Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Manitou: I Declare This Day, Harry Erskine Day

I keep trying to find meaning in sub-par horror films that seem to only fill us with laughter and joy. Is that so wrong? Is there a written rule that says you cannot model your life after the things you see in movies such as The Manitou? There better not be, because starting today, I'm living every day like it's Harry Erskine day. Jesus Christ, what does that even mean? I'll tell you what it means. It means coming home from a long and stressful day of work as a fake psychic and putting on your disco beats full blast. It means pouring yourself a beer into a wine glass and making sexy dance faces while doing it.

It means sitting gently down in a weird dentist's chair and then having the phone ring and physically stating your distress by doing the "curses" fist shake.

Damn it. I am living my life like Harry Erskine and I don't care who knows!

If someone was to tell you: "Listen, I've got a movie for you to watch. It's about a woman with a tumor who finds out that that tumor is NOT a tumor, it's a fucking Indian Shaman reincarnating himself into a woman's tumor so that he can get back at the white man for taking his land."....would you say, "FUCK YES." or what? I mean, you have to say fuck yes because that's all you can say in this situation. How often are you going to get the chance to see a movie about an angry Indian stuck in a tumor in the back of some woman's neck?

Not very often probably. Hence the reason why The Manitou is one of the most important films in the world. I say we nominate it for the National Film Registry. Who's with me?

I think you get the gist of the plot but in case you don't let me reiterate here. Indian Shaman. Tumor. Shenanigans. Yup that's correct, the Indian Shaman possessing the tumor makes some crazy things happen. Things like making the doctor about to surgically remove the tumor suddenly decide to cut into his hand with the scalpel instead. The possessed shaman tumor also makes people yell things uncontrollably.

He sure is a feisty one.

Hey, you know what I love? Laughing hysterically about something and then crying. Wait scratch that I hate that! It's so cruel. This exact thing happened while watching the scene where old Mrs. Herz goes into a fit of seizure and then wildly cries out MAN-I-TOU MAN-I-TOU. It was hilarious, over the top and really fucking bizarre. But then something horrible happened....something that made me suddenly wish I was 5 years old again and resting peacefully in my mother's bosom. Mrs. Herz suddenly and without warning began eerily floating down the hallway!!!

I've said before that this is a safe environment and so I feel comfortable sharing things here that I've never told anyone. O.K. here it goes, I have a strange and irrational fear of old ladies mysteriously floating. I hate it! It's so fucking creepy. Why do they do that why?! See Death Becomes Her (NUNS IN THE MORGUE AHHH), House on Haunted Hill or The Craft (Okay not an old lady but Fairuza Balk is scary enough) for more information. Ahhhh I don't want to talk about it anymore, stop it!

Is it over? Phew. I wasn't expecting The Manitou to really prey on my latent fears of old women doing creepy things but damn it. I can tell you right now that if I watched that scene when I was a wee one I would be a very, very different person.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about The Manitou that I came to like so much. Perhaps just the honest truth that it's really an endearing film after all. It's pretty ludicrous in just about everything that it does and that is awesome. Where else can we find a seance where the "spirit" turns the table to a strange tar-like substance and makes his head rise out of the goop?

Nowhere but Manitou. It's just a film full of silly really--but for that, I love it. The writing is hilarious and cliche. The scares are funny and at times surprising (let's not mention the Mrs. Herz incident to anyone okay?) and helloo Tony Curtis AND Burgess Meredith? Pffft amazing.

Plus, as difficult as it is to put my bravery aside, I must admit that there are moments of The Manitou that are truly great in their own right. The "birthing" scene for instance and the actual first look at The Manitou IS kind of startling. Am I right?

Oh who am I kidding. He's gross and terrifying. I don't need to envision slimy, Shaman midgets crawling around on hospital floors while I'm sleeping peacefully in my bed alright?

He's very scary and I imagine that he is the direct cause of many people's childhood breakdowns. Overall, The Manitou is a lot of fun. It is about 15 minutes too long however but most of the other scenes and laugh out loud moments of ridiculous kind of make up for this. Plus it just keeps getting better and better. So a great deal of it doesn't make sense. So, the Shaman has an unnecessary and strange power to turn the hospital into a paper mache ice lair. so what? Has that ever stopped us before? Did we ever say, "Hey you guys you know what, having Satan be in a strange liquid form in a Church basement doesn't really make sense" ? Definitely not, and so I insist that we provide The Manitou with the same amount of YES as possible. Got it? Good. Besides, there's nothing better than having a really evil Indian spirit be just a guy in a rubber lizard suit.

I checked and it's true. There's nothing better....

....Seriously though, who's kidding who here? This is the best movie that was ever created.

I don't know about you, but a movie that inexplicably turns into naked Star Wars by its end, is a win in my book.


ScaryVisions said...

Wow...you watch a lot of movies!! I wish I had that type of pattern when it comes to movies. I would get a lot more ideas for my haunt blog if I did! Nice writing style and great blog.

Will Errickson said...

The movie is fun but the original Graham Masterton novel is loads better!

"I don't mind messing around with the occult when it behaves itself, but when it starts acting up, then I start getting a little bit of the creeps."
- Harry Erskine.

Will Errickson said...

Oh yeah, the scene with the old lady skating through the air is totally chilling in the novel.

Pearce said...

How come nobody ever told me about this movie before? People really need to keep me informed about this kind of thing. I need to track down The Manitou right now. Thanks for yet another awesome review!

deadlydolls said...

Yup, agreed 1000000% with everything you said. This is an IMPORTANT and INCREDIBLE film that has Tony Curtis discoing, wearing a wizard robe, and firing lasers at the the Native American medicine man little person that was born off of a woman's shoulder. That's also how I sell this film to friends and strangers: Tony Curtis discoing, wearing a wizard robe, and firing lasers at the the Native American medicine man little person that was born off of a woman's shoulder.

Nobody's ever said no.

Unknown said...

Oh my god. I wanted to read the book, but now I want to see the movie even more. Brilliant!

sarah said...

Oooh,I saw this when I was really young & couldn't remember what it was called to track it down. Can't wait to watch it again now, cheers Ms Andre *pours wineglass of beer*

Graham Masterton said...

Good to see that somebody appreciates THE MANITOU so much. I thought Bill Girdler was a little too taken with Star Wars at the end, but on the whole I think he caught the tone of the book really well.