Maniac (1980)


More of a verite, psychological approach to the slasher genre than most of the ’80s slasher windfall, William Lustig’s Maniac rises above its exploitation roots by putting us inside the killer’s mind and keeping us there, even as his sanity starts to unravel. The killer’s back story may be a little cloying, but Joe Spinell delivers a terrific leading performance, and the dream-like ending seals the movie up with a kiss. Tom Savini’s makeup effects leave a huge impression — I’ve never seen a human head explode so thoroughly, and in such a prolonged fashion, than one does in this movie. And if you aren’t already a little freaked out by mannequins, you will be after Maniac. Elijah Wood starred in a 2013 remake.

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