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Reviews & Ratings for
Maniac More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: Zbigniew_Krycsiwiki from United States
11 July 2007

The obligatory mad doctor is killed by his even madder assistant, after unsuccessful attempts to resurrect the dead by transplanting a human heart in a dead body. Cue footage of old German silent films, shown with reckless abandon, and for no apparent reason. Assistant studies doc's notes to revive him, but can't, and decides to hide body behind brick wall in basement. Assistant was formerly a vaudeville performer, specializing in impersonations, assumes his identity, with the help of a make up kit- despite the fact that he's about 4 or 5 inches taller than the dead doc. Mrs. Buckley finds out and tries to blackmail him. The quack thinks his fiancée wants to kill him for his recent inheritance, and somehow arranges Mrs Buckley and fiancée to attack each other with over-sized syringes, hoping that that will take care of both problems. A cat fight ensues while the quack giggles maniacally before cops intervene, and find the doctor's body behind the wall. At the end, he claims that misery and humiliation drove him to it, and brags that he's proud of his supreme impersonation- from behind bars.

Congrats to you reading this, if that plot, or its mise en scène, makes any sense to you.

Whose idea was it to film the characters talking from behind a beaker numerous times throughout the movie? Whose idea was it to use what look like turkey basters as syringes? Did no one notice that the "corpses" are visibly breathing? Whose idea was it to put lengthy, ponderous intertitles throughout the movie? And then try to wake up the audience by putting gratuitous (but lame) nudity throughout the movie? Who says old zero budgeted grade Z flicks aren't fun?

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Think that "so-bad-they're-good" movies were invented in the 1950s? Think again!

Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
1 February 2007

Think that "so-bad-they're-good" movies were invented in the 1950s? Think again! Both "Reefer Madness" and the films of Dwain Esper had them beat. "Maniac" is his best known work, and while it doesn't have the wide appeal of "Reefer Madness" (for obvious reasons), its even funnier. These roadshow films were made simply to get nudity and violence past the censors by employing a social message as a shield. "Maniac" uses the flimsiest message (mental illness), and like all the films is a laughably inaccurate misunderstanding of an important topic. Often, Esper completely forgets this just to bring on the sleaze. These films weren't pre-code, but anti-code.

In addition to being interesting from a historical perspective, "Maniac" is a goldmine for psychotronic fans. Its a completely disjointed and surreal film with enough campy weirdness to rival anything by Ed Wood. There's stock footage from obscure silent feature "Maciste In Hell" (an equally fever-dreamlike experience if you're lucky enough to track it down), the eating of a cat's eyeball, a man who believes hes a gorilla, a fight between two women with hypodermic needles, and several of cinema's most hilarious psycho performances! What's not to love? (6/10)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: cpetr13 from United States
12 January 2007

Yes, this is an awful movie, but the people who came to see these films weren't looking for quality; they were looking for titillation. And certainly this film delivers the good for nudity, outre violence, and drug use.

What has always bothered me after seeing this movie is that I could swear they meant this to be a vehicle for Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye. First, there's the mad doctor part--certainly in Bela's range--and then there is that troubling, meaningless accent. To the best of my knowledge, Horace Carpenter didn't have an accent (and the one he uses in the movie is god-awful!) But the lines sound like they were meant for a central-European actor...especially one given to long tirades.

As for the assistant? Obviously Dwight was used to playing second fiddle to Bela, and in this movie would actually get to take over the movie! Even though Bela was noticeably taller than Dwight, Bill Woods appears to be shorter than Carpenter--I don't think the director thought that through.

Only a theory, of course, and unprovable as far as I know. But it makes more sense than the casting that WAS used.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Film and early docudrama?

Author: eavinci1 from United States
26 December 2004

I saw this film recently as part of a group of movies compiled and sold as horror classics. My one initial reaction was that I could not believe that a film made in 1934 allowed full frontal nudity and in several scenes. How did that happen? Did they get away with it by trying to be a docudrama of sorts? I wonder. I mean,after all it was 1934! You couldn't do that in Hollywood 20 years after that..............

The film has a brooding kind of energy, that is not often seen in early films such as this. It is clear that the person making the movie is was not your typical film maker.Even though it is not a film I would want to see again, many scenes from the film do replay in my mind.The film seems to have an impact on the unconscious mind of the viewer.I believe this due to the fact that the scenes replay in your mind almost begging for an explanation or perhaps redemption. The film explores the dark side of human desire.We all seem to want to peer in at those thoughts. Thankfully most of us only want to peer in!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a one-of-a-kind wonder...

Author: doug-may from phoenix, Arizona
12 February 2004

I just watched this last night and I may never be the same. It is absolutely sui generis and almost beyond analysis, let alone criticism. Yes, the "acting" was awful, although it's hard to believe that such deliberate scenery chewing was ever intended to be taken seriously. At one point in the beginning of the movie, the mad scientist says to his apprentice: "Once a ham, always a ham...." And that pretty much sums up the "dramatic" aspirations of this film.

