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Maniac (1934)

Not Rated | | Horror | 11 September 1934 (USA)
A former vaudevillian gifted at impersonation assists a mad scientist in reanimating corpses and soon goes mad himself.

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(story and continuity) (as Hildagarde Stadie)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Bill Woods ...
...
Dr. Meirschultz (as Horace Carpenter)
Ted Edwards ...
Buckley
Phyllis Diller ...
Mrs. Buckley
Thea Ramsey ...
Alice Maxwell (as Theo Ramsey)
Jenny Dark ...
Maizie
Marvelle Andre ...
Marvel (as Marvel Andre)
Celia McCann ...
Jo
John P. Wade ...
Embalmer Mike (as J.P. Wade)
Marian Constance Blackton ...
Neighbor (as Marion Blackton)
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Storyline

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 J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What Are the Dangers of Desire? See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dwain Esper's Maniac  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$5,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several key cast members in the film are uncredited and their identities remain unknown, most notably the cat-farming neighbor, "Goof", as well as the detective, the skinny morgue attendant, and Maria Altura, the woman who Dr. Meirschultz brings back to life. The identity of the actress who doubles for Altura for scenes that require nudity has also not been identified. See more »

Goofs

When Maxwell takes the glasses off Dr. Meirshultz' (who is supposed to be dead), his eyes move and twitch. See more »

Quotes

Maxwell: I think too much of Satan to use cats as experiments.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Sexual Revolution (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

La Cucaracha
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by Thea Ramsey
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User Reviews

 
Very bad...but still light-years ahead of its time!
11 February 2005 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

This film is, in one word, DEMENTED! No matter how you try to look at it – either an early underdeveloped educative docu or an ambitious exploitation pioneer, you can only come to the conclusion that this is a masterpiece of awfulness! How else would you describe a movie that features images of fighting women in a basement (with baseball bats!) or a dude munching a cat's eye (which, by the way, has just been squished out)? The whole point of "Maniac" is giving some sort of anthology about all the possible mental illnesses through the adventures of a science assistant. Maxwell helps his employer with stealing bodies from the morgue and re-animating the dead tissue for the cause of science. When his boss (Dr. Meirschultz) becomes a little too obsessed, Maxwell kills him and replaces him in performing the art of mad science. In order to give the story an Edgar Allen Poe twist, he walls up the corpse and a black cat accidentally gets buried along. "Maniac" is one giant incoherent mess! Amateurish pacing, ridiculous dialogue and downright atrocious acting make it almost impossible to sit through this film even though it only lasts only a good 50 minutes. Bill Woods and Horace B. Carpenter overact terribly and especially their diabolical laughter is pathetic. And yet…I had a great time watching it and I have a great deal of respect for director Dwain Esper's risky and ahead-of-their-time ideas. Being a massive fan of eccentric exploitation and bizarre cult-films, I'm convinced that could have enjoyed a much more positive reputation by now if it only had been made in the period of sleaze-deities like Jess Franco or Jean Rollin. The editing of silent German expressionism highlights into the film is quite eerie definitely well attempted. Maniac also contains a lot of gore and even nudity, which is quite spectacular for a 1934 film. So, if you're not too easily disgusted (either by kitsch or awfulness) I recommend tracking this deranged early horror film down! I sincerely hope everyone involved in this production ended up in a mental asylum and lived happily ever after.


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