I wanted to watch a gritty, brutal slasher and I think I found just what I was looking for with Maniac. You have guaranteed gore factor with Tom Savini providing the color for the more grotesque scenes. I had reviewed the remake with Elijah Wood previously and been pretty impressed with the realism. It's seriously stomach churning. This movie is no different. It still creates that pit in your stomach.
Frank Rizo is a troubled man with issues stemming from his mother's death. He misses her and it drives him over the edge. We watch his insanity eat him alive as he tries to cope while doing some really terrible things. His victims are a number of women in New York. He always retrieves the scalp of the victim and nails them to mannequins in his apartment. But he has attracted the attention of the police and now things are getting a bit too heated. You can relate this to a modern day telling of the old Jack the Ripper tales.
Rizo is a demented, tormented figure that's terrifying and real. Portrayed by Joe Spinell in a twisted way. This character makes Psycho's Norman Bates look like Charlie Brown. You also spend a great deal of time with Rizo, watching his day-to-day life. It tends to put you into his head-space and that is a scary thing.
Tom Savini does a great job with the blood and gore. The effects are noticeably from the eighties and it makes it that much more realistic. It's a trait that's long forgotten in today's pictures. I think that is why I spend so much time watching movies from the Second Golden Age of Horror. Arguably, the last great decade in horror movie history. Effects from that era are practical by necessity. It adds needed depth to the storyline. With each slice and dice you flinch and avert your eyes. As if the horror on the screen were real. But it's not. You just have to keep reminding yourself that this is just a movie. Today, films might be getting back to this logic. Unfortunately, a lot of it had to do with the time and lack of technology. I wont ramble about this any longer but I will write a book about it. Keep your eyes open for that.
Yes. This movie is recommended for those that want to get more into horror. However, I warn you. This is not a movie that is recommended for parties or gatherings. Not unless you are okay with being "That Guy" from now on. This is best only watched by yourself, in a dark room, at night. You can assure you will obtain maximum fright. As always do not be judgmental of a movies lack of finances unless it gets in the way of the storyline, and this movie doesn't do that. You should be fine.
Director: William Lustig
Starring: Joe Spinell,
Abigail Clayton, Caroline Munro, and Tom Savini
Style: Realistic Psychotic Slasher - Maniac
Studio: Magnum Motion Pictures
Did ya know...
William Lustig and Joe Spinell, say they didn't always have the necessary permits to film on location in New York City. Certain scenes (including the infamous shotgun through the windshield scene) had to have been filmed quickly and afterwards the crew had to run away before the cops arrived.
In order to keep costs down, several porn actresses, such as Abigail Clayton, were hired to play the victims and other minor female roles.
Gene Siskel was so disgusted by the infamous "shotgun head explosion" scene that he walked out of the movie, saying on his television show with Roger Ebert that the film could not redeem itself after the ultra-violence that he had seen.