"Manos" The Hands of Fate (1966) (part 7 of 7)
Meanwhile, First Wife and the Master are still pointlessly bickering. First Wife tells him that “the gods will destroy you!” (Okay, I give up trying to follow this movie’s screwy theology) and the Master lets out another Boisterous Evil Laugh™. Dude, it wasn’t that funny. Then he starts smacking First Wife again, and again, and again. (Did you know this movie was originally intended to be an ABC Afterschool Special about domestic violence? I swear I read that on a webpage somewhere.) The Master then insists that he can’t be destroyed, because “Manos has made me permanent!” Whatever the hell that means. First Wife, with her face now covered in fake blood, tells the Master that his power has failed him, and as evidence, she cites the fact that even Torgo defied him. The Master points out what a stupid assertion this is, given that he killed Torgo and everything.
Apparently First Wife is now punch drunk, because she lets out an insane laugh and cries out, “Beat me again! Beat! BEAT!” Then she breaks out into a chorus of “Pain & Pleasure”. The Master, of course, is more than happy to oblige, smacking her some more and ripping off some of her clothing. Suddenly, Erratic Cymbal Guy starts playing again in the background. The Master stops going all Rodney King on First Wife, and looks over at… well, something. We never find out what. Then he gets really close and forces First Wife to take a long look at his moustache.
Now it’s time to check in on Mike and the family running through the desert. For some reason, Maggie dives to the ground. Oh, wait, I guess that was supposed to be her tripping on something. She tells Mike that she can’t go on, and to just take Debbie and get out of there. Mike pulls her up and they continue running. There’s a shot of the Master’s wives scanning the desert for them, then when we cut back to the family, Maggie is on the ground again [?]. Mike again picks her up and they venture off in a different direction.
Suddenly, Mike trips on something himself and goes rolling down a hill. We see him lying motionless and face down in the dirt, and for the full ten seconds he holds this pose, a slight glimmer of hope plays across my mind that perhaps that three-foot drop killed him. Unfortunately, he comes around and climbs back up the hill.
When he gets back to Maggie and Debbie, there’s a bizarre ten seconds of silence as Mike and Maggie just stare at each other and Mike brushes dirt off his pants. Finally, Maggie says they can’t go on, but Mike says they must, and they run off again.
We cut to the Master, draping a cloth over the dead body of First Wife. Brunette Wife runs in and says that the family is no longer in the Unabomber Shack. There’s at least fifteen seconds of silence before the Master yells, “Find them!” (Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we see the wives searching for the family just a minute ago?) Then Short-Haired Wife yells that they should let them go because (all together now) “we cannot kill a child!” Hey, Short-Hair? See that dead body lying on the slab there? That’s the last person who kvetched about killing a child. Capisce?
The Master yells, “Enough talk!” Strangely, even though Short-Haired Wife is standing on his left, he turns to Brunette Wife on his right when he yells this. He insists the family needs to be found so that “Manos will be served”, blah blah blah. The two wives think about this for five seconds, then head off.
After a blurry shot of First Wife on the slab, we cut to Mike and Maggie. And Maggie trips again! Jesus! Just leave her for the vultures, would you? She starts sobbing and pounding the ground. “I can’t take it, Mike!” Now she knows how we feel. She screams, “Take Baby! [?] Take Debbie!”
After watching endless footage of the Master and his wives fanning out across the desert, we cut back to the family. Maggie suggests that they go back to the shack, since no one will think to look for them there [!!]. Mike says, “You know, you may have a good point there!” Trust me, Mike, she doesn’t. He says they’ll lock themselves in the bedroom, which doesn’t make much sense, given that Mike broke the door down earlier. After another patch of dead silence, they’re startled by stock footage of a snake. We know it’s stock footage because over where the snake is, it’s broad daylight. Maggie and Debbie huddle together as Mike shoots at the stock footage a few times. This leads to stock footage of the stock footage snake taking off.
This finally convinces Mike that the best course of action is to go back to the shack. Then Debbie, talking in her Yoda-on-an-airport-PA-system voice, asks where her puppy is [!!!!]. Mike yells, “Not now!” and they all take off running. I can’t think of a single more pointless exchange of dialogue in this whole movie, and that’s really saying something.
We cut to the sheriff’s deputies’ car rolling into the frame, and Drunk Claude Akins is holding a searchlight out the window. So, not only are there only two cops in this whole town, but both of them work 24-hour shifts. The deputies get out and stare straight ahead for ten seconds, before Loaded Lobo says, “That sure sounded like shots! We’d better check!” Referring, I assume, to Mike shooting at the stock footage snake. The two deputies take, literally, three steps forward, look around, shake their heads, then jump back in the car. Talk about an exhaustive search. Now we know why there’s a pseudo-Satanic cult living in this town and nobody knows about it. The Branch Davidians have gotta be kicking themselves for setting up shop in Waco instead of here.
