Frank Zito lives alone in a small apartment in Manhattan. At night he ventures out to murder women. Their scalps are attached to mannequins, of which he keeps a collection in his bedroom. An encounter with photographer Anna changes his life. He is thrown back into his past, with far-reaching consequences.
In Franck Khalfoun’s remake (Imagine 2013), traumatised Frank was played by Elijah Wood. With his boyish face he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The lead actor in this still shocking original is something completely different. Actor Joe Spinell, who also co-wrote the screenplay, plays Frank as an unpredictable evil, a danger to others and himself. Eighties Manhattan also contributes to the bleak atmosphere, with its derelict buildings, shabby streetlights and cheap hookers. Another asset is Tom Savini, who was not only responsible for the extremely explicit special effects, but also played a small part as a victim. Maniac is still an intense and deeply disturbing character study. A rarely screened slasher that fully lives up to its status as a classic.