Maniac (William Lustig, 1980)

If one were to take the measure of filmic representations of America in the 1970s, then one should surely plumb the depths to include films like this one, a celluloid scraping from the filthiest strata of the cinematic shale. While Joe Spinell achieves another committed (in two senses of the word) oozy performance, it is the New York City settings (apparently captured guerilla-style) that really make the gloom: graffiti-covered paranoid bathroom stalls; ominous subway stations, hotel rooms papered with fever dreams; and Spinell’s squalid apartment, not so much decorated as excoriated, with its sweaty decomposing clothing, discarded toys, and dismembered mannequins and odd avant-garde sculptures screaming silently in a dark corner of the outer boroughs.

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2 Responses to Maniac (William Lustig, 1980)

  1. Alison says:

    this is a nasty one. love it! i saw it for the first time during a middle school sleepover and most of the girls cried.

    • acbleach says:

      I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it until this week. It’s such a filthy filthy film. And the poster is one I know I saw constantly on the cover of the VHS box in our local popcorn-sweaty video store.

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