Maniac (1980)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  6 March 1981 (USA)
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Reviews: 175 user | 128 critic

A psychopath, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree?



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Abigail Clayton ...
Rita (as Gail Lawrence)
Kelly Piper ...
Rita Montone ...
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 ...


Frank Zito 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 D'Antoni takes a picture of him in the park, and he pursues and befriends her. Is she the one he has been looking for or just another mother wannabe? Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It will tear the life out of you. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maníaco  »

Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's distributor had a unique campaign to support its release in New York: mini-screen kiosks were set up in front of theatres that were showing the film in 1980 that had several minutes of un-cut footage, including gory murders. However, the campaign backfired when Gene Siskel condemned it on both his regular TV reporting and "At The Movies", leading to a backlash against the film's violence and the cancellation of plans to have the kiosks used in such major markets as Chicago and Los Angeles. See more »


The nurse is supposedly alone in the subway station, but during one shot (from inside the subway train as it pulls away) we can see several people walking about on the platform; they all disappear in the next shot. See more »


[looks down at his latest victim]
Frank Zito: Now you tell me what I should do. I heard about it, I always do. I can't go out for a minute. It's impossible. Fancy girls, in their fancy dresses and lipstick, laughing and dancing. Should you stop them? I can't stop them. But you do, don't you? And they can't laugh and they can't dance anymore. You've got to stop, or they'll take you away from me. I will never, ever, let them take you away from me. You're mine now forever. And, I'm so happy.
See more »


Referenced in Hell's Ground (2007) See more »


Winter Love
Written by Don Armando
Performed by Don Armando's 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band
Courtesy of ZE Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An interesting Flick
16 August 2006 | by (Sleesburg, VA.) – See all my reviews

Maniac is one of those hard to define flicks. Although, it would seem easy to lump this into one category because of the subject matter, this is actually a hard movie to categorize. It is not really a horror film and not really a slasher. Sure, it has its typical slasher suspense scenes with the random girl running and hiding from the killer and the gory moments are all there, but, there is something about this movie that separates itself from most of the others of its genre. This, in my opinion, is typical of Tom Savini special effects flicks from the early 80's. The grittiness, disturbing nature of most of those films will never be duplicated. And I am not talking about flicks like "Creepshow" or "Day of the Dead" (although, that one is disturbing), I am talking about films like "Friday the 13th", "The Prowler", "The Burning", and "Nightmare in a Damaged Brain" (even though Savini said he never worked on that flick it certainly looks like his style).

Maniac is simply about a man named Frank (played very well by actor Joe Spinell) who was tormented by his mother when he was very young. As a result of this, he grew up to be a sick person who murders woman, scalps them, and uses their hair to nail on to a collection of mannequins. He ends up falling in love with a woman named Anna (Caroline Munro), and when he sees her he seems to be a normal fellow. This all leads up to an interesting climax.

Now, the storyline is rather simple but the movie is suspenseful enough to hold your interest. I will admit, the first 40 minutes were a bit slow, but once when the story starts going more into Franks behavior when he is by himself and then when he acts towards Anna, things start picking up.

Of course, Savini's gore scenes are excellent just like the rest of his stuff. We get to see Savini in the movie himself in a rather famous scene where he gets his brains splattered all over the inside of a car. Though, as a gore fan myself, this is definitely not the goriest flick I have seen. But after listening to the cast and director talk about the movie, I don't think it was meant to be. Joe Spinell himself said that the flick wasn't as violent as a Hershell Gordan Lewis film but was meant to be more realistic and shocking. So, when watching this movie it is important to know this instead of going into the movie expecting a real gore-fest.

I enjoyed this movie, but that is just me. Many people don't like this movie, but if you haven't seen it yet this is for you to decide. I just hope this review helps out. 7/10

29 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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