No famous names in the cast, no grotesque gore effects and not that much morbid humor in the screenplay. This episode doesn't feature any of the usual "Tales from the Crypt" trumps, yet it surely ranks amongst the absolute finest installments of the entire series! Instead of the usual good stuff, "Maniac at Large" offers a fairly intelligent story, a constant creepy atmosphere and most of all truly uncanny music. There's exclusively one setting, an ancient downtown library, and that definitely contributes to increase the claustrophobic ambiance John Frankenheimer obviously wanted to create. The city of Los Angeles (I think) is under the spell of a serial killer who already wasted seven victims and whose vile actions are exploitatively described in the newspapers. The sensible Margaret, who's new in town and just started working in the library, is petrified and begins to suspect everyone who enters the library as a potential murderer. The twist ending is rather predictable, but nevertheless pleasing and totally unique in the history of "Tales from the Crypt". The uncanny silences are filled up with spooky music similar to tunes used in some of the greatest horror classics ever made and the fairly unknown cast gives away terrific performances. Trained horror fans will recognize the charismatic veteran Irwin Keyes ("The Exterminator", "House of 1.000 Corpses") in a too brief cameo appearance. Very good episode, highly recommended to fans of the franchise as well of fans of old-fashioned spooky horror.
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