My Hands Are Tied: Manos/MST 3000 is My Fate

My Hands Are Tied: Manos/MST 3000 is My Fate

Torgo, played by the great John Reynolds, who came to an unfortunate end.

The Master, in his Hands of Fate duds

Portrait of the Master as a Young Fiend

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) is widely considered to be the absolute worst movie of all time, and for good reason. According to Wikipedia, which has an amusingly lengthy entry, the film was made more or less on a bet, with no money, no experience, and no clue. It played mostly in drive-ins in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the star committed suicide.

But finding Manos is not easy. I had to settle for the Mystery Science Theater version, which means fast-forwarding through the sketches (con) and excellent running commentary (pro).

Well, mostly pro, because the riffs cover the flick pretty thoroughly. Not a lot of room to move for the humor writer.

The story, so to speak, is a couple with a young daughter get lost and blunder into a ramshackle ranch way the hell out in Nowhere, Tex.

They seek shelter, and Torgo, the misshapen caretaker, agrees, but only after repeating this line many, many times: “The Master will not approve.”

When the Master finally arrives, it seems the folks have stumbled into some kind of devil worship cult, with polygamy and substantial ladies undergarments.

It’s an incoherent film, but it does feature an extended wrestling match. This is where the substantial ladies u. figure.

Poodle death, blurry. Night-for-night shooting, which is either very avant-garde or very inept, depending on your level of postmodernism. Moths. Dead snake. Nightgown wrestling. Master in Frank Zappa mustache and black cloak with orange hands on it. Making out in a tiny sports car. Flying buttress brassieres. No nudity (automatic one-coil deduction). Massive problems with Torgo’s pants. Magic white sweater that never gets dirty.

With the fast-forward over the MST space ship stuff, Manos is about 45 minutes long, which is about 37 minutes too much. Even the most dedicated disciple of Derrida would have trouble finding the hidden crypto-fascist agenda. Excellent commentary from the MST gang.

Three coils.

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