The Manitou (1978)

Tired of the same old, boring, Catholic exorcism? Looking for something exotic; native, even? A homegrown, ancient evil? Hot for some sweet Tony-Curtis-in-a-robe action? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you, my friend, must watch The Manitou.

One day, Karen Tandy wakes up to find a strange growth on her neck. Within a day or two, the best tumor guys in San Francisco are scratching their heads over the incredibly fast growth of the thing. Karen, scared and with nowhere to go, calls up her old boyfriend Harry Erskine, a sham fortune-teller played by Tony Curtis. He tells her everything is going to be okay, but after a night of neck-tumored passion, he hears Karen speaking tongues in her sleep. While Karen’s under the knife, one of Erskine’s “clients” mutters the same phrase, and promptly throws herself down the

Tony Curtis tells you your future: “You’re about to watch one batshit-crazy movie.”


Up until this point, Harry never really bought what he sold – but he was pretty convinced by the incident that something strange is up, and so goes to the hospital to check on Karen. Here he finds out the surgery didn’t happen at all, once the surgeon motioned toward the tumor with the knife, he instead turned it on himself, cutting his own wrist.

Allright, so lots of spooky shit keeps going on and somehow Harry and some of his magical, hippie friends discover a book written about old Native-American medicine men who reincarnate themselves in the bodies of anyone who is available. After incubating inside, they emerge fully grown, usually killing their host. After conducting a seance, the ragtag group is convinced this is what Karen is experiencing, and they go to find the raggiertaggier anthropology professor that wrote the book, played by everyone’s favorite quirkmeister, Burgess Meredith!

After throwing around some elementary-school-art-class-made Kachina dolls and other various embarrassingly trite objects around his cliche anthropology-professor home, Dr. Snow finally comes across the book he’s been looking for. This doesn’t really prove helpful to the group at all, Dr. Snow pretty much just tells them: if you want to get rid of the spirit of an ancient medicine man, you need the help of a living one.

That Sly grin, those knowing eyes… John Singing Rock vs. Misquamacas!

Enter my favorite part of the movie: John Singing Rock. After failing miserably at convincing other medicine men they should help a crazy white lady in need, somehow Mr. Singing Rock agrees to help Harry.

So, this is when shit gets real crazy. John Singing Rock finally figures out the spirit invading Karen’s body isn’t just any spirit, but is none-other than Misquamacas, like the holy of holies of medicine men. He’s over 400-years-old, has reincarnated himself five times, and gets stronger with each reincarnation. Things are complicated this time around by the fact that the doctors pummeled his fetus with x-rays while they were trying to figure out what the hell was on this chick’s back. When he is “born” not only will he be crazy powerful, he’s also going to be super-fucking pissed off.

This movie turned batshit long before we reached this point, but things actually get weirder. I’m not going to tell you everything, because that wouldn’t be as much fun as making you watch it, but somehow we end up in space and the spirits of machines are used in a battle against The Ultimate Evil.


I’d be pissed off if I came out of the tumor like this, too.

Phew. I liked this movie a lot, mostly because it is crazy. The make-up is pretty good too, but nothing is better than John Singing Rock. Okay, I guess midget-Misquamacas was pretty badass, too. Reserve this for Saturday night. Bring beer. Take a sip every time something crazy happens.


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