Vinyl Review: Manos: The Hands of Fate OST

News / Reviews / Vinyl Review / November 4, 2015

Ship To Shore Phono Co Release A Soundtrack That Even The Master Would Approve

Ship To Shore PhonoCo

There are bad movies we love, bad movies we hate, and then there’s Manos: The Hands of Fate. Defying any type of convention, Manos sits securely on its (hand-shaped) throne as the worst movie ever riffed by the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000, and in a lot of people’s eyes the worst movie ever made. So why even bother putting out a soundtrack to such a horrible film? Because underneath all of that amateur filmaking, bad acting, and low budget effects, there’s actually a lot to love.

The soundtrack to Manos is best experienced as one complete piece. The addition of dialogue throughout helps navigate you through the convoluted plot, giving you plenty of audio cues during the action scenes and monologues. In the liner notes, STSPC acknowledge that there is no way to remove the dialogue from the music, which can be a deterrent for some but really doesn’t effect the presentation here. Listening to Torgo’s monologue about needing a wife with an awkward jazz horn solo is exactly how this music should be enjoyed.

One thing that really caught me off guard is just how creepy some of the music can be without the silly visuals to accompany it. A great example is the track “Decision”, which uses a swirling piano arpeggio and low octave hits to signal confusion. It’s not a terribly compelling scene in the movie, but the music conveys dread very effectively. Another stand-out track is “Forgetting You”, the love theme from Manos. It really has nothing to do with the film, but works well as a track on its own. I know, it’s weird.

Sound Quality

Ship to Shore Phono didn’t have the best sources to work with here, but the sound quality is surprisingly good. The vinyl has little to no surface noise present, the only surface noise coming from the original master tapes. This release sounds considerably better than film audio, and because of that you get an idea of just how intricate some of the instrumentation is. One of the biggest improvements I could hear was the cymbals, which sound a lot less washy on here than in the film. Overall, it is a very enjoyable yet bizarre listen.

Packaging

The cover art for Manos, designed by Garrett T. McDonald, is absolutely stunning! The use of the bold red/black motif is exceptionally well done, and the little vignettes of the family (including the dog) falling from the house is fun and imaginative. Everything is housed in a single medium weight jacket, and while it is sufficient I would loved to have seen a full gatefold with more artwork by Garrett. There is a paper insert booklet with some liner notes from Videoscope columnist Tim Ferrante, and the record is in a paper sleeve. The vinyl is available on black or a red/black swirl “Master” addition. A limited “Torgo” brown variant is also available at Light in the Attic Records.

Extras

There was no download card present, nor any other extras.

Make Sure To Spin

“Portrait of Evil,” “Torgo’s Lament” & “The Circle of Fate.”

Ship To Shore Phono Co Release A Soundtrack That Even The Master Would Approve Ship To Shore PhonoCo There are bad movies we love, bad movies we hate, and then there's Manos: The Hands of Fate. Defying any type of convention, Manos sits securely on its (hand-shaped) throne as the worst movie ever riffed by the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000, and in a lot of people's eyes the worst movie ever made. So why even bother putting out a soundtrack to such a horrible film? Because underneath all of that amateur filmaking, bad acting, and low budget effects, there's actually a lot to love. The soundtrack to Manos is best experienced as one complete piece. The addition of dialogue throughout helps navigate you through the convoluted plot, giving you plenty of audio cues during the action scenes and monologues. In the liner notes, STSPC acknowledge that there is no way to remove the dialogue from the music, which can be a deterrent for some but really doesn't effect the presentation here. Listening to Torgo's monologue about needing a wife with an awkward jazz horn solo is exactly how this music should be enjoyed. One thing that really caught me off guard is just how creepy some of the music can be without the silly visuals to accompany it. A great example is the track "Decision", which uses a swirling piano arpeggio and low octave hits to signal confusion. It's not a terribly compelling scene in the movie, but the music conveys dread very effectively. Another stand-out track is "Forgetting You", the love theme from Manos. It really has nothing to do with the film, but works well as a track on its own. I know, it's weird. Sound Quality Ship to Shore Phono didn't have the best sources to work with here, but the sound quality is surprisingly good. The vinyl has little to no surface noise present, the only surface noise coming from the original master tapes. This release sounds considerably better than film audio, and because of that you get an idea of just how intricate some of the instrumentation is. One of the biggest improvements I could hear was the cymbals, which sound a lot less washy on here than in the film. Overall, it is a very enjoyable yet bizarre listen. Packaging The cover art for Manos, designed by Garrett T. McDonald, is absolutely stunning! The use of the bold red/black motif is exceptionally well done, and the little vignettes of the family (including the dog) falling from the house is fun and imaginative. Everything is housed in a single medium weight jacket, and while it is sufficient I would loved to have seen a full gatefold with more artwork by Garrett. There is a paper insert booklet with some liner notes from Videoscope columnist Tim Ferrante, and the record is in a paper sleeve. The vinyl is available on black or a red/black swirl "Master" addition. A limited "Torgo" brown variant is also…

Summary

Music - 85%
Sound Quality - 80%
Packaging - 90%
Extras - 66%

80%

While the movie has some serious faults, the music of Manos is very endearing in it's own kind of way. If you're into awkward jazz and unsettling dialogue, it's definitely worth a listen.

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“Manos: The Hands of Fate” is available on black and red/black swirl vinyl at Ship to Shore Phono Co, or on Torgo brown at Light in the Attic Records.


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Alan Miller
Alan is a songwriter and record store clerk living just north of Nashville, TN.






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