Sunday, October 19, 2008
Really, I've been meaning to see this one for years, but something always held me back. I'm not sure if it was laziness or some sense that the movie was going to be too unpleasant, but I always stayed away from it despite my curiosity.
Glad I finally caught it, because for what it is, it's a good one. As I recall, this was not a well-respected movie critically, probably because it's low budget and sleazy and violent. Yeah, it's got it's problems, some of the acting is weak, the writing doesn't always make sense, maybe there's some awkwardly staged parts. But I gotta say, if one of the things a horror movie is supposed to do is unnerve or disturb, then this is an effective horror movie.
It's a pretty sick, twisted movie at times, but a mostly well-made one, with a weirdly fascinating lead performance. It's sort of in that low-budget subgenre of movies where the killer is the main character, like Deranged, or Don't Go in the House, or The Driller Killer, but a bit better than any of those. There's something in these movies' low rent, late 70's/early 80's aesthetic that I respond to (even when the movie isn't very good)... it's hard to put my finger on, but there's something sleazy and almost unprofessional about it, like it was actually made by perverts and sickos. (I don't think that's actually the case, but you get that vibe). Maniac takes the cake, since it's about a guy who murders women, scalps them, brings their scalps home, nails the scalps to a mannequin, handcuffs himself to the mannequin, and then talks to it and sleeps in the same bed with it. Makes the guy who burns women alive with a flamethrower in Don't Go in the House look well-adjusted by comparison.
So it's got that disturbing, creepy vibe sustained throughout most of the movie, but it also has some effective sequences of tension, particularly one scene set in a train station. I mean, it's no Dressed to Kill, but it puts you on edge. And I have to respect that.