Maniac (1980) - Drama, Horror, Thriller

Hohum Score



A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree?

IMDB: 6.5
Director: William Lustig
Stars: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro
Length: 87 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 40 out of 192 found boring (20.83%)

One-line Reviews (117)

I felt bored.

That these two version of the same city coexisted is fascinating.

Okay, first of all this movie was shot in New York and there's something I find fascinating about the look of films shot in NY in the 70's or 80's.

Long- drawn-out scenes of a woman being hunted down to the subway, finally being stabbed (sense?

The relationship between Spinell and the photographer (played by Caroline Munro) is intriguing too.

Now, the storyline is rather simple but the movie is suspenseful enough to hold your interest.

Maniac has plenty of surprises, unexpected twists, a chilling climax, all without the censorship of an R rating.

When you've gotten bored with the likes of Friday 13th and the like, take it to the next level with Maniac!

No story beyond that.

'Maniac' is completely his show, though former Bond girl Caroline Munro (Franco's 'Faceless') is very good as Zito's unexpected love interest, and buffs will get a kick out of seeing Tom Savini ('Dawn Of The Dead'), also responsible for the gruesome effects.

His rambling, pointless monologues have achieved a degree of infamy comparable to the film's extreme violence.

My one complaint is that it moved to slow.

Seeing a few of my squeamish female friends appalled and horrified by the film made it well worth the watch to me!

I am a horror movie fan, but I find the horror movies from the 70's and early 80's fascinating.

Extremely suspenseful, sleazy, and absolutely disgusting .

It gets dull.

The film is also notorious for a head explosion by shotgun blast (Savini contrived to pull the trigger and shoot himself, in a small role as Disco Boy) which is more graphic than the one in SCANNERS!

Longer: I was glad to be there for one of William Lustig's Q&A'd after the movie (hes an entertaining raconteur) in particular for the background about how the idea for this movie came to be, since, as I was watching it (and knew Spinell was also a co-writer), I wondered how the flying eff this came to be.

A Stunning Performance by Spinell .

Robert Lindsay, the films cinematographer and camera operator, has an eye for the suspenseful, with beautiful shots of atmosphere, it is also with Jay Chattaway's ear, Tom Savini's hands and the imagination of the late Joe Spinell that Maniac is a film that both terrorises and amazes.

For this it is too slow and much to violent.

On the contrary, Maniac can be an entertaining film, once the viewer relinquishes its disturbing topics.

In his excellent book 'Terror on Tape', James O'Neill observes that this plot development is contrived - surely such an alluring and beautiful woman would not deign to become involved with such a sweaty, drooling, overweight slob.

Frank also goes underground in the New York Subway system where he stalks a young nurse on an empty subway platform, then into a deserted public mens room, and runs her through with a two foot bayonet.

That makes it quite suspenseful (actually the only suspense throughout the whole movie).

had Bill resisted leaving an open- ended, he's-still-alive PEEKABOO Cliché SHOT!

Maniac is slightly predictable and mostly realistic, which is pretty much the norm with serial killer movies.

But actually after having watched it again just now I found it quite boring and not half as gory as I thought it would be after having read some of the comments on imdb.

Now I would like to start off this review by addressing the fact that Gene Siskel walked out on this movie during the infamous shotgun blast movie saying that there was no way the movie could redeem itself.

Amusingly gory, sometimes suspenseful maniac killer after women film.

The best murder sequence involves Savini having his head blow clean off in slow gory motion, so it's not all about being misogynist.

But the pacing is quite slow (in that it is a typical film from the eighties).

The thing which makes this film crappy is boring, irritating and much too simple plot.

We get a slew of graphic kills here, mutilating the body with a series of intense work full of incredible effects work that gets featured.

Boring and Predictable.

No real plot, storyline, or point.

The romance between Spinell & Caroline Munro is rather mundane to say the least, and it felt a bit otiose to me.

Rather mundane with bad acting.

I was bored from the start..stopped half way through...

The film does not offer a whole lot in the way of suspense since we know that each of Spinell's victims WILL meet a grisly demise, but as a pure thriller, it is totally engaging.

The film succeeds most when Frank is stalking his victims - scenes are drawn out at great length and create some genuinely tense moments.

Spurned on by a grizzly, haunting and excellent score, both electronic and musical, by Jay Chattaway (Maniac Cop - 1988, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - 1987 / 94 etc), this is a fine signature tune, both her own and Zito's, that helps delve only deeper into the confusion of this primal scream.

