A psychotic man, 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?
An unknown killer, clad in World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35 year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 uncut 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 candles around the portrait of Frank's mother are lit; but when Frank returns home after murdering a prostitute, the candles are not lit. See more »
Don't kill me. Don't kill me. Frank, don't kill me.
No, no. I'm not going to kill you. I'm just going to keep you so you won't go away ever again!
[drives a switchblade into her heart]
See more »
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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