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

 

 

THE PROWLER (aka Rosemary’s Killer) (1981)

THE PROWLER (aka Rosemary’s Killer) (1981)

Director: Joseph Zito

Starring: Vicki Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Farley Granger, Cindy Weintraub, Lisa Dunsheath, David Sederholm, Lawrence Tierney

Blue Underground Blu-Ray

The Prowler bluray cover

The Prowler does not get as much love as it should. Which is a shame because it’s one of the better entries in the golden era of the slasher movie.

It all starts with a Dear John letter sent during World War II. The recipient comes back a year later dressed head to toe in military gear, face covered, and armed with a pitchfork meting out revenge on young couple who chose to sneak off  to make out during a  graduation night dance in Avalon Bay (filmed in Cape May, NJ) on June 28, 1945. After the brutal murder the town leaders decide there will be no more graduation dances, but that all changes thirty five years later, bringing us to 1980. Of course the killer, who evaded capture all these years, has returned as well, which puts him in his late 40s, early 50s.

We are introduced to a young deputy sheriff, Mark London (Christopher Goutman), and Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson), who are the central protagonists and young lovers, and their circle of friends; Lisa (Cindy Weintraub from Humanoids from the Deep), Sherry (Lisa Dunsheath), Carl (David Sederholm), and Sheriff George Fraser (Farley Granger from Amuck, They Call Me Trinity, Strangers on a Train, They Live By Night). Also, see if you can spot Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs).

Mark and Pam are so pure and wholesome that they are dull, and I found myself wanting them to be on the wrong end of the bayonet like the others. But this is a slasher and it’s more about the kills and the special effects than it is deep character development, and what these kills lack in creativity they make up for with brutality. The camera lingers on the kill scenes, almost basking in the moment. A bayonet slices into a throat, is worked back and forth to widen the cut and go deeper; a pitchfork in the back is aided by a boot stomping on it to drive the tines deeper into the victim. The body of a murdered swimmer twitches in underwater silence one more time before dying.

These are not like Friday the 13th kills (director Joseph Zito also directed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) where the creative kill lightens the mood. These murders are carried out very straight forward. Here it’s just stab, hack and rend. There’s a rage and a point to be made in these murders. The special effects by Tom Savini are excellent. There’s one scene, which I won’t give away, that stands out, and it comes early on. You will know it when you see it, and it’s particularly gruesome.

Although The Prowler is not grim and heavy like Maniac, and Don’t Go in the House (two masterpieces!), it does deliver on the brutality and blood promised.  (MA)

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

CITY HUNTER Deep Blood 12″

CITY HUNTER – Deep Blood 12″ 45

Youth Attack Records (YA 103)

City Hunter

I’ve been following everything Mark (McCoy) has been doing with Youth Attack Records since the beginning….yup day one, I was there.  For me to see the evolution of his label has been a pretty incredible thing to watch over the years. Its been awesome and makes me proud of an old friend.  I still can’t help but to wonder why, and how he still does it to the degree that he does.  He puts everything he has into the packaging, layout and the sound that many of the YA bands seem to carry. Then right after the record comes out, usually the bands break up.  

At any rate, on to the record review.  When I got this City Hunter 12” I was in awe just by looking at the complete package.  It looks like every single slasher film that I’d stay up late for in the 80’s to watch on USA’s Up All Night.  City Hunter are from from Colorado and feature members of Cadaver DogCivilized, and Creep Stare.  This seems to be a very incestuous scene that have put that region on the HC map.  

When I first put this on my turntable I had sort of the same feeling I had when I first heard Carcass.  I’m not sure why, maybe because its extreme in a way I haven’t been exposed to in a while?  I’m by no means saying these cats are as good as Carcass.  I do however find the band to have some what of a Carcass feel that is mixed in with Void, and then a black metal element in the guitar melodies.  The melodies have me able to hum along with the songs even though the music is so chaotic and rawly tuneless.  The beginning of the song Schizo really had me feeling the Void thing.  Fourteen killer songs that have had me listening to this on multiple occasions.  

Advice…listen kids if you want to get signed to YA you must worship Void.  Its a fucking no brainer!  

Get this City Hunter if you still can, everything about this record is beautifully ugly.  

The song titles…

01. Watching Blood Darken 

02. Living Nightmare 

03. Bind Torture Kill 

04. Beyond Recognition 

05. Crimson Streets 

06. Dark Descent 

07. Open Season 

08. Silhouette of Death 

09. Dying Out 

10. Stab and Repeat 

11. Slow Death 

12. Hollow 

13. Schizo 

14. One By One

(NW)

 

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964)

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (aka 6 Donne per L’Assassino) (1964)

Directed by Mario Bava

Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner

Streamed on Amazon Prime

Transfer Quality is great.

bloodandblacklace

This is a beautifully filmed horror thriller that I’m just now seeing for the first time.  Its hard to fathom how I’ve slept on this one for so long.  It spawned an entire genre of Italian film.  The colors, and lighting are magnificent.  The transfer quality is great for Amazon Prime.  

The story is sort of complex…. but boils down to a masked murderer who is killing off models at a fashion house in Rome.  The killings are pretty brutal for the time period, and very scary mainly due to the killers appearance (wears a stocking of sorts over the face, with a hat and long jacket). 

 The movie starts right off with a slaying that happens within the first five minutes of the picture.  There are well over a dozen characters that keep you wondering who the killer is. Many of them are junkies, and just straight up odd acting characters that keep the viewer confused and constantly guessing who the evil one might be.  It really could be anyone based on a diary of a dead model, drugs, sex, etc.  

This film must have been completely shocking for people to see in 1964.  Don’t sleep on this one.  (NW)

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