This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Does anybody remember reading a news story back in, oh, around 1969, about this kid in Japan who developed a strange tumor on his body, and when they examined the tumor it turned out to contain a human fetus?
No? Funny: I don't remember it either, and yet at the end of “The Manitou” a big message flashes on the screen. “Fact!” it says, and then it tells about the kid in Japan. Maybe stories like that have a way of getting overlooked. The Cubs were doing pretty well in 1969, as I recall, and Nixon had just taken office, and, what with one thing and another, maybe we all just overlooked the big story from Japan. What's interesting is that “The Manitou” finds it necessary to claim a factual basis for itself, at the end of easily the least plausible thriller since, oh, “Infra-Man.”
The plot can easily be summarized, but first this announcement: If you happen to be drinking hot coffee at the present moment, please set your cup aside, because elements of the scenario might cause you to begin shaking with helpless laughter and you could spill the coffee on your rug, dog, cat, mate or newspaper.
All set? “The Manitou” stars Tony Curtis as a phony psychic whose former girlfriend (Susan Strasberg) is hospitalized with a tumor on her neck. The tumor is unusual, doctors determine, in that it seems to contain a human fetus. They try to treat it with radiation - assuring, of course, that it will develop into a monster - and then Curtis decides to take his own measures.