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Maniac - Maniac( Blu Ray, DVD, CD) [Blue Underground - 2018]

Even though it was released thirty-nine years ago Maniac still stands as one of the most grueling, intense & deranged slasher/ psycho thriller ever made- itís a film that oozes sweaty unsettlement, tense stalking scenes, and extreme/ prolonged killings.  Here from Blue Underground is the ultimate edition of this sleazy & brutal masterpiece- bringing together a three-disc set- which takes in a new Blu Ray 4K print & two commentary tracks, a DVD loaded with extras, the full CD soundtrack- all topped off with a lenticular cover, and a glossy inlay booklet.

After directing two underground skin flicks, Maniac was the first mainstream feature from New York director William Lustig. The film appeared in 1980, and it really did manage to capture both the deranged mind of sweaty & tubby Serial killer Frank Zito (Joe Spinell), and the sleazy underbelly of NYC in the late 70ís/ early í80s. From itís very beginning the film moves from one intense & brutal killer scene after another- starting with a couple been butcher on a dusk beach. In-between the stalk & slaughter, we get trips to killers room- where he pins his victim's scalps to mannequins, chatters & sweats manically, and plans his next kill. Later on in the film, he meets up with fashion photographer Anna D'Antoni(Caroline Munro), where a fairly unbelievable relationship develops- but at least it eases off some of the films grim & bleak intensity. Iíve seen Maniac many times over the years, and it never seems to lose either itís feeling of sleazy, brutally intensity, and sour unsettlement-  respected character Spinell really offers the greatest acting of his career- really making the film, and push it up & beyond your run of the mill slasher/ psycho thriller.


The last time I picked up Maniac was the old Anchor Bay DVD release from the early 2000ís- so even though thereís not a terrible amount of new extras here compared to the previous 2010 release on Blue Underground- Iíve personally never seen/ heard much of the great stuff on here. The first commentary track is from director William Lustig & producer Andrew W. Garroin- this is an enduringly chatty track, which sees the pair dropping lots of interesting titbits- for example, the friendship between Joe Spinell & Sylvester Stallone- as Spinell help him out with early roles & gave him cash to help his young family. The various fleeting appearances of Spinell family & friends in walk on roles, the way his room was designed meticulously by a Russian set designer, and location details. The second track brings together Lustig with, Tom Savini, editor Lorenzo Mirinelli, and Luke Walter- who was Spinellís assistant/ friend- once again this is a chatty track- to start with similar ground is covered by Lustig, but hang in there as when Savini & Walter drop in & out we get some interesting anecdotes  about effects influence/ creation, and insights into Walter & Spinellís nighttime shootings- which saw them going crewless to catch some creepy off-the-chuff footage- some of which appeared in the final film.

Moving onto the second DVD extras disc- and first off we get the two new/ exclusive featurettes- first we get around twenty minutes of outtakes with Lusting commentary- these move from great unused shots of Spinell walking down 42nd Street- getting to check out all the neat grindhouses, porn shops, late-night clientele of this area. Next, we get alternative opening credits, the cast & crew larking around, different classic scene takes, etc- Iím not normally a fan of outtakes, finding them somewhat dull- but all of these are fascinating and really worthy.
The other new featurette is Return To The Scene Of The Crime- which sees Lusting revisiting the classic locations from the film- this runs coming on for nine minutes, and once again is most fascinating, as well as a little sad as he discusses when Spinell passed in the late í80s, as well as visiting his grave.
The rest of this second disc is full of stuff from the first Blue Underground release, and the Anchor Bay release- and thereís some great stuff here like- The Joe Spinell Story- which runs near the 50 minutes mark, and sees folk discussing his general career, as well of course Maniac. We get a host of interviews with effects artists, the films composer, damning press reviews from the time of release & connected controversies connect with the film, and film publicity.

The final disc in the set is the CD soundtrack- this runs around thirty-three minutes, and takes in sixteen tracks/ cues. Itís a great  score by Jay Chattaway( Missing In Action, Silver Bullet, Star Treck Next gen, etc), that moves from creepy & haunting, onto throbbing & tense, to chilling/ unnerving- blending together synth craft, brooding bass guitar, pared back music box & piano, and sad synthetic strings. We get blending in with the score sound effects & Spinell often unnerving dialogue/ monologs- so this is a really great extra.

We get a glossy twenty-page inlay booklet- this features a new write-up about the film/its production/ impact by Micheal Gingold- though-out this we get stills, rare poster artwork, etc- again very nicely/ classy done. The set is topped off with an ltd edition card slip sleeve, taking in the classic poster artwork of the women's severed scalp in a man's hands- this is recreated in great lenticular form.

Once again Blue Underground has done a truly stellar job on this three-disc set- making it truly the definitive release of this brutal 1980ís classic- if you already have this in another form, Iíd say itís well worth picking this up for the great new scan, the couple of new extras, the soundtrack CD, and of course the neat lenticular cover.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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