Maniac (1980)

Produced & Directed by: William Lustig

Written by:
C.A. Rosenberg & Joe Spinell


Joe Spinell .... Frank Zito
Caroline Munro .... Anna D'Antoni

Special Appearance:

Tom Savini .... Disco Boy

Release Dates: Cannes Film Festival: May, 1980; Theatrical: March 6, 1981; Splatter Movie Festival: August 11, 1985 (Japan); Night Visions Film Festival: October 29, 2006 (Finland); Iik!! Horror Film Festival: November 3, 2006 (Finland); BAMcinemaFest: June 12, 2010




A psychopath Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) is tormented by his child abuse memories of his mother and goes on a killing spree by doing in prostitutes nurses and any other types of women in New York City. He uses their scalps as wigs for female dummies that he collects until he tries to find the perfect woman to end his killing spree.


A mildly rough beginning with a couple sleeping at a beach and then later on we have the demented title character Frank Zito doing both of them in at separate times as I must admit looked quite intense to watch and a nice pointer for a beginning of a slasher film.
Good shots on an opening credtis with him at his home getting ready to do his demented deeds with nice shots on stuff especially a look on a bloodied looking female dummy lying on a bed as this grabbed my attention a bit as to why it was displayed there.
Trashy discussions with two hooker at a side street as this needed to be whipped into shape by how it was all done but things start rolling when Frank picks one of them up.
There's a make out scene in a hotel between him and the hooker which looked a bit too long to watch and needed to be trimmed a bit but yet an effective moment when he strangles this prostitute to death with a nice camera shot looking up on his wide eyed expressions as well as a near graphic moment on what he does to her after he kills her as this was a nice nod to fans who loved graphic horror violence.
I liked the moments when he is at home with good close up shots on him sewing the scalps of the hair on these dummies which looked genuinely twisted as well as a voice over on him talking which is a clever moment on what goes through the mind of a madman.
One of my favourite moments is a couple in a car making out near a dark alleyway as this was well focused on the situations as well as leaving a chill down your spine by having a feeling that these two will be the next victims of Frank. A nice shot on this couple nearly getting it on in the backseat of their car with a nice creepy shot on Frank staring at them which showed nice timing.
Brilliant killing moment on Frank using a shot gun and pointing it at the windshield towards the male and some terrific graphic moments after he fires his weapon which is another great slashing pleaser for gorehounds especially. Then a nice shot on him pointing this rifle towards the woman but it takes a bit too long when he just holds it and this was supposed to make you wonder if he will actually fire his weapon yet it could've been trimmed down a bit as the suspense was still there making you watch in terror.
Nice horror moment with a nurse leaving after work and she is being chased by him in a subway station which packs the suspense in a slasher flick as we get the feeling that she won't be able to escape by what is all happening here.
Nicely drawn in moment when Frank makes out he's a photographer to impress the lovely model Anna D'Antoni as their discussions looked quite charming and outgoing as well as getting together for an outing in which this follows a nice storyline before more of the terror occurs later on.
Good still moments when Frank makes out he returns a necklace to one of the models at a studio that he snatched making out that she lost it in which this drew my attention that he will do her in next as well as what he sneakily does to her door to prevent it from being locked which was impressive. Also during this scene things looked good and still when she was prepping for a bubble bath which is common to use in a slasher film as I was wondering more and more as to when she will be attacked and there's a nice near jumping moment when he does attack her which was impressive and cleverly done too. Plus there's an effective slow motion moment with the attacking scene as this was a great add on to the horror plot.
Nice powerful moments when this woman is tied up and gagged along with Frank speaking to her and telling her not to scream if she removes the gag from her mouth as he makes out he wants to reason with her as this drew me in wonder as to what will happen next and so fourth. It made me wonder as to if he will kill her or not as well as his crazy talk towards her which also was well done for this scene.
Great twisted moments when he arrives home and puts the woman's scalps that he killed on the dummies heads that he collected which offers more terrific twisted horror timing.
Terrific scenery when both Frank and Anna go to a graveyard with him visiting his mother's tombstone as there's nice mist floating around along with him losing his mind and trying to attack her thinking that his mother is talking to him which looked perfectly intense as well as later on when he leans over the tombstone and a shocking moment is about to happen out of the grave which is a total pleaser and a nice near shocking moment.
The best moment is yet to come when he arrives home and his dummies come to life to attack him which seems to pay a tribute to those zombie flicks as it looked nicely done but the graphic moments looked a bit fake. Still should please all of you fans. It boggled me wondering if he was hallucinating or not.
Bottom line is that this isn't by far the greatest film but yet not the worst either and it was considered a cult favorite. It's a fun flick if you're in the mood for it but yet the story is a bit slow. Has a nice cheesy low budget vibe throughout everything. It's one of those so bad it's good types.

The acting is pretty good but only two main cast members are in it with the rest of them having minor roles so I will review these two mentioned. Joe Spinell (Frank Zito) lived to play a madman as he had the perfect rough and crazy looks to portray this part in the story. Seemed to do okay attacking someone by having a great wide eyed expressions on his face. However when he is strangling someone he didn't seem to look rough enough while doing this. Yet in other scene's showing a nice versatality by having a mr nice guy charming attitude in a certain scene and focused well by doing this. Seemed to do okay by losing his mind speaking strangely thinking that someone is speaking to him but it needed a tiny bit more inspiration. Still he tried to do the job well. Yes sir he had the total appeal to portray the title role in it.
Caroline Munro (Anna D'Antoni) had the perfect lustful looks to portray a model in which she does a great job having a nice girl type of behavior too. She knew on how to act sympathetic and easy going too. Drew in as someone whom is likeable by how she reacts to stuff and was believeably open minded too. Reacts well to stuff especially when she is attacked later on in the story. She was a nice choice for the role indeed.

A woman takes off her top with breasts briefly exposed before changing into a bathrobe and then later on takes a bath breasts exposed

Throat is bloodily slit by a razor
Persons throat is sliced through by a metal wire
Scalp is cut off a head
Head is blown off by a shotgun
Sword is stabbed through a chest
Chest is bloodily stabbed by a switchblade knife
Body is torn up with insides revealed

Jay Chattaway does a great job with his composing as he really concentrated his music piece by piece and blending it in greatly. Has some nice guitar sounds for the opening credits on what we see with what this madman does in his home life along with decent chiming sounds along with a wooden flute playing sounding greatly clear. Plus some good high pitched shiverring synthesizer music for alot of the horrifying situations. Plus some nice hissing and moaning sounds here and there. ALot of deep gloomy sounds especially for the near ending of the film. Yes this seemed necessary for a low budget slasher in it's time such as this one.

Frank Zito
: I told you not to go out tonight, didn't I? Every time you go out, this kind of thing happens.Disco Boy: You wanna meet me someplace?
Disco Girl: Where?
Disco Boy: The back seat. [flutters eyebrows]

Rita: Don't kill me. Don't kill me. Frank, don't kill me.
Frank Zito: No, no. I'm not going to kill you. I'm just going to keep you so you won't go away ever again! [drives a switchblade into her heart]