Maniac (1980) is one of the darkest, strangest films to come from the 80s. Well, I guess technically it was made in the 70s, but that doesn’t change this “video nasty” delight from being an awesome slasher thrill ride. Joe Spinell plays Frank Zito, a creepy, gross, mentally and physically scarred man.
The sexual content in this one is on the verge of soft-porn with elements of snuff porn. The psychological aspects of Maniac remind me of Psycho (1960) on one level, and The House on Sorority Row (1982) on another. There’s something him pushing him to do the things he does, he’s even remorseful after he kills, though he never hides the bodies, just takes the scalps. As the back story is revealed, I’m not surprised that he does what he does. I almost feel sympathy for him…almost.
Frank’s apartment is quirky with its simple but eccentric furnishings and purple walls, and I have the feeling there’s the almost overwhelming scent of body odor and natural gas seeping from every surface. Then add in the mannequins and it’s a luxury suite for any psychopath. His final hallucination is fascinating and deranged, and something not to miss.
The gore and violence in this film is exceptionally high, so if you watch it, don’t be surprised. I give Maniac 3.5 out of 5 Stars.