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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: May 25: Maniac


May 25: Maniac

"A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in NYC, kills young women and takes their scalps as trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in photographer Anna, and end his killing spree?"

Maniac is an incredibly f**ked up movie. The only reason I watched it was because I found out it was being remade with Elijah Wood as the star. After watching Maniac, Wood is in for one hell of a performance and it will definitely be like nothing you have seen him in before (except MAYBE as Kevin in Sin City). Maniac is what would happen if Alfred Hitchcock ignored the story and the masterful directing in Psycho, and made a festival of blood and gore with the feel of a grindhouse flick. 

Birds! Birds! Birds! Fly My Feathered Fiends!- the lost Hitchcock film we'll never be able to see. 

Maniac follows the story of Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) who roams the streets of New York City killing men and women because a voice tells him to do so. The voice comes from a seemingly second personality of Zito, who is his mother telling him to kill because he/she won't love him like she does. I think? The entire story screams Norman Bates from Psycho and Zito even uses female mannequins (with his victims scalps nailed on top) as a replacement for his mother. When Anna, a photographer, enters Zito's life, he feels she may be the answer to his problems and hopes to have a genuine relationship with her. Spinell does a great job in the title role and is genuinely disturbing, mumbling to himself and breathing heavily as he hunts down his next victim like a predator stalking his prey. I'm hoping that when he was alive (he died in 1989), Spinell was a nice guy because he's naturally creepy looking and Maniac definitely uses that to its advantage. 

Just imagine that face being the last thing you see as he slowly strangles you to death, his sweat dripping down onto your face and the sounds of him grunting echoing through your ears

Maniac is incredibly violent. The special effects and makeup were done by the legendary Tom Savini, who even makes a small (but important) appearance in the film. There is a very memorable scene with a shotgun that, although not for the faint of heart, is done incredibly well. Maniac will make you feel uncomfortable, claustrophobic, and very disturbed and, quite frankly, is the reason I would recommend it. It's not a masterpiece, by any means, but it's a nice look back at what the horror genre was in the 1980s. 

The Good:
incredible effects by Tom Savini (seriously, look here, the guy is a legend, and quite the actor)
The Bad:
very little plot and dialogue, leading more to a series of over-the-top violence than anything else
The Ugly:
knowing a film like this could never be made today and wondering how the remake will even come close to the brutality of the original

Overall: 6.8/10


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