Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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He's a Maniac, Maniac with a Knife

Do you think this guy is a serial killer? If you said, "Yes," you were right, in fact he's a maniac, the title character of 1980's Maniac. Joe Spinell came up with the concept, co-wrote the screenplay, and starred in this film directed by William Lustig with a plot that's so simplistic it's almost creepy for that simplicity, mainly because Spinell as serial killer Frank Zito is so perfectly disgusting, so much the epitome of a maniac.

Here's a guy who really didn't let vanity get in the way of his work.

Frank lives in a little apartment filled with dolls and pictures of women. He also has mannequins to which he staples his victims' scalps.

The film's explanation for his mental problems is a bit cliché but scenes of him stalking women--and he only kills women--are so roughly shot and the sounds of Spinell breathing over first person footage are so perfectly gross. This movie really expertly makes you recoil from it.

How could this guy ever make a connexion with a woman? Yet in the film's most inexplicable subplot, he sees a woman take his picture at the park, rifles through her purse when she's not looking, tracks her down to her apartment and, without even asking how he found her, she says yes when he asks her out.

It's Hammer horror vet Caroline Munro who seems drawn to Frank for no apparent reason. Really, it's mystifying. When he talks about how he likes photos because they preserve women forever, she happily engages in discussion about life and art. For goodness sake, lady, look at him--he's a maniac!

But this adds in a way to a dreamlike quality in the film, along with sequences where Frank has a much too easy time tracking down and killing a victim in a subway station. This is the kind of movie that should be found on a dirty VHS tape under greasy paper plates and cockroaches in a sketchy neighbour's closet.
Tags: horror, joe spinell, maniac, movies
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