Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 7th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: William Lustig
Writers: C.A. Rosenberg, Joe Spinell
Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Hyla Marrow, Sharon Mitchell
BluRay released: October 26th, 2010
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono French, Dolby Digital Mono German, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $34.98
Synopsis: A psychopath stalks the street of New York city.
After directing a two XXX feature films (The Violation of Claudia & Hot Honey) under the pseudonym Billy Bagg. Filmmaker William Lustig (Vigilante, Maniac Cop) would make his first foray into mainstream feature films with his nihilistic tour de force Maniac. The screenplay was co-written by Joe Spinell (Rocky), who also appears in the film as the Frank Zito a psychopath who goes on a killing spree. The score for Maniac was composed by Jay Chattaway, who would go onto score four other films directed by William Lustig (Vigilante, Maniac Cop, Relentless, Maniac Cop 2). The cinematographer on Maniac was Robert Lindsay. Another frequent collaborator of William Lustig’s. Their other collaborations include The Violation of Claudia and Hot Honey.
Maniac was made during an era when horror films tried to be the more shocking than what had come before it. There is no denying that Maniac stand outs as one of the most grueling urban nightmare’s to ever grace the silver screen. At the heart of the film is a deranged lunatic named Frank Zito, who is convincingly brought to life by Joe Spinell. Unlike the majority of horror films from this era. The reason why Maniac has not lost any of its bite over the years. Is because its protagonist is rooted in reality and not portrayed as a unstoppable killing machine. This film’s single most enduring asset is the way in which Joe Spinell is able to humanize the character.
If anything, the only area where this film does not always work is its pacing. There are a few stretches where the story tends to drag. Thankfully the rest of the film is nearly flawlessly executed. Besides the aforementioned performance from Joe Spinell. Another area where this film excels are its kill scenes and its gruesome special effects that were created by Tom Savini. Also the tension during the kills scenes is superbly realized.
Maniac comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This releases transfer has been sourced from a brand new 2K high definition source. Grain structure looks natural and DNR is kept in check. Colors are nicely saturated and flesh tones look accurate. Black levels look pretty good for a film that was shot on 16mm and natural lighting was used for the majority of the film. Details look sharpest during close ups, while some of the medium range shots are not as crisp. When compared to previous releases of Maniac this is easily the best it has looked to date.
This release comes with five audio options, 7.1 DTS-HD English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono French, Dolby Digital Mono German and Dolby Digital Mono Italian. All of the audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced. Range wise the differences between the two English language audio mixes in minimal with the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English sounding slightly more robust.This release comes with eight subtitle options, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai.
Extras on disc one (BluRay) include 4 radio & 9 T.V. spots, seven trailers (U.S. ‘Hard’ trailer, U.S. ‘Soft’ trailer, International trailer, French trailer, German teaser, German trailer, Italian trailer) and a seven minute promo reel for Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2. Rounding out the extras on disc one are four interviews ‘Anna and the Killer’ with Caroline Munro (13 minutes 8 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), topics she discusses included how she got cast, her thoughts on the final product, she also briefly discusses two other films she worked on Casino Royale and Star Crash, ‘The Death Dealer’ with special effects artist Tom Savini (12 minutes 11 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), topics he discusses include Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th and his experiences working on Maniac, ‘Death Notes’ with composer Jay Chattaway (12 minutes 13 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), he discusses how his musical background, he got involved with the project and the score, ‘Maniac Men’ with songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosy (10 minutes 38 seconds), they reveal the truth behind the inspiration behind their song Maniac from the film Flashdance. Rounding out the extras are two audio commentaries. The first audio commentary is with director William Lustig and producer Andrew Garroni. The second audio commentary is with William Lustig, Tom Savini, editor Lorenzo Marinelli and Joe Spinell’s assistant Luke Walker. The new audio commentary with William Lustig and Andrew Garroni makes a great companion piece with the other commentary which has been ported over from previous release of the film. Both audio commentaries are excellent tracks that contain a wealth of information about the production.
Extras on disc two (a dual layer DVD) include a stills gallery, a twenty to minute Q & A with William Lustig, Andrew Garroni and actress Sharon Mitchell (Some of more interesting topics include the guy hired to design Frank Zito’s apartment, Joe Spinell and S & M clubs and Sharon Mitchell’s two year stint on the Soap Opera ‘The Edge of Night’), a thirteen minute interview with Joe Spinell from ‘The Joe Franklin Show’, a three minute T.V. interview with actress Caroline Munro, a two minute clip titled ‘Barf Bag Review Policy’ that a television film critic came up with for bad movies that were featured on the show she worked on, a brief one minute clip with Joe Spinell at the Cannes Film Festival, a thirteen minute radio interview with William Lustig, Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro and public access show from 1981 that William Lustig appeared on to discuss Maniac and exploitation films. The T.V. interviews Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro cover familiar ground which is cover in the other extras. The radio interview contains a lot of great information and insight about the film. Other extras include a section titled ‘Manic Controversy’ which is a collection of numerous television segments about the film and there is also a text based extra with quotes from various critics who loathed the film. Also included on this disc is the forty nine minute documentary titled ‘The Joe Spinell Story’. Overall Maniac gets its most spectacular release to date, highly recommended.