The Manitou And Other Kitschy Horror Trailers
(The Manitou trailer)
Over the weekend, I went to a midnight movie at Chicago’s legendary the Music Box theatre. This was not just any midnight movie (although, pretty much any movie at midnight would have sufficed) but, rather, one in a series of films being shown that were originally distributed by the AVCO-Embassy company. This company is known mostly for distributed films like The Graduate and Escape From New York. However, Embassy was also known to have distributed exploitation fare – e.g., the kinds of films that would be shown in your friendly neighborhood grindhouse theater. These movies usually have more personality than ten of your garden variety blockbuster movies, but also have levels of competence and professionalism that couldn’t even make up one-tenth of the average googleplex fare. This is, of course, their inherent charm.
The midnight movie in question was a film called The Manitou. It, along with Beyond The Door and To The Devil…A Daughter, was one of the many films to try and ride The Exorcist’s supernatural horror coattails to financial success. Interesting thing about Beyond The Door was that the makers of “The Exorcist” sued because the former film resembled the latter to an uncomfortable degree. “The Manitou” doesn’t exactly step on The Exorcist's toes in the way that Door apparently does (judge for yourself by watching the trailer below), The Manitou does follow a similar template as The Exorcist.
The main difference between the two films is that while The Exorcist religious anxieties stem from Christian folklore, The Manitou milks its horrors from Native American legend. Oh, and Tony Curtis plays a tarot-card reader who has to save his former ladyfriend from a 400-year-old Native American Medicine Man who is growing as a fetus on said lady's back. And that Burgess Meredith plays a absent-minded Anthropology professor who recommends that they find another medicine man in order to combat the 400-year-old growing fetus. That the medicine man looks like a Native American version of Gene Simmons of KISS only adds to the surreality. Not only that, but there's Tony Curtis dancing to cheesy 70s funk music, gratuitous nudity and Satan-invoking midgets. You have to see this for yourself. I haven't even described the finale, which involves spirits (called "Manitous") being converted into electricity and channeled through the body of a half-naked woman. It's an unbelievable entry to the so-good-its-bad canon of cinema. The trailer is at the top of the post. Below you'll find several other vintage trailers.
(Beyond The Door trailer)
(Exorcist 2: The Heretic Teaser Trailer)
(Exorcist 2: The Heretic Trailer)
(Escape From New York trailer)
(House By The Cemetery trailer)
Another interesting trivia bit: one of the trailers (one I couldn't find) was for a movie I mentioned already called To The Devil...A Daughter. Basically, it's Rosemary Baby redux. But I looked the movie up on IMDB and saw it contained a line of dialog that went like this: "It is not heresy and I will not repent!" I thought that sounded familiar and, in a sudden flash, my metalhead junior high days came back to me. The line was sampled in White Zombie's "Super Charger Heaven" which you can download here:
Download: White Zombie - "Super Charger Heaven"