Monday, July 15, 2013


Many years ago, I saw Maniac (1980) directed by William Lustig.  I recall it being particularly grisly for the horror/exploitation genre.  When I saw that the Roxie was screening a remake of Maniac, I decided to check it out.  I'm not a horror fan.  I have said that numerous times.  The exploitation genre is a subtle distinction from the horror genre.  I'm like Potter Stewart and pornography, I can't describe the difference between horror & exploitation but I know it when I see it.  Maniac, both the original and the remake, are exploitation.

Maniac starring Elijah Wood; directed by Franck Khalfoun; (2012) - Official Website

Either my taste for exploitation has changed or Maniac just wasn't that great.  Maniac follows Frank Zito (Elijah Wood), a mannequin repairman/salesman/collector.  Zito is a serial killer and schizophrenic.  He stalks women, murders them, scalps them (not always in that order) and dresses his mannequins with the scalps.  All this stems from Frank's dysfunctional relationship with his prostitute mother.  It's not until Frank meets a photographer who wants to take photos of his mannequins as art piece that Frank's life is turned upside down.  When Frank develops genuine emotions for the woman, he is brought back to reality which is that he is nebbish, serial killer.

Zito kills quite a few women.  I don't recall a shotgun blast like the original Maniac but director Franck Khalfoun keeps the bodies coming and Wood keeps scalping them.  However, Maniac (2012) lacks some of the grindhouse je ne sais quoi that Maniac (1980) had despite the soundtrack which is evocative of the "golden era" of slasher films.  I can't really put my finger on it. Maniac goes through the motions admirably but as the acting cliché goes, "it was good but once more with feeling."

As I mentioned, maybe it is just that my tastes have changed - too many Japanese & Korean exploitation films such as Oldboy.

Next month (August 15), the Roxie is screening Angel & Vice Squad.  Those are two films I've vividly recall from my teenage years.  It'll be interesting to see how I respond to those films.  If I still enjoy them, I suspect Maniac (2012) was not up to snuff.

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