13 April 2024
Maniac (1980)
88 min.
Directed by William Lustig.
With Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Gail Lawrence, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Hyla Marrow.
Okay sleaze horror.

Schizophrenic Frank Zito (a sweaty-faced Joe Spinell) deeply misses his dead hooker momma.

In spite of the fact that dear ma is long since six feet under, Frank keeps her memory alive by stalking various women around NYC: scalping them, then bringing home their hair and assorted accoutrements as dressings for his mannequins.

Maybe meeting lovely photographer Anna (Munro) will stop Zito's deranged crimes?


This Ed Gein-flavored splatter has a few highlights, but it suffers in its lack of attempt to distance itself from the arm's length of its sick protagonist.

A causal, casual understanding of serial killing is best left to the worlds of psychiatry & academia. In Maniac, we see way too much of nasty Frank. And as such, we're left less fearful of him than we should be.

Without a more carefully drawn characterization, Spinell's grunting portrayal of the disturbed Frank is all gaseous blathering. Instead of feeling like we just watched a harrowing portrait of a truly disturbed mind, instead we just feel like we took a grime bath, is all.

But it doesn't really matter. Tom Savini's gory makeup FX are the real stars here. And Maniac does boast a few memorable bits, including a well done hide-and-seek sequence in the subway, not to mention that head explosion scene.

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