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directed by William Lustig
USA 1980

 

Mother-fixated Frank (Joe Spinell, VIGILANTE) stalks, murders, and mutilates women on the streets of New York, nailing their scalps to mannequins in his shrine-like apartment while having conversations with his mother in his head. By chance, he meets photographer Anna (Caroline Munro, STARCRASH in which Spinell also appeared) and they strike up a relationship (which includes him moping about in the background during one of her photo shoots and taking her to visit his mother's grave during a date). Will Anna wind up his next victim or a perfect live replacement for his mother (and what will his mannequins think about that)? Shot in 16mm and blown-up to 35mm (the shooting guage was a secret at the time so pre-production advertisements mentioned Panavision) and mixed in Dolby Stereo, MANIAC is an assured mainstream debut (Lustig had previously directed at least 2 hardcore features before this) that is as much a hommage to Lucio Fulci (the film anticipates NEW YORK RIPPER in some ways) and Dario Argento (Munro replaced Argento's ex Daria Nicolodi in the love interest role) as it is a kind of male version of REPULSION (the film shares some common elements such as the abusive mother fixation and the supernatural twist in the ending with the grim and nasty DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE). There's not much of a story, which basically fills in the spaces between the murders. Munro's husband provided finishing funds - and was billed as executive producer - so her role was enhanced; one wonders how the film would have played without this expansion (it's a grim experience either way). Although the filmmakers admit the relationship isn't very believable, it does show a different side of the protagonist (and Spinell's versatility as an actor). Robert Lindsay's photography (with its judicious use of handheld guerilla shooting and permitted shots that utilized dolly tracks) is most effective during the scenes in Zito's apartment in which Spinell is framed against the disturbing cluttered background set design and Jay Chattaway's electronic score gooses the scares and punches up the gory bits. MANIAC was a hit at Cannes and Spinell and Munro teamed up in the less gory THE LAST HORROR FILM/FANATIC in which he played a psychotic movie buff stalking her actress character at the film festival. The gore is presented with gusto (the shotgun-blast-to-the-head bit here seems like a splattery dry run for the climax of THE PROWLER - also out from Blue Underground on DVD and Blu-ray - the following year) and the ending gore set-piece satisfies after a nice setup (even if the ending as a whole is abrupt).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 26 December 1980 (USA)

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Comparison:

Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) Screen Caps!

(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Blue Underground

Region 0 - NTSC

Blue Underground
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:54 1:27:58.231
Video

1.81:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 36,606,379,621 bytes

Feature Size: 23,848,863,744 bytes

Average Bitrate: 29.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4- AVC 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue)

 

Bitrate:

 

Blue Underground (Blu-ray)

 

Audio English DTS-ES 6.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround; French and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2107 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2107 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
16-bit)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 640 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

Subtitles Spanish, none English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Blue Underground

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by William Lustig, Lorenzo Marinelli, Luke Walter, and Tom Savini
• THE JOE SPINELL STORY documentary (4:3; 49:18)
• Radio Interview with William Lustig, Joe Spinell, and Caroline Munro (19:11)
• Stills and Poster Gallery
• GALLERY OF OUTRAGE newspaper reviews
• Filmographies
• U.S. R-rated Trailer (16:9; 1:21), U.S. Unrated Trailer (16:9; 1:34), International Trailer
• (16:9; 3:48), French Trailer (16:9; 1:22), German Trailer 1 (16:9; 0:55), German Trailer 2
• (16:9; 2:50), Italian Trailer (16:9; 3:24)
• TV Spots: 4x 30-second, 5x 10-second
• Radio Spots: 2x 60-second, 1x 35-second, 1x 30-second
• Easter Egg: outtake from William Friedkin's commentary to THE GUARDIAN where he praises MANIAC

DVD Release Date: January 30, 2007
Amaray

Chapters 23

Release Information:
Studio: Blue Underground

 

Disc Size: 36,606,379,621 bytes

Feature Size: 23,848,863,744 bytes

Average Bitrate: 29.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4- AVC 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
• Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo
• Anna and the Killer - Interview with Star Caroline Munro (13:08 in HD!)
The Death Dealer - Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini (12:11 in HD!)
• Dark Notes - Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway (12:13 in HD!)
• Maniac Men - Interview with Songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky (10:34 in HD!)
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots: 4x 30-second, 5x 10-second
• Radio Spots: 2x 60-second, 1x 35-second, 1x 30-second

• Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel (7:27)

Disc 2 (DVD) Extras:
• The Joe Spinell Story  (4:3; 49:18)
• MANIAC Publicity -  Radio Interview with William Lustig, Joe Spinell, and Caroline Munro (19:11), Lustig on 'Movie Madness' (47 minutes), Joe Spinell at Cannes (1-minute), Joe Spinell on the Joe Franklin Show (13:00), Caroline Munro TV Interview (3-minutes), Barf Bag Review Policy (2-minutes), Grindhouse Film Festival Q+A (22-minutes), Stills Gallery
• MANIAC Controversy (Gallery of Outrage quotes), News briefs from L.A. (3), Chicago (1), Philadelphia (4), 'Newsbeat' (2), Midnight Blue - Al Goldstein (2)

Blu-ray Release Date: October 26th, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Blue Underground Region FREE - Blu-ray - October 2010: Firstly, I'm a little baffled by the heavier green/blue in the image (and skin tones warming up) but the new Blu-ray is significantly brighter showing more detail in many scenes - and there is slightly more information in the frame. As Eric pointed out the source is 16mm blown up to 35mm and you 'can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'. There is grain (not much) and more noise but this is probably about as good as Maniac will ever look - which is a reluctant approval.

