Friday, August 25, 2017

hand shandy.

Had an email asking if I'd ever reviewed Black Candles* so thought I'd take a look thru' the archives - tho' why they couldn't search for it I've no idea....what is this a library?

So did a quick search and bizarrely this popped up instead.

Checking it seems that only 3 folk have ever read it which is sad really.

Or a sign of good taste.

Who knows?

Anyway, it's out on shiny Bluray now (and really cheap) so thought I'd re-review it.

Enjoy.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Dir: Harold P. Warren.
Cast: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Mahree, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur and William Bryan Jennings.



"Manos, God of primal darkness. As thou has decreed so have I done. The hands of fate have doomed this man. Thy will is done".


The somewhat sickening Felcher family; dad Michael (writer, director, actor, spy, salesman and inventor Warren), mum Margaret (Mahree - bless you), Hellish girl child Debbie (Curse of Bigfoot star and only person to be paid for the movie, Neyman) and the family dog, Peppy are heading for a well deserved (if arse-numbingly dubbed) holiday at Butlins in Skegness.

So far so so.

Luck (and let's be honest looks) obviously aren't on their side tho', as not only are they stopped by the police due to a cracked tail-light but also get lost somewhere near the A1 turn off to Smethwick.

Smethwick, twinned with your gran.

Bored, cold and tired, Michael and his family decide to pull over at a the first house they come across to ask directions.

But being Smethwick, there aren't any houses as we know them, just a few broken down sheds and a burnt out Burger king.

Oh and a car on bricks with the words 'GRASS' sprayed down the side in excrement.

Finally, just as their hope of finding any signs of civilization is fading the family reach a rickety old house looked after by a big hatted, bow legged backward arsed butler named Torgo (Reynolds, allegedly wearing a home-made bondage suit to aid his performance), who, as it happens is house-sitting for "The Master" (no not that one) whilst he's away on business.

Togo: He's got something to put in you.


Repulsed yet oh so slightly aroused by the smell of boiled onions permeating thru' Togo's beard, Michael and Margaret ask him for directions to Butlins; Torgo simply (and stiffly) replies that "There's no way out of here....It'll be dark soon...." 

Spooky.

Michael, totally nonplussed by the terrifying Torgo and his trampy beard demands that he and his family be allowed to stay the night and orders Torgo to fetch their belongings from the car.

Being a woman Margaret's concerns go unheard by her husband who's too busy booting Torgo up the arse as he attempts to balance a variety of cases on his hips.

Once inside, the family are disturbed to see that there are not only a distinct lack of carpets but that the walls are crammed full of pound shop voodoo shite with a child’s finger painting of a dark eyed, grey skinned moustachioed man and his anorexic greyhound as a stunning centrepiece.

The man it depicts is The Master.

The dog, well that's just a dog.

I've spunked prettier things.

When an amusingly scratched sound effect of a wolf howling puts the willies up poor Margaret and sends lil' Peppy running outside, macho Michael decides to investigate.

Grabbing a flashlight - tho' a fleshlight would probably be more appropriate for a pile of wank this big - and revolver from his car he wanders around in the dark (making sure not to step off the set obviously) before finding Peppy, by now cunningly played by an old coat lying dead in the desert dust.

Back at the house Torgo is busying (and arousing) himself by rubbing his legs and attempting to stroke Margaret's hair as he admits undying love for her, warning our moaning faced MiLF that she is doomed to become a bride of The Master, tho' Torgo wants her for himself.

 Dirty boy.

Obviously offended at only being able to pull square faced bores and bandy legged bums Margaret threatens to tell Michael about Torgo's frankly ludicrous seduction attempts but our bearded buddy convinces her to stay quiet by promising to protect her from stuff.

Look the script isn't that specific so why should I be?

Luckily for all concerned Michael re-enters the scene at this point with some bad news.

And it's not that the film is almost over.

It seems that on his travels he's discovered that not only is the dog dead but the car has broken down and little Debbie has wandered off.

Good news tho' is that the local Tapas bar still has tables available.

Unfortunately there isn't a phone in the house to ring for a reservation so with great reluctance the family decide to stay the night, if only to find out where Debbie has gone.

 Which is nice.

Tunnel or funnel?

Worry not dear readers, Debbie is only outside playing with the devilish greyhound from the painting.

Let's be honest tho' it's not like anyone would've abducted her anyway seeing as she has a face that would make a horse sick, I mean any pervy pedo that could maintain anything remotely like an erection around her would deserve a medal.

But I digress.

Unlike the director obviously who seems to be under the impression that the film doesn't have enough stilted, dialogue free scenes of badly made up (and in some cases just plain ugly) actors staring at each other for no reason than to highlight the many continuity mistakes on show.

Make it stop.

Or at least get a wee bit interesting.

Please.

Debbie: Not even With Jonathan King's.


Which after what seems like an eternity it actually does with the arrival of The Master himself (Neyman, unfortunate father of the fearful she-child Jackey, actual owner of the featured greyhound and the man who painted the portrait mentioned earlier...so many jobs so little talent) who is first seen sleeping in a barn surrounded by several ex-strippers clad in translucent dresses and oversized girdles.

