Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Forgotten Films: Maniac

I first saw Maniac as part of a double bill (remember those?) nearly 50 years ago. I probably went because one of the stars was Kerwin Mathews, a guy I liked because of his work in several Ray Harryhausen films I'd seen and also because he was a high school English teacher (as I was at the time) before he'd found fame as an actor. I don't know what I expected when I went to see this movie, but it was a far cry from the swashbuckling Harryhausen films.

Mathews plays Paul Farrell, who's going out with a young woman whose father is in an asylum, having killed the man who tried to rape her. He used an acetylene torch in the murder. Then Farrell falls for the girl's mother, and they hatch a plan to help her husband escape. Things go wrong.

Maniac was filmed in atmospheric black and white and written by Jimmy Sangster, who throws in any number of good twists. Even though I'm telling you right now that there's a twist ending, you might not figure it out while you watch the movie. Back in 1963, it was a real stunner.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:41 AM

    I'm just glad it wasn't the horrible 1980 film of the same name with Joe Spinell. That was some seriously sick twisted sh!t.

    Jeff

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  2. Never even heard of this one. I am not big on horror though. Just stays with me too long.

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  3. Well, this one's not so much horror as suspense...the 1980 Gein-influence Spinell item (in most ways a far cry from PSYCHO) and the Dwayne Esper inept roadshow item from 1934 tend to get discussed before this MANIAC does.

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  4. Kerwin took his money and became an antiques dealer in San Francisco. If his being an antiques dealer in San Francisco leads you to certain speculations about his sexual orientation, you're right. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

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