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Plot: Frank Zito misses his mother, who was killed in a car accident years before. She was abusive to him, and made money selling her body, but Frank still misses her. He tries to keep her from leaving him, and reform her evil ways, by killing young women and putting their scalps on mannequins which he… Runtime: 87 min Release Date: 06 Mar 1980
Gory as hell no-holds-barred slasher flick. (by HumanoidOfFlesh)
"Maniac" is one of the most visceral examples of the horror genre.Along with Romano Scavolini's "Nightmare" 1981 it is one of the most disturbing horror films ever made.The killings presented here are cold-blooded,extremely brutal and gory."Maniac" in its almost pornographic depiction of violence makes any "Friday the 13th" film look tame.Joe Spinell is perfect as a maniac killer Frank Zito,who graphically murders and scalps his victims.Caroline Munro "Kronos","Slaughter High" is really hot as a young fashion photographer.The <more>
gore effects made by Tom Savini are simply spectacular-the head explosion scene has to be one of the most amazing moments in cinematic history.The amount of gore splashed in this sequence is incredible.The direction by William Lustig "Maniac Cop" series,"The Violation of Claudia" is well-handled,the acting is fairly convincing and the atmosphere is really ugly and disturbing.Definitely one to avoid if you're politically correct,but if you like confrontional stuff you can't miss it.10 out of 10.See it now!
One of the greatest Horror Films of All TIME! (by pinkeye)
From the amazing performance of Joe Spinell to the Brutal Make-up FX of Tom Savini, this is perhaps the mother of all Horror Slasher Flicks...Written to be "Jaws on Land"...this film captures to wonderful vibe on New York City in the late 70's
What A Slasher Should Be (by robertbisceglia)
Joe Spinell plays the great part of Frank Zito. In this movie we witness his blatant delusions and hallucinations and inner conflict with severe mental illness. He had a very traumatizing childhood and now enacts his revenge against any random person it seems. He prawls the gritty steets of 1970's New York and finds his victim for the night and his rush is getting the kill. Quite a timeless movie and concept, done exceptionally well by Lustig and Spinell.
Excellent Exploit/Slasher... (by EVOL666)
Gave this one a watch after not having seen it in a few years - and it still remains probably my favorite psycho/slasher-style film. There's a good balance of "atmosphere" with the brutal violence that makes MANIAC a twisted "classic"...Frank is a messed-up guy that has a big mommy-fetish. He goes around stabbing and scalping local New York girls to provide "wigs" for the mannequins that he lays around his apartment and talks to. He handles himself pretty well socially when he's not stabbing people and even goes on a few dates with one broad, that <more>
is...until he tries to choke her. Finally, Frank's delusions get the better of him...MANIAC is a rare film amongst the typical 80's slasher trash, as you actually get a look into his warped mind. Some of the scenes of him talking to his mannequins are straight-up creepy, and the way that he is shown to sometimes be a very pleasant guy is in strong conflict with his twisted tendencies, which is a refreshing way to write his character. There's a good bit of the red stuff for the gore-heads out there, including: several stabbings, a couple of scalpings, a gory dream sequence where Franks arm is chopped off and his head is pulled off, and of course, the "infamous" shotgun-head-blast. The level of violence plus a little nudity including a bit of brief full-frontal makes MANIAC an excellent choice for sleaze, gore, and exploit fans. Definitely Recommended - 9/10
one of the most disturbing character studies of all time for a specific reason (by Quinoa1984)
In brief: Talk about a poster being completely accurate to what the movie is! If anything it doesnt sell enough how WOW this is . Spinell, Lustig Savini are top of their game.Longer: I was glad to be there for one of William Lustig's Q&A'd after the movie hes an entertaining raconteur in particular for the background about how the idea for this movie came to be, since, as I was watching it and knew Spinell was also a co-writer , I wondered how the flying eff this came to be. There were two key points I took away from what Mr Lustig said, and these were:1 originally the <more>
