Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Put your Hands together for a classic horror flick
When the writer, producer, director and star of a film is a fertilizer salesman, you can normally expect the flick to reek of manure. Luckily this week’s film, Manos: The Hands of Fate, manages to break the seemingly never-ending streak of poor films conceived by poop peddlers.
Before I get into the plot of this extraordinary film, I thought I would share a little background information first. The aforementioned fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren decided to make the film after a conversation with a screenwriter, in which Warren stated that making a film would not be that difficult. They placed a wager as to whether Warren himself could make a film. Warren immediately began writing the script on a napkin. A similar situation years after resulted in Francis Ford Coppola releasing The Godfather into theatres. Warren managed to raise $19,000, assemble a cast that worked for free aside from the promise of a percentage of the profits, and complete a film unlike any other in cinematic history.
The film opens with a lengthy scene that sees a family driving around, looking for a place to stay. They keep driving. And driving. And driving. Allegedly, this sequence was supposed to contain the opening credits, but Warren either could not add them, or simply forgot to. Hey, sometimes small details like that get forgotten on a project of this scale.
We learn that the couple, their daughter and their dog are lost. The parents (Michael and Margaret) decide to ask for assistance from an odd man named Torgo, who can best be described as a sinister, bowlegged, mentally disabled hobo. He is reluctant at first to allow them to stay at his lodging, referring continually to his “master.” However, it quickly becomes clear that someone, or something is intent on keeping the family exactly where they are.
First the family dog is killed, and then the daughter temporarily goes missing. The oddball Torgo then makes a pass at Margaret in a genuinely creepy scene. Imagine getting hit on by your uncle – at your aunt’s funeral – it’s that creepy.
We learn that the master is quite the polygamist, and plans to add Margaret as his latest trophy wife. Not only does Margaret’s husband have a problem with this, but so does Torgo and The Master’s many wives. This leads to a huge catfight between the women that is reminiscent of a divas match on WWE Monday Night Raw (except without all of the production values).
Manos: The Hands of Fate is not without flaws. There are some editing problems due to the fact that they could only shoot 32 seconds at a time with the camera they used. The actor’s voices don’t always match up with the movement of their mouths (the camera also didn’t record audio). And a few of the actors deliver subpar performances that would not seem out of place in the latest Twilight movie. That being said however, the sum is greater than its parts. It is fitting that the project was the brainchild of a fertilizer salesman, as it grows into something special by the time the end credits role. Yes, he did remember to put those in.
Not sold yet? What if I told you that “Manos” is Spanish for hands, meaning the title translates to Hands: The Hands of Fate? Or if I told you that an actress who was slated to be in the film broke her leg before filming, so all of her scenes take place in a car. Every once in a while, she is seen making out with a man in a car, although neither character has any connection to the story. What if I told you that you could watch the film for free on the Internet? Visit www.archive.org and do a search for “manos hands.” I’ll just say it in advance – you are welcome.