Cinema-Maniac: Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Manos: The Hands of Fate is legendarily bad and considered to be the worst horror movie ever made. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the horror genre has a killer elevator, a trilogy about a killer cookie, one about a killer bed, and so many other goofy films more viable to take that spot. Yet regardless of being label as “the worst horror movie of all time” it continues to attract audiences and some even end up liking it. How could it be that what’s consider trashed by the majority is treasured by many? Underneath the rough surfaces lies something that entertains for the wrong reason few bad films can.

Hands: The Hands of Fate on the spot improv plot is about a family getting lost on the road and stumbling upon a hidden, underground, devil-worshiping cult led by the fearsome Master and his servant Torgo. To be honest the premise could have worked it has an unconventional narrative, is unpredictable, and slowly reveals the answers to it mystery that is setup. Problem with all of these elements being the execution of them. Everything is loosely and flimsily connected by a thin thread. In fact if the character ever left the house the film would have no plot to speak off. With the exception of Torgo secondary characters are useless. A couple too cheap to afford a cheap hotel or go to their parent homes always make out publicly in a car. Easily persuadable policemen who give you a free pass on a speeding ticket if you’re late and for some reason making out in public is illegal in this town or desert. Than the six wives of The Master each younger than the last. Unfortunately given the context within the film the couple daughter not being killed could be debated that the Master is a ped…better yet lets avoid that territory altogether. Also I want to meet the person who dubbed this. I’m no expert on the English language, but are you sure “You all are mad. Mad the whole lot of you.” is proper English. Characters have no development not even enough to be one dimensional. Each character has one trait (like being hungry) and that’s about it. Now no one could talk this film without mentioning the iconic Torgo. This character is the sole reason this film thrives in awfulness. Actor John Reynold non-experience as an actor gives the character a nice touch. His awkward walk from probably smoking one too many joint, goofy facial expression, and silly line delivery adds to a layer of entertainment to his character.

As for the other area the film is a complete failure. For the first half hour the amazement of how every bad decision accumulated into a something so shockingly bad is something difficult to not want to look at. Than the second half becomes a tedious series of repetition slowly loosing its charm. The editing in this film is among the worst anyone could string together. Lines of dialogue repeat loop, awkward cuts that make you question if the copy of the film you’re watching is in poor condition, and the improper timing of inserting music. For example, when first meeting Torgo “scary” music plays when Torgo is getting luggage from a car. It seems the clown noise someone was squeaking behind the scenes was kept in the film for some reason. Music in this film sounds like the instruments themselves were laughing. One of the most noticeable of laughing instruments is during the worst catfight ever staged is scored using a laughing Saxophone. Editing just in general is questionable. In one scene a dog goes out into the desert and is killed by what sounds like Ducks. It will leave your jaws open in how bad editing could scoop down to. As for the acting it lives up to its reputation. Actors break the forth wall looking directly in the cameras and monotone performances. Because of the poor editing you could spot clapperboards, actor getting to their location for the scene, and scenes where it’s clear the actors themselves are holding the camera. As far as art direction goes it lacking evidently; the only time it chooses to expresses itself beyond limitation is The Master cape having two giant hands on it. Aside from that everything has and retains a low-budget feel.

Hands: Los Manos of Fate lives up to its reputation, but not entirely like how one would expect. It’s devoid of any proper craftsmanship yet the cast and crew heart behind it is felt regardless how the quality turned out. There’s a reason audiences go seeking this “awful” film and avoid atrocities such as Monster-A-Go-Go. A bad film can entertain it audiences even if how it does that is unintentional as oppose to one that doesn’t. Who would wants to dig up a fifty plus year old that will infuriates them. On the surface everybody clearly sees the rough edges, but some that look past that sees an entity that brings a good time like any film attempts to do.


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