Don Maxwell is an ex-vaudeville ham, wanted by police, who has now found himself as the unlikely assistant to Dr. Meirschultz, a mad scientist in the business of reanimating corpses. Maxwell's gift of impersonation gets him and Meirschultz past the guards and into a morgue where they use a special serum to revive the corpse of a pretty young woman. But that's nothing. Dr. Meirschultz has a heart beating in a jar of solution and is eager to put it into a corpse that really needs it. Meirschultz gives his assistant a gun and advises him to commit suicide, so that he can put the heart in him, but Maxwell shoots and kills the scientist instead and hides the body. People will miss Meirschultz, Maxwell quickly realizes, but no one will miss his lowly assistant; and so Maxwell dons eyeglasses and a fake beard to become his onetime benefactor. The trouble is, he impersonates the mad doctor too well and goes crazy himself. Written by
In the 1980s, thanks to the Brothers Medved, "Plan 9" earned the reputation as the worst film of all time. In the 1990s, thanks to MST3K, "Manos, the Hands of Fate" earned the worst film moniker.
Allow me to submit the film "Maniac" as the very worst. This film is so wretched, so fallible, so awful, it's impossible not to have an opinion about it.
"Maniac" is a film of almost no reputation. However, cult film critic Danny Peary called it the very worst. It's easy to see why. "Maniac" has almost no frame of film that is expertly produced. The film is grainy, shots are poorly executed, actors are rendered unseeable by being filmed standing behind test tubes.
"Maniac" easily has the worst acting in any film, from any time, any country. Overacting must have been a prerequisite to being hired for this film. Everyone talks in such an imposing, declaratory style, you'd think you were watching a session of Congress. At least "Plan 9" has professional actors such as Lyle Talbot; at least "Manos" has interesting characterizations. "Maniac" cannot boast any of that, except that actor Horace Carpenter once worked at Biograph with D.W. Griffith. What a comedown for him to be in this film.
Don't get me wrong; the film is a hoot to watch. From the incredible cat's eye scene to the cat fighting to the women fighting with syringes, "Maniac" has it all.
This film, made in 1934, may surprise people with its brief nude scenes. But it was a "roadshow" movie, so it's not really surprising at all. This was the kind of movie that could only be seen in burlesque houses or tent shows. Often, a promoter would put ads about the movie in the local papers, gaining huge interest in the film. The promoter would pitch a tent on the outskirts of town for the screening of the film. The promoter all too often would have to fold the tent and get out of town quickly, trying to avoid local authorities and local moral laws.
Do yourself, do your family, do your community a favor. Rent "Maniac" and see if you don't agree it's the worst ever.
You'll howl, you'll cry, you'll kiss your rental money goodbye!
See! Incredible eye-popping scenes! See! A bevy of chorus beauties! See! Mad scientists go even madder! See! How long you can stand watching it!
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