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After viewing the catastrophe that is Manos: The Hands of Fate, I can now say that it is- without question- the worst movie that I’ve ever seen. There. Now there will be no suspicion as to what my true feelings about this movie are. Never before have I seen a film so completely fail in every aspect of its making. Everything about Manos is wrong. From the horrid acting to the poorly-constructed (Or not constructed) storyline, the movie proves that it is more than fit for the title I gave at the very start of this review.

There are so many places to start when one attempts to dissect the essence of a disaster, and for this disaster, I will begin with what little story Manos: The Hands of Fate possesses. It begins with a car carrying a family of three (Four if counting the dog)- a husband, his wife and their young daughter. After some brief incomprehensible chit-chat, they drive off. We then see the car driving down a dusty highway road…and driving…and driving… and driving some more. The family drives past the same area about three times- forward, backward and forward again. Why the director decided to stretch out their ride and replay the same footage (Even dissolving to the same scene once), I have no idea. From there, the audience is introduced to a few completely arbitrary and unnecessary characters. First there is the couple kissing by the side of the road. We see them throughout the film at the strangest of times- carrying on with their romance for days and days (At least I think it was for days. I had no sense of time in this movie) in the same car, at the same spot. Their presence serves no metaphorical purpose and at no time do they come into contact with the principle characters of the story. With the kissing couple comes a pair of useless policeman who pop up at various times to stop the couple or lazily “investigate” a strange occurrence. Anyway, the family finally ends up stopping outside of a “hotel” (Which better resembles a moderately-sized shack) where a creepy-looking man with abnormally-large knees stands uncomfortably. I assumed at this point that the family was looking for directions, but I could be wrong because of the poorly-recorded audio. Everyone gets out of the car and before speaking to the man at the door, they stare at one another in awkward silence for a good amount of time (This is a trend in Manos). The guy eventually introduces himself as “Torgo” and the family agrees to stay there. Later on, we meet “The Master”, who is Torgo’s superior- a polygamous cult leader with a fixation on hands (A fixation so great, that he wears a tawdry black garment which displays two giants red hands). This is what he wears throughout the film and constantly stops to pose in- awkwardly stretching his arms out wide- for no reason other than to emphasize the fact that the two shapes on his clothes are hands (*Gasp*). I think that’s more than enough of a preliminary summary- I think you get the point by now.

Although the story is ridiculous beyond measure, the technicals are equally atrocious. This is where the film really gets under my skin. Despite the hilarity of it all, I am somewhat angered by the complete laziness of every person involved in this production. Most bad movies can hold it together in at least one department. Some bad movies show that there was passion behind the ideas of the film, but the filmmaker didn’t know how to handle those ideas, so the movie ended up as a mess. In Manos, there are no redeeming factors. The filmmakers were not even capable of focusing a camera lens, or framing a shot so the audience isn’t totally dumbfounded, wondering what the heck is going on. The editing is random-cutting off scenes while a character is in mid-sentence, cutting away to people or objects that hold no meaning in the context of the scene (Such as when the daughter is cut away to in a scene in which the mother and father were speaking to Torgo). The lighting and production design are as poor as it gets. Having a low budget is no excuse. The director asserts zero creativity in trying to work with what he has. The props and set design appear numbingly artificial. I appreciate a director if, even in failure, they strove to achieve something, but in Manos, such a thing is never visible. The director, Harold P. Warren, reportedly made the film on a bet and I buy that story completely. Manos: The Hands of Fate looks like it was slapped together in a few days with little care given to story specifics, continuity or character.

There’s so much to complain about in Manos: The Hands of Fate, that to outline each and every one of the irregularities would be absurd in a structure other than an informal list. Now that I think of it, though, I’m sure a book could be written to jab at the countless mistakes made in this movie, and I tip my hat to the brave soul who would willingly undertake that ordeal. Manos is funny until one begins to recognize the total disregard that the director had for storytelling. I’m sure my rant on this regrettably unforgettable film can be taken as being too serious, and that may very well be true. But the awfulness of the movie bothers me all the same.

0 out of 5 stars



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