While on a road trip near El Paso, Texas, Michael, Margaret, their young daughter Debbie, and their dog, Peppy, search for the "Valley Lodge." Michael and his family finally reach a house which is tended by the bizarre, satyr-like Torgo, who takes care of the house "while the Master is away." Michael and Margaret ask Torgo for directions to Valley Lodge; Torgo simply replies that there is no place like that around here. With this information, Michael asks Torgo to let him and his family stay the night, despite objections from both Torgo and Margaret.
Inside the home, the family sees a disturbing painting of a dark, malevolent-looking man and a black dog with glowing eyes; the man it depicts is the Master. Margaret becomes frightened upon hearing an ominous howl; Michael investigates, retrieving a flashlight and revolver from his car, and later finds Peppy lying dead on the ground. Torgo reveals his attraction to Margaret and tells her that, although she is doomed to become yet another bride of The Master, he intends to keep her for himself. Margaret threatens to tell Michael of Torgo's advances, but Torgo convinces her not to say anything to her husband by promising to protect her. Michael returns, unable to start the car. With the revelation that there is no phone in the house, the family reluctantly decides to stay the night.
Michael and Margaret stumble upon "The Master" and several women dressed in translucent nightgowns and later revealed to be his wives. They are all asleep. Torgo uses a stick to knock out Michael, and then ties Michael to a pole, after dragging him to it, and The Master suddenly comes to life. His wives also awaken, and a short argument over the fate of the family ensues. The Master decides he must sacrifice Torgo and his first wife to the film's mysterious deity and namesake, "Manos." When The Master leaves, his wives engage in further argument that soon degenerates into a fight, and the women wrestle in the sand.
Torgo succumbs to what appears to be a hypnotic spell by The Master. The Master stops the fight, and has his first wife tied to a pole to be sacrificed. Torgo is laid on a stone bed, where he is attacked by The Master's other wives, but this in itself does not prove fatal. Evoking some mysterious power, The Master severs and horribly burns Torgo's left hand. Torgo runs off into the darkness, waving the burning stump that remains. The Master laughs maniacally and goes to look for the family and subsequently sacrifices his first wife.
The family runs off into the desert. When a rattlesnake appears in front of them, Michael shoots it, attracting the attention of nearby deputies. Margaret and Michael are later convinced to return to the Master's house, where the Master welcomes them. Michael fires several shots into The Master's face at point-blank range, but they have no effect. The screen fades to black, likely indicating that The Master has again applied his hypnotic power.
An undisclosed amount of time later, an entranced Michael greets two new lost travelers. Margaret and Debbie have become wives of The Master. The film concludes with Michael echoing Torgo's line of "I take care of the place while the Master is away." The production credits are superimposed over past scenes from the film with the words: "The End?"
- Tom Neyman as The Master
- John Reynolds as Torgo
- Diane Mahree as Margaret
- Harold P. Warren as Michael
- Jackey Neyman Jones as Debbie
- Bernie Rosenblum as Male Teenager in Car
- Joyce Molleaur as Female Teenager in Car
- William Bryan Jennings as Cop
- Manos: The Hands of Fate is a film written, directed, and produced by American fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren in 1966 as a result of a bet he made with scriptwriter Stirling Silliphant in a coffee shop. Warren intended to make a successful horror film on a shoestring budget. The result, filmed entirely on location in El Paso, Texas, is a movie that is considered among the worst films ever made. After a failed debut, the film remained in almost complete obscurity until 1992 when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Tom Neyman built metal riggings as leg braces for actor John Reynolds, on the bottom of which were cloven hooves. Torgo was meant to be half-man, half-goat. These riggings were apparently quite painful to Reynolds, who reportedly took pain-killers as well as recreational narcotics. He committed suicide a month before the film premiered (see the separate page about the actor for more details).
- All of the sound was done in post-production. Hal Warren, his wife, Tom Neyman, and Diane Mahree recorded the voice tracks in a sound studio. Everyone else’s dialogue – including Torgo’s – was dubbed by other people. (Joel points this out in the early scene in which the family is pulled over by a cop, and it's obvious that the same actor is doing the voices of both the father and the cop.)
- The Bell & Howell camera on which Warren shot the film could only record takes of a maximum of 32 seconds.
- The film's title is itself redundant, since "manos" is the Spanish word for "hands", thus one could call it "Hands: The Hands of fate".
- The movie was originally called 'The Lodge of Sins.' In production, Warren, for some unknown reason, changed the title to 'Manos'. As time wore on and tempers frayed, the crew began jokingly referring to the project as, 'Mangos: Cans of Fruit.' 
- In 2011, the original 16 mm Ektachrome camera workprint of Manos: The Hands of Fate was discovered in a collection of 16 mm films by Ben Solovey, a Florida State film school graduate. Solovey has announced his intention to preserve and restore Manos for a High Definition Blu-ray release. Click here for more information.
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate became a RiffTrax Live presentation in 2012. A studio recorded version was produced in 2015.
- A sequel called Manos Returns was released in 2018. Several actors from the original film returned, joined by cult film actor George Stover. A prequel entitled Manos: The Rise of Torgo was released the same year. A follow-up TV series entitled Manos: The Debbie Chronicles has been announced.
- Received a video game adaptation.