Without warning Torgo ties Michael to a handy pole as The Master and his many 'wives' suddenly spring to life before indulging in a short (yet downright bizarre) argument over what to do with the Felcher family.

Is it just me or would you assume that a secret polygamous devil cult would already have contingency plans in place for such an event?

Batman: the mooth shite-in years.

Anyway, The Master (still not that one) after a wee pause decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife Mavis to the evil God of facial hair (and hands) Manos before taking Margaret and (ye gods no) Debbie as his new wives.

With this decision The Master makes his farewells and heads off for a power shower and a poo, leaving his wives to engage in some impromptu wrestling.

Phwoar! Wahey! etc.


Upon his return and using a potent post poo hypnotic spell The Master stops the fight before ordering his minions (not those ones) to tie Mavis to the pole in order to be sacrificed whilst Torgo awaits his fate from a handy stone bed.

And what a fate it is, as the remaining wives jump on the poor sod and pretend to eat him before The Master, using his mysterious hairy lipped powers severs Torgo's hand before setting fire to it.

Or at least to a crudely made wax replica.

Torgo, hoping to still be around for the planned sequel (seriously) escapes into the darkness, waving his burning stump as he goes whilst The Master laughs uncomfortably as he sinisterly approaches his first wife.

Whilst all this burning, blundering and back stabbing is going down, Michael and family have managed to barricade themselves into the pantry in the hope of either hiding till morning or that The Master might get bored.

But alas, The Master is a, um, past master at hide and seek (and from what I've heard the double entry) and he's soon looming over the family, a tin of peaches in one hand and a corncob in the other confronting Michael.

Being a true American tho' Michael has no time (or concept of) conversation and promptly empties his weapon into The Master's face at point-blank range but alas to no avail.

The screen fades to black.

The viewer loses the will to live.

And bladder control.

Jamiroquai, up the casino, Tenby, 1997....Yesch!


Time passes and much, much later two more travellers arrive at the house to be greeted by Michael, clad in Torgo's shit stained suit and 'kiss me quick' hat.

Her turns to camera and says - well someone does and from the dubbing it ain't him - "I take care of the place while the Master is away."

And so it goes.






Let us, dear reader, travel back in time to the mid 60's and to El Paso, Texas, where Hal Warren, manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Co. came across (tho' not in a sexual way) famed screenwriter Stirling (In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Shaft in Africa and The Swarm amongst others) Silliphant, who was visiting the town to scout out film locations.

After several meetings (and even more booze), Warren decided that this movie making lark seemed a piece of piss and after a few more drinks reckoned he could do as good a job himself.

Within a week he had a script (The Lodge of Sins), a few boyscouts to be his crew and the local theatre group, alongside and a few 'hand' models to be his cast.

Armed with a third hand 16mm Bell and Howell silent camera, a garden shed, some Hula Hoops and 60 Woodbines a legend was born.

The 16mm Bell & Howell silent camera: Witness to more porn and real life atrocities than your granddad during the war.

Shot within 4 hours, edited in 2 and dubbed over a quiet Bank Holiday weekend, Manos (as it was now known) premièred at the El Paso Odeon on 15 November 1966 to non-stop audience laughter and howls of derision that prompted a shell shocked cast and crew to escape from the cinema via underground tunnels dug during the interval.

A chilling footnote to this is that the cleaning woman who's job it was to bin the Coke cups and burito packets after the show discovered that the audience had laughed so much that over 13000 gallons of piss had been unwittingly released into the main auditorium causing the cinema to collapse killing 47 people and spraying urine into the local fields, killing farmer Morton J Blithe's prized heard of bullocks as well as his lame son, 12 year old Morton Jnr, who was found drowned in a gully 2 weeks later.


Lying on it's back stinking of piss....and no it's not your mum surprisingly.

But forget the tales of deaths, suicide and heartache for a moment and just concentrate on the movie then ask yourself; Is it really the worst movie ever made or some proto-Lynchian work of subgenius trading on mans darkest fears as witnessed thru' the prism of Barthesian semiotics?

I mean you have to admit that certain aspects of the film invoke both intertextuality and Bertolt Brecht's theories of estrangement to explore the metafictional or parodic aspects of the idea of polygamy (or polygyny as is truer the case here).

Possibly.

Diane Mahree: Barthesian semiotics or terrifying tit wank?


And to all those naysayers, yes the editing is abysmal, the myriad of continuity flaws are an abomination to modern cinema and yes the soundtrack and visuals are so out of synchronization as to lead us to believe that they are being beamed from different parts of the world.

But surely, a friend of mine once asked of Manos; if viewing the film thru' the lens of intertextuality, taking onboard Freud's idea that the repression of fear and desire is the main cause of 'dream work' then the film's seriously tedious pacing, frankly terrifying non acting and  inexplicable inclusion of scenes and characters either disconnected or totally redundant from the actual plot begins to make sense.

Or does it?

Manos: The Hands of Fate: good shit or bad shit?

Who really cares tho' because when you get around to it a shit is still a shit and either way it's still gonna stink your house out.

Which, if I'm honest is fairly profound for this blog.

Be seeing you.






























*I've been informed by my solicitors to add that I did in fact receive a phone call this week from longtime reader David of Colchester informing me not to bother as it was utter shite.

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