Customer Reviews: Maniac [Blu-ray]
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on September 9, 2013
As a huge fan of the Joe Spinell original, I have to say I was more than impressed with this retelling of one of the more unique horror films from the 80's. I was more than skeptical about the POV style, and of any remakes lately, but Elijah Wood was fantastic as the tortured psychopath. The special effects were great, if you like some good, bloody slasher movie effects, and the overall mood was dark and brooding, the way a slasher film should be. Highly recommended for the old school horror fan.
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on December 7, 2014
Joe Spinell(Cheech the gangster in the first two"Godfather"films)wrote and starred in the original version of"Maniac"in 1980..While it wasn't exactly a classic it had enough going for it to develop cult status.Not the least of it's perverse charms is Spinell's creepy performance.He is frightening.While there is certainly a lot of killing in the film it is for the most part not particularly gruesome in terms of its vividness..
..Cut to the present and this god-awful remake.Poor Joe Spinell must be turning over in his grave this re-make is so bad..Elijah Wood is about as scary as a field mouse..Comparing Spinell and Wood in the title role of the maniac is like comparing night and day...Yes,the blood and gore levels are higher in this film but a lot of blood and gore does not a classic make..In this case it seems out of place in that even as we follow the storyline it is hard to imagine the Wood character doing these things..Where Spinell was both creepy and frightening Wood is neither..It is as if the whole film plotline is a joke in that the maniac as played by Wood would not be doing such terrible things...
Skip this drek and view,or buy the original...
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on September 30, 2014
I remember seeing the original, late night showing at a theater. It was the only theater I think in the whole state
that was showing this film, and only at night.
I had heard a lot of talk that it was like nothing ever seen.

Early in the film, Frank (Joe Spinell), who's character we don’t know yet, stalks a young couple leaving a club and
follows them in his car to a secluded park in New York.
Out of the blue, and totally unexpected, Frank, with shotgun in hand, jumps on the couple’s parked car hood and
blows the guy's (played by Savini) head off in slow motion.
I nearly fell out of my seat, and my blood pressure flew off the scale.

I was expecting ( like every other film I had seen) them to quickly cut just before the blast, but no, you see it up close,
in slow motion, with very graphic realism.
After dispatching the guy, Frank levels the shotgun at the blood splattered girl, and I was now expecting to see another
head explode, but this time, they cut.

With that introduction to the film, I knew I was in for a real ride. This film meant business, and anything can happen, which
kept my anticipation up high through the whole movie.

Now, on to this modern remake.
This effort pales compared with the original.
It's to "clean", lacks the grainy, gritty grunge, it's over-written, over-produced, and a bit to stylish.

Elijah Wood is horribly mis-cast as Frank. He is small, skinny, and fragile looking. I understand what the director had in mind
when casting Wood because I read his interviews. He was looking for a sort of, reverse psychology. Wood appears to be a
likable, sweet young man, so having him be a twisted killer (in the director’s view) made him all the more scary).

Well, this idea could work, but it doesn’t here. Wood is just too small to subdue a women and tie her up.
You need to have the right character body to make this believable.

Joe Spinell, a large guy, fatty chest complete with flabby 'man boobs', pot marked face, and stringy black hair was absolutely
perfect. He was totally convincing as a sick and twisted killer.
He was 'scary'!!

There is not a single moment in this remake that got my adrenalin up. The violence looked to "clean", not much blood, where
they should be lots of it.

It's over-written, so many flashbacks and references to his childhood life with his Mother looses it's impact.
As does the manikins motif . Over used to the point that it loses its creepiness.

The ending lacks the creepy, punch in the gut, that the original had.
And the idea of revealing Frank’s face as a manikin was just too formulaic and dumb.

Check out the original 1980 film, if you haven’t already.
It’s much better
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Certain movies speak to a specific time or place and the 1980 horror slasher "Maniac" is one of those films. William Lustig's bleak portrait of a serial killer capitalized on the birth of the home video market to offer an underground movie experience to audiences who didn't typically have access to non-mainstream cult movies. For its time, it became a bona fide sensation. I'd maintain that it isn't a particularly good movie (and I've probably seen it a half dozen times and own it), but it was startlingly effective as a new breed of shocker. The early eighties were a thrilling time for independent films! The VHS explosion opened up a whole new world and made monster hits out of movies that otherwise would not have been so impactful with lesser availability. "The Evil Dead," for example, is one of the era's most sweeping success stories. Part of the appeal of the original "Maniac" is that it is a visceral movie, one that puts the viewer right into the middle of some rather unpleasant events. This remake maintains a chilly aloofness and captures events from a bold "killer's eye" viewpoint, but it simply lacks the horrific novelty of its predecessor. With another 30+ years of movie brutality in the can, the story behind "Maniac" doesn't have the same effect as it once did.

Beyond this observation, though, I will refrain from any other comparisons and simply look at this new iteration of "Maniac" on its own terms. Elijah Wood plays the titular character and he is, indeed, unwell. Fans of Wood might embrace this change-of-pace endeavor, but it should be noted that he isn't actually seen very often despite being in every frame of the movie. The whole experience is done with a creepy Point of View perspective, meaning that we're seeing through Wood's eyes. As far as plots go, Wood stalks a number of women throughout before pouncing in for the next brutal murder. Despite being (quite literally) in Wood's head, his character isn't developed in any depth (aside from the classic back story, told in brief flashbacks, that pins his compulsion on the acts of his mother). And we're also not asked to know anything about his victims or have any sympathy for them. When an attack occurs, we're simply left listening to Wood's panicked rants. While I found this approach rather interesting, the whole experience became a bit repetitive due to a lack of character involvement.

