Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maniac! (1980)

It seems like I've had a really good run with Netflix lately, since I haven't had any problems since I received Mean Creek split completely down the middle sometime last year.  This also may have been because I've been getting a lot of Blu-Rays, which are apparently impervious to scratches.  However, I recieved my Maniac DVD scratched all to hell and with a weird melted mark on it.  I assume that's why I forced to miss 1:14 to 1:26 and had to look it up on Wikipedia.  Oh, the perils of online rental.

Anyway, Maniac is a very freaky movie that I've been looking to watch for some time.  I'm always excited to watch movies about 70s and 80s New York City, and after viewing the glory that is Basket Case I needed another look at the grungy NYC that I was not even alive for.

Frank Zito (Joe Spinelli) is a large and in charge lonely New Yorker who misses his moms.  She was an abusive prostitute that made him hide in a closet while she brought men over.  For some reason, this immediately made me think of Identity.  Because of his strange childhood, Frank is a Ron Jeremy-looking schizophrenic who goes out at night trolling the streets for ladies.  He attacks them, says weird things, and scalps them.  He then brings their hair and clothes back to his apartment, where he dresses up mannequins to look like the deceased women.  Or his mom.  I'm not sure.  He snuggles with them for a couple of nights before finding a new mannequin lover and so forth.

One day while traipsing around Central Park, Frank spots an attractive photographer, Anna (Caroline Munro) taking his photo.  He is interested in Anna, but actually to date her and not chop up her face.  Somehow he's able to change from a bumbling weirdo to Rico Suave and take Anna to New Jersey for dinner.  They date, while he continues his extracirrcular activities.  But even though he seems normal around Anna, he's quickly losing his shit.

Tom Savini did the effects for this movie, and even appeared in probably the best kill scene, which is very reminiscint of Son of Sam.  The bathroom scene was also quite awesome, and seeing a late-70s version of the Columbus Circle subway station was quite a treat.  This movie was seriously creepy, and although the end was sort of meh, I enjoyed it overall. 

Fun fact: The song "Maniac," made famous by Flashdance, was actually written about this movie.  They changed the lyrics for Jennifer Beals to rock out to.

photo source