Dec 202018

Maniac may not be a favorite of mine nor do I hold it in as high regard as others, but there is certainly something to admire from Joe Spinell creepy performance to appreciation of some of the technical aspects of Tom Savini’s effects work.



— 3-Disc Limited Edition —

Genre(s): Horror
Blue Underground | NR – 88 min. – $39.95 | December 11, 2018

Date Published: 12/20/2018 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: William Lustig
Writer(s): Joe Spinell (story), C.A. Rosenberg and Joe Spinell (screenplay)
Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Gail Lawrence
Features: Commentaries, Featurettes, Trailers, Galleries
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray, CD
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), English (DTS-HD MA 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0), German (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai
Disc Size: 28.0 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

Blue Underground provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.0/5

Plot Synopsis: Frank Zito (JOE SPINELL) is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the trauma of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Now Frank has begin a relationship with a beautiful photographer (CAROLINE MUNRO), yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a maniac.

Quick Hit Review: Upon my first viewing of Maniac some eight years ago, I wasn’t all that impressed. But with a new edition being released by the same company as the 30th anniversary, Blue Underground, I decided to give it another shot. Although I still don’t regard this as some horror slasher horror (with a psychological spin) all that highly, I did appreciate many elements more so this time around. For one, Joe Spinell was utterly compelling in his Frank Zito’s internal demons he continued to fight which could’ve led to an almost unintentional comedic performance and instead we got some truly disturbing scenes.

The other element that was fantastic was the gore effects, headed by legendary makeup effects man, Tom Savini. These were not only impressive but many were fairly realistic looking, even one decapitation wasn’t half bad even when you can tell it’s a dummy (not that they’d go full-on beheading for sake of realism).

In the end, Maniac is an effective psychological horror film propelled by a disturbing performance from Joe Spinell and under the direction of William Lustig (Maniac Cop Trilogy) from a script written by Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg.



This release comes with a lenticular slip cover. Inside contains a booklet with an essay by Michael Gingold and a CD Soundtrack disc. All of the features from the 30th Anniversary release have been ported over and a couple new items have been added. The interior cover art is also reversible.

Disc 1:
Audio Commentaries:

  • Producer/Director William Lustig and Producer Andrew W. Gerroni
  • Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli and Joe Spinell’s Assistant Luke Walter

Both tracks were available on Blue Underground’s 30th Anniversary Edition and although the first one is alright, I generally prefer the ones with more participants with the second track offering a wide variety of information about the project, their roles and in the case of Walter, talking about actor Spinell.

There are also several Theatrical Trailers (15:12), 9 TV Spots (3:09) and 4 Radio Spots (3:21).

Disc 2:
Maniac Outtakes (18:53) has raw footage from 1980 and has narration by Lustig. This was actually rather interesting and Lustig offers his commentary discussing what we’re seeing on the screen.

Returning to the Scene of the Crime (7:53) has Bill Lustig revisiting the filming locations with comparisons with then in 1979 and now in 2018.


  • Anna and the Killer (13:04) – Actress Caroline Munro
  • The Death Dealer (12:07) – Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini
  • Dark Notes (12:12) – Composer Jay Chattaway
  • Maniac Men (10:35) – Songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkowsky (who wrote the song ‘Maniac’ for Flashdance as Spinell back in the day insisted the song was meant for his movie, Maniac.

The Joe Spinell Story (49:20) is a great documentary from 2001 about the life and career of the actor with interviews by friends and family and his untimely death.

Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel (7:24) was some footage for a proposed sequel.

PUBLICITY includes a Radio Interview (19:11) with William Lustig, Joe Spinell & Caroline Munro; William Lustig on “Movie Madness” (47:18), a cable access program; Joe Spinell at Cannes (0:43) which is a short interview; Joe Spinell on “The Joe Franklin Show” (13:13) from 1981; Caroline Munro TV Interview (2:53); Barf Bag Review Policy (2:10) which is a humorous TV segment on a local station with Katie Kelly and her system of Barf Bag for bad movies; Grindhouse Film Festival Q&A (22:19) with William Lustig and a couple others; last up is a Still Gallery.

Under CONTROVERSY there are a collection segments from a variety of local TV networks in Los Angeles (7:46), Chicago (2:13) with Gene Siskel, Philadelphia (3:26) and on “NewsBeat” (21:12) and “Midngiht Blue” (6:33) plus a Gallery of Outrage.


VIDEO – 4.0/5

I was not overly impressed with the transfer on the 30th Anniversary release, so this is a welcomed new edition with the picture receiving new 4K restoration from a recently discovered 16mm original camera negative and the difference is nearly night and day. While this one might not look incredible, it is still mighty impressive with good detail throughout and despite a darker filter; there was some okay color that shined through. As for the condition, I did not really notice much in the way of dust mark or dirt, outside of maybe some minor specs.

AUDIO – 3.5/5

The disc comes with from what I can tell, the same audio codecs from the 30th Anniversary release. Even so, the English language DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, as well as the accompanying 2.0 Stereo option, sounds pretty good especially for a movie going on nearly 40 years old and not meant for the audio to be disperced across 7 channels. Dialogue comes through with relative clarity and the music by composer Jay Chattaway, along with some ambient noises, make up the front and rear channels.


OVERALL – 3.75/5

Overall, Maniac may not be a favorite of mine nor do I hold it in as high regard as others, but there is certainly something to admire from Joe Spinell creepy performance to appreciation of some of the technical aspects of Tom Savini’s effects work. It’s also quite amusing to see the outrage this film caused back in the day and, frankly, pales in comparison to many of the torture porn that has been released in the last decade. This new Blu-ray is the ultimate edition correcting the video transfer from the 30th Anniversary release and adds a few more features, making this a worthy pick-up.





Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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