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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>
When the film's poster appeared on a billboard on the property of the R&B Custom Shop in West Hollywood, the owner was so disgusted by the violence displayed she and several of her friends actually painted the billboard white. See more »
When the prostitute gets scalped, fresh blood runs down her face. However when Frank pulls off the scalp, the blood appears splotched or dried up. See more »
The director's cut, released on DVD in the US, is actually shorter. Although it contains all the graphic violence, a scene depicting Joe Spinell in a hotel room with a prostitute has been shortened. Another scene showing Joe and the photographer in a restaurant has been completely removed, but is added to the DVD as an extra. 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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