"Manos" The Hands of Fate (1966) (part 4 of 7)

Meanwhile, back in the Unabomber Shack, we get a riveting twenty second shot of Torgo watching Maggie fold some clothes, while an oddly sensual sax plays in the background. Maggie says she’ll be glad to get out of this place, but Torgo tells her it’s too dangerous to leave. After a slight pause, he smoothly switches gears.

Torgo: The Master wants you.
Maggie: Wants me? What kind of talk is that?
Torgo: He wants you for his wife. He loves beautiful women.

Of course, to get the full effect of this exchange, keep in mind that Torgo has stretched out the words “wife” and “women” to about seven syllables each. Torgo does a little jig for a few seconds, then decides to bust a move. He starts ever so slowly walking towards Maggie with an outstretched hand, until, finally, he reaches over and… and… well, I must warn you that what Torgo does next is so shocking and vulgar that all children and elderly people should leave the room immediately. He… reaches out… and… touches her… hair! Oh, the humanity! Maggie is consumed with terror by this hair-fondling, but instead of moving away, she just stands there and watches it happen with her mouth agape. After a few seconds of this, Torgo just stops.

Maggie: Don’t you ever try that again. You… beast!
Torgo: The Master wants you. But he can’t have you. I want you!
Maggie: Stop that talk this instant, you hear?
Torgo: He wants you, but he can’t have you.

Hey, Torgo, the scuttlebutt around town is that the Master wants her, but he can’t have her. Can you confirm or deny this?

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"Manos" The Hands of Fate  (1966) (part 4 of 7)

“Oh my word, look at these split ends. Who does your hair, girlfriend?”

Maggie then smacks him in a blow that a person could see coming from the next zip code. She lifts her face skyward, breathlessly yelling out “Mike! Mike!” Speaking of whom, Mike is still outside with his car, obliviously poking around under the hood. He gets back in and turns the ignition, but, unfortunately, the stock sound effect still isn’t that of a car starting. Frustrated, he again shows off that constipated look. When we cut back to Maggie, she’s still rooted to exactly the same spot, about a foot away from Torgo. She’s still desperately calling out Mike’s name and asking the thin air where Mike could possibly be. Hey, try moving away from Torgo first. See if that helps.

Finally, she gets the bright idea to actually walk out, but Torgo attempts to block her path. This prompts her to scream at him to let her out and Torgo quickly apologizes.

Torgo: Forgive me, Madam. I meant no harm.
Maggie: Forgive you? Just wait ’til I tell my husband!
Torgo: I meant no harm, Madam. I’ll protect you. I’ll protect you.
Maggie: [after taking a moment to mentally compare Torgo and Mike] Very well, I won’t tell my husband. Now let me out!

Mike comes into the house, calling out for Maggie. She emerges from the back room with Torgo close behind and Mike tells her the car won’t start. “Well, that really fixes things!” she incongruously says. Mike asks Torgo where the phone is, and Torgo just stares at him. “Yes,” Mike says. “Alexander Graham Bell, you know, telephone?” A few seconds later, Torgo informs him that there are no telephones on the property because (what else) “The Master doesn’t approve of such, uh, devices.” How about this, Torgo? You give me a list of the five or six things the Master does approve of, and we’ll work from there.

Maggie freaks out and Mike tells her to calm down. Then there’s yet another [!!] random cut to Debbie. For a nice change of pace, however, this shot isn’t completely useless, as it almost covers up the fact that Torgo has magically jumped to the other side of the room between shots. Mike says that with the car not starting and no phone in sight, they have no choice but to stay there the night, so Torgo brings their luggage back in the bedroom. Sadly, “The Torgo Overture” isn’t heard on the soundtrack as he does this.

