruit behind Warrens' back.  You wacky film crew, you.

  So why should  anyone in their right minds just this atrocious film.  Well, it's hilariously bad.  Even without the MST3K rifftrack I still found myself laughing at the insanity of this film.  Warren may have considered this the worst movie ever but it still had a plot and the characters had motivations which is a lot more than I can say for some films that I've seen over the years.
  Sure the acting is terrible and this is mostly because all the actors were from a local theatre group that Warren knew but at least they were trying.  This was probably the biggest role that Tom Neyman, who played the Master, ever got and he played the hell out of this role, maybe even too much.  His overacting and inexperience is hilarious to see on screen.  Also John Reynolds performance as Torgo is excellently bad.  He seems to have no direction and just acts like that drunk creepy uncle at family functions.  Some of his scenes are just confusing and my favourite has to be when the Master forces his wives to tickle Torgo as a punishment. WTF? This is what Torgo wanted the whole time.  Note to self: Create a Tickle Me Torgo doll, will make millions.  

  This is not a good movie in almost any sense but it is fun to watch with other fans of bad movies.  Although there is a story, which may have been better as a short, you can really tell that the person organizing the production is way to out of their depth and had no idea what they were trying to  achieve with this film. When it comes to this film, the cliche, "It's so bad, it's good" really works or at least it's good enough for a few laughs with on a late evening with friends.  If I were you, I'd ease myself into this film with the MST3K version but if you're feeling adventurous, watch the link below.

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