Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: "Manos: The Hands of Fate"

Credentials: 0% Certified Rotten ( / 1.5 out of 10 ( / #3 Worst Movie of All Time ( / N/A )
Plot: A family vacation in Texas takes a turn for the worst when our heroes get lost looking for their hotel. Instead, they stumble across the “Lodge of Sins,” which just so happens to be run by a crystal meth addicted satyr (half man, half goat creature), a Freddy Mercury look-a-like cult leader with an affinity for silly robes and his six cackling brides. And Chevy Chase thought HIS family vacations were bad.
Thoughts: There’s a lot that needs to be said about “Manos: The Hand of Fate,” but I feel like we should start right at the top: the title.
                Now, I’m not fluent in Spanish but I know manos means hands, which means the actual title is: “Hands: The Hands of Fate.” I suppose writer/director Harold P. Warren was hoping no one would pick up on that.
The title flub should give you a pretty good idea of the level of skilled craftsmanship that went into creating “Manos.” The movie is a disaster from every possible standpoint, both behind the camera and in front of it.
“Manos” was shot with what seems to be a handheld camera, giving it a “home movie gone wrong” kind of feel. The first couple minutes are just an extended sequence of a guy driving a car with his wife, daughter and dog in tow. Plus, we get lots of shots of scenery that do nothing to further the plot. (Rumor has it, Warren meant to include opening credits over the driving shots, but forgot)
Normally, I can forgive a slow start like that. After all it’s only a couple of minutes of dead space near the beginning. Except, “Manos” is a scant 68 minutes long. 68 MINUTES! If your movie is an hour and 8 minutes, you can’t afford to waste a second!
The technical problems extend far past an inept writer/director with no sense of pacing. “Manos” is rife with editing problems like jump cuts and takes where characters don’t seem to realize the camera is rolling, so they stand there waiting.
Without a doubt, the biggest problem is the sound. Warren’s camera couldn’t record any so the effects and dialogue were added in later. Legend has it a crew of two men and one woman were used to record ALL of the film’s dialogue. THREE people! Speaking all of the lines, playing multiple characters!
I’m sure that story is true. The little girl in the movie definitely doesn’t sound like a child. Her voice, sort of a Paris Hilton-esque baby talk, is very creepy. Either way, the dubbing is poor. Not quite “Godzilla” level poor, but it’s close.
The acting is the stuff B-movie legends are made of, starting with John Reynolds who plays Torgo, the satyr and day manager of the Lodge of Sins. Reynolds’ persistent twitching, disjointed walk and bizarre habit of delivering lines like William Shatner on sleeping pills all make for a sight to behold. It’s so weird that fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” once campaigned for Reynolds to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, despite this being his only big screen credit.
Another of Warren’s great directorial missteps is never actually identifying Torgo as a satyr in the movie. While watching it, I thought he was just a hairy guy with huge kneecaps who couldn’t walk right. It was only after reading some interviews with Warren that I found out Torgo’s true identity.
The family members are so ridiculously cliched, there's not much to talk about. The dad is out to protect his family, the mom is in near-constant need of rescuing, and the daughter is precocious and cries a lot. That's about it.
The cult consists of The Master (Tom Neyman) and his six cackling, blathering brides. Neyman over acts the hell out of the part, delivering his lines with a nearly Shakespearean gusto while staring daggers at the camera. His brides spend their screen time fighting amongst themselves and talking over each other.
Near the end, “Manos” veers off into borderline paedophilic territory. I’m not sure if it was intended or not, but it’s there alright.   
:06- So this is what it feels like to drive a car… ohhhh… ahhh
:07- “Where did the road go?” Brilliant, next time I get lost, I’m blaming the road
:10- So mom, dad, you don’t find anything weird about the meth addicted prospector named Torgo, who spends all his time talking about “The Master?” Nothing? Still sure it’s a good idea to spend a night with this guy? Ok, have fun.
:13- You’re a true patriot dad, make the guy who can’t walk lug all your bags from the car
:17- Oh no! Something killed that slipper! Oh wait… it’s not a slipper, it’s the dog. Well that’s sad.
:24- That’s right, just keep talking about your daughter like she’s not in the room, barely inches away from you. She won’t notice
:52- Girls, the man said “kill” not “viciously grope.” How’s about one of you goes and gets a gun or a knife or something heavy, because massaging the poor basterd to death is going to take years
Video Evidence


Torgo and the Master

Mystery Science Theater 3000

More from MST3K

And so there you go: “Hands: The Hands of Fate.” It has its moments, but "Manos" is fun to talk about and a chore to sit and watch. Bumblebee tuna.

No comments:

Post a Comment