Maniac (1980)

I warned you not to go out tonight.
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Maniac - I warned you not to go out tonight

Maniac is a 1980 slasher movie directed by William Lustig, this is not your typical slasher in that it is devoid of any dark humour and the maniac's victims tend to be young working adults rather than school going teens. This is a very dark and disturbing movie about a deranged serial killer named Frank Zito.

Frank is traumatized by being raised by a possessive and abusive mother, he lives in a small apartment where he is surrounded by mannequins and childhood memories. He spends most of his time mumbling and having one-sided conversations with his dead mother's photograph. Obviously confused yet obsessed with the opposite sex he also speaks to the mannequins, as well as sleeping with them and brushing their hair. Obviously he is worried that he may be thought of as some kind of weirdo buying wigs for his dolls so he prefers to use genuine scalps, and to get these he stalks the streets looking for nice haired ladies!

After a number of brutal murders Frank is befriended by fashion photographer Anna D'Antoni, who shows a genuine interest in him and he ends up on a date with her. A number of dates later (and a few dead fashion models later) Frank decides to take Anna to visit his mother's grave. Due to the overwhelming emotion Frank is unable to withhold his maniacal tendencies and Anna discovers that she is dating a complete head case.

After a chase through the graveyard Frank returns to his apartment where retribution is dished out by his numerous lovers in one of the most alarming yet daring movie endings in the 1980's.

This movie takes the slasher one step further in the horror genre. The entire focus of the movie is on our maniac and you get a deep insight into the Frank Zito character who is given truly unsettling persona by Joe Spinell's outstanding performance (Joe Spinell also co-wrote and co-executive produced the movie). A number of the stalking-slashing scenes are drawn out episodes of terror taking the viewer on the same disquieting experience that the soon-to-be victim is having. When the murder happens is violent and bloody and we begin to understand how sick Frank Zito is.

The storyline is very minimal and the emphasis is put on the character building and the murder scenes. This works very well and makes the movie more of an emotional experience than an intertwined plot.

There are a number of exceptionally horrific scenes in the movie and it is most famous for the shotgun scene where Frank attacks a couple having a fumble in the back seat of a car. The guy is shot at close range with a twelve gauge and the slow-motion head splattering is perfectly lit by the reflection of the car headlights. Another scene I feel I must mention is the nurse being stalked through the city subway; this is a very intense scene and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

The ending is a bizarre and nightmarish scene left very open for interpretation and although I'd love to write about it, it would be much better if you saw it for yourself first hand, so... my lips remain sealed.
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