Meanwhile, Mike and Maggie get back to the Unabomber Shack. Just as they enter, the rear door opens, and the Master walks in with his Doberman. So, you mean coming back here wasn’t such a great idea after all? Hard to believe. We then get a shot of the Doberman that goes on and on and on until it finally barks. It’s pretty obvious that a trainer or somebody is standing off-camera trying to get the dog to bark. For reasons known only to God and Hal Warren, all of this was left in the final edit.
Hearing the dog bark is apparently all the prompting Mike needs to unload his gun on the Master. I’m guessing this has no effect, because all we see in response is the Master’s face, completely out of focus. After an extreme close-up of Mike shooting his gun, we cut back to the blurry shot of the Master. (I think he’s trying to get them to squint themselves to death.) Then the shot gets even blurrier, which I didn’t think was possible, and then, mercifully, we fade out.
We fade back in, and it’s daytime now. We see the same road from the opening credits, and a lone car drives through the shot. Unsurprisingly, it’s also a convertible. There’s a sudden (and I mean sudden) thunderclap, so I guess a storm is supposedly approaching. We see the convertible make the obligatory turn at the same Valley Lodge sign from the opening scenes.
Then we cut to two women inside the car. Again, it seems like “driving and talking” was beyond the abilities of the filmmakers, so once again they have their characters park on the side of the road for the sole purpose of delivering dialogue. The blonde woman expositories that the two of them are on vacation together. The brunette woman says, “Vacations are fine, but this one should be great,” in the most expressionless monotone I’ve ever heard in my life. Seriously, this is the type of person I would immediately refer to mental health professionals as a potential sociopath. She couldn’t have less emotion in her voice if she were reading the ingredients on a box of Velveeta. Blonde Woman says that this picnic will be “a blast!” to which Brunette Woman says simply, “Hmm.” So, apparently, she’s the thoughtful one. It begins raining in earnest, so they put the top up, an event that we get to watch in its entirety.
As it turns out, this sequence will serve as the epilogue to the movie. So, this naturally means we get another minute [!!!] of driving footage. Here we don’t even get the benefit of ugly scenery to watch, because three-fourths of the frame is taken up by silhouettes of the two women’s heads. Then, just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, the view changes and all we see is the blurry, astoundingly underlit reflection of the driver in her rear view mirror, with the blurry road in the background. Look, I don’t care which one you get in focus, just pick one! Finally, we at least get to see some scenery move past. Unfortunately, the camera is focused on the raindrops on the window instead. (Did I mention there’s nearly a solid minute of this?)
I look up from slashing my wrists and see that the Make Out Couple has made yet another appearance. Since I’ve also been guzzling NyQuil for the last twenty minutes, I feel a certain kinship with them. Of course, this shot is so reused from earlier. I mean, they’re wearing the same clothes as before, and there’s even that same shot of Make Out Girl looking directly into the camera when the other car passes. Thankfully, their lines are shoddily edited out and they just go back to making out.
Next, we see the two vacationing women getting out of the car. As you may have guessed, they, too have stumbled upon the Unabomber Shack. This time, however, it’s Mike standing at the front door instead of Torgo. What a twist, huh? Then we cut back to the “tomb” and see all the wives standing against their pillars. Among them is Maggie, now catatonic and dressed in pink chiffon. And right by her side—brace yourselves—is Debbie, also standing against a stone pillar, wearing a little pink chiffon gown of her own. So now the Master has a child bride. Wonderful. So, let’s see, in this movie we got polygamy, voyeurism, paganism, necrophilia, and now, pedophilia. If only we’d seen one of the wives getting it on with the Doberman, then the experience would’ve truly been complete.
We cut back to the two vacationing women, who for some reason are staring at Mike in abject horror. (They probably know what kind of scripts he’s capable of producing.) Mike tells them, “I am Michael. I take care of the place while the Master is away.” Then, we cut to the Master’s portrait for about the billionth time. Thankfully, however, this time the credits roll.
As we see the names of the people who participated in this atrocity, the filmmakers actually have the gall to have a “montage” credit sequence of what, I’m assuming, are supposed to be the film’s great moments. And all of it is accompanied by that Shirley Bassey wannabe singing a romantic jazz ballad called “I’m Forgetting You”, and the bizarre song choice just makes everything that much more surreal.
Fittingly, our last shot is of the ugly painting of the Master, and superimposed over it is the caption “The End?” One has to wonder how much money Hal Warren would have made if the next caption had said, “Send me a hundred bucks for the answer to be yes.” Instead, we get, by far, the sweetest shot in the whole movie: a complete and final fade to black.