As part of my Horror Re-Education, or my attempt to go back and catch some of the films that I've missed throughout my tenure as a purveyor of horror, this week I checked out 1980's "Maniac". Whooboy.
The film is directed by William Lustig, a prolific producer who has also helmed a handful of horror films, including the entire "Maniac Cop" series, as well as being the founder of Blue Underground, one of the premiere distributors of cult horror cinema on DVD. Despite all of his accomplishments, when it comes down to it, "Maniac" may well be the film he ends up being known for.
"Maniac" is a gritty, grimy exploitation flick that hearkens back to the days when New York City was just about the last place on earth you would want to find yourself at night. It manages a surprising amount of atmosphere and depth that actually lifts it above films with similar setups. It's definitely on the far fringe of good taste, being that it's filled with tons of gooey special effects from none other than Tom Savini. Tom even makes a memorable cameo in the film, where he gets his head blown clean off by my favorite weapon in the world, the glorious shotgun. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. There's a reason that Gene Siskel reportedly walked out a half an hour into the film during a screening in 1980.
Personally, I loved it. This is the second "Horror Re-Education" title I've hit up in as many weeks, and I have to say it feels good to get back into discovering old gems. I recommend you try it yourself some time!