Saturday, September 29, 2012

Maniac (1934)



Who's in it?: No one you know.

What's it about?: A former vaudeville actor kills and murders the mad scientist he's been apprenticing for; then carries on the the crazy man's legacy much too well.

How is it?: Wow. This thing, you guys. It's part mad scientist flick, part exploitation film, part homage to Edgar Allen Poe, all masquerading as sort of an educational film on psychoses. The plot about the actor and his boss is cut with intertitle cards containing clinical-sounding quotes from a journal about the criminally insane. As the actor descends deeper into madness, there are truly disturbing scenes of violence against women and animals. There are also relatively harmless, but no less ridiculous scenes of women standing around in their underwear and posing while reciting exposition. The movie is a hot mess.

The only positive thing I'll say about it is that it's kind of fun to play Spot the Poe Reference. I've no idea why the writer gets dragged into it, but part of the movie is an adaptation of "The Black Cat" and there's an explicit reference to "Murders in the Rue Morgue" at one point. Poe deserves better.

Rating: Turkey
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