Beyond that, though (and overlooking the cliched and ridiculous plot), the discerning trash aficionado will find a treasure trove of delights. There are wonderful, classic throw-away lines ("What DID you put in that hypo, doctor?" and the aforementioned conversation vis-a-vis rats and cats)as well as delectably Rubensesque B-girls with their breasts exposed, hilarious special effects, and crudely effective photo superimpositions taken from sources such as Christensen's Classic History of Witchcraft and Fritz Lang's Siegfried. Not to mention the public health messages that constantly interrupt the plot to amusing effect. The whole effect is strangely disorienting--like watching Dreyer's Vampyr on a mescal hangover.

Recommended to fans of "Plan Nine" and "Mesa of Lost Women" If you like this, you should also check out "Daughter of Horror" (aka "Dementia").

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Twisted fun from the 30s

Author: jz1360 from Boston, USA
14 July 2001

For those of you who enjoy bad films from the 30s, this is a can't miss. There is so much that is bad about this film (in a fun and mesmerizing way) that it's hard to know where to start. It is a disjointed experience for sure but very inspired. Just when you think there's some semblance of a story, there's a totally unrelated film title expounding the particulars of Dementia Praecox and there's an unrelated shot of a badly exposed fight between a cat and a mouse. (Subtle metaphors anyone?) This film is made by the Meirschulz and Don Maxwell comedy team. Meirschulz (Horace Carpenter, a stock character of 30s poverty row films--check the hilariously inept western The Irish Gringo sometime) is the prototype laughing and hand-wringing German mad scientist. Maxwell (Bill Woods, a Kramer from Seinfeld ringer) is the failed vaudeville "impersonator" who slavishly does the mad dr's bidding. I'll leave the rest of the story for your viewing, but believe me, this film has all-time classic moments. Take the otherwise meek Mr. Buckley, bring him into Meirschultz's office and deliver a shot of superadrenaline. Buckley's seething, slobbering reaction and his inspired "brain on fire" speech is worth the price of admission.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: baker ( from SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND
28 April 2001

I could not belive what i had seen when i finished watching this.i had to watch it again straight away and my fears were confirmed,i had just seen (TWICE) the worst film ever made.if you are a fan of b-movies dont miss this one,it makes ROBOT MONSTER look like STAR WARS and any ed wood films are like spielbergs compared to this.The acting is terrible throughout the film and the scene where ted edwards is injected with the wrong hypodermic has to be seen to be belived.A classic of ultra bad film making,buy it today and be amazed.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Z-grade Shock Films Can Be Fun.

Author: danann1972 from United States
6 September 2006

If your looking for a serious drama; horror; or educational film, More than likely this Is not for You. However if you enjoy watching oddball movies or grade Z movies, Maniac might be worth watching-- At least for a laugh.

Maniac is basically a shock movie. It images and quotes from out dated perceptions, as well as scientific writings from the turn of the twentieth century about criminology and psychology.

All of the "science" cited in this film was actually out of date by 25 years at the time of this movies copyright. Example: the term dementia preacox was replaced with schizophrenia by 1900.

Maniac uses images of cat fights, sexual assault, over the top "manic" acting and even a scene where a cats eye is ripped out and eaten. With all the references to cats, even a story device based on Poes "The Black Cat", I was left wondering what's the deal with the cats?

The best images in this movie are when scenes from other movies over-lay ed in the film. The movies of note: Witchcraft Through the Ages and Siegfried. (Both these German silent movies are worth seeing if you liked the imagery of Maniac.

My Conclusion is That Maniac is a silly, fun movie to watch in the same vein of Reefer Madness, Glen or Glenda, or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Just make sure you you turn your brain off.

This movie may not be suitable for your young kids.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

First impressions

Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
9 May 2004

Maniac is a badly conceived and executed film from 1934, with only wacky characters populating the reels saying and doing bizarre things. There's syringes waved about in nearly every scene, bare female breasts occasionally, a cat's eye popped out, a cat-fight, so many verbal and filmic non-sequiteurs it must have been made on the hoof. Maniac could have lasted a couple of hours if all the dropped threads had been picked up - just think what a state we the audience would have been in! I presume the Wild Man was still raping the naked reanimated woman at the end?

And yet after the the 50 minutes were up I felt vaguely satisfied and could have stood a bit more of this crazy world. Even with all of the on-screen tutorials this was not a pretentious film like Blazing Saddles or irredeemable like Plan 9, what you see is what was basically intended in the first place. It took me many plays in the 70's to fall in love with Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, maybe I've got to see it again to move Kane off No. 1 spot ... Maybe I could have done with a few familiar faces - Lionel Atwill, Bela or Boris, or ... Dwight Frye!

No, it's OK as it is as splendid rubbish.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Excellent.. Simply excellent..

Author: scawt from Massachusetts, USA
23 August 2003

Ah, yet another terrific movie getting bad reviews because it is not the typical movie. It's an exploitation film, so review it on an exploitation scale! It's thoroughly entertaining, and some parts are even strange to this day. How many times do you see stuff like what happens to "Satan," the cat, or whatever his name is? It just doesn't happen often!

As far as an exploitation film, it's not as good as, say, Cannibal Holocaust, but it's not as bad as an exploitation-wannabe like Glen or Glenda.

A must see for anyone that can appreciate a movie, plain and simple. I bought it last night, and I've already watched it a few times, just because it is so delightful.

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