(Manos: the Hands of Fate)
Manos: the hands of fate is a 1966 cult classic film. It is often claimed to be the worst movie of all time.
It was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993. Every film featured on MST3K after it would be compared to Manos. Yeah, it was bad. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 7%.
It actually spawned an online following resulting in a few independent sequels. The film itself was restored and re-released on Blu-Ray in 2015.
In this movie, The Master is a cult leader pseudo-vampire with six possibly undead wives. An enthralled caretaker and a demonic dog watch his place during daylight hours.
- Real Name: Unrevealed.
- Other Aliases: “Minion” (by Manos).
- Known Relatives: Six wives (unnamed).
- Group Affiliation: The Master’s group is made of himself, his wives, and Torgo his servant.
- Base of Operations: Somewhere near El Paso, Texas.
- Height: 6’6″ (1.98m). Weight: 240 lbs. (109 Kg.).
- Eyes: Green. Hair: Black
- Other Distinguishing Features: The Master has a thick mustache.
Powers & Abilities
The Master is a cult leader with a commanding presence. His power over others comes through threats of death and sacrifices to his god, Manos.
Under his command are several beautiful women, a man servant, and a well trained guard dog, all with a supernatural bent.
He actually has a link to Manos, who does a lot to keep the Master safe and hidden. But he also demands sacrifices.
The Master even believes he has been given immortality for his service – but there is doubt.
He has the ability to fall into a trance-like sleep along with his wives. This allows them to rise and operate at night and avoid the light of day.
The Master may become incorporeal, allowing attacks to pass harmlessly through him.
After getting lost on desert back roads, Mike, Margaret, and their young daughter Debbie ask directions from a strange looking caretaker, Torgo. His answer is, “There is no way out of here”.
Then, against his wife’s better judgement, Mike begs Torgo to let them stay the night. Torgo gives in, but states that the Master won’t be happy. The Master doesn’t like children.
Torgo gives a puzzling explanation of the Master being dead, but “not the way you know death”.
Dead? He is with us always…
The family dog, Peppy, rushes out into the night after something strange. It sounds like an animal howling in the night.
Mike secures his gun and flash light from their car. But he finds that their dog has already been killed by some unseen beast.
After that, the family has enough. They demand that Torgo get their luggage. They are leaving! However, perhaps for supernatural reasons, the car won’t start.
Debbie, by mere chance, walks from the house and directly upon the sleeping Master and his wives. Mike and Margaret follow her to the sleeping cultists. Mike demands Margaret and Debbie lock themselves in the bedroom. Meanwhile, he’ll find Torgo and get some answers.
Torgo the rebel
While the Master slept, Torgo flaunted his rebellion. He planned to keep this new woman as his own bride! Torgo therefore slips into the night. He cold-cocks Mike and ties him to a post.
But when the moon rises, so does the Master!
The wives also awaken, and they discuss what to do with the visitors. They decide to kill the man and child, and make the woman a seventh wife for the Master. But the oldest wife shows some humanity and argues they should not kill the little girl. For this, the Master sentences her to death.
The Master leaves to find Torgo. All the wives fight in a mass melee for the child’s life – but it is cut short when the Master returns.
The Master has sacrificed Torgo’s left hand to the fire for his “hand” in bringing the family to his secret home. Torgo was forced to flee.
The furious Master exacts his punishment on the eldest rebellious wife. He beats her to death with his bare hands.
The family takes this opportunity to escape into the desert. But the Master won’t give up. He searches the area along with his remaining wives.
Margaret succumbs to exhaustion and begs Mike to return to the house. They plan to lock themselves in the kitchen. But once inside, the Master reveals himself…
One tagline pleaded: “No one seated the last 10 minutes! We defy you to guess the ending… and ask you not to divulge it!”
So, I won’t.
New elements from Manos: The Rise of Torgo (2018 sequel)
Manos, god of primal darkness, contacts a man asleep in the desert.
He strikes the sleeper with lightning, making him more than mortal. The man receives robes and a name, The Master!
Well, whatever it is you’re not doin’, go don’t do it somewhere else
Torgo’s parents didn’t plan to have a baby out-of-wedlock. And Torgo’s mother murdered the father when he refused to take responsibility for his child.
