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The Manitou
The Manitou
Actors: Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Michael Ansara, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar
Director: William Girdler
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
PG     2007     1hr 44min

What surgeons thought to be a tumor growing on the neck of patient Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg of PSYCH-OUT) is actually a fetus growing at an abnormally accelerated rate. But when Karen reaches out to former lover and ph...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Michael Ansara, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar
Director: William Girdler
Creators: Jon Cedar, William Girdler, David Sheldon, Gilles de Turenne, Herman Weist, Graham Masterton, Thomas Pope
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/06/2007
Original Release Date: 03/06/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Pana Witchi Salatu!
Christian Hokenson | Burbank, CA United States | 12/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Normally I wait for three risings of the sun before writing a review like this...I was about eight years old when I saw this... My mom had no problem taking me to horror films since she loved 'em too... We saw this one on a double-bill with "The Swarm." "The Manitou" should be released on DVD, no doubt about it, but then most of William Girdler's films should be, if nothing more than for the funtime feeling of pure camp they give off. Sometimes nothing beats a good bad film, and "The Manitou" succeeds on almost every level! San Francisco new age liberalism is parodied here (well, maybe on consciously) as is disco culture, and the cast features wonderfully rich acting by Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg (all Method here). The rest of the cast Stella Stevens and Burgess Meredith all ham it up spectacularly, and Michael Ansara gives the film a wonderful turn as John Singing Rock, who normally waits three risings of the sun before taking on ANY job. The effects are pretty cool for what is considered a B-movie, and the demon spirit, Misquamacus (who's Manitou-spirit is growing like a fetus on Strasberg's neck) is amazingly revolting. Just when you think the movie cannot go far enough in dazzling set pieces (the old lady who floats to the staircase while chanting "mana witchi salatu," the ebony Indian (not Native American in 1978) head rising from the seance table, the growing tumor, the ice storm in the hospital (complete with a fridgid beheading) the movie ends with a psychic war (with cheesy laser beams ripping from fingertips) between good and evil in the nude!Classic cinema, not to be passed up! Makes a great rainy Saturday movie, and someone (Anchor Bay, or hey! Even Criterion (ha ha)) really oughta release it on DVD with plenty of extras."
Beads and Rattles In San Francisco
Bruce Rux | Aurora, CO | 04/24/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Everyone criticizes this movie to its face, but they secretly like it on the late-late show in the privacy of their homes. It's a "guilty pleasure" piece, awaiting rediscovery in a less judgmental and more fun-loving age.Susan Strasberg has a tumor growing on her neck, that turns out to be a fetus. The doctors can't remove it, and it's killing her. Her old faux fortuneteller boyfriend Tony Curtis finds bizarre supernatural phenomena occurring around him, and does some homework with a few of his old occult friends, discovering that the fetus is the reincarnation of a powerful Indian medicine man named Misquamacus, who is out for some old-fashioned magic revenge against the White Man. How to get rid of Misquamacus, before Strasberg dies giving him new life? Why, fight fire with fire, of course - get another medicine man.The only thing killing this movie is some really bad special effects work - though some of the effects are actually quite good - and uneven direction and script. It has an all-star cast of surprising names, though Curtis and hired medicine man Michael Ansara really steal the show.The movie's greatest strength is the dialogue and the characters. The faithfully adapted script comes from Graham Masterton's generally better-accepted novel, and Masterton has an absolute gift for making the absurd credible.No, this movie is hardly anyone's idea of a masterpiece, but it's a great late Friday night popcorn watcher. Give it a chance. Enjoy it in the spirit in which it was made, and you'll have a good time."
Trash...But Really Great Trash.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 04/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The post-EXORCIST 70s produced a variety of quirky, old-fashioned horror films with big name stars whose careers were winding down but who were happy to still be working and who added a touch of class to the proceedings. PSYCHIC KILLER with Jim Hutton, TOURIST TRAP with Chuck Connors and SHOCK WAVES with John Carradine and Peter Cushing immediately come to mind. And then there's THE MANITOU.

