Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Directed by: Harold P. Warren
Starring: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Mahree, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur, William Bryan Jennings
Manos: The Hands of Fate is a bizarre film that almost defies the idea of “good” or “bad”, like the time Roger Ebert refused to give a rating to John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, likening it to a geek show where “stars simply seem not to apply. It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object.” That’s exactly what Manos is – some kind of object, a horrible-but-fascinating object, looking like a movie, but in reality being closer to an anti-movie. Give it any amount of stars you wish, or don’t give any – like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, they are all accurate. You see, once upon a time, in 1966, a fertilizer salesman named Harold P. Warren made a bet with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant that he could make a successful horror movie on a very low budget. As Warren had no experience in filmmaking, this was a very bad bet. However, his experience with fertilizer came in handy, since he managed to deliver the cinematic equivalent. Manos: The Hands of Fate is so inept, weird, and surreal, it’s like the movie was made by desert freaks on some kind of weekend bender. If the Manson family filmed a movie at Spahn Ranch, it might look something like Manos.