Maniac 2002 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
I guess I am one of the few people unimpressed by this sad excuse for a movie. Other reviewers consider this movie to be of the “so bad it’s good” variety. I consider this movie so bad that it is just plain bad. I did put this movie above one star for a couple of reasons, which I shall explain.
Dr. Meirschultz (Horace B. Carpenter, who appeared in uncredited roles in dozens of films until his death in 1945) apparently attended the Dr. Frankenstein School of Recreation, because he has a nearly insane (did I say nearly?) desire to make dead bodies live. All mad scientists, or mad people in movies, as the case may be, must have an assistant. Dr. Meirschultz’s assistant is Don Maxwell (William “Bill” Woods, who later became a makeup artist for movies like “Gunga Din” and “Around the World in Eighty Days”; this was William Woods’ only film role). However, Don Maxwell is not just any stupid assistant. When Dr. Meirschultz asks Maxwell to kill himself so that Meirschultz can revive him with a heart that he has been keeping alive in a jar, Maxwell decides that dying is not in his best interest and takes out the good(?) doctor instead. Then Maxwell hits on the great idea of replacing Meirschultz because of his great knowledge of makeup - I guess this movie was indeed the start of a great career.
This movie gets weirder and weirder. Maxwell starts fixating on the “gleam,” which apparently generates feelings of paranoia in Maxwell. Maxwell keeps insisting that various characters have the “gleam,” by which I suppose he can tell that those people need killed. But Maxwell, and at least one other character, also take the opportunity to get their hands on beauteous babes because they are, as the original title of this movie suggests, sex maniacs.
Somewhere along the line Maxwell gets hold of a cat named Satan and pops its eyeball out. The cat does not look all that real, but the eyeball does. Guess what Maxwell has for a snack? Maxwell then walls up the corpse of Dr. Meirschultz and the live cat, a la Edgar Alan Poe. You can figure out where this subplot is going.
Just to make this movie even more surreal, we get images of various critters throughout, along with overlaid images of various beings, including what appears to be Satan (the real Satan, not the cat). I suppose these overlaid images were to indicate that evil influenced Maxwell to do what he did. Or they could have just been there to make the movie seem more avant-garde.
This movie contains explanations throughout that seem to vaguely indicate that this movie has something to do with an explanation or study of insanity. The explanations may have been part of an attempt to avoid censorship since there is brief nudity, violence and more than a little bizarre behavior in this movie. However, the explanations fail to match the action in the movie and are more confusing than explanatory.
Before I forget, near the end of the movie we are treated to a no-holds-barred fight between two women that looks incredibly real. I think director Dwain Esper, whose wife wrote the script for this mess, threw in everything he could think of to appeal to people with bizarre tastes. I have no idea whether his ploy translated to box office success.
Eliminate the explanations of insanity between segments and this movie becomes very surreal. However, being surreal does not make a movie good. Neither does gratuitous sex and violence; they can make a film interesting, but not good - by themselves. This movie seems to be snippets of Edgar Allan Poe mixed with Mary Shelley and flavored by Robert Louis Stevenson. There are probably other influences “borrowed” from other sources. The problem is that none of this stuff is very cogent, and the movie is mostly fascinating in a morbid way rather than from being entertaining or artistic. I had to watch this mess twice just to make some vague sense of all of it.
This movie does have enough experimentation, purposeful or inadvertent, that it does have some interesting moments for students of film. Fans of bad horror movies will also have something to poke fun at. Those two positive aspects of this film suggest that the film is worth two stars. Unfortunately, the movie takes itself too seriously and it fails to rise (or lower, depending on your point of view) to the level of the cult turkey “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”
Good luck; you will need it!