Maniac (1980) (30th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition)
Directed By: William Lustig
Where to get it: Blue Underground
Right now everyone is all happy about the re-release of Maniac by Blue Underground on Blu-ray next month. But today we are going to take a look at the original two disc 30th anniversary edition that I assume will be harder to find once the other comes out. This version is loaded with extras and of course features an awesome movie. The only negative side is the transfer which I assume really couldn’t at all be helped.
Frank Zito (a career performance by co-writer/co-executive producer Joe Spinell of ROCKY and THE GODFATHER fame) is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Now Frank has begun a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME), yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a MANIAC.
This movie came out unrated because the folks behind it knew with all the gore (including the infamous gunshot to the face scene) that it would get an X. So they by passed it all without even going through the MPAA and kudos to them for that. So now thanks to the fine folks at Blue Underground this cult classic got it’s time to shine on DVD, this 30 year anniversary Blu-ray, and soon a single disc Blu-ray. This gore soaked tail of a schizoid serial killer randomly stalking and killing various young women in New York, which he sees as revenge for the mistreatment he got while being raised by his own abusive mother, is one any horror fan will enjoy. Even those who tend to only stay on the mainstream side of things will find themselves hiding behind their chairs while watching this one if they give it a shot. I admit upon my first watch of this movie a few years back it didn’t really hit me. Now after a few re-watches I greatly enjoy it for its performances and creepiness.
However that’s not to say this film is perfect by any means, because it isn’t. See our main man here Frank Zito (played perfectly by the late Joe Spinell) finds very gruesome ways of killing the people he picks to kill and at times while he’s got them in a death grip of a choke or slitting a throat here or there, these ladies are still able to talk and scream very loudly, sometimes in well-populated places yet nobody in New York City seems to hear it? Never mind the fact it’s New York, if you’re getting the life choked out of you or you are having your neck sliced I don’t think it’s very likely you’ll be able to scream. I assume. I hope I never have that happen to me in order to find out. Also the New York thing comes into play again as once during the film a woman is being chased in a subway where people seem to be there one moment and be gone the next. I think that place being in NY and all would be well populated at any time. And I think it would be highly unlikely they’d seem to just vanish without much of a reason.
Of course all of that could just be seen as nitpicking and I probably shouldn’t even mention that sorta thing in a horror movie.
We could also make a case of how this beautiful woman falls for our crazy killer to the point they seem to be on the trail of love before Zito’s crazy ways shine through. But who knows? Maybe Zito was just a pimp on a whole other level. None the less if you want a slasher with a cool killer, a sleazy killer, and some kick-ass gore, this is the film for you. It gets better on each re-watch and I became a fan of it when I gave it a second chance sometime back. No matter which version you pick-up from Blue Underground you’ll be a winner on this purchase.
The movie is great for what it is. The only trouble you’ll have with this film if you snatch up the Blu-ray version like I have here is the transfer. There isn’t a whole lot to pop and tickle the eyes in this film. That being the case most Blu-ray fans might not find this up to their expectations. Also if you get the new single disc version on the way you should take note that it is the same transfer minus the awesome extras of this version.
The Rating (7/10)
Disc 1 Extras:
Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Joe Spinell’s Assistant Luke Walter
Anna and the Killer – Interview with Star Caroline Munro
The Death Dealer – Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini
Dark Notes – Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway
Maniac Men – Interview with Songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky
Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel
Disc 2 Extras:
The Joe Spinell Story