Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) Review

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Manos The Hands of Fate (1966)

 I am Torgo.
I take care of the place while
the Master is away

 

I couldn’t do a Bad Movie Month without this little gem. Made for a bet that a horror film could be made easily, Director Harold P. Warren wrote, directed, starred and financed the film himself using actors from the local theatre and models from a local modelling agency as well as their family members.

He managed to raise $19,000 which today is around $134,000 but apparently that’s not enough to even make a commercial.

Shooting was on a tight schedule as all the equipment was rented and had to be returned and it was filmed using one, hand wound, camera that couldn’t record sound and could only film 32 seconds of film in one go leading to all the films cast having to be dubbed later by only a handful of people.

The director thought it would be good publicity to have lead actress Diane Mahree promoted as a beauty queen and entered her in a beauty pageant without telling her until she was accepted. She ended up being a finalist.

Over the years a few stories have popped up around this film of which the ones surrounding actor John Reynolds who played Torgo (by far the most entertaining character in the film) are the most well known.
The biggest myth is that the prosthetics on his legs to make him look like a Satyr which were designed by fellow actor Tom Neyman who played the Master were worn backwards causing John Reynolds a lot of pain and he became addicted to painkillers killing himself 6 months after the film.

According to both Tom Neyman and his daughter Jackey Neyman who also appeared in the film this is not true as filming only took 8 days and that wasn’t long enough to become addicted to painkillers and that john was not playing a Satyr but Torgo was supposed to be a hunchback Igor type character and as hunchbacks were overdone he had deformed legs instead and he wore the leg braces correctly although they did cause him discomfort.
John did commit suicide one month before the films premiere.

So what is the film about? Well a young family are driving on holiday and decide to stop at a house for the night where they meet Torgo who is the servant to the Master. It turns out that the master has a harem of wives under his spell and Torgo is attracted to Margaret (the Mother) and wants her to be his wife so makes her aware of his attraction as seen below

No, Torgo isn’t drunk, that’s how he’s portrayed because actor John Reynolds was on LSD whilst filming. The Master decides he wants the wife for yet another bride and hilarity ensues.

What makes this fun?
Well everything.

The script has its funny moments like
The woman is all we want! The others must die! They ALL must die! We do not even want the woman!
It’s not Attack of the Clones bad but the same lines are repeated in the same scenes quite often
The acting, whilst not the worst, probably appear far more amateurish than they are due to bad directing, editing and the dubbing. Some shots do start like the actors waiting for the directors cue and they didn’t edit those first few seconds out.
The music is quite good for a production of this low scale and Torgo’s walking theme along with his walk are a comical highlight.
Because they didn’t have enough lighting for this film there is a scene where two cops go to investigate a noise, take two steps then go back to their car as it was too dark to go on any further.
There are scenes involving a young couple that are making out in a car and keep getting told by the same cops to stop and move on throughout the film. They have very little relevance to the plot and were added because one of the actresses broke her legs and the director added them so she could still be in it.
The ending left a bad taste with some people including an old woman who at the premiere attacked the director because of it.
The little girls voice was dubbed and if you listen it sounds like it is done by an adult woman but not as bad as the dubbing for the boy in Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981)
There is a catfight involving the Masters wives which looks direction-less and goes on for far too long. Considering that they could only film in 32 second burst that by itself is impressive.
The opening consist of shots of the family driving about that also go on for too long. this was because they ware supposed to have the opening credits added to them but never did yet on YouTube someone has uploaded that scene with the credits so why they weren’t used is a mystery.

Manos even has its own game on iOS, Android and Windows released last year which by all accounts is ok.

Bad through and through but I found it watchable which can’t be said for a lot of other films made by so called professionals. Original reels were found and it is being restored for a Blu-Ray release so maybe if the price is right you should keep an eye out for this…

erm masterpiece?

Reviewed by Lead Cenobite