screenplay was "more conventional," and had the kind of dual plotlines we see in certain detective movies and shows Dirty Harry just popped in my head as I'm typing this , where the audience follows the killer and the cop tracking him down. But Lustig found this boring, and decided to just take out the cop scenes. In fact, only once, at the end, do cops show up and there is no dialog for this particular scene as a side note, there was no deeper meaning intended for this, except that the cop "actors", actual cops, weren't any good at delivering lines . So by way of a kind of basic artistic daring it created a provocation, which leads to:2 the framing is what counts here, and Lustig and Spinell took as many serial killer tropes and types from mommy issues to Ted Bundy and Gacy to Son of Sam, this last one seemed like the major influence to me, ie replace the dog with mannequins and stuffed them into this one gutter-bag of a man, but again it is ALL from his POV. While Lustig cuts to showing what the women are doing when they are in Frank's cross-hairs and Tom Savini in one iconic horror scene , we don't get to know them really as people really outside of these scenarios entirely - not even Caroline Munro's photographer who Frank befriends, who gets to have the closest to a character arc of a sort - so this is ultimately not unlike one of those intense character studies that Scorsese did before Taxi Driver and after King of Comedy ... Only here, there's *only* the mania, and an audience will usually try to, you know, find some way in to a character is the lead. There's something about Pupkin or Bickle we can recognize as vulnerable or broken and yet there might be the trace of a soul beneath the mental illness... Here?I found this entire film so intense and yet so unnerving that I couldn't look away, even when I knew I should. The violence here holds up today not simply for the shock factor, though there is that this is one of Savini's major works as a make up artist, his own head being blown off as one key example , but because there is a lot of mental WTF-ery that is attached to Frank's pov. When we see him strangle a prostitute early on, he keeps flashing to another woman as he's doing it. And then when he does his...gulp, scalping, this isn't meant to be entirely objective.And it's not as though Lustig shows *every* muder in gory detail, though I'm not sure if that was restraint so much as him trying to keep a tone and pace that would work. So for example in that Savini scene, he gets the giant explosive death - sort of a next-level-of-Dawn-explosion - but he cuts away from the woman's demise just before it happens.A lessor director would show everything, every last one of them, but that leads me to the key point with this: this is a piece of pure, uncut 100% pure Grindhouse moviemaking, but what makes it emotionally disturbing is that the direction is so assured isnt sloppy or boring. When he moves the camera, it's done with purpose and to add psychological intensity. When he gets some really uncanny angles in Frank's apartment again, all on grainy 16mm, though restored in 4K it looks even crisper , it had the feeling of Italian horror. In a way this is Italian Giallo, except it isn't lying to us about who the killer is.And Spinell is fully omitted to this role, so much so that if I hadn't seen him in anything else before ironically hes in Taxi Driver, in the first scene interviewing Travis so that is what also makes this a home-run. The director and the writer/actor in sync and in control, and while I cringe and grip my seat and hope one woman can get away but likely wont oh that bathroom scene in the subway, my god! I know I'm seeing confidence in what is going on.... And it makes for a really rough and tough sit.Maniac is not framed as a story where we are going to identify with this guy - Id be worried about someone who does or did - but Lustig isn't asking us to laugh or dismiss it all as a freak or geek-show either. It's more along the lines of: this is ugly, but this is a lot of what these scumbags are, they're human beings, but these monsters aren't some abstract thing. In a sense this is a more honest slasher than a lot of what came out during that time; it's scuzzier, in part thanks to setting, and it has a bleaker and more surreal ending than most. And if someone decided to turn it off or walk out, well, I get that too. It's true grain provocative-genre alcohol.
Brutal, Gritty Trip Inside A Psycho's Mind (by marcusgrant-86630)
Wanna have your entire day ruined? Put in a copy of Maniac. It really is that grim. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's definitely something you have to be in the right mood for. There's no plot to speak out, but it follows the day to day life of terminally sweaty psycho, Frank, who walks up and down the grimy streets of early 80's NYC looking for new victims that he can scalp.Joe Spinell is genuinely brilliant as Frank and it's an unappetizing, unflinching performance. Caroline Munro looks lovely and is charming as Anna, Frank's unrealistic photographer love interest. <more>
If the film had a huge flaw it's that we never really know why Munro's Anna is so interested in Frank. Can't she see that he's skeevy at best? Something just feels off and it makes her look a bit like an idiot at times. Aided by Jay Chattaway's eerie score and Tom Savini's super gross effects work, Maniac is one of those movies that will stay with you long after you've watched it. Even a Silkwood shower won't help.
