"Manos" The Hands of Fate (1966) (part 5 of 7)
After a shot of the full moon, we cut back to the campfire in the “dark place”. We can now see that the fire has got a weird, burnt sculpture sticking out of it that I think is supposed to look like a hand. Slowly, the Master begins to rise from his stone slab. He takes his Doberman by its leash and commands it to sit at his feet. This leads to a shot of the Master and the Doberman that’s supposed to make us go, “Ooooh, it’s so creepy, it’s just like the portrait!” And in case you’re brain damaged (and there’s a high likelihood of that by this point) we get yet one more [!!!!!!] shot of that portrait, just to make the resemblance clear. (Must – not – throw – shoe – through – TV…)
Then we cut back to the greatest comedy duo in the history of film, the Make Out Couple. This is good, because I was getting kind of worried that they wouldn’t have another chance to have absolutely no impact on the plot. Once again, they’re sitting in a convertible and making out, only it’s nighttime now. Apparently Make Out Guy is getting a little too fresh on the scene, because Make Out Girl pushes him away. In response, he pulls out the trusty ol’ bottle of vanilla extract and the two generously quaff the contents. Now that Make Out Girl’s been medicated into submission, the mackings quickly resume.
After ten seconds of them silently going at it, the big behemoth that is the sheriff’s deputies’ vehicle rides into the frame. Drunk Claude Akins gets out, rather irritated that he once again has to stop these two from putting on this shameful public display on a completely abandoned road in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night. Make Out Girl says, “Like, wow!” and Make Out Guy tells them to go bother “that other couple” up the road. I’m assuming he means Mike and Maggie, despite the fact that it appears to now be several hours since Mike’s family drove past them, and Make Out Guy didn’t bother to mention this the last time the deputies hassled them.
Drunk Akins asks what the hell he’s talking about. There’s a five-second pause as we watch Make Out Girl slide back over into the passenger seat. Finally, she tells Loaded Lobo about seeing another car head out into the desert. Akins expositories, “We know that this road goes nowhere!” He then tells them to “git” and that he wants “no smart stuff”. (Ah, so he’s the one!) The Make Out Couple drives off, and for an extremely exciting bit, we get to watch the other deputy get out of the car, walk all the way around to the other side, stand next to Claude Akins, and make a gesture with his hands as if to say, “What are you gonna do?” Then he walks all the way back around to his side of the car and gets in. Meanwhile, I’ve been pounding my head on a sharp corner on my TV set while praying for the sweet release of death.
After another shot of the full moon, we see the Master again. He raises his hands and begins to spout off a pseudo-religious prayer to a deity named “Manos”, who apparently is “thou of primal darkness. Thou who dwellest in the depths of the universe in the black chasms of night!” After he says that line, twenty seconds go by where all we see is a close-up of the Master silently looking sinister.
Eventually, the Master spreads his arms apart, revealing the snazzy crimson “hands” that have been woven into his cape. He continues with his nonsense prayer, saying that Manos “doth curse with eternal burning light those who transgress against thee!” I’d be willing to bet that “eternal burning light” is nothing compared to watching endless butt-ugly scenery footage or ten million random shots of Debbie. The Master declares, “Holy art thou, holy art thou, holy art thou. Manos will be done!” The Master seems to really dig triplets, because he immediately follows this up by saying “Thy priesthood remains steadfast, thy priesthood remains constant, thy priesthood remains righteous!” Then he commands his wives to “arise” and “hear the will of Manos!” At this point I started to wonder, who exactly is Manos? Satan? A pagan idol? Or did these guys just need an excuse to start a campfire to drive all those moths away? Anyway, after several out of focus shots of the Master’s wives waking up, we fade out.
