The Manitou (1978)

“Evil does not die…it waits…to be reborn…”

Yet sadly this would be the last movie for William Girdler, who died in a helicopter crash while scouting locations for his next movie.

It’s a shame because Girdler had a talent for taking cheap movies with big ideas and making them beyond entertaining. This movie features a wild cast for him, including Tony Curtis as psychic Harry Erskine, Michael Ansara as shaman John Singing Rock and Susan Strasberg as our heroine Karen Tandy — who is suffering from a gigantic growth in her neck that ends up being the reincarnation of Misquamacus, a wonder worker of the Wampanoag tribe.

Misquamacus comes from the book of the same name by author Graham Masterton, who brought the villain back in his novels Revenge of the Manitou, Burial, Manitou Blood, Blind Panic and Plague of the Manitou, as well as the short story “Spirit Jump.”

Plus, there’s Stella Stevens, Burgess Meredith, the “First Lady of Radio” Lurene Tuttle, Ann Sothern and Jon Ceder on hand for this body horror by way of possession films by way of Native American hoodoo bit of lunacy. I also kind of dig how the posters would say, “In the grisly tradition of Alien” when it was made a year before that movie.

I’ve gone back and watched this again and I’m amazed by it. The image of Misquamacus coming out of Strasberg’s body is horrifying and the end battle, with Curtis yelling into the void of space, is the kind of movie magic I want more of.

3 thoughts on “The Manitou (1978)

    • John, this, with Tony Curtis, and Rock Hudson in Embryo, you have greatest Drive-In double feature that never was.

      Both films are epic! Embryo, for me, more so than Manitou. But both are just of-the-rails nuts. Only Tony in BrainWaves can top both.

      All three (adding Fritz Weaver in Demon Seed) are each crazed in their own, special way, with once A-List star of the old Hollywood brigade, squeezin’ that last sparkle of stardom in then, ’70s de rigueur sci-fi flicks.

      Liked by 1 person

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