For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
Manos: The Hands of Fate
It's Shocking! It's Beyond Your Imagination!
A family gets lost on the road and stumbles upon a hidden, underground, devil-worshiping cult led by the fearsome Master and his servant Torgo.
Disgraceful, humorless and just dismal, this atrocity whose technical achievements only just barely meet that of a "film" is just the all time lowest of the low. It is and forever will be a mystery to me as to how Manos: The Hands of Fate (translated: Hands: The Hands of Fate) is commonly grouped with the terrifically bad film genre or known by most as the so-bad-it's-good genre. The genre by which the likes of The Room, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Troll 2 belong, is a genre known for "fun" and "good fun" and even "joy," Manos; or Hands is none of these things.
Manos is campless, joyless, void of fun, and spawn of pain and cinematic torture.…
Stripped of annoying wisecracking robots this is not only an inscrutable piece of anti-cinema but also a glorious piece of accidental outsider art, an unnerving, arrhythmic ocean of crummy tinkly jazz, desolate sets, murky shadows, and weird Freudian sex panic misogyny. Awkward shot lengths and jump cuts, blurred focus, and stilted out-of-sync-dialogue merge into this sustained, ugly seepage of dread, inadvertently conjured by sheer ineptitude and a spring-wound 16mm camera's operational idiosyncrasies.
“I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away.”
It was the very witching time of night, and Hal P. Warren, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travels homeward, alongside the barren wastelands which stretch beside El Paso, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. It was the night of the unveiling of his masterpiece, Manos: The Hands of Fate. The air that afternoon had been heavy and humid, but it couldn’t dampen his spirits. He had won his bet—his movie was complete, ready for an unprepared world’s embrace.
His actors arrived in the rented limousine—one carload at a time, as Warren could afford only a single rental. Spotlights lit the night sky,…
"Without Manos: The Hands of Fate there would be no 2001: A Space Oddyssey."
"Robert Smith Jr and Russ Huddleston's score is the reason I started composing"
"I almost quit show business for good the first time I saw Manos. I mean, when a performance as brilliant as John Reynolds' Torgo already exists why would I even bother trying..."
My mom (after walking in on me watching this film): "Is this a porno flick?"
Manos: The Hands of Fate (roughly translated into Hands: The Hands of Fate) is an incredible film. It transcends the word 'incredible'. In fact, it conjures up its own word and that word is "torgo". This film is very torgo.
Holy shit this film is fucking terrible. But it's a special kind of fucking terrible. It's a "holy shit I'm going to shoot myself any second now fucking terrible" kind of fucking terrible. Never before have I seen a man die because his face was caressed to death.
Manos has changed my outlook on cinema as well as humanity. Are we humans this monstrous and…
O Manos... thou of primal darkness! Thou who dwelleth in the depth of the universe in the black casims of night! Thou who bestoweth the mother darkness upon thy faithful, to live eternally in her keeping. Thou dost make him most blessed forever! And thou who dost cursed with eternal burning life those whom transrest against thee! Holy art thou, holy art thou, holy art thou! Manos will be done! Thy priesthood remains steadfast, thy priesthood remains constant, thy priesthood remains righteous. Thou hast taught us, O Manos, and we hath listened. Give ear to our words, O Manos, and hear us! Hear us! Hear us! For…
As a movie this is balls. BUT as a funnily bad movie it's incredible. Thanks Mystery Science Theatre 3000
Yes it's terrible - trifecta of bad script, bad acting and awful production values - but I can't stop thinking about it
A masterpiece of garbage cinema.
lol -- this was so great it hurt...
I did a Torgo impression for my girlfriend after this.
She was not impressed.
Un engendro difícil de igualar, se hace demasiado larga a pesar de que dura solamente 75 minutos. Medio estrella por lo mala que es y media estrella porque entre tanta incoherencia te puede sacar alguna risa.
*Dry firing a revolver in my mouth* Torgo groping the wife was probably how I looked picking up the bluray at the library. I don't even know what to mash into the keyboard here after this.
-Although I've seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that contains this film numerous times, this is my first viewing of the actual film. It's a really weird feeling to watch something that is both so familiar and so unfamiliar.
-I watched this on the recently released Synapse Films Blu Ray, which is a restored and remastered 2K transfer, and what a job they did. Although there's still a strong amount of grain left to the film, it's expected from the 16mm 50 year old source material. There are a handful of moments where I was genuinely taken aback by the quality of both the light and color levels in this edition.
-As for the movie itself, what is there…
Kind of unwatchable until Torgo turns up, transforming it from tediously inept to fascinatingly inept.
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