Maniac (1980)

One of the most graphically disturbing films of our time..

Maniac (1980)
Directed By: William Lustig (Maniac Cop, Maniac Cop 2, Maniac Cop 3:Badge of Honor)

The Prologue
You know, every now and again I keep hearing about a movie, or while looking into one movie another’s name keeps popping up and that was the case with this 1980 slasher. So like I always do I tracked down a copy and I’m pleased that I did because while sometimes it leads to a real stinker, this time I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Shot without a permit for the most part in New York City Director William Lustig and crew (including special effects master Tom Savini) shot Maniac in a hug part “gorilla style” and I think it adds to it as well as adds sparks to the firestorm that this movie got from a lot of folks including Legendary movie critic Gene Siskel, who was so disgusted by the infamous “shotgun head explosion” scene that he walked out of the movie, saying on his TV show with Roger Ebert that the film could not redeem itself after the ultra-violence that he had seen.

Now now Gene, let’s not go THAT far.

The Movie

This movie came out unrated because the folks behind it knew with all the gore (including the infamous gunshot to the face scene mentioned above) 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 gets it’s time to shine on DVD today.

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 main stream side of things will find themselves hiding behind their chairs while watching this one if they give it a shot.

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 your 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 NY and all, would be well populated at anytime, and I think it would be highly unlikely they’d seem to just vanish without much of a reason.

While Joe’s role as Zito is played to a T, others in the film, namely a few of his victims seem to be really trying to hard in the roles they play..perhaps it’s because a few were actual porn-stars picked up for the movie in order to keep the price of things down?

Also once the movie gets a real plot going Zito meets a lovely British photographer by the name of Anna that he’d actually like to keep around rather than kill. I won’t spoil it for you as it’s pretty interesting. I just gotta wonder, Zito not being much of a looker and all, where the ladies are that look like Anna that settle for guys that look like Zito, because guys who look like your humble reviwer here would like to know..(haha)

None the less, it’s a real cult classic with tons of gore I think you will enjoy. Also if the ending of the flick isn’t enough to make your skin crawl I’m not sure what will.

The Conclusion
Oh the glory days of horror, when everything was more or less original and not just a remake or reboot. I wouldn’t be shocked to someday see a remake of this classic, since after all they’ve remade everything from Halloween to The Stepfather. All the more reason to get your hands on a copy of this and check it out yourself before all that starts.

By the way, for a quick fun fact the song “Maniac” from Flash Dance was actually written for and about this movie, but when it wasn’t used it was rewritten and used for that movie instead.

This movie isn’t near a 10, and most the time the funnest films to watch aren’t. But it’s way above average, even for it’s time in my honest point of view. So if you get the chance to watch it, then by all means watch it..It might make you think twice about going out tonight *wink wink*

The Rating (7/10)