Frank Zito (a career performance by co-writer/co-executive producer Joe Spinell of ROCKY and THE GODFATHER fame) is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific ... more »memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Now Frank has begun a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME), yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a MANIAC.Experience MANIAC like you've never seen or heard it before. Directed by William Lustig (MANIAC COP, VIGILANTE) and featuring landmark gore effects by Tom Savini (DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13th), this notorious classic was censored all over the world for its graphic violence and remains banned in England and Germany to this day. But MANIAC is more than just one of the most relentlessly depraved films of our time; it is quite possibly one of the most disturbing horror movies ever made.« less
In William Lustig's semi classic grindhouse sickie, hulking character actor Joe Spinell plays Frank Zito - a New York City loser with big-time Mommy issues, who deals with his pain by carving up unlucky nurses, prostitutes and disco queens and displaying their scalps on a collection of mannequins in his apartment. Yyyyep, that's pretty much the entire plot. British scream queen and Bond girl Caroline Munro shows up about halfway through and unwittingly befriends the psycho, lending a beauty-and-the-beast feel to the finale.
Sleazy, disturbing, gritty and EXTREMELY gory, this is the kind of movie that makes you want to shower when you're done watching it. Be advised, the violence in this movie is extremely brutal & graphic, not for the faint of heart!!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 3/24/2011...
A dark and disturbing film that's almost more of a psychological horror movie with slasher elements. This film creates and maintains a sense of dread and is very brutal. Tom Savini EFX.
4 Stars For Shocking Me
Amy Lynn | Pennsylvania United States | 10/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Im not easily shocked or impressed with most horror films. Very few come to mind where it disturbs me or has a realistic feeling to it. This is definetly a film that will leave you thinking/- The main reason being the main character Frank Zito aka Joe Spinell plays the most realistic psycho/deranged person ive ever seen on film. The whole time i was thinking is this guy really insane? Either this guy is a genius actor or hes really nuts. Thats how real he is in this role. His presance will creep you out. Hes the biggest weirdo Ive ever seen on film. Hes worse than any monster, supernatural being, horror villain because hes so real and gritty. You dont want to think about it but you know that somewhere out there- people like this exist...
The story focuses on frank the serial killer and his killings and insanity. He calmly stalks his pray through the streets of NYC. I dont know how he manages to fool some of the people in this film but he does. They treat him like a normal guy until he trys to kill them when they least expect it.
Some of the scenes are grusome, but they will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will be able to put yourself in both franks shoes and feel the victims terror as she is stalked and hides from Frank... Especially the subway bathroom scene. Thats an intense scene. Frank keeps on killing till the end when his own demons finally come back to haunt him.
Any horror fan should have this in their collection. I can see why it was banned in germany and england. They were probably scared of it, considering how realistic it was.
As for this film shocking me- it did somewhat- for the realism. and the acting did impress me."
Great original storyline and special effects
Amy Lynn | 11/09/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If unrelenting scenes of carnage, compliments of a psychotic sexual deviant is your cup of tea, then this movie is for you. The late Joe Spinell does an excellent job as our deeply disturbed title character, and the special FX are convincing even by today's standards. The shotgun scene left me speechless and is a MUST for all lovers of blood & gore. The ending was kind of strange, But unlike Jason or Freddie, there are actually people like this out there. This movie ranks in the top 5 most gorriest films I've seen. And as with all movies I recommend, Make sure you have the widescreen, unedited director's cut or you will miss some scenes."
Just sick or a horror masterpiece?
Amy Lynn | 11/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are a number of people who find this film to be nothing more than a pointless and unnecessarily gruesome study in pathological and psychotic behaviour. I cannot agree with this opinion.Although a very tough experience, the viewing of this film reveals in some depth the tortured mind of a pathetic Vietnam veteran (also a victim of child abuse) who is driven by his inner demons to slaughter various women in NYC in a psychotic attempt to revive the spirit of his dead mother.It is a profoundly disturbing film.Joe Spinell gives a remarkable performance as the demented killer. His verbal ramblings are profoundly unnerving. (Not to mention the hideous murders.) He manages to demonstrate the de-personalized actions of an insane "maniac" all too convincingly.The direction is very good as well. Some very fine camera work.It is interesting to note the incorporation of some themes of Mario Bava's "giallo" thrillers in this film. For example, consider the "dollhouse" effect of the main protaganist's grotesque apartment and compare this to the secret "bridal room" in Bava's HATCHET FOR A HONEYMOON. (Lustig and Spinell apparently enjoyed watching "banned" foreign horror movies in the old "grindhouse" cinemas on 42nd.)The print offered by the new ANCHOR BAY DVD is an improvement over that of the old ELITE version. The colours are sharper and the night exterior scenes (notably that concerning the gruesome murder of the Tom Savani character and his "date") are not as murky.Some good extras as well.As a horror film, MANIAC comes close to being a masterpiece."
The most cruel and unapolegetic slasher film ever....