When we fade back in, the Master is chilling out on his slab. The wives are sitting Indian-style in a circle, chattering like a bunch of yentas. The Master’s first wife wants to know why a child has been brought to the Unabomber Shack, “and a female child at that!” The yentas start kibitzing again, with watermelon, watermelon noises that stop abruptly when another wife speaks up. This wife says that she’s got no particular hang-ups about “sacrificing a man”, but a child is a whole other ball of wax. Then a brunette wife gets in her two cents with this glorious non sequitur:
|Brunette Wife: The woman is all we want. The others must die. They all must die. We do not even want the woman!|
First Wife pipes up again, saying the girl must not be “destroyed” because “she will grow up to be a woman!” Brunette Wife yells again that the child must be killed. Then the watermelon, watermelon tape loop is started up as they all go back to arguing. The Master finally stands and yells at them to knock it off, insisting that “the child must die!” He tells First Wife that if she stands in the way, she’ll soon find herself out in the cold (instead of the idyllic life she now leads of sleeping standing up against a stone pillar). First Wife continues to resist, and they all argue some more. The Master says to First Wife that, more or less, she’s starting to wear out her welcome. Then, oddly, while they’re all dead quiet, he yells, “Silence! Silence!” [?]
The Master tells them that he’ll deal with “the one who is responsible for the child being here!” Brunette Wife yells, “Torgo! He’s the one! Get Torgo!” The Master agrees, then points to First Wife, saying, “You are responsible for this!” Wait, didn’t he just say that Torgo was responsible? Regardless, how could First Wife (who was catatonic until the Master woke her up) possibly be responsible for Mike and his family being there? Either way, the Master promises to deal with First Wife later, then takes his dog and walks off.
Once he’s gone, First Wife gets back on her soapbox. “The man, yes,” she says. “The child, no!” Another wife barks in a staccato voice that maybe First Wife is right. Then the wives start presumably arguing again. (I say “presumably” because, even though they clench their fists and shake their heads, they curiously make no sounds whatsoever.) First Wife says they should spare the child, because “the Master does not need any more wives!” A short-haired wife interjects, “Yes! He has no time for older wives. Just the newest! Hah!” Uh, you’re not exactly getting any younger yourself, honey.
It seems to be “Bash First Wife Day”, because Brunette Wife turns to First Wife and says, “Why are you so jealous of me?” (Well, it certainly isn’t because you get all the good lines.)First Wife and Brunette Wife then stand toe to toe like they’re about to throw down. “You’re a troublemaker,” Brunette Wife says. “You deserve to die!” Brunette Wife smacks her, but First Wife just laughs, saying she doesn’t care if she dies as long as she’s out of the movie, er, I mean, as long as the child is spared. Meanwhile, Short-Haired Wife suddenly has a epiphany and announces she’s now fully on the “Spare the Child” bandwagon. This makes Brunette Wife so furious that she starts speaking in babble:
|Brunette Wife: But Manos would not approve! The law of Manos exists for us only! [??]
Short-Haired Wife: Manos loves women! She will grow up to be a woman!
Brunette Wife: She may. [???]
And with that, there’s dead silence for ten seconds. I guess the bold “young girls grow up to be women” theory just blew everybody’s minds. Now, here’s where this movie’s clumsiness really shines through. The whole point of this scene (and perhaps this whole movie) is for all the wives to get into a massive catfight. The moment where Brunette Wife slapped First Wife was probably the perfect opportunity to start it off, but instead, the script got lost in this bizarre dialogue between Brunette Wife and Short-Haired Wife that served no purpose in the first place. However, they still need to have the catfight, so to get things going, they have the wives do this oddly choreographed move where they circle each other like they’re the Jets and the Sharks about to have a knifefight.
Brunette Wife tells First Wife that the Master will be furious, and First Wife replies that they’re all “mad, mad the whole lot of you! The man, yes. The child, no!” Hey, that line sounds familiar, almost like I just heard it half a minute ago. Then, First Wife lunges at Brunette Wife, and the two go tumbling into the dirt. Brunette Wife goes in for the kill, when suddenly two other wives run out and hold her back. The remaining two wives, however, are wanting to break off a piece, so they run out and tackle the two wives holding back Brunette Wife. This leaves Brunette Wife free to jump on First Wife and start going at it, and WHOO-HOOO! Catfight! Catfight! Catfight!