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Maniac remake (2013)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Franck Khalfoun

Starring:
Elijah Wood/Frank
America Olivo/Frank's Mother
Nora Arnezeder/Anna
Megan Duffy/Lucy
PLOT-CRUNCH
Loony with Mommy issues Frank Zito (Elijah Wood) can only find inner peace when he kills and scalps hot chicks. Personally a blow job gets me that inner peace every time, but hey, to each his own! His life of hunting and scalping dames is thrown for a loop the loop when he meets a cute gal (Nora Arnezeder) that he actually digs. Will Frank turn a new leaf and put the knife away? What do you think?!
THE LOWDOWN
I respect the original 1980 MANIAC but I am in no hurry to ever see it again. The film was so effective in what it did (get under my skin and repulse me) that the thought of being put through that ringer once more is far from appealing. So when the remake dropped in my lap like a hooker with her throat slit, I felt excitement and at the same time apprehension. Am just not in the mood for "real" human ugliness these days, I have enough of it in my life. So I put off watching it for a couple of days, then finally called myself on acting like a bitch, picked up my balls, lodged them back in my jockeys and gave it a whirl. Yeah... what I got was a tough yet mucho rewarding watch!

Even though this remake (directed by P2 helmer Frank Khalfoun and written/produced by French aces Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur ) sported some of the same beats as the original, it did its own thing and told its own story. So I am going to to try to NOT compare both films throughout this drivel. I said "try". Here we go! The best way I can describe MANIAC is an art film meets a snuff flick! Visually it was all about stylish angles, inserts of objects somewhat acting as metaphors in relation to the lead nutso, tagged with glossy yet still somehow gritty cinematography by Maxime Alexandre which gave the whole a unique mood.

As opposed to the original which was shot in the scummier parts of New York, hence adding to the dirty feel, this re-do was shot in LA and they made the most of that when it came to the imagery. It gave this update a different feel. At the same time, MANIAC made a bold choice; it told the bulk of its story through the Maniac's point of view. 95% of the time, we only get a look at the titular nut-job via reflections in windows and mirrors. That approach made the ride more appalling for me, as it put me in the shoes of the killer as he stalked and butchered these poor girls that were just trying to go about their freaking day. If it wasn't for the POV jive, I don't think the movie would have hit me as hard as it did.

And talk about solid casting! Elijah Wood as the psycho was definitely an interesting choice. Lets face it, he's better looking than Joe Spinnell, he comes off as harmless, therefore it made more sense that he would have no problemo picking up sexy gals. This retelling actually took a jab at the original at a certain point when a girl that Frank picked up said something like “You're not what I imagined, I thought you'd be fat with long greasy hair”, basically describing Joe Spinnell. I found that clever. Kudos to Elijah Wood for going against type here! When I initially heard of his casting, I thought WTF, but he sold me with his damaged, twisted, intense and blood lusting showcase. Other actors that stood out for me were Nora Arnezeder's as the loveable if not cock teasing Anna and America "I have no problem showing my boobies in films and we love you for it" Olivo as Frank's whore of a mother!

A special shout out goes to Megan Duffy as one of Frank's victims! Not only was she sexy, emanated a winning sweetness and was credible in the role, but there was also something about her that just leaped out of the screen and grabbed ya. Call it charm, call it the camera loving her, call it presence, not sure what it was, but she stood out and I will keep tabs on her from now on. Add to all that; an engaging retro techno score by composer Rob that I must own (I also esteemed the gnarly use of Good-bye Horses by Q. Lazzarus which was used in Silence of the Lambs), graphic gore galore (expertly conveyed by the geniuses at KNB) that will make you wince like Justin Bieber meeting my fist and moments of high tension that had me by the hacky-sack and you get an effective horror film, one that back-handed me hard! Ike Turner would be proud!

Any drawbacks? Nothing major. Suspension of disbelief had to be applied by my sorry ass when Frank, who restores mannequins meets Anna, who as luck would have it, is all about photographing mannequins. Okay. Found it a tad too convenient. And was I alone in wanting one particular character to get killed so bad, to then be let down when he didn't buy the farm? I will let you guess which one it was. The ending also didn’t fully full-fill me. Not sure what I was hoping for, but that wasn't it! As you can see, I don't have many complaints about this one. Yup, MANIAC was on top of its game on pretty much every echelon, so much so, that I will never, ever see it again! Once was enough! You in the mood to walk in a killer's shoes and scalp innocent gals with him? Bring this MANIAC home! He love you long time!

GORE
Much like the original, this one went for the throat and ripped it the f*ck off! Don't want to spoil too much but will say that you'll get your fill of grisly scalpings, stabbings, fun with a meat cleaver, broken limbs, entrails and more! Not for the faint of heart! Yup I winced a couple of times.
T & A
Three pair of titties and one ass! With that, I can't say I was aroused much, knowing what was gonna happen to these poor girls had a “limping" effect on me. Damn you Maniac! Damn you!
BOTTOM LINE
MANIAC bettered the original in my opinion! The flick looked macabre sweet, had loads of gore, gripping characters, bang on acting, a stellar soundtrack and a visceral POV approach that put me in the shoes of a killer. NOTE: I would have preferred to be in Hugh Hefner shoes but hey, what can you do. At the same time, that movie was so nauseating, that I never want to tap it again. Other than one convenient element and an ending that didn't fully do it for me, I have no major gripes with this flick. You like your horror unsettling, bold, inventive and grisly! MANIAC is for you! Sing it with me now cause we can! "It can cut you like a knife, if the gift becomes a fire! On a wire between will and what will be! She's a Maniac, Maniac I sure know! And she's dancing; like she's never danced before!" All I got man, all I got...
BULL'S EYE
There's a shot in the film that echoes the poster for the original MANIAC, did you see it?

C.A. Rosenberg also had a hand in the script.

The film is set for a limited theatrical and VOD release on June 21st, 2013 via IFC.
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+2
6:53PM on 06/12/2013
you've further fueled my intense desire to catch this badboy , ASAP !! The accolades (from people whose opinion I care about ) continue to roll in . I admired the vision of the original tale , but found it a little too greasy for my taste . But , like the Horror freak I am , I'm chomping at the bit , waiting for an opportunity to catch Aja/Levasseur's latest assault on my senses . Great review , My Man .
you've further fueled my intense desire to catch this badboy , ASAP !! The accolades (from people whose opinion I care about ) continue to roll in . I admired the vision of the original tale , but found it a little too greasy for my taste . But , like the Horror freak I am , I'm chomping at the bit , waiting for an opportunity to catch Aja/Levasseur's latest assault on my senses . Great review , My Man .
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