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Maniac (1980)

 -  Drama | Horror | Thriller  -  6 March 1981 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 7,977 users  
Reviews: 166 user | 121 critic

A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in NYC, kills young women and takes their scalps as trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in photographer Anna, and end his killing spree?

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Title: Maniac (1980)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Spinell ...
...
Abigail Clayton ...
Rita (as Gail Lawrence)
Kelly Piper ...
Nurse
Rita Montone ...
Hooker
...
Disco Boy
Hyla Marrow ...
Disco Girl
...
Beach Boy (as James Brewster)
Linda Lee Walter ...
Beach Girl
Tracie Evans ...
Street Hooker
...
Second Nurse
Carol Henry ...
Nelia Bacmeister ...
Louis Jawitz ...
Art Director
Denise Spagnuolo ...
Denise
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Storyline

Frank misses his mother, who was killed in a car accident years before. She was abusive to him, and made money selling her body, but Frank still misses her. He tries to keep her from leaving him, and reform her evil ways, by killing young women and putting their scalps on mannequins which he displays around his apartment. Photographer Anna takes a picture of him in the park, and he pursues and befriends her. Is she the one he's been looking for or just another mommy wanna be? Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Run from this man! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maniac  »

Box Office

Budget:

$350,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scenes in Frank Zito's tiny apartment were inspired by the Swedish thriller Man on the Roof (1976) with the claustrophobic setting and the quiet and suttle tone with the sounds of a dripping faucet, a ticking clock, and occasional sound of traffic from outside. The color and crude decor of the apartment and other sets were inspired from the color-theme sets of Italian horror thrillers such as Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), Blood and Black Lace (1964) and several others. See more »

Goofs

When the prostitute is describing her services to Frank, she says "For 75, I'll take you around the world." But her mouth don't match what she's saying. See more »

Quotes

Frank Zito: How come all your models are women?
Anna D'Antoni: Well, it's just something I'm interested in, as a woman. In fact, this is my fourth series. It's called "Women Form". Not very original is it?
Frank Zito: Well, it's not the title that matters that much.
Anna D'Antoni: No, I guess not.
Frank Zito: Do you get to keep them all?
Anna D'Antoni: I'm hoping to sell them.
Frank Zito: I wouldn't. I'd keep them forever.
Anna D'Antoni: But why? Part of my profession is to sell photographs. It's not all for art's sake you know.
Frank Zito: I know, but why do you take pictures of women this way?
Anna D'Antoni: I like to make ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Ilsa, the Wicked Warden (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Goin' to a Showdown
Written by Adriana Kaegi (as Kaegi)
Performed by Don Armando's 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band
Courtesy of ZE Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Claustrophobic gorefest with a bad reputation.
25 November 2001 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

William Lustig's MANIAC wasn't a critical hit in 1980, but it garnered the attention of horror fans in its gory homicidal story. It was a low-budget film with some disturbing violence which many people deemed misogynist (TOTAL BULLS**T) because he kills off women here. It's good to notice two of the best murders happen to the fellas too (Tom Savini gets it the worst obviously). But that aside, MANIAC is neither the best horror film of all time or most enjoyable, but damn is it intense.

Joe Spinell is absolutely strong in his portrayal of Frank Zito, a real man who has a nasty habit of slaughtering random individuals, mostly female ones so he can dress up mannequins with their scalped hair and clothes. This guy isn't Michael or Jason: when he bleeds, he feels pain. And because he feels guilty a bit over the tragic death of his abusive mother, he feels the urge to murder. Frank falls in love with Anna (Caroline Munro), a photographer who is unaware of Frank's dirty deeds, until Frank sets his unrested demon upon her in the end. The ending is bizarre, and the love story subplot feels a tad unsuitable (although the restaurant scene sets up some exposition, including the knowledge of Frank's mom being killed in an auto wreck). But when the gory carnage sets in, its realistic and graphic. Most other gore flicks seem timid.

The DVD version from ANCHOR BAY is a keeper, with audio commentary, a documentary on the late Spinell, the obligatory trailers/TV ads, a radio interview pitting the Spinell, Lustig and Munro against a DJ who roasts the film despite not seeing it, and some more angry comments from the critics in a "Gallery of Outrage". Tin box version contains the moody and effective Jay Chattaway film score on CD.


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