Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MANIAC (2012, IFC Midnight): A Mannequin of a Different Color

The biggest criticism I’ve seen about 2012’s Maniac is that it simply isn’t the 1980 William Lustig classic. The second biggest criticism is that Elijah Wood isn’t Joe Spinell. The third… the cover art sucks. So I’d like to take the time to address each one of the criticisms in their own time, and at the same time provide my ringing endorsement of the new Maniac Blu-ray. I had the chance to watch this movie on VOD when it came out and reviewed it positively at that time as well. Let me reaffirm that.

Synopsis from IFC Midnight:
Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank’s obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.

Franck Kahlfoun is not William Lustig. Glad we got that off our collective chest. That means he’s not going to make Lustig’s gory, brutal classic complete with seedy imagery. Kahlfoun was never going to hire Tom Savini or Spinell. The movie is going to look different, be shot different, contain different violence. If Kahlfoun were to go for the same splatter that Tom Savini was so successful at in the original picture, he would have failed miserably with just about anybody he hired to do the damn job. That’s why he made it different. Violent as Hell. Bloody. Sexy. Dark. That’s why he cast, perfectly, Elijah Wood as the picture perfect violent psychopath with crazy person eyes. Spinell and Wood approach the character of Frank Zito completely differently, but both end up with a whole lotta crazy in the eyes. We don’t remake movies to see the exact same story or same vision. I don’t understand the out and out hatred for the remake that asserts that it is not as “____ as the original”. Sometimes the point is bigger, faster, more. We save that for fucking and hard cocks. 

That’s enough talking about what OTHER people think about the original Maniac and the remake. I’m in love with the goddamn thing. It has an original perspective the basic premise set forth in the original Maniac and draws strange new mental illness from the protagonist/psychopath/lover. The mannequin imagery, while cleaner and perhaps more artsy fartsy than the original is effective and creepy. The kills are brutal; less based on Tom Savini’s splatterfest and more surrounding the intensity of Elijah Wood’s performance and camera perspective. This is a movie that relies to great and positive effect on camera movement and shake. 

The score is iconic and will become part of horror history. If it were a higher budget/major release this would be on every soundtrack compilation for years to come especially on creepy Halloween mixes. Unfortunately, aside from collector’s who flock to the vinyl of the Death Waltz label, you might miss it. Let me plug that Death Waltz vinyl while I’m at it. If you have the means, pick it up. It is so choice (I quoteth, Mr. Bueller). 

The first thing you do when you’re about to talk about Maniac is go watch it. You should do that sooner rather than later and hopefully you’ll make it a part of your collection. It’s available through IFC Midnight (a redeeming title for this label). The Blu-ray disc contains a making of doc, commentary with Elijah Wood, the director and the producer, Alex Taylor. There’s even deleted scenes. Stand poster gallery and trailer apply.

I feel that I addressed the first two criticisms afforded by most folks who dislike the new Manic. The third is the cover art. Yeah, the chosen front cover art is a complete let down. I’m hoping that someone at IFC reads this and eventually reissues this wretch that plays to the lowest common denominator, the general public as opposed the adoring horror fans who will love this movie. So I say that and then I say, BY FUCK IFC Midnight even fixed that! The cover is reversible, and while we’re not staring down the crotch of a jeaned man holding a knife, we have a spooky lil female mannequin to stare at… mannequin boobies exposed. It’s actually one of my favorite modern horror images. It’s bleak. It’s sexy. It’s artsy (in a good way). 

You can pick up Maniac NOW. Don’t let others’ form opinions for you. Watch movies not social networks.



  1. I'm so glad other people enjoy the remake. When I first heard about the remake I was not happy as I consider 80's version a classic. But, when I heard Elijah was Frank it peaked my interest, I really wanted to see it. With the U.S. release date so far away, I totally forgot about it. Then the first 6 minutes were released and I heard the score. I rushed to iTunes and downloaded the soundtrack. It is by far my favorite soundtracks of the year. I was lucky enough to catch a screening at a convention here in Texas and loved the movie. Elijah is no Spinell, but still creepy none the less. In my opinion this remake lived up to the name MANIAC!.

  2. Awesome blog, Jimmy. I purchased the DVD at Target last night and I look forward to watching.