Like most people out there who have seen Manos: The Hands of Fate (Translation: Hands: The Hands of Fate) I became aware of it through Mystery Science Theater 3000. The episode is held in high regard amongst the shows fans and rightly so. It is, after all, awesome. Some of my favourite riffs I heard in the shows history come from this episode, as do some of my favourite segments. Such a thing is only possible with the just the right film, and Manos is just such a film.
Every frame is such exquisite crap, that you just can't help but laugh. From the inexplicable scenes involving two teenagers making out to Torgo's chilling theme music, everything here is so ripe for a riffing that if MST3K hadn't done an episode with it then there would have been a public outcry... except that no one would have heard of the movie.
The plot then if it can indeed be called such. A family made up of husband Mike, wife Margaret, daughter Debbie and dog Peppy are travelling somewhere for some reason. Meanwhile two teenagers make out in a car until a cop tells them to piss off. The family reach a house and are greeted by every one's favourite satyr/housekeeper Torgo. He takes care of the place while the Master is away.
Mike asks Torgo is his family can spend the night at the house and, after a little hesitation, Torgo agrees.
Later that evening, Peppy runs outside the house and is later discovered as a corpse dog by Mike. Margaret wants to leave and Mike demands that Torgo put the luggage back in the car, which is a very rude way to treat someone who kindly let you stay in house even though he had reservations. What a bastard. It's not Torgo's fault they can't control their fucking dog. Torgo does as he's told before catching Margaret alone. He informs her that the Master wants her for a wife but he can't have her because Torgo wants her for himself. He then 'fondles' her in a way that demonstrates just why Torgo is considered a ladies man without equal.
Meanwhile, the two teenagers continue making out until being told to move on by the police again.
Now Debbie runs outside of the house and, rather than being found as a girl corpse, her parents find her with a big evil looking dog. When asked where the dog was found, she leads them to a chamber which contains the Master and several women (his wives) dressed in white nighties in an apparent cryogenic stasis, though without the cryogenic part.. The family run back to the house and try to find Torgo.
Torgo, though, has gone to the chamber himself where he does a little more fondling, this time of the Master's lovely ladies. That Torgo, what a lovable scamp! Torgo then knocks Mike out and ties him to a pole. Suddenly the Master and his wives awaken. They argue about the families fate, some wanting to kill 'em all, others wanting to keep the wife and daughter. The Master, however, has his own plans. He's pissed at how Torgo always seems to get more pussy, even though the Master has well loads of wives. So he decides he's going to sacrifice him to Manos! It should be pointed out at this point that the Master is wearing a fetching poncho with a hands motif. It's lovely. He leaves the chamber and the wives carry on arguing about the fate of the family which devolves into a wrestling match in the sand. A long one. Like several minutes long. It's really painful viewing at this point.
The Master finds Torgo and tells him he's going to be well dead. Torgo tries to fight but the Master puts him in a trance or something. Meanwhile one of the wives finds Mike and kisses and slaps him while he's unconscious but by this point of the film you will have given up hope that anything in life will ever make sense again. The Master brings Torgo to the tomb, puts him on a stone tablet whilst tying up one of the wives. The wives give Torgo a massage for some reason, the Master burns his hand and Torgo runs away, presumably to his death. He then kills the wife tied to the pole for good measure.
Mike wakes up and joins his family as they try to escape. Unfortunately they encounter a stock footage snake which impedes their progress. of course it's not like they are in a wide expanse of desert affording the option of walking around said snake and giving it a very wide berth so Mike decides to fire at the snake. This gunfire catches the attention of the policemen who shooed the teens who were making out so they go to investigate. These are clearly crack crime fighters as there investigation involves moving away from their car, staring into the darkness before giving up and going away. To Protect and Serve!
The family, unable to make their way through a maze of stock footage wildlife, decide to return to the house. It just makes sense. The Master attacks, Mike fires at him and the screen fades to black.
The next scene shows two women who are travelling somewhere for some reason. They reach a house and are greeted by every one's favourite human/housekeeper Mike. He takes care of the place while the Master is away. Next we see that Margaret and Debbie have joined the army of wives in stasis, which it pretty disgusting when you consider that Debbie is a little girl. Chris Hansen needs to take the Master's ass down a peg or two.
The credits are followed by the scariest scene in the entire film when the words 'The End?' flash up. That question marked has plagued any and all who have seen this film.
So there you have it, the 'plot' of Manos. Now for a few fun facts:
1) The camera used to shoot the film could only shoot for thirty seconds at a time and everything was filmed without sound. The voices were dubbed in later!
2)The film had a budget of $19,000!
3)The driving sequences at the beginning of the film were supposed to have the opening credits over them, but the director forgot to include them!
4)John Reynolds, who played Torgo, sustained permanent damage to his kneecaps because of the apparatus on them. He was constantly on painkillers up until his suicide, due to the injury he had from this movie. It's believed that his kneecaps were damaged due to the device being worn backwards... I'm sorry, that probably shouldn't have been included in the 'fun facts'. Let's move on.
This movie is among the very worst ever made. Simple as that. Plan 9 from Outer Space is awful, Hobgoblins is an abortion but in my opinion this film tops them all. If you have to see this film, and you have to, make sure you watch it with Joel and the Bots from MST3K. Doing otherwise is hazardous to your health.
As for the scene I've picked from this treasure trove of awful, I've decided upon Torgo charming the pants off of Margaret with his suave fondling. Enjoy.