Mike and Maggie walk back over and look at the painting again [!!!!!!!], since the six or seven hours they already wasted looking at the damn thing obviously wasn’t enough. Maggie sagely notes that “Sinister… Sinister isn’t descriptive enough!” I certainly sympathize, as I’m also looking at something so terrible that it defies description. Mike assures her that they’ll be out of there by morning, but Maggie insists that she’ll never forget this place. The two of them then contract Torgo’s Disease and begin uselessly repeating everything three or four times:

Maggie: Peppy’s gone. I just hope Debbie will understand.
Mike: She’ll understand. She’s my baby, she’ll understand.
Maggie: I hope so, darling. I sure hope so.
Mike: She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

As they speak, Debbie gets up off the couch and sneaks out the hitherto unexplored “side door”. Since the Unabomber Shack seems to be pretty much laid out like the apartment on Three’s Company, this door probably leads to the kitchen. Meanwhile, all that talk about Debbie understanding and being his baby has reminded Mike that she exists, so he’s alarmed when he turns around and finds her gone. Again Maggie freaks out, and again Mike has to calm her down. The two of them then peek into the only two doors that are currently visible and call out her name. Suddenly, Torgo appears from somewhere and Mike asks if he’s seen Debbie. He firmly replies “No!” Maggie runs into the shot, saying that Debbie couldn’t have gone outside because “the door’s bolted!” Mike once again tells her to calm down. Jesus, would you just get this woman her Xanax already? Mike asks Torgo if there’s another way for Debbie to have gotten out.

Torgo says, “In the kitchen!” Mike runs off towards that door, but quickly returns. “That door’s bolted too!” In response, Torgo makes a face like he’s got a serious case of the munchies. Maggie insists that she must be outside (Hmmm, let’s see, the Unabomber Shack has three rooms, and she’s not behind Door #1 or Door #2… Why, Maggie, you’re a genius!!), so Mike and Maggie head out. We see the screen door slam shut behind them and, moronically, the filmmakers have forgotten to dub in the appropriate sound effect for this. Maggie, once again, is scared, this time by “the animals. . and the desert…” Mike yells, “Cut it out!” becoming my personal hero for a brief shining moment.

She starts crying on his shoulder, and the casino security camera cinematography once again becomes evident as the camera jerkily zooms in on them holding hands. At least, I think that’s what the cameraman was going for, despite their hands not even being close to the center of the frame. Mike then calls out for Debbie as he sweeps his flashlight around.

"Manos" The Hands of Fate  (1966) (part 4 of 7)

A Hal Warren crotch shot. My life is now complete.

We hear Debbie’s unintelligible New York Subway conductor voice off in the distance. Mike reaches for his gun when he sees Debbie, because she’s got hold of a Doberman by the leash. Maggie freaks out, insisting it’s the dog from the portrait. Mike yells at his daughter to get away, and Debbie replies with something else utterly inaudible. (I swear to God, I have listened to this child’s dialogue more than federal prosecutors listened to the Watergate tapes, and I still have no [expletive deleted] idea what she’s saying.) Something happens, I don’t know what, but it causes Debbie to lose her grip on the leash and the Doberman runs off. I’m guessing she got some friction burns or something, because she immediately runs crying to mommy. She says something about a “puppy” while sounding like Chewbacca talking through two tin cans connected with a piece of string.

Back in the house, Mike and Maggie are scolding their daughter for running away. Debbie replies, and I think this is verbatim, “Wahhhhhwa wahhhhwaaaa, puppy.” Mike wants to know where she found the dog, and in her most decipherable line yet, she reveals that she found him in “a big place”. (Of course, now that I can actually hear her, it’s patently obvious that her dialogue was dubbed by an adult talking in a weird, high-pitched chipmunk voice.) Debbie adds that it was a “dark place”, but she “wasn’t afraid of the dark” [??], and that there were “many people in it”. Mike wants to know where this place is, so Debbie leads them through the kitchen door. Which I’m assuming is no longer “bolted shut”.

We cut to the “dark place”, which looks suspiciously like somebody’s backyard. Mike and Maggie see a campfire, then they see several women in pink chiffon gowns, all standing motionless with their backs up against stone pillars. We also see a guy in a black and red cape lying on a stone slab, with the Doberman chained up next to him.

"Manos" The Hands of Fate  (1966) (part 4 of 7)

“Beauty school dropout / No graduation day for you…”

Upon witnessing all this, Maggie does what she does best, i.e., freak out and scream for Mike to save her. The family withdraws back into the shack, and Mike tells Maggie to lock herself and Debbie in the bedroom while he goes to track down Torgo and get some answers.

We then cut back to the guy in the black robe lying on the slab, who, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is the Master that we saw fifty billion times in the portrait. So much for having “left this world”, huh? Just then, Torgo comes groovin’ up slowly. On the soundtrack, we hear a cymbal being tapped, but, of course, not to an actual beat or anything. Torgo stands over the Master’s silent, prone form and demands to have Maggie. “You have all the wives you need!” he says, indicating all the chiffon-clad women. (Insert your own Mormon joke here.)

