Tuesday, April 9, 2019

THE MANITOU (1978) Blu-ray review

The Manitou (1978) d. William Girdler (USA) (85 min)

What medical experts originally believe to be a tumor on the neck of patient Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg) proves to be a fetus growing at an abnormally accelerated rate. She reaches out to former lover and phony psychic Harry Erskine (Tony Curtis) for help, but when attempts at conventional surgery go horribly awry, it is revealed that Karen’s nervous system is now possessed by the spirit of a 400-year-old Native American demon named Misquamacus who is ready to be reborn!

Having dazzled drive-in audiences with back-to-back “Nature Ain’t Taking Your Crap Anymore” smashes, Grizzly (1976) and Day of the Animals (1978), producer/director Girdler serves up this pleasingly off-the-wall riff on The Exorcist by way of The Chooper. Despite an admittedly loopy script (by Girdler and co-star Jon Cedar, based on the best-selling novel by Graham Masterton) that only goes further and further into left field, the end result proves wildly entertaining thanks in large part to its game ensemble of players which includes Stella Stevens, Ann Sothern, Burgess Meredith, and Girdler regular Michael Ansara (as a modern-day medicine man), who deserves special notice for spouting impossibly nonsensical “deep spiritual thoughts” with a straight face.

"Trust me, I'm a medicine man."

Make-up wiz Tom Burman (Cat People, The Beast Within) creates an impressively unnerving boogeyman in the form of the diminutive Misquamacus (little people stuntmen Felix Silla and Joe Gieb are both credited), and the zany lightshow ending, with a nude Strasberg shooting laser bolts out of her fingers has to be seen to be believed. All this with a PG rating! Fun for the whole family!


NEW 4K scan of the original film elements

NEW Restored Stereo Soundtrack

NEW audio commentary with film historian/author Troy Howarth

NEW interview with author (and former Penthouse UK editor) Graham Masterson (28 min)

NEW “Producing Girdler” with executive producer David Sheldon (11 min)

Original Theatrical Trailer

Original TV Spots

Still Gallery

The Manitou is available April 16 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:



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