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Maniac! (1980)


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Release Date: Jan 1, 1980 Wide



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 6,582

My Rating

Movie Info

Joe Spinell, who appeared in Taxi Driver, stars in this unsavory horror film as Frank Zito, a character reminiscent of an even more disturbed Travis Bickle. Frank is an embittered loser who talks to himself and his dead mother, stalks a pretty model (Caroline Munro), and spends his spare time brutally murdering women. He then scalps his victims and puts the trophies on mannequins which he takes to bed with him at night. An unpleasant film with a relentlessly downbeat tone, Maniac! features


Drama, Horror

C.A. Rosenberg

Jun 30, 1998

Watch It Now



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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (8) | DVD (15)

the film about Travis Bickle that Travis Bickle would have made

April 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central | Comments (2)
Film Freak Central

Today's horror movies barely register once the credits stop rolling, but not so Maniac.

February 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix underwhelming, uninvolving product of its time that simply possesses no relevance in 2010.

October 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comments (2)
Reel Film Reviews

A formidable New York grunge-flick through and through

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

It's a surefire memorable horror film with a horrifying glimpse into the mind of a merciless killer.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Seen today, the movie has more in common with the grungy Times Square aesthetic of Abel Ferrara than with the multitudes of slasher flicks that followed it.

August 3, 2007 Full Review Source:

An unapologetically twisted study in pathological murderousness.

July 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

This old chestnut from 1980 is worth revisiting for fans of the nouveau 'old skool' horror films of today.

June 23, 2005 Full Review Source:

Distasteful on every level and none to coherent either.

September 9, 2004 | Comments (2)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Best described as the diametric opposite of a refreshing shower, William Lustig's Maniac has long been reviled as one of horror's truly ugly films.

December 7, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide | Comments (4)
Apollo Guide

too good to be dismissed as simple exploitation, but also too inept in too many ways to be taken seriously

February 27, 2001 | Comment (1)
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Maniac!

Raw, gritty, depraved and in your face are some of the words that can describe Maniac. This is a powerful and riveting film that when originally released created controversy. Effectively directed by William Lustig, this film tells the story of Frank Zito played by Joe Spinell in a tense performance that is quite mesmerizing. Maniac is a sick, depraved film, and if you truly want to be disturbed, watch it. I mean that as a compliment of course. Maniac is definitely terrifying; I mean there's nothing scarier than a serial killer stalking the streets, right? It's quite possibly the most disturbing film ever made, as the kills in this film seem convincingly realistic, these are not Friday the 13th Jason Voorhees style kills. That's what makes Maniac so different from every other slasher films, its realism. If you want a solid, disturbing horror film to watch, Maniac is the film for you. Of course this is not an extraordinary piece of cinema, but it is a pulse pounding film that has the power to truly shock you to the core. With that being said, this is not a film for everyone, as it is quite disturbing and unnerving. Fans of obscured horror films will certainly enjoy this one, and it is one of the most intense films in the genre. Maniac is a menacing horror picture that uses simple ideas to induce shock in its viewers. Spinell is great here, and he can definitely be a memorable villain that is quite memorable on-screen. For fans of good gore effects, this title will certainly satisfy, and the effects are well done by effects artist Tom Savini, who also plays Disco Boy in one of the film's most memorable scenes. If you love these types of films, then give it a shot, it is an underrated film, and one that does deserve to be rediscovered. Although violent, this is one of those Slasher films that should be seen due to a more realistic approach to its kills, and with that being said, it will certainly appeal to the diehard horror fans looking for memorable thrills.
April 29, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

I would almost rate this as the best horror movie I've watched this season if it wasn't for the shlocky ending that sprinkles both sequel bait and betrays the psychological edge with cheaply phantasmagorical imagery like Frank's mother's corpse and the mannequins reanimating. Yes, the film earns its controversial reputation with ultraviolent depictions of scalpings and a shotgun blast in slow-motion, but horror movies aren't meant to be craven. The music by Jay Chattaway is haunting and like 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer', it is insightful as to the abnormal pathology of sociopaths and their addictive behavior. Frank speaks lucidly about the preservation of beauty and argues that the artist distills his subject perfectly in the given moment and the subject can never escape. Lustig chronicles a slice-of-life diary of Spinell who is squirm-inducing and brilliant in the role. What is so nonplusing about Frank is that he can switch into a highly charismatic playboy on a whim such as his first date with Caroline Munro where he teases her about the other eligible bachelors about her. The film is truly frightening and disturbingly doom-laden in such a fashion that it is not a jaunty experience, but it is indelible and Spinell is Oscar-worthy.
October 18, 2011
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer


Really bad film i think i can relate to the famous head blowing off scene but still...

Good acting put terrible plotting and work. BTW GET INTO THE KILLERS MIND!!!!
July 19, 2011
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

A good slasher movie, Spinell is creepy as always, and he really is a maniac in this movie! It's very exciting and intense, I especially loved the climactic scene towards the end, it's brilliant. Overall, a really good movie, I recommend it.
March 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Maniac (1980) (DE)
  • Maniac (1980) (UK)
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