Directed by William Lustig
Writing credits C.A. Rosenberg Joe Spinell
Joe Spinell .... Frank Zito
Caroline Munro .... Anna D'Antoni
Tom Savini .... Disco boy
Hyla Marrow .... Disco girl
Sharon Mitchell .... Nurse #2
While most movies are made to appeal to a generally wide audience, "Maniac" felt like it was made for a very specific audience: The guys who would wander into the movie theaters of Times Square. I wish I could have been there in the late 70's and early 80's. Those were the golden years for exploitation movie fans. "Maniac" hit the nail on the head. It set out to make a sicko movie as realistic as possible and succeeded.
Joe Spinell is the Maniac. He is the movie. We watch him be a sicko. He hunts and kills numerous women and couples throughout New York. There are a lot of gory scenes. Every stalking scene has a sufficient payoff of blood and guts. Joe wants to remember his women so he scalps them and nails them to the various mannequins he has in his apartment. Seems the Maniac has mommy abandonment issues. He tries to work it out through stalking and slashing pretty girls.
One reality problem I had with this flick was the instant attraction Caroline Munro, a very hot babe, has to the unbelievably foul Maniac. I didn't buy it for a second. Surely a hot photographer wouldn't waste her time with the portly, slimy Maniac. He fit the part of a psycho killer but being a ladies man was just too crazy.
Aside from that, "Maniac" is a great slasher movie. Granted, Joe Spinell is not the prettiest face to look at for 90 minutes. Also, hearing him whine and act loopy can get a tad tedious. But overall he plays one of the more memorable movie sickos. The filmmakers wanted to show the ugly and nasty side of murder and "Maniac" delivers.
SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 maniacal Spinells