The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

MANIAC (1980) ***

You probably will recognize Joe Spinell from his small roles in the Godfather and Rocky movies, but you owe it to yourself to see him in this. It’s one of the greatest performances in screen history. Spinell stars (and even co-wrote the story and executive produced) as Frank Zito, a sweaty bug-eyed psychotic who scalps women and nails their hair onto mannequins. He becomes obsessed with a sexy photographer (The Spy Who Loved Me’s Caroline Munro) and after he kills one of her models, he tries to kill her in a cemetery. Unfortunately his zombie mother interrupts! If that’s not weird enough for ya folks, he goes home and all his mannequins come to life and rip his head off! Brilliant.

Tom Savani did the excellent FX work (the same year as Friday the 13th) and co-stars as a victim who gets his head blown off. Porn star Sharon Mitchell also has a small part as a nurse. Jay Chattaway provided the excellent score. At the forefront though is Spinell. He’s awesome. He’s charming in the scenes when he’s courting Munro and truly on fucking Mars when giving his many women hating soliloquies. He and Munro were also in Starcrash the previous year and also starred in Fanatic (AKA: The Last Horror Film), which was sort of a sequel to Maniac.

An official sequel was started, but never completed and you can find scenes of that on the DVD. It also has the highly recommended Joe Spinell Story, a 50 minute retrospective of Spinell’s life that should be run once an hour on every TV station everywhere. Director William Lustig also directed Maniac Cop and Uncle Sam.
Tags: horror, m
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