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(directed by William Lustig, 1980)

Maniac is your typical mother-abused-son, then son-became-killer movie, a la Psycho, but set in the mean streets of New York City. Featuring the bloody special effects of Tom Savini (Friday the 13th) and starring Joe Spinell (Rocky, The Godfather) as the killer, Frank Zito, Maniac packs a wallop when it comes to violent serial killer cinema.

The film features several suspenseful, violent deaths of women who unfortunately encounter the lonely character of Frank, who lives in a small apartment, which he shares with female mannequins that wear the clothes and scalps of his victims. Frank is obsessed with his dead mother and thanks to her mistreatment of her little boy, he has lost his mind and he kills to preserve his female victims forever -- probably in hopes of keeping his mother around, psychologically speaking.

Although there's not much going on for Maniac -- Frank Zito is basically the only character we can really get to know -- the film still has a certain charm with its passion and dedication to exploring a dark, twisted man. It's Halloween if you were able to spend some alone time with Michael Myers - get inside his head, hear his thoughts, that kind of thing. I'm a fan of horror films so this was a nice change. I have only seen it once, but the film is thirty years old and I never knew about it until recently. For some reason, it kind of reminds me of Zodiac, either because the murders are sort of similar, or maybe it's just because Maniac and Zodiac rhyme. Maybe a better comparison is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but I feel that Henry and Frank Zito aren't the same people, although their deranged hobbies would draw them both to the same Wednesday night meetup group.

Besides the murder scenes with women, there's a little plot involving Frank dating a photographer (Caroline Munro), whose passion for photographing women attracts Frank, since he's passionate about... well, slaying women. Really, though -- not much is developed between these two characters. One of Caroline Munro's models becomes a target of Frank's and Frank becomes the first murderer I know of who uses the word "fabulous" quite a lot.

There's also a bubble bath growing wildly out of control and a great moment involving a guy's head being blown apart by a rifle.

Maniac is now available on Blu-ray from Blue Underground in a nice 2-disc 30th anniversary set. I bought it blindly but I wasn't disappointed, so if you're ever in the mood to watch suspenseful, bloody scenes of women (and some men) getting stalked and killed, bring Maniac into your home and let the screams begin.