Maniac [30th Anniversary Edition] [2 Discs] - Horror

Directed by William Lustig (who also made the adult film The Violation of Claudia under a pseudonym and would later go on to direct Maniac Cop (1988), among others) and starring the late great character actor Joe Spinell (who also wrote and co-produced the film), Maniac was for many people the poster child for everything that was wrong, vile, and dangerous with the horror film genre. Even fans of the genre had a hard time defending the film and it is not difficult to see why. The film's aggressive onscreen violence is notorious and still packs a sickly punch today. Outside of the Italian horror films from the late '70s and early '80s, which gave audiences a heavy dose of giallo-styled mayhem and lurid, mondo-cannibal films, very few American films have ever pushed the cinematic violence meter so thoroughly over the top as this film did. Wes Craven's seminal revenge film Last House on the Left (1972) and Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 came close (even though the latter's violence was pretty much always off-screen or implied), but Maniac left them in the gutter. The film's graphic special makeup effects were created by Tom Savini, a legend in his field due to his involvement in this film as well as his earlier contributions to George A. Romero's zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead (1979). With its plethora of realistic scalpings, stabbings, shotgun blasts to the head, beheadings, and more, Maniac challenged the stamina of many a jaded horror film fiend and, for better or worse, helped spawn the bloody tide of the 1980s horror film boom. ~ Derek Hill, All Movie Guide