Torgo’s mother raised him sheltered and alone. He ate fried chicken and lots of ice-cream but had no friends.
One day on the way to his grandmothers’ (plural), he met a young red-haired woman that wanted to be his friend. She was one of the Master’s wives.
All you need is friends
Vassago, the previous caretaker, had been killed after rebelling. The Master picked Torgo as his replacement.
The Master places Torgo under a charm spell. He then calls on Manos. Lightning strikes, crippling Torgo’s legs – and turning him into a servant of Manos.
However, Torgo’s mother then comes to get him back. Pistol in hand.
Four lost youths stumble upon the Master’s hideout. It is the same place as before – if a little rundown.
The Master is old now. As it turned out, he’s far less “permanent” than he thought. There are new wives, yet Torgo was the same age he was in Manos: The hands of fate.
The Master doesn’t move about the house, but his wives have more freedom. They love to torment Torgo, slaying him over and over. He always appears fine in the next scene.
The Master’s visage appears in a painting. He charms one of the women, who then collapses to become his next wife.
A now-adult Debbie presides over the ritual. We see her using Torgo’s severed hand to control him, forcing the caretaker to stay and live in fear. As he now puts it, “I take care of the place while Debbie and the Master are away.”
There are others in the house. But they seem like ghosts replaying old memories.
One woman, Claire, escapes with Torgo’s help. The Sheriff takes her away from there to apparent safety.
(Please — Ed.).
A tall man with dark hair and mustache. His skin is pale.
His voice is deep and he always projects well. Sometimes almost screaming but keeping an even tone.
The Master’s robes are black with a pair of gigantic red hands on the front.
The Master is tall and imposing. He uses strong gestures, such as pointing forcefully or lifting both arms out to his sides to display the fullness of his robes.
He is completely sold out to his belief that he cannot die. The will of Manos is all the Master desires. He laughs at the prospect of his own demise.
The Master sleeps in his robes and shoes on a hard slab of stone.
He is completely unafraid of man’s law. The Master therefore kills at will assured he is protected and safe.
He will sacrifice those who wander into his domain – and take any beautiful women as new wives. Occasionally, he will take on a man as a new daytime caretaker.
(Mike and his wife look at a painting of the Master)
Margaret: “Looks so sinister.”
Mike: “Must be the master himself.”
Margaret: “Well, Mike I’m scared. He has the meanest look. That dog.”
Mike: “I’d hate to run up on him in the dark or even in the light for that matter.”
“Manos ! God of primal darkness ! As thou has decreed so have I done. The hands of fate have doomed this man. Thy will is done !”
The Master: “You have failed us Torgo, I know of your visits to the tomb.”
Torgo: “My visit ?”
The Master: “The women have told me. They may not be able to say anything or move when you’re there but they remember everything you say to them. And everything you do to them.”
Torgo: “But master, you have six wives. Why can’t I have one for myself ?”
The Master: “You are not one of us. Therefore you cannot have one of them.”
“Manos will be served !”
“Kill ! Manos has decreed it ! Kill ! Kill ! Kill !”
“I am permanent ! Manos makes me permanent !”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
Almost the entire film takes place in the year 1966, in the deserts of El Paso at night.
It shouldn’t be too hard to bring the Master and his servants into our modern era. In a super hero world the powers of Manos could be more dramatic and more powerful. Increase his Charisma to 12 APs and give him followers who have powers of their own.
Perhaps an Aspect of Manos could be summoned as a final boss.
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
A 545 points Character
|Dex: 02||Str: 02||Bod: 02|
|Int: 03||Wil: 02||Min: 02|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 03|
|Init: 009||HP: 005|
Dispersal: 07, Suspension: 13
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Dispersal and Suspension are both Mystic Linked (+10 each).
- When Dispersal is in effect the Master appears out of focus.
- While in Suspension the Master retains his mental faculties, he’s aware of his surroundings. (+1)
- Suspension is useable on others (+5). The Master does not lose the use of Suspension himself while others use it (+1).
Charisma (Intimidation): 07, Occultist: 04
Scholar (Manos religion).
The Rituals in this film seem to be more ceremony than actual Rituals being cast. His great Intimidation skill is what causes fear and allows him to command others.
