Manos: The Hands of Fate

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“It’s Shocking! It’s Beyond Your Imagination!”

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong for a young family on their vacation road trip, including running afoul of an insipid Devil cult and tangling with a cranky creep named Togar in this legendarily inept shocker that has become the textbook example on how to make a hilariously awful movie. Shot on location in sunny El Paso, Texas by first-time (as well as last-time) filmmaker Harold P. Warren on a bet that he couldn’t actually make a motion picture, Manos: The Hands of Fate is a thoroughly puzzling cinematic experience loaded with surreal action, shockingly inept production values and a head-scratching “surprise” ending that somehow makes all that has come before it even more wonderfully terrible. An annoying family is lost on the highway and unable to find a hotel, so naturally they stop at a mysterious house that reeks of danger. They are told by the disfigured handyman Togar (who suspiciously has the body of a satyr) that his cape-wearing “Master” does not like visitors, but with no other shelter in sight, the oblivious family decides to spend the night anyway. Of course, their annoying presence ignites the fury of a Devil cult that preys upon their innocence (or more accurately, their stupidity), and the family is forced to suffer interminable psychotic rituals, including watching a bunch of clumsy women wrestle one another in white nightgowns. Will they be able to escape? Existing within a bizarre genre all its own, Manos: The Hands of Fate somehow combines the mysteriousness of a silent horror film with the absurdity of a bad stag flick and the deliriously apocalyptic awfulness of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lost in obscurity until it was memorably roasted on MST3K in the early ‘90s, Manos is the cinematic equivalent of eating pop rocks with soda … fun, but it may permanently damage your innards! (Dir. by Harold P. Warren, 1966, USA, 74 mins., Not Rated) Digital