Tragedy of the 60s; “Manos” The Hands of Fate.

June 26, 2008 at 3:58 am (movies) (, , )

Yesterday I watched a little movie called “Manos” The Hands of Fate, which is a serious and very popular contender for the worst film ever made. It’s certainly the worst film I’ve ever seen, beating out Batman & Robin, Frankenfish, Riding The Bus With My Sister [starring Rosie O’Donnell] and Pokemon: The Movie. I do not recommend you watch this film under normal circumstances, as some people can come out okay but some people will be driven mad. Instead, the entire thing is up on Youtube, only with a guy and two robots sitting in the audience and mocking it the entire time, AKA it was featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Even when the guy and robot’s comments aren’t that funny, they can at least amuse enough to keep your mind from getting sucked too far into the movie and trapped in that sack of crap, keeping the movie on a so-bad-it’s-good-and-a-very-interesting-experience level instead of a driving-you-insane level. Thank God. You know, I kind of have the feeling that the more times I watch this movie, the funnier it will get. Although it might also get more disturbing and insane driving. Lets just take a look at how this thing got to be so terrible.

-Once upon a time [1966] there was a fertalizer salesman called Harold Warren. He didn’t think it was that difficult to make good movies. He was wrong.

-When he got the opportunity, he made a bet with a [future Oscar winning] screenwriter that he could make a popular horror on almost no budget. He was ironically right. That episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is widely sought after.

-Warren managed to raise $19,000 to make the movie.

-He used his salesman skills to convince a bunch of people from the local theatre and a modeling agency to act in his movie with no salary, only the promise of a cut of the profits. Mm, profits. That worked out very well for them, I’m sure.

-The guy who played Torgo was a drug addict and was often high as a kite during filming. This comes across on screen, believe me.

-Warren decided that as well as being director, producer and writer extraordinaire, he was also a great actor, and cast himself as the hero of the piece. As Homer once said, save me Jeebus!

-Possibly because he couldn’t afford it or possibly because of plain stupidity, Warren purchased a camera that could only get 30 seconds of footage at a time.

-This camera also had a problem with recording sound; as in it couldn’t and all dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Yeah, I’m thinking this was more stupidity than budget.

-They couldn’t afford stunt doubles. Sometimes that’s okay if there’s no big stunts or anything that might inflict serious wounds [there wasn’t], the cast will just do it and take the pain. Not this time. They aren’t even slapped properly, it’s like a hard pat that slides down their cheek as they turn their head. The wrestling scenes consist mostly of grabbing and shaking each other, and so does Torgo’s “execution,” which later became known as getting “massaged to death.”

-Torgo was supposed to be a faun-like creature called a satyr. Together, the actor and Tom Neyman [the Master] made a kind of rig so his knees would appear backwards. Somehow, probably due to being so high, John Reynolds wore them backwards by accident. Warren didn’t want to reshoot, so he had to wear them that way for the rest of filming, which ended up damaging knees so much he had to take pain meds for them. Poor guy.

-Lots of moths were attracted to the lights where they were filming at night. But it’d be okay, ‘cause moths are like, creepy, and would totally add to the creepiness of this popular horror hit he was making! Right? Right? Wroooong.

-Oh, and they didn’t have much lighting anyway. This meant when they filmed outside, they either had to stay mostly in one place or move the lights and scenery around a lot. The latter required too much work and effort. Fortunetly, the script was very creative in providing reasons why the characters aren’t moving very far. Such as… tripping! And then just sort of lying on the ground for ages whinging! Or… No reason! Allowing the audience to provide whatever reason they can think of! It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure movie! Yaaaaaayyyarrgghhhohsocrap!

-With his amateur, unexperienced actors, Warren figured two takes maximum would do juuuust fine.

-He put the casts doubts about this to rest by telling them that all mistakes, moths or bad performances would be patched up in post-production. He lied.

These all contributed and without them it would not be so widely regarded as the worst film ever made, but there are, IMO, three main reasons that “Manos” The Hands of Fate [that’s not me doing the quotation marks thing btw, that’s how the movie title is officially punctuated; no one knows why.] is the king of suck.

-Script. The dialogue is extremely repetitive. Seriously, almost everyone here feels the need to say everything at least twice in the same scene. It kind of works for Torgo since he’s just weird, but not for anybody else. Do you want me to count the number of times Maggie says “Mike, I’m scared,” or some variation thereof? On second thoughts, my sanity can’t take the strain, but trust me, it’s a lot. Perhaps Warren suffered from short term memory loss and kept forgetting he’d already had that line twelve times. Then the dialogue is just so baaad. Listen to the dialogue in another tv show or movie. It’s always trying to be clever or funny or just sound natural. “Manos” The Hands of Fate scores horribly in all three columns. Amazing. There’s a total lack of exposition, too, and so there are all these things left totally unexplained. What is this “Manos” thing exactly, and why does he have a hand fetish? Torgo said the Master “isn’t dead as we know it,” then it never comes up again, so is he a zombie or what? No one ever explains anything.

-Characters. Apart from my beloved Torgo, there is not a single character here who was actually thought of as that – a character. Generally, when people are making a movie, a show, a play or a book, they think of what each person within the play is like, their personality, likes, dislikes, ect. For crying out loud, this is even done with Lana Lang. I hate her with every fibre of my being, she’s a huge Mary Sue and a godawful character, but Goughlar at least think of her as a character [that they are in love with] instead of a plot device. Well, sometimes. The characters in this movie are just there to make stuff happen, they have no substance. No thought was given as to what Mike or Maggie or Debbie was like, they were just there. It’s beyond pathetic. Oh, and have I mentioned how horribly sexist Maggie is? She provides great humour, but it makes me very uncomfortable at the same time. Several times, even though it was the MST3K version, I had to take a break and do something else for a couple of minutes before I could stand to come back. The majority of those moments were due to Maggie. She was incapable of doing anything herself, needing Miiiike for everything. It goes beyond just damsel-in-distress to being a damsel who will not even try to get herself out of distress, regardless of how easy that would be.

-Pacing. Everything goes on forever. Everything. Torgo moves very slowly, and we usually have to watch all of it. He’s getting their bags? Watch all of it! Mike and Maggie saying the Master and his dog look creepy in the portrait? Have them say it about fifty times in different ways, say each way twice, then repeat the scene later! The Master’s six wives get into an argument and it gets physical? Have four separate fucking scenes of the catfight wrestling! Every crappy inch of “Manos” The Hands of Fate is stretched out as far as it will go and then more.

More to come on “Manos” The Hands Of Fate later. This level of shit cannot be left alone so soon.

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3 Comments

  1. maxieg18 said,

    You have now convinced me to torture myself by watching this movie.

  2. involuntaryfury said,

    I’ve been wanting to see Manos for a while, but I haven’t found to courage to feel justified in wasting the time.

  3. missbittens said,

    Well, it’s a nice lesson in filmmaking. Don’t do anything “Manos” The Hands Of Fate does, and you’re off to a good start already.

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