3/30/17

MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE - REVIEW


There are bad movies and then there are borderline unwatchable bad movies. Manos: The Hands Of Fate would have probably remained in the latter category if it hadn't been for Mystery Science Theater 3000's entertaining riff of the infamous stinker.

This is a bizarre little zero budget horror movie from 1966 and pretty much everything about it is a disaster from the awful performances and the nonsensical script to the awkward direction and editing. The plot sees a family get lost while on a drive in the desert before becoming trapped in a lodge run by some kind of dodgy pagan cult. The leader of said shady group is The Master (Tom Neyman), he wears a long black poncho with a red hand motif, one of the film's most memorable images, he has several wives and sacrifices people to the deity he worships called "Manos" (aka "Hands" in Spanish). His disciple is a twitchy weirdo named Torgo (John Reynolds), who has inexplicably puffed-up knees and his own theme song in the film. On paper, Manos: The Hands Of Fate is your typical Children Of The Corn-type plot so not inherently terrible and certainly not impossible to get right which begs the question: what, indeed, went wrong?

The idea of a normal American family landing in the middle of a satanic cult could have led to something genuinely creepy and effective but without any real horror element present and with a story that barely moves at all until the last minute, what we're left with is tons and tons of filler. There's an ongoing subplot about a kissing couple that keeps getting pulled over by cops which has nothing to do with anything, you see The Master's wives debate, argue and fight for ages in what I'm guessing was meant to be a titillating "cat-fight" scenario (it's not) and most of the film is composed of overlong driving scenes, technical screw-ups and needless conversations. The film does have its amusingly silly moments but, overall, it is a tough watch due to its criminally slow pace and its reluctance to move its own plot forward which alone makes it worse than most Ed Wood films.

Some movies are just made to be watched as part of a riff and Manos: The Hands Of Fate, while it offers enough clunky elements to keep bad movie buffs happy, is one of those. On its own, it's not an entertaining film and it feels much longer than it actually is so you might want to stick with the MST3K version.

Hands off.

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