The Manitou

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The Manitou
The Manitou - 1978 - Poster.png
1977 theatrical poster
Directed by William Girdler
Produced by William Girdler
Screenplay by William Girdler
Jon Cedar
Thomas Pope
Based on the novel by
Graham Masterton
Starring Tony Curtis
Michael Ansara
Susan Strasberg
Stella Stevens
Jon Cedar
Ann Sothern
Burgess Meredith
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Michel Hugo
Edited by Bub Asman
Distributed by Avco Embassy Pictures
Release dates
April 28, 1978
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Manitou is a 1978 American horror film produced and directed by William Girdler starring Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara and Susan Strasberg, based on the 1976 novel by Graham Masterton. The film is based on an old legend about the American Indian spirit-concept Manitou.


A woman named Karen (Susan Strasberg), who is suffering from a growing tumor on her neck, enters a hospital in San Francisco. After a series of X-rays, the doctors begin to think it is a living creature: a fetus being born inside the tumor. 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 are starting to stunt and deform its development. The growth is the old Native American shaman, Misquamacus; he is reincarnating himself through the young woman to exact his revenge on white men who invaded North America and exterminated its native peoples. Karen's boyfriend, psychic fortune-teller Harry Erskine (Tony Curtis) contacts a second Native American shaman (Michael Ansara) 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 film was released theatrically with the tagline, "Evil does not die... it waits... to be reborn," in the United States by AVCO Embassy Pictures in 1978.[citation needed]


Critical reception for The Manitou has been mixed to negative. Variety gave the film a positive review writing, "This bout between good and Satan includes some scares, camp and better than average credits".[1] Derek Adams from Time Out gave the film a positive review, praising the film's special effects calling the film, "A successful excursion, spoiled only by the director's habit of plopping in postcard views of the Golden Gate Bridge instead of exteriors".[2] Donald Guarisco from Allmovie gave the film a negative review, criticizing the film's script, and weak direction but complimented the film's acting, special effects, and ending.[3] It currently has a 43% "Rotten" rating on film review website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 4.6/10 based on 7 reviews.[4]

Original novel series[edit]

The initial novel The Manitou has been continued by Graham Masterton with Revenge of the Manitou (1979), Burial (1991), Spirit Jump (short story, 1996), Manitou Blood (2005), Blind Panic (2009), and Plague of the Manitou (2015), altogether now called the Manitou series.

Home Media[edit]

The film was released on DVD by Momentum Pictures on Oct 24, 2005. It was re-released by Anchor Bay on Mar 6, 2007.[5]


  1. ^ "The Manitou". Variety Staff. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Adams, Derek. "The Manitou, directed by William Girdler". Derek Adams. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Guarisco, Donald. "The Manitou (1978) - William Girdler". Donald Guarisco. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Manitou (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Manitou (1978) - William Girdler". Allmovie. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 

External links[edit]