The Manitou – USA, 1978

manitou pressbook

‘Evil does not die… It waits to be reborn!’

The Manitou is a 1978 American supernatural horror feature film produced and directed by William Girdler (Three on a Meathook; Abby; Day of the Animals; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Jon Cedar and Thomas Pope. It is based on a 1976 book of the same name by Graham Masterton (Charnel House; Mirror; Hair Raiser).

Scream Factory is releasing The Manitou on Blu-ray on April 16, 2019. Extras will be announced nearer the release date.

The movie stars Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar, Ann Sothern and Burgess Meredith.


Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg) is suffering from a growing tumour on her neck, so enters a hospital in San Francisco to have a medical check. After a series of x-rays, the doctors begin to think it is a living creature: a fetus being born inside the tumour. Eerie and grisly occurrences begin; the tumorous growth perceives itself – himself – to be under attack as a result of the x-rays used to ascertain its nature, which is starting to stunt and deform its development.

The growth is actually an old Native American shaman; he is reincarnating himself through the young woman to exact his revenge on white men who invaded North America and (from the old shaman’s viewpoint) exterminated its native peoples.

A second Native American shaman is contacted and hired to help fight the reincarnating medicine man, but the kind of spirits he can summon and control appear to be too weak to match his opponent’s abilities…


“The whole Burgess Meredith sequence is priceless, as it seems like he keeps forgetting what movie he’s in. And while Manitou does have its slower sections, the climax is a thing of beauty to be enjoyed forever, with crummy special effects, bad lightning, a star field, an Evil One symbolized by a cataract, and Tony Curtis struggling to maintain his dignity.” A.V. Club

“The gradual decline into nonsense is very smartly paced; the movie just sort of lulls you into its madness, so when a naked Indian midget starts shooting laser beams around and the spirit of her the heroine fights back with what appears to be meteors made out of popcorn, it doesn’t “come out of nowhere” as you might expect – in Manitou logic, it’s merely the natural progression of the plot.” Badass Digest

“I defy anyone to watch it and not admit that they had fun afterwards” Horror News

the manitou momentum UK DVD

Buy DVD:

“This bout between good and Satan includes some scares, camp and better than average credits.” Variety, December 31, 1977

Cast and characters:

  • Tony Curtis as Harry Erskine (The Boston Strangler)
  • Michael Ansara as John Singing Rock
  • Susan Strasberg as Karen Tandy (The Returning; Sweet Sixteen; Bloody Birthday; So Evil, My Sister; Scream of Fear)
  • Stella Stevens as Amelia Crusoe
  • Jon Cedar as Dr. Jack Hughes
  • Ann Sothern as Mrs. Karmann (The Killing Kind)
  • Burgess Meredith as Dr. Snow (Magic; The Sentinel; Burnt Offerings; Beware! The BlobTorture Garden)
  • Paul Mantee as Dr. McEvoy
  • Jeanette Nolan as Mrs. Winconis
  • Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Herz
  • Hugh Corcoran as MacArthur



the manitou french poster

the manitou super zombie

Image thanks: Zombos’ Closet

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