The 10 best scenes from The Manitou, an Exorcist rip-off about a naked laser dwarf shaman

What if The Exorcist was about a tumor on a woman's neck that turned into a lil' evil Indian shaman who can fire lasers out of his hands? Then you'd have The Manitou, the best movie about warlock teratomas ever.

For such a shlocky film, William Girdler's The Manitou had a fairly star-studded cast — this 1978 movie starred Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg, and Burgess Meredith cameos as a doddering old professor. Star Trek fans will also recognize Syrian-born Michael Ansara (a.k.a. the Klingon Kang) as the Native American equivalent of Father Merrin, John Singing Rock.

In a nutshell, the movie is about a poor woman who grows an ancient Indian demon, Misquamacas, out of the nape of her neck. It's the kind of film that's an absolute chore to trudge through all by your lonesome, but it becomes a laugh riot when watched en masse. For those of you who have no time to invent drinking games based on this forgotten crap classic, we've culled the 10 best moments out of The Manitou for your viewing pleasure.


Sure, there are scenes that we're leaving out (i.e., the rubber-suited "lizard demon," the scene where a doctor spontaneously combusts for no apparent reason, Burgess Meredith making up his lines for 10 minutes), but those are for true Manitouniacs to find on their own.

1.) Tony Curtis, funk psychic.
Tony Curtis plays Harry Erskine, a psychic who's aware he's a phony. When he's done reading old ladies' tarot cards, he takes off his Aleister Crowley robe and unwinds...hard. He doesn't even time to clean up spilt beer!

2.) The evil tumor mind-controls an oncologist.
Harry finds out that his gal pal Karen (Strasberg) has a mysterious tumor on her neck. During the surgery, the lead doctor tries to cut his own hand off (this is an important plot point). To stop him, one of the doctors gets all Warren Sapp on his ass.

3.) Old lady randomly loses her shit.
During a routine faux-psychic reading with Harry, some nice old lady freaks out, floats down a hallway, and wipes out an entire staircase with her hulking frame. Note Harry's superfluous slow-motion run and his requisite fake psychic fake mustache.

4.) Next, the evil tumor psychically controls a surgery laser.
Where is this hospital? In the Death Star?

5.) John Singing Rock's exorcism fee.
95% of Michael Ansara's dialog was seemingly written to make him sound like Iron Eyes Cody's Muppet stepbrother. The other 5% are pure hot fire. Like this one.

6.) Misquamacas is born, Kuato-style.
The background music turns the birth of an evil wizard dwarf into The Boston Pops Do Aaron Copeland.

7.) John Singing Rock's Awesome Lines, Part II.

8.) The hospital becomes The Fortress of Solitude.
John Singing Rock has contained Misquamacas using some shamanistic circle thingamajig. Harry goes downstairs to get a soda or something, and "The Star Beast" has frozen the entire hallway. Also, Harry battles Misquamacas with a magic typewriter.

9.) Harry's plan = throw more typewriters at Misquamacas.
Everyone agrees that this plan is totally fucking stupid. They instead assent to fighting the dwarf by flipping switches in the hospital's basement.

10.) The naked laser finale.
Misquamacas turns a hospital room into space, summons "The Great Old One," and begins tossing hadoukens at everyone. Karen uses the hospital's generators' manitous to fire lasers out of her hands. It's too pixelated to see, but she is topless (NSFW link).

BONUS: John Singing Rock gets paid, the totally perplexing coda text.
"Thank you for exorcising my girlfriend. I am strangely unhappy that I didn't get to chat with that Indian demon who tried to kill us a bunch of times. A half-dozen innocent people died. Here is $8.75 worth of Drum I picked up at the 7-11."

Illustration for article titled The 10 best scenes from The Manitou, an Exorcist rip-off about a naked laser dwarf shaman

Also, this absolutely perplexing text plays out the film. So there you have it, The Manitou in less than 10 minutes. If you want to watch this gem in full, voila.


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FWIW, The Manitou was written by horror novelist Graham Masterson, who penned several sequels chronicling the further adventures of Harry Erskine and his battles with Misquamacas, as well as the above classic.