Tuesday, 30 March 2010

No.22 : The Manitou



Here’s a campy bit of sub Exorcist 70’s horror starring Tony Curtis as a phoney psychic who happens on an old curse in the shape of a foetus growing on his girlfriend’s neck. They don’t make them like that any more!

We open with a lady at the doctors. She mildly concerned that in three days a growth the size of a grapefruit has appeared on her neck. Strangely unconcerned the doctors send her home after they discover it’s just a baby growing on the back of her head. Meanwhile Tony Curtis in a funny cape is draining old women of their cash by giving them tarot readings. Well he has some Harry Hill style shirts to buy.

He gets a call from the grapefruit neck woman and after a fun day out in San Francisco he gets lucky in front of his open fire. But wait! The woman mutters something in her sleep that was probably meant to be as memorable as the bit out of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ but it totally isn’t as I’ve forgotten it already.

Lumpy heads in for surgery but she mutters stuff while under sedation which cause the surgeon to cut his own wrists - she probably told him her health insurance had lapsed. A further attempt with a big laser also goes wrong and it’s clear that it’s up to Tony to save the day with a lot of mystical gubbins that involve talking to wise Indians about ancient curses and the titular demonic spirits.

After getting some political stuff from an Indian named John Singing Rock Tony manages to enlist the redskin after agreeing to pay $100,000 to the downtrodden tribes and pretty soon Father Merrin, sorry Singing Rock begins his quest to rid the woman of her lump neck. His initial plan to put a circle around the bed fails when he fails to negotiate a wall and pretty soon Tony is wondering if he backed the wrong red skin or indeed script.

After flailing an orderly the Manitou emerges from the woman’s neck in a scary scene that looked a lot like a man getting out of a bag. How a fully grown man fitted in her neck is only covered by some talk of x-rays but largely you’re expected to run with it. Despite the place being wrecked and a body on the floor a sensible doctor is shouted down for foolishly suggesting that the police are called and we know that a lot more chanting lies ahead.

The Manitou starts to show off his skills of animating the dead but shows a strange aversion to a man tapping sticks in his general direction. With some remarkable straight faces in the face of some deathly dialogue and ropey effects our heroes have to muster all their strengths to see off the demon and his undead allies - and you will too if you are to stay for the whole 100 minutes.

This is an easy film to slag off but if you accept its limitations and enjoy the ride you won’t be that disappointed. Tony Curtis running in slow motion with a large mystic cape on is worth the rental alone and although it’s totally derivative of ‘The Exorcist’ it has a few side steps that offer a bit of interest and unintended amusements.

The pious Indian character is really annoying and he doesn’t miss a chance to bang on about his peoples’ injustices. He seems to make it up as he goes along with him immediately agreeing to Tony’s idea of turning the computers against the baddie - oh yeah the sprit world well up on Apple Macs are they?

They do try to expand on the possession angle with the spirit being made flesh and then summoning up his chums who turn the ward into ice and then space in some really unconvincing effects. Curtis’ character arc is non-existent but he deserved an award for keeping a straight face through some of the most far fetched dialogue you’ll ever hear.

As an oddity ‘The Manitou’ has a lot to recommend it but in truth it’s pretty dreadful and a guilty pleasure at best.

THE Tag Line : The Exorcist - With Explosions! 55%

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