The movie is about a serial killer, but the following scenes we see are just murders one-by-one, though shown with much atmosphere, suspense and gore-like-blood-and-guts-everywhere style, it's too boring and simply stupid.

This might make the movie even more unbearable to some viewers.

Simple, dark and drawn out synth lines help further develop the grim mood of Maniac.

He totally brings it with a totally intense performance and presence as well as having many layers to this complex and creepy character.

Wanton violence is one way to shock and audience, but if you want your film to leave a lasting impression on the viewer; there must be a frightening idea behind it all.

The acting is great, the music is chilling but its Tom Savini's Visual gore effects that's worth the watch, this is by far the best 80's gore I've seen since The Prowler (I've only seen recently for the first time) and Cannibal Holocaust.

Nevertheless "Maniac" is pretty entertaining from beginning till the end, shocking and disturbing!

) The scenes with Zito stalking and killing his victims are extremely creepy and suspenseful, with the subway sequence in particular rating as a nerve-wracking stand-out.

What a waste of money!

There's not much story here to tide you over in between the gore effects, so it's pretty tedious and tiresome.

This is the real crime of the movie since he isn't one of the more fascinating serial killers in cinema history, so it can become boring if you're not in the right mind-frame.

There's a tight, claustrophobic atmosphere to the film & it can be unsettling at times, the surprisingly suspenseful chase through the subway as Frank stalks the nurse is particularly well shot & put together in this regard.

The main problem here is the fact that the movie focuses on the killer more than the victims he goes after, being a character study rather than a truly enjoyable body count hacking.

Director William Lustig directs and shows that he knows what he is doing behind the camera, creating some very terrifying chase scenes, particularly the one in the empty subway station.

Final view on the film: A fantastic ,almost fake documentary Slasher film,that still packs a knock-out punch thanks to Spinell's aggressive performance,still- stunning special make up effects from Savini and gritty directing from Lustig.

The film opens with some sort of dream sequence involving the usual 80's horror cliche where a young couple are alone on a deserted beach, the boyfriend walking off to get firewood so the girl can get her throat slit by a psychopath with a razor blade.

He was so phenomenally intense and raw as he pathetically moans and rants to himself in his disgusting pit of an apartment where he keeps his grisly collection of lady mannikins that are decorated with the scalps of his victims, as well as a shrine to a dead mother whom he is clearly obsessed with and probably killed himself if you read between the lines.

The majority of Savini's work on the film is stunning, with only the final decapitation being less than perfect.

The film is full of tension and suspense, with the highlight being the lengthy stalking of a nurse, which literally had me on the edge of my seat throughout; fingernail-biting stuff.

This is a highly controversial and much-maligned film, featuring some of the most intense gore ever committed to film.

So I always tend to really enjoy the classic setting of the old meaner late 70s/early 80s New York City setting and all the excellent gritty touches, darkness and atmospherics that it could bring to movies such as this, and this is one of the best sleazy dark city underbelly type horror movies out there for sure, it's very grounded, gritty and freaking ugly, which is something that I could appreciate in this instance because it's just a lot more real and visually appealing to me than something that's all pure and tidy and pretentious.

No humor, no horror, not even bad acting, just plain empty air

Definitely Worth Watching .

A waste of time, effort, and money.

Moreover, once the viewer has immersed into it he/she will forget the pitfalls and have fun – i.

It often recalls other films like TAXI DRIVER (a film in which Spinell had a bit part) in its depiction of a New York filled with litter, sleaze and low-lives and it has to be said that this is a depressing, non-entertaining ride through some of the lowest quarters imaginable.

Where are the forensics looking for fingerprints or the coroner, this movies leaves a whole lot out which makes it terribly boring and uninteresting.

Jason", "Cannibal Ferox", "Scanners", "The New York Ripper", "Caligula", "House on The Edge of the Park", "Urban Legend", "Jungle Holocaust ( a.

Apparently neither did he because the ending was quite abrupt and unexpected.

After a gruesome yet effect start, structure is repetitious with a pointless sequence involving Kelly Piper as a brainless nurse who manages to corner herself in a subway washroom before having a knife lunged into her back.

One of them is how boring it can be at times.

Maniac was made on a low budget and this gives the film a suspenseful ambiance.

Surely a hot photographer wouldn't waste her time with the portly, slimy Maniac.

