Film / Maniac!

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I warned you not to go out tonight.

A horror film from 1980. It was directed by William Lustig (Maniac Cop, Uncle Sam) and stars Joe Spinell in the title role.

It follows the exploits of the woman-hating and mommy issues-ridden psychopath Frank Zito, who wanders the streets of The Big Rotten Apple from one brutal kill to the next, breathing heavily and babbling incoherently all the while.

The film's effects were provided by Tom Savini, which includes the infamous "Disco Boy Scene" where a man's head explodes from a close range shotgun blast.

The film also has the dubious honor of being one of three movies the late Gene Siskel had ever walked out on.

The year 2012 was treated to a remake that was produced and written by Alexandre Aja and which had Elijah Wood star as the title character. It is mostly the same story, but with the twist that almost the entire film is shot from a first-person perspective. It also incorporates online dating.

These films provide examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Despite being a psychotic Serial Killer who murders women for their scalps, Frank is a really nice guy when he's not sitting in his room rambling.
  • Big Word Shout: "MOTHEEEEEEER!!!"
  • Creepy Doll: Various mannequins which wear scalps from Frank's victims that he keeps around his apartment.
  • Freudian Excuse: Frank's mother was a prostitute who beat him and would lock him in the closet when she was with her johns. That would certainly explain his awkwardness around the fairer sex, as well as why he kills women that remind him of her.
  • Hallucinations: Frank starts having these when Anna hurts him at the funeral in the original. The remake has one as well.
  • Job Title: Well, Frank is certainly maniacal.
  • Missing Mom: Frank misses his mother, despite the horrible abuse she put him through.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Frank hallucinates being ripped apart by his own mannequins (on which he placed the scalps of his victims) in both versions of the film.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Frank has this reaction to most of his murders. It doesn't stop him from committing them, though.
  • One-Word Title: Which describes the Ax-Crazy Frank.
  • The Remake: The unmade sequel was apparently going to be a remake of the 1975 film The Psychopath. And of course, there's the remake of the original.
  • Serial Killer: Frank murders five women (six in the remake) and takes their scalps.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Last Horror Film, which features Caroline Munro and Joe Spinell in nigh-identical roles.
  • Villain Protagonist: Both films follow Frank's point of view.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: When you take Frank's miserable life and general loneliness into account, he becomes a lot more pitiful than revolting. Made all the worse by his instant remorse whenever he claims a victim.

The 1980 version provides examples of:

  • All in the Eyes: Used when Frank wakes up, Catapult Nightmare-style, and light is shining on his eyes.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Frank sees his hand being chopped off in his last hallucination.
  • Bedmate Reveal: When Frank gets up from his bed, the audience is shown that the corpse of his latest victim is laying next to him.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Disco Girl gets covered with Disco Boy's blood when Frank shoots him.
  • Boom, Headshot: Disco Boy's death, courtesy of a double-barrel shotgun blast by Frank.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frank addresses the viewers at one point. But hey, he's just crazy.
  • Bullet Time: Used when Frank shoots Disco Boy and when he attacks one of the Anna's photograph models.
  • Camping a Crapper: Frank chases a nurse into a subway restroom and kills her there.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Frank's second on-screen victim is a hooker whom he picks up from the streets, and proceeds to strangle in bed.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Frank goes off the deep end, hallucinating that his victims have returned to take revenge, stabbing himself in the stomach in his madness. The cops show up to arrest him, and find him lying on his bed. They go get the coroner, and his eyes open the moment they close the door.
  • Excited Show Title!: Only the original version has the exclamation point.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Frank visits his mother's grave near the end.
  • Make-Out Point: Disco Boy and Disco Girl drive into one near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for some Auto Erotica. Unfortunately, they were followed by Frank.
  • No Name Given: Most of the characters, like Disco Boy and Disco Girl.
  • No-Tell Motel: Frank takes the hooker whom he intends to kill into a establishment like this.
  • Off with His Head!: Frank's final hallucination has his mannequins come to life and ripping his head off.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Frank has a hallucination at the graveyard of his mother's maggot ridden corpse rising from the grave and grabbing him.
  • Senseless Violins: Frank carries his shotgun in a violin case.
  • Slashed Throat: Frank does this to his first on-screen victim (whom he finds on the beach waiting for her boyfriend) with a razor blade.
  • Shovel Strike: Anna attacks Frank with a shovel when he is chasing her in the cemetery.
  • Sinister Subway: Frank follows one of his victims through one.
  • Stalker Shrine: There's one for Frank's mother, that's right next to his bed.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Disco Boy's head explodes thanks to a shotgun blast.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Disco Girl attempts to cheat her boyfriend with Disco Boy at the Make-Out Point. Frank then arrives and kills them both.

The 2012 version provides examples of:


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