Manos The Hands of Fate - Synapse Films
Written by Jay Creepy   
Tuesday, 12 March 2019



AKA: Fingers of Fate, Manos: As Maos do Destino, Manos: ruke sudbine, The Lodge of Sins, Mangos: The Cans of Fruit.

Directed by: Harold P Warren
Written by: Harold P Warren
Produced by: Harold P Warren
Cinematography by: Robert Guidry
Edited by: Ernie Smith, James Sullivan
Special Effects by: Jacqueline Neyman, Tom Neyman.
Music by: Russ Huddleston, Robert Smith Jr
Cast: Harold P Warren, Tom Neyman, Jackie Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Adelson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, George Cavender.
Year: 1966
Color: Color
Language: English
Runtime: 1hr 10 mins

Studio: Norm-Iris, Sun City Films
Distributor: Synapse Films

I really adore a bad horror film. Let me go deeper into this statement however so you all dig what I mean by a bad horror. If a movie is done on a low budget but the love and concentration has obviously gone into it, it isn't a bad movie. If a film has been done to appear bad on purpose, then it's a fake bad one. The creators have gone out forcing its badness on the world thus they've made it a void.

The ones I mean, are a rare breed in the world. It's when the makers have genuinely believed they were making a wonderful film, and they've gone with the flow, totally enjoyed themselves, done what they could, but the results are so absolutely unintentionally comical. I love those ones. Don Dohler and his classics of trash-dom, Nightbeast and Fiend (see review here) are such freaks in the realm of bad movies. They are so enjoyable and warm your insides gleefully.

Whilst reading and reviewing Bret McCormick's 'Texas Schlock' paperback (see review here) the title, Manos: The Hand's of Fate came up. Bret had so much fun writing about it, that I checked a few moments on YouTube, then ordered the Blu-ray released by Synapse. “The worst film ever made!” proudly boasts the back sleeve. I'd call it “The greatest worst film ever made!” because, watching it the third time, I'm still rolling about my chair laughing at scenes.

Cue jolly music and a very long panning shot of a wall and then funky cars driving around. You know what, people complained sometimes of Joe D'Amato and his almost tourist board style of filming from time to time -- this beats all of those. “I'm getting cold, Mo-ther, and hun-gry.” whines a little girl in an adult-putting-on-a-kid’s-voice sound as a family pulls up in their car. In the long drawn-out, slightly awkward and un-comfy scene which follows, nobody talks but the kid and her cute dog look at the camera a few times.

Finally the adults converse about directions and getting lost, etcetera. “Mummy, I'm co-ld.” says little Debbie. Mike and Margaret both appear really fed up. Off they drive singing “Row ya boat” until they're pulled up by the cops, and a chance to have a few locals in the film. Afterwards there's an eternal Groundhog Day minute or so of what seems to be the same fields going by whilst the woman singer belts out so ‘60s style that I reckon her lungs became lodged in her throat.

Finding a house deep in the middle of stereotypical nowhere, our family first glimpse the iconic Torgo. Okay so how do I explain the enigma which is Torgo? He is a character usually serving a master or whatever and should be a miserable hunchbacked cretin who shuffles around. However, Torgo is a hat wearing bearded stoner who cannot focus his eyes at all. Jackie Neyman who plays Debbie, was interviewed years later and stated the late John Reynolds was constantly high, but was a marvellous chap. He sadly committed suicide soon after the film was completed, aged 25.

Let's focus on his one film role which has truly made him famous amongst the cult circles. Again, we have long moments of speechlessness and the family stare at him, he stares back, twitching. “I am Torgo. I take care of the place when the Master is away. But... the child.... and the dog. The Master does not like children!” The fam only want directions, but he doesn't know where they are going so he has a change of heart (after very long deliberation as everyone looks totally embarrassed). His facial expressions and contortions are incredible. I mean, at one point whilst the family are chatting about what to do, the camera remains on Torgo for some reason, and he has a vast range.

Torgo has a really fascinating walk – it's a stumbling kind of lumbering and thrusting forwards. His crippling deformity isn't helped by a sort of theme tune adopted nearly every time he moves. Apparently his legs were meant to be a goats, or something. Naah, just badly padded and un-comfy by the looks of it. “Are we to assume he is a satyr?” queried Bret McCormick in his book. Well, either way, John Reynolds is now immortal. “You cannot stay, the Master wouldn't approve.” says Torgo quite randomly for no reason at the car. Mike (incidentally played by the director himself), being a complete arsehole passes the clearly stumbling chap two hefty suitcases to carry. Once inside, the couple sit Debbie and the dog on a mucky couch, then watch Torgo stumble past with the luggage. Afterwards they stare at a portrait of a sinister man who at first glance could be Basil Fawlty or Ron Mael from Sparks. It is in fact, Torgo's Master, whom we shall meet a lot later on.

