Maniac – 30th Anniversary Edition (1980/Blue Underground Blu-ray Set)
C+ Sound: B- Extras: B- Film: B-
years of doing various jobs in the film industry, William Lustig started
directing films. At first, it was lite,
low budget erotic work, but in 1980, he turned to the Horror genre and made a
huge splash with the ever-controversial Maniac. In the middle of the killer slice-and-dice
trend launched by Carpenter’s Halloween
(1978), Maniac was part of the
one-upsmanship that was going on in the genre that included some of the most
graphic, shocking films ever made, so much so that it helped to create a
the film even arrived, the poster was highly controversial and became one of
the ‘poster children’ of the kinds of poster art that were sending critics and
moralists who did not like the poster or anything connected to the genre
climbing the walls and is featured as the cover art of the new Blu-ray edition
from Blue Underground. It was shocking
in part because no one had ever seen a poster that brutal, but it seems tame
today. However, it was painted and very
effective promotion for a graphic indie production that needed all the
attention it could get.
the story seems like a formula set-up (killer hates women and kills them
randomly, brutally and in total madness for the abuse and hate of his mother), Lustig
defies expectations all the way to the end giving us a new side of such a
killer and the film (along with himself and those who made it) never got credit
for how well this film worked or how distinct it turned out to be from the
hundreds of such films that were made at the time and thousands of bad
imitators since (and more to come) that now glut the genre.
there is the cast, including Joe Spinell (Taxi
Driver, Rocky, Friedkin’s Sorcerer & Cruising, Roeg’s Eureka,
Godfather I & II) as the title
character, Frank Zito in an underrated performance and probably one of the best
in the genre. He is not cracking jokes,
he is not a franchise figure, he is not unrealistic and he is giving Zito
energy that has been rarely matched in the genre, making this more worthy of
Hitchcock’s Psycho (something I very rarely say) than most of the films
like it. Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me, Starcrash, Captain Kronos) is also here in peak form when she really was one
of the sexiest and most photogenic actresses around, though she never got
credit for that or the good acting capacities she had. She makes for an amazing counterpoint not
only to Zito, but women in the entire genre as Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg
co-wrote it in the script.
topper in all this is the amazing, bold, realistic and groundbreaking make-up
work by Tom Savini & Rob Bottin that completes the realistic foundation of
the story and is at least a minor classic of the genre. Savini who also stars as a guy on a date...
his last date. Lustig has been
underappreciated, but his work is up there with De Palma, Larry Cohen (an
eventual collaboration partner), George Romero and the late, great Bob Clark as
the most important filmmakers in the genre post-Hitchcock.
Maniac is a must-see film for anyone
serious about Horror cinema.
1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is good, but has some flaws and issues
throughout as the print is not always in the best of shape, but it is still
very watchable and was originally shot in the Super 16mm film format by Director
of Photography Robert Lindsay, who makes this look more like a big screen major
motion picture than some that were being made then and too many bad ones we see
today. Even if there is some restoration
of the film later on, this copy should still be kept for being gritty and so
much of its time. It is also better than
all previous video copies.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is an interesting upgrade from the
old Dolby A-type analog system the film was original released in theaters as,
with the original sound stems have obviously been recovered (along with the
well done music score by Jay Chattaway) to upgrade the sound and it is as good
a remaster as we could have expected for such a low budget film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix also included is
good, but no match for the DTS-MA in fullness and though more flaws may be
revealed, it just has more presence.
include two feature length audio commentary tracks with Lustig on both. He is joined by Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
on one and Savini, Editor Lorenzo Martinelli and Joe Spinell’s assistant Luke
Walker on the other. We also get a
Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, Radio Spots, MANIAC Publicity, MANIAC
Controversy, solid featurette The Joe
Spinell Story and features in HD including Anna & The Killer interview with Munro, The Death Dealer new interview with Savini, Dark Notes interview with Chattaway and Maniac Men in which Songwriters Michael Sembello (whose hit song “Maniac” (not in and no direct relation
to this film) comes from the 1983 hit Flashdance)
and Dennis Matkosky.