Maniac (2012) – movie review

Maniac-2012 pic 4

Maniac (2012)

Directed by Franck Khalfoun
Screenplay Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur, and C.A. Rosenberg

What a novel idea. You can shoot a film first person POV film without the pretense of carrying around a camera. That way when the character is running through an alleyway or climbing a fence, you’re not asking, why is this guy still filming? Although this is a remake, I am not offended by what the filmmakers have done here, as I am sometimes with Maniac-2012 pic 1other remakes. Perhaps that is because Maniac (1980), although good, was never anyone’s favorite film. The different approach on the film is welcome.

This is quite a good film with the feel and mood of a 70’s /early 80’s slasher. However, it also has the sensibilities and character depth of a modern film. It’s not a rehash of what has come before but a new and original look at the slasher genre. The cinematography is excellent. There are some great views of NYC giving the viewer a real sample of its various textures,maniac dvd its pulse and its delicate lifeblood. Elijah Wood plays a first-rate part as Frank Zito, the scalp stealing, mannequin collecting psychotic. He flips from tragic figure to frightening psychotic a dozen times throughout the film. The French photographer, Anna, who takes an interest in Frank’s work is a fine actress (Nora Arnezeder). When Anna realizes that Frank has killed her mentor/friend it is an unnerving scene. There are trippy flashes that show some of the reason for Frank’s psychosis but it’s not overdone. It gives you just the right amount of glimpses to suggest the painful evolution from his torn childhood to twisted adulthood.

The film is raw and gritty, both bloody and dirty with a strong R-rating – the way a horror film should be. It combines the best of slasher films with the internal struggle of characters in psychological thrillers like Silence of the Lambs or The Red Dragon. It gives me renewed faith in American horror films… oh wait, this is a foreign made film. Recommended viewing.

Recommended if you like: Slasher films, Silence of the Lambs, The Red Dragon, Torso, The Toolbox Murders

The Remake Scoreboard – classic film remakes – pass or fail

The Remake Scoreboard – classic film remakes – pass or fail

Haven’t done one of these in a while, so let’s compare some remakes to the originals.

attack 50 foot woman 1993 coverthumbs-down-4-small4Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (remake – 1993) (original 1958)

The original is a 50’s sci-fi classic, exemplifying the fears of the unknown at the time. Roswell had just happened a few years prior, the US was starting its space program and science was making discoveries in leaps and bounds. It also demonstrated the ill effects of a love triangle. The remake started out good with a nice looking UFO in the desert and the resulting gigantism, but soon got overburdened with relationship issues. And I was figuring on a remake using some special effects advancement to create some real havoc and destruction. This was made a year after Jurassic Park and this movie used the same masking techniques as the original 1958 film! I don‘t get it?  Daryl Hannah’s 50 foot woman was just too nice and dainty. There was far more anger and destruction in the original.

night-of-the-demons-2009-coverthumbs-up-4-small7Night of the Demons (remake 2009) (original 1988)

Thumbs up with an explanation

The original film despite its campy, teen-party qualities had some creeped-out and scary parts. The make-up and FX conjured shadows of the Exorcist, as Angela became possessed and dished out the nasty demise of her friends. Her first appearance in that black ‘wedding’ gown, floating toward her classmates was a classic visual scene. The remake had neither the charm nor the scares of the original. However, the remake is watchable and had some great make-up effects. I just found the characters to be more on the annoying side and didn’t care much when they were killed. Despite that, I’m giving this a thumbs up for the make-up effects. Its not better than the original, but worth a watch.

toolbox 2004thumbs-up-4-small7The Toolbox Murders (remake 2004) (original 1978)

The original Toolbox Murders was a definitive Grindhouse slasher, which showed a lot of naked women being killed. There is even a scene with a woman pleasuring herself in a bathtub as the killer looks on through a crack in the door, right before he nails her to a wall with a nail-gun. It is considered one of the forerunners to the slasher-films that would dominate horror in the 1980’s and had been banned in the UK as one of the Video Nasties for its violent content. The remake was a completely different story, different characters, different ideas, with some unique and original themes and concepts. So, it just boggles my mind, why they wouldn’t give this film its own title and let it stand on its own merits. It was directed by Tobe Hooper and stars Angela Bettis, who‘s acting talents are clearly evident in this film. It is a really entertaining film for the horror/slasher fan, but it will forever be relegated to standing in the shadow of the original. Neither film gets a high rating from critics but I like them both. I give a thumb up to the remake as a stand-alone movie.

the-hitcher-2007-posterthumbs-down-4-small4The Hitcher (remake 2007) (original 1986)

The original with Rutger Hauer was a tense thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. Before that time, serial killers were always shown in the dark, said little, and their intentions were a secret until they sprang into action. Hauer’s psycho killer was a taunting, menacing, sadist who enjoyed the sparring and inflicted pain in slow but efficient measure. The remake was so ineffective that I had forgotten that I had ever seen it. It certainly had some new ways to die, but I felt no empathy for the victims. I have more emotional involvement watching a video on “Potato Farmers of the Northeast.”

previous ‘Remake Scoreboard’ post