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USA 1980
produced by
Andrew W. Garroni, William Lustig, Joe Spinell (executive), Judd Hamilton (executive) for Magnum Pictures
directed by William Lustig
starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Gail Lawrence, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Hyla Marrow, James Brewster, Linda Lee Walter, Tracie Evans, Sharon Mitchell, Carol Henry, Lenia Bacmeister
written by Joe Spinell, C.A. Rosenberg, make up effects by Tom Savini, Rob Bottin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A series of gruesome murders of women or couples making out (make up atrtist Tom Savini is among the victims) puts terror into New York City, especially since all the female victims are scalped ... & the police of course, is baffled.

The killer is of course Frank Zito (Joe Spinell), a nobody with an inferiority complex that was triggered by his now dead hooker-mother whom he loved in an oedipal way, & all of this is now culminating in a bizarre case of misogyny. The scalps by the way he keeps to drape on his numerous shopwindow mannequins he keeps at his appartment to remind him of those he killed ...

One day though, Frank meets a phjotographer, Anna (Caroline Munro), & in her art of preserving a person's beauty he sees parallels to his own scalping pastime, thus he figures her a kindred spirit & tries to build up a normal, healthy heterosexual relationship with her, to which she (oblivious of course of his murdering streak) responds accordingly, being quite charmed by the man ... of course, his relationshiop to Anna doesn't keep Frank from brutally slaughtering one of her models (Gail Lawrence), then even accompanying Anna to her funeral.

It isn't until Frank asks Anna to accompany him to her mother's grave that he snaps &, imagining commands from her grabve to do so, tries to slaughter Anna too. But Anna puts up more of a fight than any of his previous victims & manages to get away, reporting everything to the police, while he is soon dragged into a nightmarish world, where his mother tries to drag him into her grave & his shopwindow mannequins come to life as the women he murdered & brutally slaughter him.

When the police finally arrive at his appartment, he has already killed himself ...


Though filled with violent, in-your-face gore-effects (which had the film banned in various countries at various times), the most disquieting, disturbiung thing abut Maniac is probably Joe Spinell's portrayal of the main character, which is - even if not free of some hamminess - so convincing that he seems to have been born only for this role - apparently he thought so too, as he did co-write & co-produce the film. Apart from this performance & the gore, the film has not too much to offer - the direction is very unimaginative & down-to-earth & the story is very rudimentary & not cliché-free -, but this gives the film a certain rawness that for some reason cannot be found in comparable indie-films of today anymore ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD