Posted by Danny at 12:20 AMLabels: Look What Danny Watched, Return of Project Horror
First, some history on this choice. My family got our first VCR in about 1983. I remember that, because the very first movie we ever rented was Superman III. And I remember that because the scene when the woman got sucked into the supercomputer freaked me out in a huge way. There were hardly any video rental chains back then (much like now!), so whenever the family wanted to rent a movie we would all pile into the station wagon, head to the Curtis Mathes showroom, and see what was available. Even after all the movies we rented, the two movies I remember most are actually ones that we never rented. What I remember about them is their very striking covers. One of those was Porky's. Remember that cover, with the guy peeking through the hole in the bathroom wall, and the girl's hip right there? I may have only been 8, but I knew there was something in that movie I wanted to see. The other one was Maniac. It scared me so much that I did my best to avoid the shelf it was on altogether, or to look the other way if I did have to walk past it. When I saw that it's now available on Netflix instant streaming, I decided to open up my block of slasher movies by finally facing my fear and watching it.
It was scarier when it was just a box cover in my memory.
Maniac is about a crazed loner who tries to overcome memories of the abuse he suffered at his mother's hands by going out and killing random women. (By the way, if that plot sounds familiar, it's because it's the plot of PRACTICALLY EVERY SERIAL KILLER MOVIE EVER.) And... well, that's about it, really. You know me by now, faithful reader - you know that I like to write about what I watch, but there's just no way to make anything more out of this.
You know how some horror movies feel timeless, even if they are years old? For instance, if you watch The Exorcist or The Birds, you can tell when they were made because of the fashions or hairstyles, but they still feel fresh and powerful. Maniac is the opposite of that. Think of every 80s slasher movie cliche you can, all the things that got called out in Scream, and they are pretty much in this movie. There's some decent tension building in a couple of scenes, particularly one where he is chasing a victim through a subway, but nothing else in this one holds up all that well. The very last scene of the movie is one where you think the killer is dead, but then - GASP - he opens his eyes!
Now, here's what made the movie fun anyway - my friend Clay came over to watch with me. Clay normally does not watch horror movies at all. Last Sunday, though, he came up to me after Sunday School and told me he wanted to try to watch one with me this week. Yeah, that's right, I just watched a sleazy slasher movie with a person I go to church with. Because he doesn't ever watch horror, he hasn't developed callouses on his eyeballs like I have. Here's his reaction to watching a hooker get scalped:
As for the movie, it has one redeeming quality, and that is Tom Savini's always excellent makeup effects. The guy always delivers, and for that, I'll give Maniac one extra point. It gets two scalped heads out of five.