Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar, Ann Sothern, Burgess Meredith, Paul Mantee, Jeanette Nolan, Lurene Tuttle, Hugh Corcoran
Written by: Jon Cedar, William Girdler, Thomas Pope, based on a book by Graham Masterton
Directed by: William Girdler
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 104
Date: 04/28/1978

The Manitou (1978)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Indian Bummer

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This odd horror film wobbles uneasily between an "A" film and a "B" film. It has the cast and special effects of an "A" film, but its ridiculous ideas definitely belong in the lower reaches of the "B" picture. Karen (Susan Strasberg) goes to the doctor complaining of a bump on her neck; it turns out to be the fetus of a demon Indian witch doctor, hoping to be reborn and take over the world. A phony fortune-teller, Harry Erskine (Tony Curtis) decides to help, and enlists the aid of a medicine man, John Singing Rock (Michael Ansara). Stella Stevens stars as a real fortune-teller who taught Harry everything he knows, and Burgess Meredith appears in one scene as an expert on Indian lore. It ends with an explosion of visual effects that must have looked pretty impressive at the time. Curtis plays some of his scenes for laughs, which doesn't quite mesh with the picture as a whole, but the overall the acting is above average. And even if the story becomes totally absurd, it has more in the way of creativity than most modern horror remakes. Director William Girdler died in a helicopter crash after finishing the film but before it was released. He made nine films in all, including the Jaws rip-off Grizzly (1976).

DVD Details: Anchor Bay Entertainment resurrected this "classic" for a new DVD. It includes an anamorphic, widescreen transfer and a trailer.

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