He's a Maniac, Maaaaaniac! (by TomBofthelivingdead)
This one's a sick flick. If Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer and The New York Ripper chugged beer till they were sick er , they would probably puke up Maniac. Mmmm, nice image, huh? Well, get used to it, cause if you're watching Maniac, you'll be seeing plenty of sick sh*t. You might wanna even skip the Suds & Buds. This one will kill your buzz and if you watch it with friends, they might expect an apology afterwards.So, Frank Zito an absolutely nutty Joe Spinell has Mommy issues. A lot of guys do... they just don't handle them the way Frank does. He destroys women <more>
and a couple guy who were unfortunate to be involved with the women Frank had his eye on . He's a creepy dude alright. You see, he has this thing for scalps. And as most girls are rather attached to theirs chortle , he's gotta take them. So he stalks young ladies till he finds a window of opportunity and then gets down to business.This is pretty much what Frank does with his life, till one day he meets a photographer named Anna. For some reason, Frank tries to play it normal with her 2 guesses how this turns out . He wines and dines her, all the while letting her keep possession of her scalp like a perfect gentleman. Things go swimmingly till Frank decides it would be nice to take Anna to pay his Mother's grave a visit. Frank kinda loses his grip and tries to get familiar with Anna's scalp. Anna thinks the date is over and flees accordingly, leaving Frank to stumble home to his rat-hole apartment and have a total psychotic breakdown and a happy ending is enjoyed by none.... except Anna's scalp.OK, so Maniac is not a date movie. This is that special kind of horror movie that exists to make you regret watching it, in the sense the it leaves one feeling kinda depressed and dirty afterwards like the other 2 movies I mentioned at the start . Let me state right now that I don't think it's "wicked cool" that Frank has it in for women. I have nothing but love and respect for women my Mom is a woman . But this isn't a nice movie.Actually, it's a very ugly and mean spirited movie. So why the good rating? Cause I can appreciate ugly, mean spirited movies. I mean, this IS a horror movie, right? This isn't mainstream Hollywood horror, like The Grudge or Final Destenation, where the idea is to put pretty people in precarious positions. This is low budget '80s sleaze. This is from an era when horror movies wanted to make you uncomfortable. And it does just that.The Good: Joe Spinell who also wrote the screenplay is, uhhh, very convincing. As are the effects, handled by the one and only Tom Savini. Speaking of Tom, he has a cameo in one scene as a disco dude taking a lady down to the docks for a little rub and tug... till Frank shows up and blows his head off one of my all-time fave gore effects, really, ya gotta see it . Some of the other effects are almost too much to bear.... which is a good thing? Seriously, if you're looking for a "fun" horror movie to watch, don't even bother with this. But, if you know what you're in for and you're still down, Maniac is nasty and truly horrifying.The Not So Good: See: ugly, mean spirited, nasty. Some people about 99.9% will wonder how and why this ever got made. As I mentioned above, some of the effects are really harsh. The first time we see Frank scalp a girl, it's really quite unsettling, to the point where if you don't dig stuff like this, you might feel sick. It could be labeled misogynistic and irresponsible but, I'm of the mind that if you watch this and think it's OK to scalp women, your screws were loosening already. Don't blame movies, music or books for f'd up people.
Going into Maniac I knew that it's supposed to be somewhat of a classic of 80s horror and that Tom Savini had his hands in the production. I can now say that it is indeed one of the better 80s horror movies and a huge reason is because of Tom Savini.The movie is about a guy named Frank who is a greasy, overweight, ugly-looking maniac. He's gone completely nuts over the years Ive heard from another review it was from war....which I don't remember from the movie and is totally obsessed with dressing up mannequins. Well he's mostly obsessed with scalping women and nailing the <more>
newly scalped hair to his mannequins which he keeps in his little apartment. The movie is pretty much about him trying to deal with and succeed in his maniac ways.The movie shines in three areas. I would first say the largest reason for it's success and popularity is the great effects for the death scenes. Tom Savini did a great job with this...possibly his best work. Secondly, the dude who plays Frank, Joe Spinell, does a pretty nice job playing his part. It's not that Joe is a great actor...definitely the best in the movie, but it's just the way he looks. Some people just have mannerisms when they speak or how they look that just make them stand out in a unique way. And when Joe plays a maniac, he seems to shine. He's a strange looking guy who's playing a strange character, and strangely it works. Strange huh? Thirdly the movie produced two great scenes that seriously delivered some nice suspense. One being in a subway and the other occurring at the end of the movie in his apartment. I hear about how this film had great effects, but I feel these scenes are under-appreciated a little. I can take a guess and say that Haute Tension definitely appreciated the bathroom/subway scene.Maniac is definitely a treat for the average horror fan. It has a weird, gritty style that some may or may not like, great special effects which all fans of horror will love, and a memorable maniac played by the late, great Joe Spinell. RIP. 7.5 outta 10
"I warned you not to go out tonight!" (by pzivojinovic)
This is quite possibly the best film depicting a serial killer, the story is about a serial killer who goes out onto the streets of New York city each and every night looking for his next victim, first stalking them and when the time is right "making his move". The killer played by Joe Spinell is very disturbed and unlike most horror films of the times it goes into the background of why he is the way he is, showing the reasons why people turn into such monsters. The character has deep hatred for women and most of his victims are indeed women, except in the scene where a couple are <more>
making out in a car and one of the most sickest and brilliantly done killings occurs the story also follows him during the day when he is not killing anyone, this lets you see just how insane he is, by the way he is so normal around people and even gets a girlfriend, but when he is alone just how sick his mind gets.There is a lot of scenes that would make even the veteran horror fans stomach churn. Banned in the UK ever since it was made way back in 1980 , as it was the last film to star the great Joe Spinell who died shortly after its release and he was very proud of it.I will leave you with the words of the late Joe Spinell "I don't even think of Maniac as a Horror Movie, the horrible thing is that people like this really exist"Overall rating: 8 out of 10.