Maniac (1980)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  6 March 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 9,585 users  
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


You can lock your windows and doors...But you can't lock the madman out of your mind. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Gene Siskel was so disgusted by the infamous "shotgun head explosion" scene that he walked out of the movie, saying on his television show with Roger Ebert that the film could not redeem itself after the ultra-violence that he had seen. See more »


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 »


Frank Zito: I told you not to go out tonight, didn't I? Every time you go out, this kind of thing happens.
See more »


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


Compliment Your Leading Lady
Written by Don Armando/Coati Mundi (as Andy Hernandez)
Performed by Don Armando's 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band
Courtesy of ZE Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Maniacal For Sure.
29 July 2006 | by (New York, NY, United States) – See all my reviews

"Maniac" is one of the few horror movies that I have seen that actually got under my skin a little. It made me feel uncomfortable while I watched what was happening on screen, and very few movies have ever done that to me. The movie follows a psychotic murderer as he wanders the streets of New York City, in cheap restaurants, rundown apartment complexes, and subway stations, searching for his next victims, each of them savagely murdered.

The plot for this movie may not seem very scary, but the way the movie is crafted is genuinely grisly and really made me feel uncomfortable. Rather than going from the victim's point of view as they are slashed to pieces (like most horror movies tend to do), this movie rather focuses on the actual killer himself. We learn about the abuse that he suffered as a small child at the hands of his domineering mother, which is presumably the reason he's become a murderer, taking out his own personal revenge on other people. The one thing about this movie that was so interesting was how the audience got to enter the mind of the killer, so to speak. Joe Spinell gave an excellent performance as the maniac in this movie, he portrayed a tormented human very well. There are some very grisly murders throughout the movie, all of which are fairly gruesome. But the most disturbing aspect to the film was the sense of psychosis that the killer is experiencing.

"Maniac" is surely similar to "Psycho", which makes me wonder whether or not the writers of this film were basing the plot on the real life serial killer Ed Gein, who also grew up with an abusive mother and suffered psychological problems later on as an adult, which ultimately drove him to grave-robbing and murder. There are some striking similarities between the story of this film and Ed Gein's life.

Overall, "Maniac" is one grisly, nasty movie. It displays the psychological torment that many real-life serial killers suffer from and does a good job at it, leaving it's audience uncomfortable in their seats. And from what I have seen, not many movies do that. 7/10.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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