MANIAC (1980)

MANIAC (1980)

Director: William Lustig

Starring: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Tom Savini

maniac review

Maniac is the gold standard of slashers. I’ll go as far to say that Maniac is better than the original Halloween (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the original Halloween, it’s a personal long time favorite. In my top three, to be somewhat exact), and easily the first two Friday the 13th movies, or, really, any of the Friday the 13th movies, to be honest. Friday the 13th may have had more imaginative kills, but with Maniac there’s more of a story here, and there’s more of a character as opposed to a faceless killer with minimal backstory. It’s a movie you can watch over the the years and not grow bored with. Characters aren’t essentially marched in front of the camera and killed off.  Something else that elevates Maniac above all the others, and  what makes it the most disturbing is that this killer could actually exist. He’s not some super villain endowed with insane powers of bouncing back to life from every attempt on his life.

Joe Spinell’s performance is excellent. He’s absolutely believable as the tortured Frank Zito who lives a sad and mundane life vacillating between cold ruthless murderer to an emotionally destroyed soul who spends most of his time in isolation. He’s not someone who stands out. You would pass by him on the street without a second thought. He’s a Norman Bates type, but fully aware of what he’s doing. After some kills we see him reading about it in the morning paper, or watching the news, and you can see hints of shame and remorse in his reactions.

As the story progresses we learn he was physically and emotionally abused by his mother who died while he was still young, which did his head in for good. He sees her in the women he kills, which is confirmed when he murders Rita, as he keeps asking, “Why did you leave me? I was scared. Now we are together again, and I will never let you go. I’m just going to keep you so you won’t go away ever again.”

The kills in this movie are brutal, and Tom Savini’s effects are in top form. A woman sees herself ran through with a sword as she looks into a mirror. One woman is forced to agonize in terror before she’s finally snuffed out, and that one shot gun blast scene still stuns to this very day. Even the most jaded, and most modern of audiences will be visually shushed into silence.

Maniac isn’t the sort of movie one would, could, or should love, but I do. It’s sleazy, violent, and grim as hell, but it lures you into the the filth and it’s hard to resist. Even the soundtrack by Jay Chattaway with it’s downer mood anchors you down solid into the muck.  There’s nothing pretty about this film and you should see it.  (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA

 

 

DEAD PIT (1989)

DEAD PIT (1989)

Director: Brett Leonard

Written By Brett Leonard & Gimel Everett

Starring: Cheryl “underwear” Lawson, Jeremy “the drunk” Slate, Stephen “the creep” Foster

Viewed On Prime: Great transfer

dead pit_1

This film is a complete masterpiece.  I can not wait until my daughter is old enough to be able to sit through films like this with her old man.  Pizza and snuggles!   

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  The film is Brett Leonards first film as a director and he hits it out of the park.  The story is actually great, and has everything in it…a demented maniac dead doctor, zombies, sexy nurses, crazy people in a mental asylum, explosions, a flood, great music, cool effects, holy water, religion, boobs, blood, and lots of gore.  

The story is that of a demented doctor who is doing experiments on mental patients.  One of the other doctors catches him in the act, kills him, and basically seals him in a tomb.  Twenty years later and all hell breaks loose.  The Demented Doc comes back to life and brings all kinds of wrath and revenge with him.  There are so many twists in this story that it blows my mind that everything actually gets resolved or makes some sort of sense. 

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The most noticeable thing about this film to me is how cool the lighting is.  Its super obvious, but looks so cool and works great along with the cool music.  I’d give this one 9 stars out of 10.  This is a real beauty if you’ve never seen it before.  Throw it on… for Christ’s sake, it’s almost Halloween! (NW)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA