One of the things I noted at Texas Frightmare was a new poster for 'Maniac', a classic, underrated, and forgotten slasher gem from the late 70s. When I asked about it, I was told they were remaking it with Elijah Wood. Then I found out that they were having a showing of it that same night, and I couldn't help but have to attend.
The movie starts off pretty hot, and takes off from there, with the first victim eating it before the first five minutes of reel has run its course.
Like the original, the protagonist is a psychological mess who hunts down women to kill them before scalping them. All his victims can thank his mom for raising him in such a Manson-esque environment. Those scarring moments from his crappy childhood are put on display for all to see, the images that haunt Frank to the very day. They are the driving force behind his mania and need to be heavily medicated to prevent from falling into his psychotic episodes.
The movie is very loyal to the original script, but turns up the violence several notches. The first-person perspective that it is shot in also adds a massively creepy dynamic to the movie that will chill you, putting you in the driver's seat as he murders young women. This choice, as well as others, make it just as disturbing as the original, if not more so. You kind of have to let go of the 'CCTV' cams that would have picked up a lot of suspicious activity that he did publicly, but it's still plausible that it could go down the way it did.
As you learn more about the character's past and what a piece of shit mother he had, you can't help but feel a little sorry for Elijah's Frank. It helps that Wood does not look half as sleazy as Joe Spinell's original. He's just as big of a mess, though.
There are some great homage's to the movie's past, including a great shot that harkened back to the original poster, and a nod to 'Silence of the Lambs' when 'Goodbye Horses' begins to play at a curiously appropriate time in the movie.
I found myself frightened more at how truthful the experiences of the character could be building (have built?) a madman at this very moment in our modern world.
With poor internet supervision, a gateway to great ideas or ghoulish terror, it wouldn't take long for a kid to right-click their way to naked chicks making out and then taking a shit in a cup before eating it, or a first person POV of all sorts of once-hidden freakshow intimacy put on eternal international display for cold cash. Hell, I knew a dude who said his very own family member, who was 8, wakes up early and dials up porn on the internet. That's the same kind of mindfuck that happen's to Frank's character in his youth, except Frank had to watch his own mother get violated of her own volition in front of him. That gets a kid medicated, and that's even scarier. Look at the latest string of mass murders that have a pharmaceutical culprit that is also at fault that is never talked about in the controlled news because of Big Pharma's deep pockets.
Knowing that these kinds of monsters could be nurtured in similar environments as Frank's character was right this very moment was enough to keep me frightened even as he hunted down and sliced his way through the victims in the movie, leading to his ultimate bloody meltdown.
A wiser man than myself once said to me after I told him I was scared of spiders, that the only thing that scared him more than anything else was people. This movie was a great example of that. Like Manson and others, poor Frank didn't have a chance as a kid.
Check out the old and the new trailers here:
BOWIE V. IBARRA is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster. His latest book, 'The Cruel Fate of Dr. Brewster' McGill' is a weird western tale of snake oil, Aztec Magic, and the dead rising from the grave to attack the living. It is available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon.com.
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