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The Manitou

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar
  • Directors: William Girdler
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000LP6L2A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,773 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Manitou" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 phony psychic Harry Erskine (Academy Award® nominee Tony Curtis), he discovers that she is possessed by the reincarnation of a 400-year old Native American demon. Now with the help of a modern-day medicine man (Michael Ansara), Erskine must survive this ancient evil’s rampage of shocking violence, and forever destroy the enraged beast known as THE MANITOU. Stella Stevens, Ann Southern and Burgess Meredith co-star in this infamous horror shocker produced and directed by William Girdler (GRIZZLY, DAY OF THE ANIMALS) from the best-selling novel by Graham Masterton

Features:Theatrical Trailer,TV Spot


Lurid, ludicrous, and laughable (and those are the good parts), The Manitou is one of those movies that asks more questions that it answers. For instance, were respectable actors like Tony Curtis and Burgess Meredith so in need of a payday that they agreed to take part in this nonsense? Does the film fall into the so-bad-it's-good category, or is this horror story just plain horrid? Viewers will draw their own conclusions, assuming they can get through this 1978 tale about a centuries-old, evil Indian medicine man who returns to wreak all sorts of vengeful havoc on an unsuspecting populace. The setting is San Francisco (a place you'd think would be more tolerant of such alternative lifestyles), where Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg) seems to have been chosen at random as the host for the manitou's latest regeneration. When she goes to the hospital complaining about a tumor growing on her back (it starts out grapefruit-sized but enlarges at an alarming rate), doctors determine that the thing is in fact a living fetus. But their decision to bombard it with x-rays may not be the wisest course of treatment. When they then fail to cut it out (manitous apparently don't like scalpels), bogus psychic Harry Erskine (Curtis), Karen's love interest and a fellow who spends most of his time duping gullible old ladies, starts investigating alternative methods of extermination, seeking out a fortune teller (Stella Stevens) for a séance that goes very, very wrong, consulting a doddering old professor (Meredith, camping it up), and finally bringing in a contemporary medicine man (Michael Ansara) to try to keep the malevolent Misquamacus at bay. There are a few scary moments and a couple of nice set pieces, but horror fans will find The Manitou extremely tame by new millennium standards; and the climactic battle between good and evil is so silly as to beggar description. "If only we had some authority!" worries the Curtis character when he realizes what they're up against. A good script and better acting, direction, effects work, and all the other elements of a decent movie would have helped, too. --Sam Graham

Stills from Manitou (click for larger image)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt Skidmore on May 18, 2009
Format: DVD
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Draconis Blackthorne on January 17, 2008
Format: DVD
"Manitou: a supernatural being that controls nature; a spirit, deity, or object that possesses supernatural power." - American Heritage Dictionary.

When a fetus grows on the back of his girlfriend's neck, it is up to Harry Erskine, a psychic scheisster, to find help for her. Seems he began to meddle in certain occult practices that he could not handle, and so his problems surmount, amusingly displayed when an elderly client is possessed and floats out the door and tumbles down the stairs. Despite all attempts to help her condition using "white man's medicine", he realizes he must consult alternative methods including a seance where an "evil spirit" manifests as a black head rising from the table.

While researching, he finds the name of professor Dr. Snow {Burgess Meredith} who recommends he fight fire with fire, leading him to a reservation where he meets reticent Medicine Man John Singing Rock, who takes on the challenge for a generous donation to the Native American education fund and some tobacco. When he discovers the fetus is the reincarnation of a legendary powerful shaman named Misquamacus {played by Felix "Cousin Itt" Silla and Joe Gieb}, his reticence grows but nonetheless decides to attempt a fight, despite a warning by Misquamacus to not help the palefaces. Every effort is met with defeat as Misquamacus summons everything from a lizard demon, the zombified body of a dead orderly, to the elements themselves, transforming the floor level into a veritable cave. Unfortunately, Misquamacus is deformed and diminuative due to profuse X-radiation while attempting to decipher the mysterious growth.
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