NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Manitou

“I was flying to London to oversee the scoring for ‘Day of the Animals’. At the airport in New York, I bought a paperback copy of ‘Manitou’. I read it straight through and knew it was a great film. I got off the plane in London and called one of my associates in Hollywood and said, ‘Sell the cars, hock the office equipment, do anything you have to do to get it, but get it today’.” – William Girdler, told to the Louisville Times, 1977

It would be easy to describe The Manitou as “a Native American version of The Visitor” — but such a thing does injustice to the many other strands of unpredictable weirdness that infuse this brainbomb with enough chutzpah to give it its own distinct flavor. After gaining considerable steam with prolific fare like Day Of The Animals, Grizzly and the Blax-orcist wonder Abby (see: our midnight show on October 11th), exploitation wunderkind William Girdler churned out this ultimate filmic statement right before his untimely early death at age 30. Zack Carlson of the Alamo Drafthouse sez: “An impossibly ambitious feature that pits Tony Curtis in a kaleidoscopic transdimensional war against an evil Native American dwarf that emerges from a lady’s spine. This all takes place in a hospital that’s also a gateway to an alternate universe. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the doctor exploding!” The hidden pleasure buried amongst the bombast is Curtis’s utter amazement at pretty much everything onscreen — whether through his crazily cocked eyebrows, flubbed lines or a general bemusement, Curtis is our trusted tour guide through the holyfuckingshit hinterlands of this all-out assault on reality.
Dir. William Girdler, 1978, 35mm, 104 min.