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Maniac (1980) Review

Maniac 1980 Review

by Yo Adrian on September 13th, 2019 | | , ,

Maniac was directed by William Lustig (who also directed Uncle Sam and Relentless) and stars Joe Spinell (from The Undertaker, The Last Horror Film), Caroline Munro (from Night Owl, The Black Cat) and Kelly Piper (from Rawhead Rex). It’s about a disturbed guy in NYC who goes around killing and scalping women to make mannequin effigies of them, you know, to keep him company.

I warned you not to go out tonight.

Maniac Review

Maniac is a horror cult classic from 1980 that showcases the legendary special effects of Tom Savini. Savini, who also plays a role in Maniac as a party guy who gets his head blown into mash, was the man behind the blood that put Maniac on the map. Granted, by today’s standards it’s not so realistic, but back then it probably had people puking in their popcorn. Savini was also behind the SFX of horror classics including Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, The Burning, Creepshow and the lesser known Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile. So, needless to say Maniac is known for its gore.

The movie is about a schizophrenic guy (or a “schizo” as they were called back then) who is tormented by the memory of his domineering loveless mom. His outlet for this torment is a stalkin’ and a scalpin’. He kills often and chooses his victims at random. Some are hookers, some are just women trying to get home after a long day at work. Some are men that just happen to be standing between him and a sweet head of hair.

Maniac is a grungy and very depraved slasher flick. But, at the same time it makes you feel strangely sympathetic of Frank Zito, our resident schizo, who doesn’t actually want to hurt anyone. He simply has no control over his mental illness and doesn’t have anyone in his life to help him. This is a powerful aspect of the movie, Frank disgusts you, but at the same time you kinda feel for him. Any horror movie that can effectively pull this off is a winner in my book.

Worth Watching?

Depends. Maniac is a great among 80’s slashers, but it didn’t really age very well. It’s similar to Ms. 45 and Suspiria in this way. Both are cult classics for a reason, but if we’re being honest, the blood looks a lot like ketchup. And when someone gets stabbed they die pretty much instantly. But, I personally love that about old horror movies, it’s nostalgic and doesn’t take away from the impact of the experience whatsoever.


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