TheHillsHaveEyes13 | Nashville, TN | 02/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally at long last Joe Spinnel's clasic tale of a deranged serial killer has finally been released in a worthy form.Being that many movies have used this title I must explain that this one is not only the real deal but the most vile of the pack. It is a extremely creepy low budget gore flick with absoloutely no moral perspective, So much so that even its own makeup artist wanted to be removed from its credits. Tom Savini, who would later become famous for his award winning FX as well as acting and directing many later horror films, Brings to the table some of the most realistic FX in his career and is one of the many highlights in this classic horror film. Like it is in many real life serial killer cases, we have the late Joe Spinnel, who potrays the serial killer Frank Zito, a loner with no social grace or personality. Frank is severely mentally disturbed as a result of the emotional and physical abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his prostitute mother. The murder scenes in this movie are extremely cruel and graphic in nature so I must warn you that this film is defenitely not for everybody. Most casual horror fans tend to wretch at this film and see it as nothing more than a seedy slasher flick that has a very anti-woman message, but in my opinion it is much more than that. It is a potrayal of one of society's worst monsters, monsters who often walk around our every day world going unnoticed.So in conclusion, if you are a die-hard horror fan and love gruesome effects, then I highly suggest you purchase this dvd. Out of all the DVD's that Anchor Bay has released, this would have to be the cream of the crop, boasting a plethora of special features, and a heartfelt tribute to the late Joe Spinnel."
THIS MANIAC IS THE ONE TO WATCH IF YOU DARE !!!!!!!!!!
Scott MacPherson | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 08/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film back in 1983 (when I was 13 years old) on VHS video and it was one of the scariest films I have seen in that time. I do remember when this film was theatrically released on November 25, 1981; which only stayed out for 6 days as the film received outcry by Women's and Parents' Groups who claimed the film degrades women. The films' distributor (Analysis Pictures) nicely pulled the film from theatres and has became way popular on video. MANIAC is a great film, but shown in a very cardboard way. It's about a serial killer Frank Zito (Joe Spinelli) who preys on victims (mostly women) in NYC. He kills, scalps his victims, takes their clothes and displays them in his small studio apartment. That is what MANIAC basically entails. However, MANIAC does have a backstory to it in which Frank Zito was savagely abused by his mommy who was a prostitute who was later killed in a car accident. This backstory was not told too well, but if this was the case in a visual manner, MANIAC would have been an fully effective film. MANIAC, directed by William Lustig was his first and best film. The effects by Tom Savini (who just came from the Friday the 13th set) were top notch. The music by Jay Chattaway added to the creepiness of MANIAC, also top notch. Also, watch for the Nurse in the Subway scene - the most scariest sequence in the film. MANIAC is the film to have on DVD. The video and transfer were totally great. It was like watching a brand new print of a film. The Widescreen transfer (1.85:1), was also a nice added touch. The numerous theatre trailers, the 9 TV spots and the audio commentary (by William Lustig, Tom Savini & Co.) are those little extras that make MANIAC worth having on DVD !!!!!! This is the DVD I bought back in 1999 from Elite Entertainment. I am excited about MANIAC being re-released through Anchor Bay Entertainment who will also be releasing this title in a LIMITED EDITION TIN, (5,000 copies only) which will contain a BONUS of the CD soundtrack of the music score by Jay Chattaway. on August 21, 2001.
I bought MANIAC (1980) on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and the results are better then the DVD from Elite Entertainment that I have. This NEW DVD (from Anchor Bay) is pretty much the same of the DVD from Elite Entertainment but there are a few differences : - this DVD is in its full uncut format (88 minutes) as the DVD from Elite Entertainment (Letterboxed Directors Cut) is 85 minutes. - this DVD is in THX sound, the Elite DVD is in Digital Dolby 5.1 Sound. - the "date scene" is restored in this DVD, it was taken out from the Elite DVD. In this DVD, the special feautures are pretty much the same as the DVD from Elite Entertainment but there are a few differences : - A documentury (the Joe Spinell Story) with the likes of William Lustig, Caroline Munro, Jason Miller and others is included in this DVD, not on the Elite DVD. - Radio interviews with William Lustig, Joe Spinell & Caroline Munro is included in this DVD, not on the Elite DVD. - Radio Spot advertising of the film is included in this DVD, not the Elite DVD. - Talent Bios of William Lustig, Tom Savini, Joe Spinell & Caroline Munro are included in this DVD, not on the Elite DVD. - A Gallery of Outrage (outraged reviews of the film by critics) : 17 in total are included in this DVD, not on the Elite DVD. - A poster/still Gallery of the film are all included in this DVD, not on the Elite DVD. - All the theatre trailers, TV spot trailers, commentary, optional languages and subtitles that are on the Elite DVD are also on this DVD, too. Along with those little differences, the front cover is still the same. However, the back cover, disc design and menu board design are all different than the Elite DVD. ..."