Torgo then wanders around spastically to intermittent cymbal clangs in the background. He begins to yell at all the catatonic wives, saying that he’ll no longer have to dream of any of them, because soon he’ll have a wife of his own. He then singles out one wife for particular derision. According to Torgo, this was the Master’s first wife, but now the Master doesn’t want her anymore. “And now, even I don’t want you!” Geez, Torgo, I know you’re proud of finding a woman on your own and everything, but you don’t have to turn into an asshole because of it.

We eventually see Torgo run his hand up the first wife’s arm. He reaches her shoulder, leading to, you guessed it, Hair Fetish Moment #3. After a few seconds of this, he gets bored and instead chooses to stumble around the backyard and proclaim himself to be “through” with all of them. Then he finally wanders off into the darkness.

"Manos" The Hands of Fate  (1966) (part 4 of 7)

Whatever happened to “Even I don’t want you”? You’re such a hypocrite, Torgo.

Meanwhile, Maggie is in the bedroom, checking herself out in the mirror. The sexy sax starts up again, so she caresses her shoulder, apparently reliving memories of having her hair fondled by Torgo. (Although she’s touching the opposite shoulder from the one Torgo touched, so what the hell?) Then she starts taking off her dress. Hey, why not? Now’s as good a time as any, right? (Don’t get excited, though. She’s got a slip on underneath.)

As she does this, we cut to Torgo outside, gleefully pressed against the window pane with his tongue practically hanging out. Ew. Look, Torgo, I’m still on your side here, but you’ve really got to dial it back. We cut to Maggie, who pauses in undoing her leggings to again touch her shoulder (and, again, it’s the wrong shoulder) while she visualizes a hot session of Torgo-love. Suddenly, she gets frightened and whirls around towards the window.

"Manos" The Hands of Fate  (1966) (part 4 of 7)

Down boy! Sheesh!

She sees no one there and shakes it off, assuming she imagined it. Then, she starts fondling her own hair in the mirror. After the 5,000th pointless shot of Debbie sleeping on the couch, we see Mike running around the desert in the dark. Torgo suddenly appears and instantly boosts his popularity with the audience by knocking Mike senseless with his hand-staff. He picks up Mike’s unconscious body and then there’s a twenty second shot of Torgo propping him up against a tree. Ten years later, he succeeds in taking off Mike’s belt and using it to tie Mike’s arms behind the tree. Torgo then does a little dance, drinks a little water, and wanders off.

Multi-Part Article: "Manos" The Hands of Fate (1966)

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  • Mattolupo

    I read somwhere that the guy who was playing Torgo on the screen was supposed to have been tripping on acid the whole time this thing was being filmed. That would explain the twitching…wish I had been on acid when I watched it. Probably would have made more (some) sense…of course I may have ended up suffering a psychotic break….

    • Russifyme

      I believe that he lived with schizophrenia, and committed suicide after the film was released (unrelated). Older medications for the illness would have rendered some effects like twitching.

  • klaatu

    I forget the movie but in one MST3K episode, when the caption “THE END” appears on screen, Mike says “the end? end MORE, it isn’t ending enough!!

    • Youfeelingluckypunk27

      Actually, the episode was a Joel one. You were close, though.

  • Tim

    The five-minute drive is supposed to be the opening credits, but Hal Warren either couldn’t work out how to add the title overlays or couldn’t find anyone to do them. So it’s just a blank segment where nothing happens at all, for no reason at all.

  • Youfeelingluckypunk27

    “spastically waddling over to the car like Michael J. Fox when he’s forgotten to take his meds.” Cruel much?
    I watched this on MST3K and it was a chore to get past the beginning of the film! Once the riffing really got going (“Daddy, it’s a devil, and it’s fun! His name’s Mephisto, can we keep him?”) then I started to appreciate it in some way, and understood why Torgo became a favourite character of Joel and co.

  • viveca pomeroy

    pretty sure that sticks are used in MOS shots too. well. not pretty sure. really sure. the movie is inept but in this regard warren wasn’t screwing up. although the whole movie is MOS. okay, scratch that. he screwed up.