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Ah The Manitou...

How many movies do you know in which an old lady, out of nowhere, starts dancing, chanting, then hovering down a corridor before falling down a flight of stairs?

Not many.

This cult oddity courtesy of William Girdler, director of such hits as Project: Kill and Day Of The Animals, is certainly the weirdest movie I've seen in a while. And by "weirdest" I mean "most awesome". The film sees Tony Curtis play a psychic (of sorts) whose partner discovers a growth on her neck. Of course, the growth starts to expand until it becomes apparent that a foetus is living in it. Surgeons make attempts at removing it but in vain, as the lump holds no ordinary child but rather the spirit of an old Native American medicine man who is reincarnating himself through this random woman's neck.

Why is that happening?

Who cares!?

It's happening and it's great.

Curtis spends most of the movie trying to figure out a way to remove the blasted lump before it kills his girlfriend so he travels to meet an old professor, played by an exposition-spouting Burgess Meredith, who is always entertaining, of course. He also attempts a sort of seance where a... head is somehow summoned and that doesn't help at all. Finally, he finds a Native American dude, John Singing Rock (Michael Ansara), who seems to know more about what is actually going on. He doesn't want to help at first but finally comes around. Things really get nuts in that last half hour, though. From then on: EVERYTHING that happens is gold. You've got the manitou crawling out of the woman's back, making everyone hallucinate, I won't give too much away but let's just say that it is quite possibly the most satisfying way that this movie could have possibly ended. The third act alone, frankly, is worth it.

Overall, though The Manitou will be too random and too bizarre for most, those into weird, cult horror films will have a ball. It's a unique, original piece of nonsense that's well made, very funny and hugely entertaining. You've definitely never seen anything quite like it.

Highly recommended.

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