I saw the remake before I saw this one (which I know is considered taboo to some of my fellow movie lovers) but, after going back to watch where the remake came from, it's no surprise this one was remade because I found it boring and pretty uninspired for a horror movie.

The stalking scenes in the subway are some of the most intense parts of any movie I've ever seen that along with everything else help make this a highlight amongst all 70's and 80's slasher horrors.

When I saw the film years ago it just seemed like one killing after another with no story beneath it all.

a tedious lack of suspense...

But Lustig found this boring, and decided to just take out the cop scenes.

The score is quite creepy and there are a few scenes that are actually quite scary and there is one scene (a stalking scene set in a subway) that is very well done and is one of the most intense scenes in all of the horror movies I have seen.

The film itself, I thought, was scary, disturbing, intense and even suspenseful in parts (the subway sequence was especially well handled), which is how it should be.

Joe Spinell does a great job and the f/x is very well, too but somehow the movie was boring.

It's ugly, brutal, grimy, slow paced and has scenes which make you feel really dirty.

The atmosphere, the gore, the pacing, the music, the acting, everything about this film coalesces to create a dramatic, suspenseful, depressing, and endlessly fascinating entertainment experience.

I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected, simply because when the man is talking to himself it all gets a little confusing, and you're left trying to figure what he's on about.

I was left empty after watching this.

Ultimately, the movie is not perfect with some dull, repetitive scenes and unnecessary scenes which are obvious padding.

I won't say too much to spoil it but the plot is actually good, suspenseful and full-on graphic.

In watching "Maniac," I found the movie to be excrutiatingly boring.

But, and every horror fan should remember that, violence without a function is not hard or shocking, it's boring.

We wait on the edge of our seats for the explosions of blood and agony just as he does.

I found myself bored silly and quite annoyed with Joe Spinell's whining, wheezing villain.

Maniac is a truly fascinating film.

but still worth watching .

The subway stalking scene is cool, very suspenseful.

Elsewhere, the beautiful Caroline Munro is wasted as a fashion photographer who dates Spinell during his more lucid moments, while Spinell himself makes for a very uninteresting psycho.

In the title role, writer/star Joe Spinell turns in an amazingly overblown and dull-witted depiction of a man at war with his own demons.

Your enjoyment of Maniac will depend solely on how comfortable you are watching a largely plot-less series of brutal and unflinching murder sequences and dwelling inside the mind of one of the most depraved killers to ever grace a film screen.

dull and boring .

There is no plot and no characterization, and only near the end you realize why Zito kills all these women.

In the same very scary scenes there's a good creepy atmosphere which gets build up real slow.

She likes him, and not in that patronizing puppy dog way, but because he is mysterious and strange, and therefore intriguing.

Also, hearing him whine and act loopy can get a tad tedious.

Boring .


This movie may lack in some departments, and it sure contains some logical inconsistencies, but it is definitely suspenseful and scary as hell.

It's full of glum, yet compelling you-can't-look-away sequences including the opening, the one with the disco boy and girl, the murder of the hooker, Zitos' terrorizing of Annas' friend Rita (Abigail Clayton, one of several porn actresses among the cast), the stalking of the nurse, and the final bit of business in Zitos' room.

For example, in one particular scene there was a "nurse" (played by Kelly Piper) who appears and then after a moderately suspenseful chase scene is killed.

For the most part, nearly everything enjoyable with this one involves the gory killings which makes out nearly every single wound is like cutting through an important artery in the body.

Just when you feel Frank is becoming a pointless cheap character in a slasher movie the pace slows and we see Frank befriending a female photographer, and we are allowed a glimpse of Frank's human and quite charming side.

Nevertheless Maniac is still an enjoyable classic that will appeal to fans of old-school horror.

There's more than a few but for me the scariest part is the suspenseful sequence where a young woman is being stalked through a deserted subway station, and you know that something bad is going to happen to her, it's just a matter of when...

I found the entire movie entertaining and was anticipating the killer's next murder through every moment of the film.

Maniac is one of the better horrors of 80s, making us believe slasher is unique and unpredictable in its own universe.

DVD has an fascinating documentary titled "The Joe Spinell Story" with interviews with his close friends, an intriguing audio commentary by the filmmakers, an hidden feature and more.

A lessor director would show everything, every last one of them, but that leads me to the key point with this: this is a piece of pure, uncut 100% pure Grindhouse moviemaking, but what makes it emotionally disturbing is that the direction is so assured isnt sloppy or boring.