I saw this movie when it first came out in 1978 and thoroughly enjoyed it. There's something for everyone here... black magic, Native American lore, cool 1970s furnishings (check out Tony Curtis' pad -er- apartment), possession, a seance, demonic birth and a STAR TREK like finish. It's like a summing up of the themes of 1970s horror films with a few well placed shocks and one truly memorable sequence. Curtis takes the Bob Hope approach (complete with quips) to his role as a fake mystic who is suddenly confronted with the real thing. Susan Strasberg makes a suitably vulnerable heroine and Syrian born Michael Ansara is quite believable as an Indian medicine man (no Native Americans in 1978) brought in to fight the evil. Stella Stevens, Ann Sothern, and Burgess Meredith add fun to the proceedings and director William Girdler (ABBY, GRIZZLY) doesn't give you time to think long enough on how preposterous it all is. Sadly this film was to have been his ticket to the big time and would have been (it was a box office hit) had he not been killed in a helicopter crash while scouting locations for his next film.

Avco Embassy for whom the film was made was sold to Norman Lear in 1982 and this and other Avco Embassy films disappeared into ownership limbo. Thanks to Anchor Bay THE MANITOU and other 70s A/E films like MURDER BY DECREE and WINTER KILLS have made it to DVD in beautiful widescreen transfers. THE MANITOU may be trash but it's really great trash and I'd rather be watching it than any number of present day horror films. Its well crafted approach to its material (no matter how ridiculous) rather than explicit effects from suffering victims makes it a guilty pleasure that I'll be happy to return to."
Naked chick. Laser Beams. Demonic Midget. Brilliant.
M. S. Skidmore | Kinver, United Kingdom | 05/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"To describe this movie in great detail would take away its charm and rob you of the roller coaster ride of fun that is awaiting you in William Girdler's cult classic 1978 'epic' The Manitou. As I am still giddy with laughing myself stupid from a recent screening - I'm gonna give it a good shot at giving you a basic outline of the flick yet still tease at the level of kookiness and sheer misguided brilliance that awaits.

To begin with, The Manitou is not a good movie. However, on the other hand it is brilliant. I know, I am contradicting myself already - but, it really is that kind of flick: Both awful and great in equal measure.

The story has Tony Curtis play fortune teller Harry Erskine. Hooking up with old flame Karen (Susan Strassberg), she informs him that she has recently had a strange growth form on the back of her neck. Thinking nothing of it, Harry informs her to get it checked out and he goes on about his business reading cards and conning old ladies. Until that is, a bizarre incident when one of his clients goes haywire midway through a fortune telling and throws herself down a flight of stairs (believe me, you have to see this to believe it. Its brilliant) and 'ol Harry starts to get suspicious. Across town, Karen's hospital check up has also gone wrong where the growth is deciphered to be not a growth at all . . . but, an unborn fetus.

Following a strange stop off at Burgess Meredith's house (who I swear is acting in another movie) and begging a native indian to help him save Karen, Harry returns armed with a medicine man (John Singing Rock who has obviously got a few days to spare) intent on battling the unborn child which has been revealed to us as the rebirth of an ancient indian shaman hellbent on revenge and world domination. (Stick with me, it gets better).

Now, the movie kicks into high gear and all kinds of drugs seem to have been consumed by the screenwriters and production crew as what follows not only makes no sense it also . . . er, makes no sense.

The shaman is born and is depicted as an evil midget with bad acne and greasy hair. Strange deaths follow and now our friend Singing Rock has to battle this rather short force of evil with all his might, whilst Mr Curtis' toupee also puts in a particularly frightened and convincing performance - culminating in one of cinema's best sequences ever! You haven't lived until you have seen Susan Strassberg in her birthday suit shooting cartoon laser beams from her hands at a midget dressed as a demon on a fake star field background. Its as if the film makers wanted to combine the space sequences from the old Buck Rogers TV show with the demonic possession scenes from The Exorcist and then decided to give it a Saturday Night Fever disco feel - I guess all they left out was the kitchen sink, but at least they tried.

I cannot recommend how good/bad this movie is - but, it excels as both and demands to be seen. Its strange that it hasn't had the notoriety that it so richly deserves as it is seriously a lost gem. Its a shame that director William Girdler died shortly after its completion - because, I am sure he would have had an interesting career after this. However, he has left us this movie that once watched, will surely never be forgotten. Highly recommended."