Maniac (1980)

Nowadays Slasher films are glossy, with beautiful houses and locations; full of pretty, young things with tight, muscular bodies that writhe around the screen provocatively whether it’s a sex scene or they’re being hacked to pieces. The killers are beautiful and the violence is so artistic that it’s hard to be repulsed by any act they commit, because it’s so unrealistic that you could never imagine yourself in that situation.

The horror of the 70s and 80s had a seedy quality to it that is rarely replicated. Shot with tiny budgets, on 16mm, with actors that weren’t the spoiled stage school brats all grow’d up that modern films are rife with, we see shaky acting from normal people free from botox and silicone, amid grimy locations and a realism that gets under your skin, much more than the stilted, over rehearsed offerings from the Hollywood Hills.

Frank Zito’s mommy was a hooker but not the kind with a heart of gold. She was the kind that locks her kid in a cupboard while she ‘works’. Now he’s a creepy looking man with a moustache any paedophile would be proud of, and a penchant for killing women, scalping them, and attaching said scalps to the array of shop mannequins he has around the home. This happy little home life works out just fine until the poor serial killer falls in love with a photographer named Anna, and well, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’ …

Maniac is as seedy as a film gets and more. Tom Savini’s ultra violent and realistic FX, coupled with Joe Spinell’s sweaty, almost pitiful portrayal of a deranged man who never had a chance to be normal. There are echoes of Psycho and indeed Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but it’s gritty, and almost nihilistic approach, put the film in a league of its own. Chilling and suspenseful, right up until the grisly conclusion, the claustrophobic and atmospheric direction makes for a satisfying, if not uncomfortable viewing experience.

Rumour has it that a remake is in the works with Elijah ‘Frodo’ Wood slated to play the role of Frank. I can only hope that this is a sick joke on the part of the internet gossip generator and the studios won’t try to fix something that sure as hell wasn’t broke in the first place …

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This entry was posted in critique, fiction, film and media, horror, opinion, poetry, pop culture, rant, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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