Sunday, June 28, 2020

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

I’ve often wondered if it’s wrong to go through IMDb’s Bottom 100 list.  With access to several streaming platforms, I could probably find a few of them.  I have already watched Birdemic: Shock and Terror through the magic of Amazon Prime.  Several other titles are available for me there.  I can watch plenty more through Netflix, either streaming or on DVD.  If I tried hard enough, I could probably find all of them.  The question is whether or not I should.  Do I really want to subject myself to that many horrible films?

Eh.  Why not?

Some, like Birdemic, are tried and true stinkers.  There are no redeeming qualities.  If some effort was put into the project, it wasn’t to make a movie.  Others, like Manos: The Hands of Fate, do seem to have been an honest attempt to make a film.  This isn’t to say it wasn’t a stinker.

The movie starts with Michael and Margret on vacation.  They’re driving through the countryside with their daughter, Debbie, looking for the Valley Lodge.  We see all sorts of nice scenery.  They get pulled over for a broken taillight, but aren’t given a ticket.

Instead of finding their hotel, they come across a mysterious house.  The only occupant is Torgo, a man with a funny walk.  It’s only stated that he serves as the groundskeeper.  We never find out why he walks that way.  Michael pleads with him to stay the night.  Torgo eventually relents, stating only that Master won’t like it.  There’s also a strange painting of Master and his evil-looking dog. 

What follows is an hour of bizarre events.  Mostly, it’s Michael and Margret arguing over whether or not they should stay, but there doesn’t seem to be any way out.  They can’t find their way back nor can they make their way onward.  Also, Torgo keeps looking in on Margret, mostly without her knowledge.  He’d like to keep her as his wife, saying that Master has enough wives.  He also makes some creepy advances towards her. 
Debbie escapes only to find the evil dog.  They stumble upon Master and his wives.

Master and the wives eventually wake up.  They chew out Torgo for letting the family stay and slap him around as punishment.  The Maser decides that Margret and Debbie will become his new wives while Michael must be killed.  While The Master goes out to deal with Michael, the wives debate as to whether or not Debbie should be a wife.  They can’t kill her, but she’s just a small child.  She has no business being anyone’s wife.  This eventually leads to the wives pushing each other around and whatnot.

Michael, Margret and Debbie run, but realize they can’t escape.  They go back to the house, thinking no one would look there, only to find The Master waiting for them.  We then cut to two women driving in the same area.  They happen upon the same house only to find that Michael is the new groundskeeper.  Margret and Debbie have become The Master’s new wives.

So, there’s very little about the movie that makes sense.  How, exactly, did the family come across the house?  The Master doesn’t seem to like visitors and the family very much wanted to be somewhere else, so there was no reason not to help them leave.  If it was that big of a deal, you would think that Torgo would be sure to know the local roads.  This would at least facilitate unwelcome guests leaving as quickly as possible.

From what I’ve read, the camera used could only shoot 32 seconds of film at a time, which would explain some of the limited shots.  Still, filmmakers have been able to work wonders with little or no resources.  This shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

There was always that one kid in class that could always hit it out of the park.  Maybe they’d write amazing stories or be able to draw really well.  Yes, I know it takes practice, but this film is full of things that make you wonder, like blurry shots that never should have made the final cut.

Some movies are made by incompetent people with lots of money.  Others are made by competent people with limited funds.  This movie comes across as very amateurish.  The dialogue is very basic.  The music is like something you’d find out of the dollar store.  It’s like something you and your friends might put together one weekend if you borrowed a movie camera from a friend’s parents.

It comes across as a half-baked idea.  The basic premise isn’t that bad.  Getting lost like that could make for a good horror movie.  But the move isn’t a good horror movie.  It just goes nowhere.  There’s even a kissing couple that seems to be used as filler.  I’m not even sure why it was included, as the movie would have been just as good without it.  And to think, this movie spawned two sequels.  At least I have a remake to look forward to.


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