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Original Vs. Remake: Maniac

08.13.2014by: Mike Catalano
Holy shit, did we ever have an uproar of 100% agreement with the outcome of our last Original Vs. Remake. How dare we even compare the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street to the original?! Well, this site's all about ideas and debates and ya'll relished voicing your feelings on this one. Nice work!

For today's O vs. R, we are dealing with another type of maniac a tad different from Freddy Kruger. Instead of killing people through dreams, he's more into... scalps. Oh yeah, and he's an actual human being. I'm talking about good ol' Frank Zito and his unhealthy obsession with ladies, mannequins, and sharp knives. So cover your head because it's time to do a little dance with both versions of MANIAC!

A psychotic man, who had a harsh upbringing, lives in New York City and is on the hunt for woman and their scalps. He resides in a tiny apartment with a bunch of female mannequins as friends. One day, he meets a photographer named Anna and believes she may be the perfect woman. Does that mean he'll finally stop killing?
Very similar to the original's, Frank is a psycho who was most likely made that way because of his mother. He enjoys scalping women and making mannequins. However, the nice adjustment to the story is that he owns a mannequin shop and photographer Anna needs to rent some for a photo shoot. Also, the entire story is told and shown through Frank's eyes, which was a nifty little trick! But it is still pretty much the same as the original
Joe Spinell was a marvel in this film. Just watch the way his eyes are twitching when he wakes up from a nightmare, covered in sweat. You have no trouble believing that this guy is someone capable of the violent acts depicted in the flick. Everyone else involved does a fantastic job of capturing the seedy city aura of the time.
Who would have thought that Frodo could be so disturbing? We always knew that Elijah Wood could act, but he really brings the intensity here with Maniac. He gives an ideally well-rounded account of what a psychotic could possibly be going through. The supporting cast that has to deal with this troubled, violent soul is equally believable and gripping.
Special Effects
The original Maniac benefited greatly by having young F/X genius, Tom Savini, at the helm for all the kills. This means that whenever there was a chance for blood to spill, it did so in gory, dripping spades. Whether you're seeing scalpings, slashings, or gunshot blasts to the head, it all comes off as chillingly authentic.
The remake smartly keeps the effects practical in order to deliver some visceral jolts. Now, I'd consider myself pretty desensitized to the type of gore that horror movies usually dish out. However, I was pretty f*cking shocked at how disturbingly real it looked when Elijah Wood was cutting, pealing, and yanking away the top of a woman's head. This flick takes extreme scalping to a whole new level.
The grunt-like breathing of Frank matched with the eerie 80's horror score gets your nerves pumping the instant the movie starts. From there, any time that Maniac appears before a potential victim, you're literally squirming in your seat. In a harshly drawn out choking of a hooker, Frank's wide-eyed killing face on display is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
Since, the entire movie is shown literally through the eyes of the killer, it's tough to find any good scares. However, the actions that Frank takes when stalking and killing his victims certainly has a large amount of intense shock value. There are so many horrific scalping scenes, you can't help but gasp every time Elijah holds something sharp up to a woman's forehead.
Hot Chicks
The original has a wonderful line of early 80's hotties with tight bods and long legs. Frank only goes after the cutest of cuties. There isn't really any nudity, yet they're still hot. And Caroline Munroe is absolutely stunning as the highest object of Frank's desire. She has top model good looks that I feel would still be viable by today's standards.
The remake knew not to skimp on the hotness of the ladies involved with the Maniac. Megan Duffy was a wonderful, red-headed standout as a victim early on who didn't mind taking her clothes off. America Olivio, who's always up for displaying her knockers, was great as Frank's whoreish mother. And Nora Arnezeder was a French vision as Frank's "final girl".
William Lustig has an incredible flare for setting up creepy set pieces within the confines of everyday life. His long, drawn out shots of the victims as they're being stalked really amps up the chilling vibe. He really knew how to frame his maniac as well. Every shot of Frank was shocking. Plus, the atmosphere of Maniac is so uneasy throughout its running time which is a true testament to its director.
Franck Khalfoun is a genre director to look out for. It helps that he's worked closely with Alexandre Aja for years and clearly, the man has honed his craft. Shooting 99% of Maniac through the eyes of the killer was a risky move, but pays off incredibly through the masterful creativity Khalfoun exudes. It helped make an already deliciously sick movie that much more demented and enjoyable.
Maniac 1980
I guess it's tough to top an original Maniac. Although, I will admit that I really enjoyed the fresh take on the subject matter that the remake brought to the table. Clearly, the makers of the 2012 version were big fans of the original. I'm curious which of the two flicks YOU are more a fan of? Is the original Maniac a slasher classic through and through? Or did the glossy remake really blow the top of your head off? Carve in your thoughts below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at [email protected].



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