Audio gets the lossless treatment with an exhaustive DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2107 kbps 7.1. It has some decent separations and clouded bass - again with the production limitations this 'bump' is probably as dynamic as it will ever get for Maniac. There is the same Dolby Digital 5.1 EX found on the previous DVD and DUBs in French, German and Italian. There are a handful of optional subtitle choices supporting the Blu-ray being region FREE playable worldwide.

Extras are as stacked as I think I've have ever seen - two audio commentaries - the first with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni and the second with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo. So much is covered - you almost feel like you could become a filmmaker of the genre. There is a 13-minute interview with star Caroline Munro entitled 'Anna and the Killer' and The Death Dealer is an interview with special make-Up effects artist Tom Savini for a dozen minutes. Dark Notes is another 12-minute interview - this time with Composer Jay Chattaway and Maniac Men - talks with songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky for 10-minutes - all of this is on HD. There are theatrical trailers, TV Spots: 4x 30-second, 5x 10-second, Radio Spots: 2x 60-second, 1x 35-second, 1x 30-second and a Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel running 7-minutes. That is just the Blu-ray - there is also a second disc DVD of more supplements - with the previously seen The Joe Spinell Story for 10-minutes shy of an hour and well over an hour's worth of under the heading 'MANIAC Publicity' which includes a radio interview with William Lustig, Joe Spinell, and Caroline Munro (19:11), Lustig on 'Movie Madness' (47 minutes), Joe Spinell at Cannes (1-minute), Joe Spinell on the Joe Franklin Show (13:00), Caroline Munro TV interview (3-minutes), Barf Bag Review Policy (2-minutes), Grindhouse Film Festival Q+A (22-minutes), and a stills gallery. Lastly we have some MANIAC Controversy (Gallery of 'Outrage' quotes), News briefs from L.A. (3), Chicago (1), Philadelphia (4), 'Newsbeat' (2), 'Midnight Blue' - Al Goldstein (2). Pheww...  somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-hours worth in total if you count the commentaries.

Despite all the extras I felt I was only moderately swayed from my opinion of the film as limited entertainment. I did, honestly, gain some appreciation - there is more to this whole thing than one would surmise from the screen captures. I'd only recommend though - to those who had some keen leaning in this genre in the first place. Fans should know what they are in for here with Maniac. This is gritty and vile. Saying that one can't help but applaud the work of Blue Underground - these guys are coming across as top producers of the Blu-ray format - along with Criterion.   

 - Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE DVD: Shot in 16mm and blown-up to 35mm, MANIAC is quite slickly shot. While the nine-year old progressive, anamorphic transfer might look it on a progressive monitor (the half-bitrate DTS track, 5.1 EX track, commentary, and three 2.0 surround tracks means that the video portion of the transfer is only 2.87 GB of the total 4.07 GB allocated to the feature), it looks quite slick on an interlaced television. An early Dolby Stereo production, most of the separation is confined to the music score and stings. The Blue Underground DVD under review is the third DVD release of the film in the United States; being a direct port of the 2001 Anchor Bay Entertainment edition. The first DVD edition from Elite Entertainment in 1997 was non-anamorphic but featured the same audio options and commentary as well as a deleted scene (Lustig deleted the scene from the version for Elite's laserdisc but it was reinstated into subsequent versions including the Blue Underground; as such, the commentary goes dead on all subsequent versions during this scene). Blue Underground has issued a new 30th anniversary two-disc edition using the same master as the Blu-ray under review. The Blu-ray and 2-disc feature a new audio commentary with Lustig and producer Andrew Garroni in addition to the Lustig/Marinelli/Walter/Savini commentary that was on all previous DVD and laserdisc releases. The latest Blue Underground edition has also reinstated the promo video for the proposed MR. ROBBIE: MANIAC 2 - which was to have been directed by Buddy Giovinazzo before Spinell's death - which was missing from the Anchor Bay and previous Blue Underground editions.

 -Eric Cotenas

 



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Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 


 

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Screen Captures

(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(Blue Underground (Blue Underground 2007 Reissue) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray
Menu: Blu-ray

 
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Distribution

Blue Underground

Region 0 - NTSC

Blue Underground
Region 0 - NTSC

 

 


 

 




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