Maniac (1980)

R   |    |  Drama, Horror, Thriller


Maniac (1980) Poster

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

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6.5/10
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  • Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980)
  • Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980)
  • Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980)
  • Maniac (1980)
  • Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980)
  • Joe Spinell in Maniac (1980)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


29 July 2006 | drownnnsoda
7
| Maniacal For Sure.
"Maniac" is one of the few horror movies that I have seen that actually got under my skin a little. It made me feel uncomfortable while I watched what was happening on screen, and very few movies have ever done that to me. The movie follows a psychotic murderer as he wanders the streets of New York City, in cheap restaurants, rundown apartment complexes, and subway stations, searching for his next victims, each of them savagely murdered.

The plot for this movie may not seem very scary, but the way the movie is crafted is genuinely grisly and really made me feel uncomfortable. Rather than going from the victim's point of view as they are slashed to pieces (like most horror movies tend to do), this movie rather focuses on the actual killer himself. We learn about the abuse that he suffered as a small child at the hands of his domineering mother, which is presumably the reason he's become a murderer, taking out his own personal revenge on other people. The one thing about this movie that was so interesting was how the audience got to enter the mind of the killer, so to speak. Joe Spinell gave an excellent performance as the maniac in this movie, he portrayed a tormented human very well. There are some very grisly murders throughout the movie, all of which are fairly gruesome. But the most disturbing aspect to the film was the sense of psychosis that the killer is experiencing.

"Maniac" is surely similar to "Psycho", which makes me wonder whether or not the writers of this film were basing the plot on the real life serial killer Ed Gein, who also grew up with an abusive mother and suffered psychological problems later on as an adult, which ultimately drove him to grave-robbing and murder. There are some striking similarities between the story of this film and Ed Gein's life.

Overall, "Maniac" is one grisly, nasty movie. It displays the psychological torment that many real-life serial killers suffer from and does a good job at it, leaving it's audience uncomfortable in their seats. And from what I have seen, not many movies do that. 7/10.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's distributor had a unique campaign to support its release in New York: mini-screen kiosks were set up in front of theatres that were showing the film in 1980 that had several minutes of uncut footage, including gory murders. However, the campaign backfired when Gene Siskel condemned it on both his regular TV reporting and "At The Movies", leading to a backlash against the film's violence and the cancellation of plans to have the kiosks used in such major markets as Chicago and Los Angeles.


Quotes

Rita: Don't kill me. Don't kill me. Frank, don't kill me.
Frank Zito: No, no. I'm not going to kill you. I'm just going to keep you so you won't go away ever again!


Goofs

The nurse cries "Open up!" even though her mouth never moves.


Alternate Versions

The Finnish and Swedish VHS versions is cut with 3 minutes, it's missing the throat slit in the beginning, several scenes where Joe Spinell cuts the dead womens' forehead, Disco Boy's (Tom Savini) head exploding when Spinell shoots it with a shotgun (along with blood spreading to Disco Boy's date), a knife through the body in the ladies room, and of course the final massacre where the wax dolls butcher Spinell (rips his hands, guts, and finally his head off). The cuts have been made in a substitution technique, that when the "shock" scenes start, the frame stops to a freeze-frame, and we can hear the soundtrack going on (this is that the soundtrack wouldn't have to be cut).


Soundtracks

Compliment Your Leading Lady
Written by Don Armando/
Coati Mundi (as Andy Hernandez)
Performed by Don Armando's 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band
Courtesy of ZE Records

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Horror | Thriller

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