“He has left this world, but he is with us always.” states a cryptic Torgo when asked about the whereabouts of his Master. Moments later he tells Margaret not to be scared, that the Master likes her. He goes on to sort of ramblingly explain that death is different to the Master – repeating himself at one point. Fair enough. Mike comes over rather flippant at his wife's nervousness throughout. Whilst Debbie is shown making her dog perform tricks, then she's asleep, then sat up grinning, Mike heads outside to calm Margaret down when they hear a howling hound in the night. Debbie's cute dog runs out and is killed, whilst Mike dramatically jogs around with a flashlight and gun.

The plot thickens because Torgo reveals to Margaret, whilst they're alone, that his Master wants her to be his wife. The Master loves beautiful women, it seems, but Torgo is quite smitten by her, in his heavy lidded eyes sort of way. He smiles, fingers her long hair, whilst she stands silently for ages until suddenly, God knows what he did, but it's like a button has been pressed, she goes ballistic.

Not long after, Debbie goes missing. When they find her, she describes a “big place” so they go to look. A burning metal hand, women propping up fake pillars asleep, and the Master sprawled out on a slab with his dog by his side -- yeah, it's his hang out. They run back to the house. Torgo, meanwhile slides and stumbles alongside the Master on his slab. “You have all the wives you need. She's mine! Mine!” he says. He stands there berating the sleeping women. He won't need them anymore. He's going to have his own wife now. For good measure he appears to bury his face into the garments of one 'wife' and have a good sniff. Just for fun, he knocks Mike out in the next scene, then ties him up.

As the moon rises, the Master awakens. Now, Tom Neymen, who plays the character, happened to be Jackie Neyman's Papa, and he has so much fun overdoing his role. As she described in Bret's book, she had a wonderful time with her Dad and the cast, more so the ladies who spoiled her rotten. “Oh, Manos, thou of primal darkness,” he speaks deeply and with menace to the flames, “Thou who dwelleth in the depth of the universe in the darkest chasm of the night.” this is probably his breakfast (midnight feast??) ritual instead of yoga and a coffee. There's a few verses to his speech, and afterwards he wakes up his wives, only to sit looking absolutely depressed as the women all sit around chattering. This has to be the single funniest moment, and the Master's expression is utterly priceless.

His plans are as follows, Mike and Debbie must die, and he’ll spare Margaret. Oh, and he's annoyed at one of his wives. He also wants to kill Torgo for what he said and the fact that (from what we gather) he molests the wives when they're asleep. As the Master leaves, the women start a big fight with each other, obviously to please the ‘60s men in the crowd. The Master first goes after Torgo who's asleep on a pile of sand in a corner. Poor John Reynolds struggles to get up on those ridiculous legs of his! They argue and from then on the film becomes brilliantly chaotic. A cast member appears to be graphically tickled before losing a hand, the Master laughs a lot like a pure uncut villain, even through a closed mouth at one point. The wives keep on fighting. One wife gets slapped by the Master a fair bit, then the whole thing concludes bleakly but has THE END ? daubed across the screen.

The cult following this little classic has gathered around itself is wonderful. If you search the web there's homages, there's people dressed up, and there's a sequel, Manos Returns, starring Tom Neyman as The Master and other members of the original arriving back (of course, Torgo is played by a different guy). Of note, there's a soundtrack, various DVD releases, and a colouring book!!! Manos: The Hand's of Fate is for a certain viewer who has seen so many films throughout the years and isn't ready to dismiss what, at first, looks like diabolical trash. Manos is classy trash, and is one of a kind. Harold P. Warren (unfortunately this was to be his only venture in the world of movies) has written in some humour, but I don't think he reckoned the results to be as downright hilarious as they became. Soulless critics and reviewers take it all too seriously, but a select few see Manos: The Hand's of Fate for what it is -- true entertainment in a world of its own.

By the way, the music is so by itself in the realms to. Just a simple piano and other easily played devices that repeat endlessly.

I have to let everyone know, the pictures aren't courtesy of the Synapse Blu-ray, my laptop refuses to play a B.R, so they're taken off an old copy a friend had kicking around for me. Mind you, the Synapse quality isn't much different, and it would have been a sin to clean the print up too much anyhow.

Synapse have added on a great thirty-minute documentary featuring interviews with the surviving cast (including the late and great Tom Neyman) where they discuss who Harold P. Warren was, and tales of the production. Tom, in fact, reveals exactly how much he put into the film and comes across as such a cool guy. There's an audio commentary featuring Dad and daughter, a piece on restoring the movie, then a random three-minute piece on a lady who for a joke made a puppet variation. Oh dear.

Additionally, Debbie (Jackie Neyman-Jones) from firstly apparently sobbing at the ‘60s premier, has really pushed this classic forwards in leaps and bounds. She has been involved in spin-offs, and has written what is reported to be a fantastic book based around the movie and its after effects. 




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 Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33:1
 Region: A
 Audio: English 2.0 Mono

 – Grindhouse Version
 – Hands: The Fate of Manos – Documentary
 – Restoring the Hands of Fate
 – Audio Commentary with Jackie Neyman-Jones, Tom Neyman
 – Felt: The Puppet Hands of Fate

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 March 2019 )