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sku: ALP 40023
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- NTSC Formatted (U.S.)
- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 7 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: March 19, 2002
- Originally Released: 1934
- Label: Alpha Video
Performers, Cast and Crew:
|Directed by||Dwain Esper|
|Screenplay by||Hildegarde Stadie|
|Original story by||Edgar Allan Poe|
Description by OLDIES.com:
A milestone in exploitation filmmaking, Maniac is also one of the most shocking and fascinating movies made in the thirties, pushing the boundaries of acceptable film production to its limits. Created by the husband and wife team responsible for films such as Marihuana, Weed With Roots In Hell and How To Undress In Front Of Your Husband, Maniac was originally shown at burlesque theaters and roadhouses rather than at regular movie theaters. A burlesque house was an appropriate venue for Maniac as the movie includes shots of topless women-a true shocker for 1934! Based partly on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat," Maniac also cleverly superimposes clips from a 1922 movie called Haxan to suggest the insanity of characters. The wild plot concerns a mad doctor (Horace B. Carpenter), who blackmails a former vaudeville impersonator (Bill Woods) into helping him obtain the corpses he needs to perform Frankenstein-like experiments. When the doctor is accidentally killed, the impersonator "becomes" the doctor and even attempts to bring him back from the dead. Maniac revels in it's gleeful exhibition of "bad taste."
Dwain Esper officially took the directorial reins in this follow-up to Narcotic, and if anything Maniac is more salacious and unbelievably outrageous than its predecessor. Starting off like a skid row remake of Frankenstein, with a mad scientist reviving the sexy corpse of a dead woman, it quickly jumps tracks to borrow from Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat when the assistant is tormented once too often and kills the doctor, taking his place with greasepaint and wigs. But the plot is really just an excuse for outrageousness: a mental patient is injected with an experimental drug and turns into a raving maniac, kidnapping the revived corpse, tearing off her flimsy gown, and molesting her on the run! Thrown in for good measure are cat fights (both literal and figurative), gratuitous displays of young women prancing around in underwear and negligees, and the doctor popping out a cat's eyeball and tossing it in his mouth like a grape. The script is irredeemably stilted, the acting is either wooden or flamboyantly over the top, and everything about the film reeks of cheapness--especially the hopeless attempts to frame the whole exercise as an educational report on mental disease. But this poverty-row cocktail of titillation and exploitation excess, while certainly not good, has that jaw-dropping "Am I really seeing this'" quality that overcomes all questions of aesthetics, judgment, and good taste. --Sean Axmaker
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