ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Maniac (1980)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: William Lustig

Starring:
Joe Spinell/Frank Zito
Caroline Munro/Anna
PLOT-CRUNCH
Due to the abuse that he suffered from his mother and the guilt that he felt over her death, Frank Zito (Spinell) has become one crazy fruitcake. He kills women relentlessly, eventually falls in love and then goes on to kill some more.
THE LOWDOWN
This is a tough movie to rate. It’s not fun to watch, the lead is mostly un-sympathetic and the violence is very real. Is it good? For what it is…yes. Is it for everybody? No way. Much like "Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer" this film chronicles the life of a serial killer. Now this dude isn't Freddy or Jason, he's the real deal and that's what makes him frightening. He vents out by going out at night, butchering women, scalping them and putting their manes on mannequins he has in his apartment. This guy is a freaking nut! The film doesn't spare the audience one bit and approaches its subject matter in a gritty, gory, straightforward way. No symbolism here or embellishments of the situation...it's all about killing.

On a narrative standpoint the film did lose me when the "love" subplot kicked in. I had a hard time buying that a girl like Anna (Munro) would fall for a dirty looking freak like Frank (Spinell). I also had qualms with Frank suddenly becoming sane for a short period of time but then again I'm no psychologist. On the flip side the "love" subplot does give us a much needed break from all the blood and guts. That's until Frank loses his top again and begins to kill his new gal's friends. Will this guy ever stop?

This movie is like driving by a bloody car wreck. Its too gross to look at but it's also somewhat fascinating so you can't look away. If I judge this movie on it’s message, entertainment value and the feeling it left in my gut afterwards…it’s negative. I love gore just like the next guy but this flick hit a little too close to reality. I still respect the movie though, its un-compromising, very well acted (Spinell is astounding) and extremely chilling. Thank god for the lame last frame that leaves it opened for a sequel…it reminded me that it was only a movie. Let me take out my knife…
GORE
Damn right!. Ever seen someone get scalped? After this movie you can say yes. Also lots of stabbing, slit throats, head ripped off…but the worst is the shotgun scene…remember that…shotgun scene…wow.
ACTING
Joe Spinell (Frank) gives a tour the force performance. There was no doubt in my mind that this man was a lunatic. I even sometimes (I say sometimes) felt sorry for his character. Making me feel sorry for that piece of shit takes some major acting chops and Spinell delivered. He carries the movie on his back (he also co-wrote it…were you acting Spinell???) Caroline Munro (Anna) doesn’t have much to do but stand there, be pretty and let her accent do the acting…and that’s exactly what she does.
T & A
Not much (surprisingly). We get this girl’s flabby ass and her flabby chest…that’s it. Is it just me or does Joe Spinnel look like "Ron Jeremy’s" (porn actor) evil twin brother?
DIRECTING
Four words: Simplistic, minimal, crude, effective…
SOUNDTRACK
One of those creepy synthesizer deal. It’s hardly used but when it is…you feel it.
DVD FEATURES
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment

This is a review of the “Maniac Limited Edition Collector’s Tin DVD Set”.

IMAGE: The Widescreen 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 TV treatment that this disk sports is solid. Taking into account that the film was shot in 16MM, the image is surprisingly very well defined.

SOUND: This DVD showcases a Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround, a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and has a THX optimizer option. I watched the film with Dolby 5.0 Surround on and the flick sounded great. The somber score and the creepy whispers lunged out of my speakers and attacked my senses.

EXTRAS: Anchor Bay didn't hold back on this one. The DVD is jam packed with extras. Read on.

Commentary: We get a very insightful feature-length commentary by director William Lustig, make-up effects artist Tom Savini, editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Luke Walter (personal assistant to Joe Spinell). Want to know about "guerilla filmmaking"? This fascinating commentary is your crash course.

The Joe Spinell Story: An interesting 49-minute look at Spinell's career with comments by Lustig and Munro. Jason Miller of "Exorcist" fame and character actor Robert Forster also pops in to talk about the man. I always found "biographies" fascinating and this one is no exception.

Theatrical Trailers: We get the U.S. un-rated trailer, the U.S. R-rated trailer, the international trailer, the French trailer, two German trailers and one Italian trailer. Enough trailers for you?

TV Spots: We get 9 short groovy TV Spots.

Radio Spots: We get to hear 4 razor kool radio spots.

Gallery of Outrage: This extra is hilarious. It's a collection of really hateful, negative "critic" quotes about the film. Talk about spiteful!!!

Radio Interview: This 19-minute "radio interview" has Lustig, Spinell, and Munro fending off attacks from a jerkoff radio interviewer who hasn't even seen the film that he's lambasting. They defended the movie admirably.

Talent Bios: We get one for Caroline Munro and Joe Spinell. A harmless added bonus.

Movie Soundtrack: The DVD I got came with an extra disk (in the shape of Zito's head) with the film's chilling soundtrack on it. Thank you, Anchor Bay.

If you're a "Maniac" fan, this DVD is a must-have. Anchor Bay have really outdone themselves.
BOTTOM LINE
Does spending a day with a serial killer appeal to you? If it does, see this movie. Is there someone you want to shock or disgust? If so show them this movie. If I judge this flick on production values, acting, directing and all, it comes through. But personally this nut bag was a bit too much for me when I watched it. I'll give it another shot in maybe...what...10 years!
BULL'S EYE
That sexy boy who gets the better end of the shotgun is no other than Tom Savini…the man who did the effects for the film. He also did the effects for "Dawn Of The Dead" Friday The 13 Part 4" "Martin" and the list goes on…He also acted in "From Dusk Till Dawn" (penis gun boy) and "Dawn Of The Dead" (biker gang leader) to name a few…
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5:08PM on 09/07/2011

Arrow, I just saw this today...

i remember you using the awesome artwork for this movie back in the day for some of your online promo's. It had always stuck with me. I finally decided to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised, of course the movie is not perfect but the lead was very good, was great to recognize the gangster from the Rocky movies playing a psycho. It was also a trip to see Tom Savini acting like he desperately needed to get his dick wet, although I think he always plays his roles with that motivation, I
i remember you using the awesome artwork for this movie back in the day for some of your online promo's. It had always stuck with me. I finally decided to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised, of course the movie is not perfect but the lead was very good, was great to recognize the gangster from the Rocky movies playing a psycho. It was also a trip to see Tom Savini acting like he desperately needed to get his dick wet, although I think he always plays his roles with that motivation, I loved his deathscene, wow. You definitely do not see that shit anymore. Anyways, I totally recommend this flick for any horror fan, especially those who dig 70's, 80's slashers. You can't say you've seen them all without checking this one out.
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