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.…
“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,…
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.
"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…
The RiffTrax version, which makes it hilarious.
I don't think I had ever seen Manos on its own before, without MST3K. But taking the movie on its own terms, with the gorgeous HD restoration that offers, for the first time, actual definition, the film remains comical but also a surreal oddity with a unique sense of space.
The Blu Ray allows for the blues and reds to pop on screen, but what really comes through is the surreal black background - the result of amateur lighting - that seems to set the movie in its own nether-realm. These characters are seemingly lost in a world that exists separate from ours, and defined space ceases to mater. For example, just where exactly in relation to the house is…
Transcendentally bizarre, ineptly executed train wreck of a horror film that is nevertheless strangely hypnotic. Every facet of the production is terrible but what makes it watchable is the strikingly odd performance of John Reynolds, the horrible dubbing, the terrible music choices and the lack of coherent editing which at times comically hangs bad actors out to dry while at others jump cuts into non sequitur oblivion. The rural El Paso locations are existentially drab and visually ugly but add just another touch of the surreal to the proceedings. Not a single scene in the film works as it should making it tough to watch but also perfectly imperfect.
Come on. No way is this the worst movie ever made.
That this exists in a restored, HD format may be proof that anything is possible.
There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon. There is no way out of here.
It's reputation as one of the worst movies ever precedes it, this is actually a strangely interesting film. Yes, it is intermittently boring and poorly put together, structured, written, etc., but there's this low budget "we don't know any better" charm to the whole thing. The utter wrongness of almost everything is fascinating. Whether he intended to or not, Hal Warren made an idiosyncratic piece of outsider art that has managed to push itself into the pop culture consciousness. Torgo and The Master are a duo for the ages.
A very well done Bluray remaster of a truly terrible film.
a list that is trying to contain every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the…
Take a break from all that Fellini and Bergman you pretentious fucks and watch this shit.
Check notes for LINKS.…