Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a young woman develops a tumor on her back, she soon realizes that she is expecting. But it ain’t a baby… it’s a small, naked fella who has a bunch of evil powers to kill. Will a bunch of morons be able to stop it? Not soon enough my friend… not soon enough.
Is it good movie?
Burgess Meredith at one point during The Manitou claims, ‘This is a mess.’… he’s right. Wow! This is a misguided attempt at ripping off The Exorcist. Except this time, it is a four-hundred year old pissed off Native American spirit. He has decided to return and he uses the lovely Susan Strasberg to give himself life again. When she finds a tumor on her back, which seems to be growing at an accelerated rate, she seems a tad worried. The doctors keep trying to remove it, but something bad always happens. In one interesting scene, they try to remove it with a laser. This really makes the demon fetus angry and it controls the laser to cut up the walls in the operating room. Susan just stands there with a goofy smile while her ex-boyfriend Harry (Tony Curtis) puts on his worried face. There is so much nonsense here that I might even recommend it if you are stoned.
While it does try to add a little bit of nudity, some gore (although it is quite tame) and a little more violence than The Exorcist, it lacks that films intelligence and atmosphere. In the scene mentioned where Tony Curtis and friends search out Mr. Meredith’s character to find out more about what they are dealing with, the writing is ridiculously bad. Burgess seems to be just winging it, while the rest seem to be as confused as he was. Did someone actually direct this? The credits give honor to William Girdler who also produced it. Well, I think it would have been a wise idea to hire another director and cover a few re-writes on the screenplay. It is a blatant rip off of far superior movies. It also feels like a spoof at times. When the bad guy climbs out of Susan’s back, it looks like a little naked midget with demon eyes that just finished humping her. And once out, it just sits there, apparently collecting power because he’s been “away” for awhile.
Now let’s talk about the character of John Singing Rock. He is a Native American medicine man who is as far from Indian as possible. It seems they put make-up on actor Michael Ansara but forgot to put make-up on his hands. There are several of those moments in this film. Questionable moments where you wonder if anybody was paying attention at all. The thing is, I’m a huge fan of Seventies horror flicks, even the bad ones. But The Manitou runs on far too long with a very weak performance from leading man Tony Curtis. This is as far from his critically acclaimed work in films like Some Like it Hot as you could imagine. He plays it as a joke half the time, especially when he is putting on his fake tarot card reading act early in the film. Nobody seems to really be trying too hard. But I will say that the shots of San Francisco are amazing. This is a bad B-movie that at least tries to punch up on the bloodshed with a flying severed head and some dude who is blown apart. But this is only for those who must see every horror film from the Seventies… which sadly, I am one of those people.
Video / Audio
Video: This 2.35:1 transfer is in the usual Anchor Bay style. It looks as good as you could hope for… it’s a good thing.
Audio: The Mono transfer leaves a little to be desired. But as I mentioned, this is as good as you are going to get for The Manitou.
Special Features have all gone the way of the buffalo. You get Trailer and T.V. Spot… man once say he see other trailer… he say he see, “The Entity”, “Superstition”, “It Waits” and “Demon Hunter”… I say ugh. Who need special feature?
Honestly, I was excited about watching this. I love cheesy horror flicks from the Seventies. But this lame rip off of The Exorcist just feels like a spoof at times. Wait until you get to the small naked Indian laughing at silly white man with paint on face. But don’t fret, you also get Susan Strasberg’s ripe melons along with it so it ain’t all bad. Go rent The Brood, The Exorcist, or hell, even that movie with Julia Christie and the evil computer called Demon Seed because every single one of them is better than this mess. I’ve heard people say that this is so bad it’s good, well sadly, I was too bored to notice.