I think that's what I'm most apathetic about with "Maniac." I didn't think it was a terrible movie, but I simply didn't care much about what transpired. There isn't much suspense because there is no emotional investment. It doesn't help that most of the victims give rather amateurish performances either. Wood is creepy and effective in his voice work. The movie is shot and scored with a nod to its eighties heritage, and this homage works for the gritty violence depicted. The movie has a decent enough gore factor, but it's all so impersonal. At only ninety minutes, there isn't much story to maintain its brief running time. In the end, the movie was an interesting visual experiment for me. But because I never felt close to Wood or his victims AND never really felt the palpable dread that I desired, I can't muster up an unqualified endorsement. If you like the genre, you might give this a look. But it's not nearly as horrifying as it might have been. KGHarris, 10/13.
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on June 21, 2013
I wish I read the reviews before I rented this. This is not the movie that is advertised in the title.


The mixup has been FIXED so I was able to see the movie. Now to fix my rating with a proper review. This is a definite 5 star horror movie in my book.

The POV camera for the stalking/killing is very jarring (harkening back to the opening scene of Halloween). Paired with the somewhat retro soundtrack it gives a nostalgic feeling for old style slasher movies in a modern setting, and I think the movie itself is a solid entry into that genre. The violence in the movie is VERY graphic (and it does not shy away from it using quick cuts or other camera tricks), so gauge your own stomach before watching, but it is worth it in my opinion.

Like I said, definite 5 star on the movie.
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on August 27, 2014
Great representation of the film (which I believe was shot digitally, so if they managed to fork it up there would be no excuses). The cover is OK, would have preferred to not have the lady on it (more Elijah Wood is A+++ please, thank you).

Whether or not movies are good are an opinion, one that everyone has and screams loudly. I like the film. The way its shot was wonderful and an absolute artform with how they managed to get every shot without ever showing the camera (and often it wasn't as simple as just having the actor look into the camera instead of into a mirror).

It was shot in downtown LA, so you can spot all sorts of landmarks in the background of the film.

Managed to catch the showing of this in Cinefamily, where the actors were present. It was interesting seeing just how tiny and blind Elijah Wood is in real life. This review isn't about that, but it put the film in a different perspective for me (and I was sitting behind his parents while squealing about how cute he was. Really awkward once I realized that. At the end of the film. After saying I'd bone him).

ANYWAYS. I'd recommend any horror lovers to watch it and the original at least once. Give it a shot. It (probably) won't kill you.
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on June 7, 2014
Alexandre Aja and his normal team always seem to do a great job with both original horror films and even remakes. This movie is no exception. As a fan of the original, I was worried when I first heard that this movie was being made but as soon as I heard who was making it, I relaxed. There's enough elements from the original to satisfy most fans and enough new elements to make it a good remake and not just a regurgitation of old material. Elijah Wood does a great job in the lead role, despite being a slightly different kind of character than in the original. More normal looking and smart, less obviously crazy and greasy. All the necessary insanity and hang-ups are still there in the character and the POV camera angle does wonders for the suspense of the film and makes you really feel like you are there, or even the man himself. The soundtrack is also marvelous and one of my favorite parts of the film. The filmmakers paid plenty of homage to the original in the score alone. Overall, unless you are an elitist when it comes to the original, you should enjoy this version. It's a great compliment to the original cult classic film. Few remakes of 80s slasher films are this good.
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on November 20, 2014
This was such a creepy and bloody dark and disturbing movie and yet I could not look away and who knew that Elijah Wood could play such a frightening character and be so believable?!

The main character, Elijah Wood has mommy issues and relationship issues and an addiction to mannequins, make that a lot of mannequins. With a twisted upbringing and no strong women figures in his life Elijah likes to kill women and use their hair to build the perfect mannequin/woman for him. And when he finds love things really start to spiral out of control....

Good horror thriller, suspenseful and bloody with a great performance by wood. I def think he has found his calling in horror movies!
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on June 29, 2013
Don't let the negative nancy reviews from this movie stop you from renting this movie, if you are looking for an amazing visual horror/thriller film with a very memorable soundtrack that ties the movie EXTREMELY well, then check out this movie! Also, if you saw Elijah Woods in "Sin City" and loved his character in that movie, then you can expect even more amazing performance by Woods in this Maniac movie as well.
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on September 8, 2013
This is a radical trip of hard core violence and we walk in the maniac's shoes. Elijah Wood plays it just right. Toned down and self-programmed to wear a mask of sanity, he is lives in a secret world of manikins. When he does venture out into our world we see what he sees and there is almost a smooth and sweet quality to the character. As we inhabit his body, it becomes clear the character has a limited time before the mask drops off and his true nature breaks free with ferocity.

The first act of violence is wild and I wondered if this was going to be a film with a repetitive feel, if it was going to be just a body count. But, the character just gets crazier and weirder and each killing is more shocking than the last. There is no speed limit here. When a bitchy agent picks at his peculiarity, she is oblivious to his dark side and laughs at him, forgetting that sometimes the old adage is true- if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Her horrible fate is cued by "Ave Maria", filmdom's favorite music-to-murder-by . It the single best pairing EVER of opera and gore.

Hands down the best serial killer horror movie in a decade. But, I'm warning you now- I can watch anything in this genre and this one had me holding my hands in front of my face and glancing through my fingers, just to steel myself against what was coming next. Just for insane kicks, the final scene comes swinging out of far left field like a wrecking ball.

On a scale of 1-10, MANIAC IS A WOW!
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