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Product Details

  • Actors: Marcel Andr, Jennie Dark, Ted Edwards, Celia McGann, Thea Ramsey
  • Directors: Dwain Esper
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alpha Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 19, 2002
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000639EK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,334 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Horace Carpenter. A psychopath impersonates a surgeon with grisly results. Famous for its graphic violence, surreal images and nudity. 1934/b&w/54 min/NR.

Customer Reviews

The cat does not look all that real, but the eyeball does.
Lonnie E. Holder
Please don't get the wrong idea, this film is terrible, but if you like cheap and silly horror films, this should give you a good laugh.
It's watch-able, but this kooky film deserves a better looking release.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 1, 2004
Format: DVD
Ladies and gentlemen, the search is over. I have discovered the worst film ever made. This atrocity from 1934 is only 51 minutes long, but there is so, so much to talk about I hardly know where to begin. The sheer impossibility of this film actually makes it important, however. Maniac is essentially the grand-daddy of all exploitation movies, but this goes way beyond simple exploitation. It is paramount that we assign the blame for this movie where it is due: producer/director Dwayne Esper. palmed this film off as an actual study of mental illness-throughout the movie, we are occasionally presented with place cards detailing the types of mental illness our educational movie is about to illustrate. I can't believe this was actually released in the 1930s; there's even some partial nudity in this thing (though, of course, no glimpse of the evil belly button forbade by the infamous Hayes Code). Apparently, Esper made his educational entertainment films outside of Hollywood and thus avoided the type of censorship being practiced in Tinsel Town.
The movie begins in the lab of Dr. Meirshultz (Horace Carpenter), a mad scientist obsessed with restoring life to corpses. He needs a dead body, of course, and he orders his assistant Don Maxwell (Bill Woods) to get him into the morgue. Maxwell is a former vaudeville entertainer and impersonator, so he passes himself off as the coroner and gets the good doctor inside the morgue (somehow fooling two incompetent and quite possibly inebriated morgue workers). Doc gives the lucky, female stiff a couple of jabs from his huge hypo, and after a few minutes of intense arm rubbing, she begins to stir. The boys hurry home gleefully with their prize.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Miller on May 10, 2003
Format: DVD
If you are looking at this review you probably already know the story of the fim, Maniac. A film you have to see to believe. A sampling of the things that happen in this 1933 film: A woman is brought back to life, an unemployed actor kills an insane scientist, a man plucks out a cat's eyeball then eats it, a crazy man is injected with Super Adreniline, a man rapes the woman who was brought back from the dead, there is nudity, there are misspelled words in the pseudo scientific inter-titles, a man is walled up ala Poe's the Black Cat, etc. AND, this all happens in 51 minutes!
Alpha's release is not great, but watchable. If you are curious about this title, then spend the $.... If you like it, then wait and perhaps some company will release a nice print. As I suspect this will be unlikely, go ahead and take a gamble on the Alpha release. There are no extras on the disk and is contains only 4 chapter stops. Hey, what do you expect for $...?
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By frankenberry on May 14, 2000
Format: DVD
This double-feature DVD features 2 early 1930's exploitation films from Dwain Esper. Although maybe tame by today's standards, just try to imagine seeing people shoot up heroin in a movie back in the 30's! It's all very high camp now, of course, and if you like antique sleaze, this may be your thing. Esper was definitely no Kubrick, but he has his own strange and absurd style...inserting shots that have no point, suddenly cutting away to show animals fighting each other, superimposing stock footage, etc. Could he be the precursor to Ed Wood? Anyway, some highlights of the 2 films include a real shot of a cesarian birth of a baby, a snake eating another snake, a cat's eyeball poked out (and then eaten by the maniac), a couple of real sideshow freaks, some brief nudity as a psycho carries off a woman to ravish her, and of course lots of over-the-top acting. Both movies tried to get around the censoring codes of the time by pretending to have a message (narcotics are bad), but the movies are strictly exploitative. The prints used for this DVD are scratchy and have some jumps here and there, but considering the age and that no major studio was behind these films, this may be the best materials available. Also on the DVD is the trailer for "Maniac", some letters from the censor at the time, an excerpt from a silent italian film "Maciste in Hell" that footage was superimposed in "Maniac", and audio commentary by an author-expert on Esper and such films. A worthy purchase if you like stuff like "Reefer Madness", etc., but don't expect any scalpings in "Maniac" ---it's actually a loose re-telling of "The Black Cat".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Scoundrel on March 15, 2009
Format: DVD
Forget the rest...This is the best available version of Dwain Esper's MANIAC on DVD.
KINO presents this exploitation shocker in a print from the UCLA Film and Television Archive that puts other DVD versions to shame. Not to say that this is material worthy of The Criterion Collection, but you'll not find a better version of Dwain Esper's twisted take on "The Black Cat" on DVD.

Dwain Esper was later known for distributing MGM's "FREAKS" after the studio shelved their own product out of embarrassment. Never one to shy away from exploiting material to make a buck, Esper added the " Special Attraction" prologue that now exists on most prints and made a small fortune distributing the film.

Complete with inserts from the silent film MACISTE IN HELL used to suggest madness, wax heads of famous executed criminals under the main title, women dueling with hypodermic needles in a cellar, brief nudity, body snatching from a morgue and suggested animal cruelty, MANIAC is Esper's best known claim to fame and must be seen to be believed.
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