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74 min – Horror – 15 November 1966 (USA)
Harold P. Warren
Harold P. Warren
Tom Neyman; John Reynolds; Diane Mahree
A family gets lost on the road, they stop off at a house to use a phone and to hopefully stay there for the night. However, te owner of the house they stay at is a member of a devil-worshipping cult, who is led by the mysterious ‘Master’. (Essentially some people arrive at a house and some ‘stuff’ happens).
When writing a review of a bad movie, I usually write it in a cynical, sarcastic tone, and include bitter one-liners in the hope that the reader:
(a) Assumes that I’m taking the persona of a miserable git and…
(b) They will never see said movie.
I will not write this review – in fact, I refuse to write this review – in the style of a sarcastic cynical film snob throwing his toys (and Andrei Tarkovsky boxset) out of his pram. Instead, I shall merely list what I thought was bad about this movie, and leave you to make your minds up and either:
(a) Never see it.
(b) Add it to your stash of bad movies which is mainly taken up by the grand master-works of the deceased genius and child prodigy that was Ed Wood.
Consider the fact that the entire movie was shot on a handheld amateur movie camera where it could only record 34 seconds of footage at a time. Consider the fact that it was shot on a camera of such a poor standard that the image has a ‘crackly’, ‘grainy’ quality to it, and that everything seems pixelated.
Grainy, pixeled, dark visuals in Manos
Also, consider the fact that they had to dub in the dialogue afterwards…and then reconsider this idea when you realise that it is evidently clear that the audio was dubbed in because throughout the movie, you can hear the sound of air (‘noise’) throughout. (Listening to dialogue where in the background we can hear this faint ‘shhhhhhh’ sound).
Woops. I just realised that I sound like a cynical film snob having a tantrum. Now, that I have broken the promise which I spelled out at the beginning claiming that I wasn’t going to be remotely cynical, I shall now just be utterly hypocritical and rant endlessly.
I realise that you have absolutely no idea what the plot of this film is, let alone the key themes, cinematic style, and of course, reoccurring motifs. I shall divulge as quickly as possible in order so I can rant in such a vicious way that I’ll be more vicious than the pretentious vicious grammar nazis and those vicious ‘I-know-more-than-you-do’ types you get on YouTube and other vicious internet message boards.
We start off with a family driving. They get lost. There is dialogue such as: “Now, look, the sign pointed this way!”; “Listen, I’ve never gotten us lost before!” These ‘interestingly’ directed scenes last for around eight minutes. Or maybe ten. Either way, I don’t particularly care. Eight to ten minutes is a lot of time wasted to get lost, and hell, I could’ve turned my television set off. They then end up near a house owned by an eluvious and bizarre man called ‘Torgo’. His interesting qualities are his beard and the fact that he has the most bizarre walk in the world. He resembles that stock-character who is usually called ‘Igor’: bent-backed, dumb, and essentially the dogsbody to the supreme villain. Oh, and if you go on the IMDb Trivia page, you’ll discover that Torgo was initially called ‘Igor’. I can assume the writer’s wanted Torgo to assume this stock character role, but reconsidered his name to somehow ‘develop’ the character further. Torgo’s voice has the most bizarre pitch. It kinds of rises up and down to form an inflection at all of the most unnatural moments.
Later on, we find out that Torgo is somehow related to The Master. The Master is a pathetic villain who leads some form of voodoo cult.
The most pathetic, annoying, badly dressed villain ever
He has numerous wives, who for some bizarre reason stand up when asleep, and near the movie’s climax, they have the worst fight scenes ever. Later on, Torgo is taken by The Master for betraying the cult because he’s been touching and caressing said girls whilst they’re standing up asleep. But before this, The Master delivers a dramatic line: “You have failed us Torgo. For this you must die.” Torgo defends his acts by saying: “But master, you have six wives. Why can’t I have one for myself?” Alas! Poor Torgo is put on a plinth and tortured…by having all of the girls rub his face and body…and then his hand is set on fire and we never see him again.
Having your face violently rubbed is torture in this film…
Anything else? Numerous people are slapped around the face in this movie. Sometimes you don’t hear the sound of the slap…or you do hear the slap, but the actor is so bad at ‘stage-slapping’ (or rather ‘screen-slapping’), that you can tell that it is a screen-slap as opposed to a…well, a real slap. There are scenes where characters get distressed and they scream and shout, but don’t resemble it on their faces. There are scenes where in between the scene the lighting condition changes (almost as if they filmed the scene on two separate days…which is probably what they did do…but God, they made it so obvious).
I shall now stop before my review turns into that of something produced by Mark Kermode’s mouth. I do not want The Exorcist to be me favourite film, so I will shut up. But I have one final thing to say:
The film was actually the result of a bet. Warren, the director, was in a coffee shop and claimed that it was not at all difficult to make a horror film. The person he spoke to said otherwise. Warren then wrote the script on a napkin, got $19’000 dollars funding.
It’s very difficult to make a horror film, and I imagine, Warren lost the bet.
It is said that reviews should be written objectively and subjectively. This is impossible for this film. It’s so bad that you ignore the plot and despise the way it’s made, this is the true test of how bad this movie is. Limp acting. Bad script. Terribly directed. And the worst visuals I’ve ever seen in a film. Warren certainly made the worst bet of his life.