Cult leader and servant of Manos.
Book of spells [BODY 01]. Manos instructed the Master to use a ritual found in the book to charm Torgo.
Use normal stats for a large dog.
Renfield he ain’t — Torgo
“I am Torgo, I take care of the place while the Master is away.”
A 067 points Character (without equipment).
|Dex: 02||Str: 02||Bod: 02|
|Int: 02||Wil: 02||Min: 02|
|Inf: 02||Aur: 02||Spi: 02|
|Init: 006||HP: 000|
Thief (Stealth): 02, Weaponry (Melee): 02
Minor Physical Restriction (Torgo has deformed legs causing him to stagger along at no more than 01 AP of speed), Minor Physical Restriction (continuous nervous twitch).
Walking Staff [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 04), Descriptor: Blunt]. This is a wooden staff about head height with a metallic hand at the top.
There are a few things that happen on and off screen. It is not clear what actually occurred. These are certainly meant to be supernatural.
- The cult’s hideout appears and disappears by unknown means.
- The howling of an unseen beast of the desert, possibly the devil dog.
- The car wouldn’t start just as the family decided to leave, Mike stated “There’s nothing wrong with it.”
- Debbie got up and while her parents weren’t looking walked right out into the night alone. All the doors were still bolted, then when found she was with the devil dog!
- Torgo’s hand touches the flame and is instantly sheared off! I gave The Master nothing for this, it seems to just be part of the sacrifice to Manos.
There’s also the question of why does the Master need to sleep? I assume it’s similar to a vampire sleeping during the day and rising at night to avoid sunlight. There is the quote by the Master, “Hurry, find the others, before night slips away!”
Another guess is that they are all immortal, however, with the Suspension power they would still age but at a much slower rate. The dog doesn’t seem to sleep, though it could be many hell hounds supplied to the Master by Manos. Since the oldest wife speaks of his power failing, I’m going with his slowed aging being a result of Suspension.
His wives appear to be normal if possibly undead.
The Master’s weight was not found anywhere on the web so, I just grabbed the weight from the “Height and Weight values for super-heroes” article.
The Master had the ability to entrance his new wives and man-servants too, at least at some point after they are held captive. The Master’s oldest wife said he was losing his power. I am now of the belief a ritual, or Manos’s power through a ceremony, puts an enchantment on the Master’s new victims.
Over time, the spell wears off but the Master’s intimidating presence allows him to maintain a tentative control.
Design notes for the sequels
Manos: The Rise of Torgo. This prequel (with a 51-year gap) tried to stay true to the original film.
It was created by someone who gets it. Purposefully bad editing cuts, awkward pauses, unintentional comedy, over-the-top strangeness, and voice-over dialog. It used the same musical score as the original film. Some actors were spot-on in their likeness to the original.
- There is a scene where the wives kill and strip a man of his flesh in seconds. I’m unsure how they did this, if they had claws why not use them in other on-screen fights? It must be the will of Manos…
- Manos gave the Master a Book of Spells. The spells he casts must be within Manos’ will as the power comes from the god, not the Master. It’s like a D&D Priest casting a spell drawing magic from their god.
- The Master states he needs Torgo to watch after the place while he is away. When Torgo asks where he goes, the Master states he is master of many dimensions. Since there is no more mention or evidence of actual Dimension Travel it’s left out. It could be a spell from his Book of Spells.
- The devil dog in this film was a pitbull instead of a Doberman.
- Oddly, in both movies, the sheriff hinted that he too was working with Manos.
In Manos Returns, Tom Neyman reprised his role as the Master.
Source of Character: The 1966 film Manos: The Hands of Fate, 2018 prequel Manos: The Rise of Torgo, and 2018 sequel Manos Returns. Character played by Thomas Ivy “Tom” Neyman, and Danny Mcarty in Manos: The Rise of Torgo.
Torgo played by John Reynolds in Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), Matt Rogers in Manos: The Rise of Torgo (2018), Steven Shields in Manos Returns (2018).
Helper(s): Darci, Eric Langendorff, IMDb, Youtube (for commentary and yes, even deleted and behind the scenes footage.)
Writeup completed on the 12th of September, 2017.