OOM#6 – Maniac (1980)


Greetings from Valdivia! I’m trying to move forward with these reviews as early as I can, so I can have some time to work and enjoy other films as well! Today we move past the 70’s and into the 80’s we go, and we go into it with a bang, a film that defined a lot of what would follow into the decade, so what else is there to say? Let’s go!

Joe Spinell’s performance is everything in this movie. From the first frame we can hear his presence, his heavy breathing floods the calm beach landscape that we see, slowly we are building around conceptions that will soon become clichéd, like the way in which two characters that are together will die the moment they split apart, but here the difference is that the killings are so brutal and without any regard what realism or even that time’s decency or censorship would approve: human bodies are sacks filled with blood and guts and nothing will stop this man from bleeding out every woman that he sees and that isn’t smart enough to run away from him as he’s just a scary dude in general, even without the knife in his hand. But he’s not a brute killer, he’s factually insane as he speaks with his mother in his head and with his reflection in the mirror, trying to stop himself or justify his actions to a higher power, other than himself, yet he cunningly plans every one of his attacks and he finds the way to not be caught until it’s too late. The killer isn’t just a brute that leaves bodies hanging around, he carefully cuts of their scalps and uses them for his artistic mannequins that he has around in the room that he rents. He has a mission, an obsession that wants to stop, but he can’t, and even a woman that is kind to him falls as his victim.

There’s not much else to say but to attest that this film is like a punch in the face, as if a giallo with all their elegantly perfectly ordained series of shots and colors were run over by a truck with muddy wheels and thrown on the street to absorb the night of the USA city, the dirt of the unclean asphalt and the toxic air of the smoke of a thousand cars. Lustig was clearly inspired by the films of Dario Argento and other Italian masters when it came to the pacing and the ridiculous nature of the death scenes, but he was also driven by the city life, his experience in the low-end of the studio system (pornography) and the overall fascination that society has towards serial killers, as he takes influences from the clichés of the killers and amps them up through the roof thanks to the spectacular special effects that comprise head explosions, decapitations and insertions through body parts, which make up a long time of the runtime, which makes this film all meat and practically no bones, which follows up on the intentions of inserting us for almost an hour and a half into the body and mind of a Maniac.



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