Stuck Up Cinema – Maniac – The Remake

Today I am going to talk to you about a remake I’m looking forward to. What?! A remake that I’m looking forward to? I’ll hold the horses on this conversation immediately: not all remakes are bad. Sacrilege, I know, but hear me out on this. There are a crap-ton of shitty remakes out there: Planet of the Apes, The Wolfman, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, the list goes on and on so I’m not really helping my point out here. There are however some really good remakes out there, some that I’m sure you don’t even know are remakes. Cape Fear, The Blob, The Fly, Dawn of the Dead, The Thing (not the most recent one), the list goes on and on…

See, there is a good balance between them in quantity, but it’s the quality that is an issue. The good remakes range from entertaining to great, but the bad remakes range from terrible to the downright murder of cinema. It’s this that makes the bad remakes stand out so much more than the good ones. It’s also why I usually end up coming off as disliking remakes, a lot of them are unnecessary and very rarely are the ones I’m looking forward to actually good, which is a damn shame. This movie hopefully proves to be an exception and after the cut I’ll get into the movie of Maniac starring Elijah Wood.

As for sequels? Sequels are usually incredibly unneeded and unwanted and unless it’s built as a franchise you’re cheapening your original story. That’s just fact and if you disagree, I’m sorry but, you are wrong.

Anyways, onto Manic.

I’m going to just assume that most of you haven’t seen the original Maniac. It came out in 1980 and it’s a gory, exploitative cult classic that never really found any love and meanders along at a snail like pace throughout. The movie isn’t anything revolutionary and I wouldn’t even call it fun, but it’s definitely interesting. Joe Spinell plays Frank Zito a loner who has an unfortunate habit of scalping women. Yeah, it’s one of those movies. Like I said, it’s an exploitative cult classic– you can’t become an exploitation movie without exploiting a few things. I am getting away from an important point about the movie: Joe Spinell actually gives a pretty impressive performance. My roommates and I didn’t watch that movie for the performances, we watched it for the gore, but during the movie we couldn’t help but say ‘wow, he’s actually pretty legit in this.’ He wrote it, so it makes sense he’d do so well. He knew the character and obviously the role was something he cared about (otherwise he wouldn’t write it)

It’s interesting that this movie of all things was getting a remake. Alexandre Aja was one of the writers and I believe he is producing the film. It’s at this point where I start to get faith in the project. Aja has repeatedly thrown out quality horror films that stand out against its competitors. High Tension is a violent, disturbing and has an ending that just sticks with you. It’s the kind of movie that I constantly find myself wanting to watch it again. High Tension is a movie that perfectly showcases what Aja is bringing to horror films. He is making violent and terrifying horror movies that don’t rely only on their violence, they dig deeper than that and provide a general discomfort to the viewer all while remaining with them long after the movie is done. His movies are the kind of movies that when you stop watching them and you walk around your house you generally just feel on edge, nervous and general sad. Aja’s movies hit psychologically just as much they hit in the shock department and that’s the reason I’ll look forward to any of his movies.

He also made the recent Piranha movie (not the Double D one) and that movie was pure B-movie parody bliss. Seriously, watch it if you haven’t, it’s one of the funniest horror parodies movies I’ve seen.

I think we need to get on the same page. Here is the trailer for Maniac (2012). (Warning, Red Band, there are boobies in it.)

Obviously right off the bat you’ll notice that this movie is violent, obsessive and that it isn’t going to be that nice to women. This is a lot like the original Maniac, except now I’m confident this movie will be a lot harsher to watch than its original. This is because lately we can just push boundaries more than we could before; I mean compare the original Last House on the Left to its remake released just a few years ago. Those two movies are almost like night and day at this point to the exploitation genre. Aja makes violent movies, and I don’t doubt for a second that fountains of blood are going to be pouring in Maniac. If you’re a gorehound like me then you definitely need to check out this when it’s available. If gore isn’t your thing, it may be best to stay away.

Something I noticed from the trailer is that this movie seems to have a bunch of first person shots. There was the one at the beginning where Elijah Wood was cleaning off a bloody knife and then the other noticeable one is when the girl is being chased through the subway. That’s cool! Perspective shots are done often in horror movies, they’re another staple. You see them a lot in the big slasher movies: the girl is changing in her room and Jason is waiting outside with a machete. I think what makes it so much more interesting to me in Maniac is the overall tone in the film. Slashers are naturally tongue in cheek, following the tropes and cliches that they’ve invented, this film on the other hand seems to want to sit itself deep inside of the pool of seriousness.

Now of course also a movie like this is all supported by its lead. Elijah Wood does have a great lifeless stare and it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with as the lead in this film. Personally I find Elijah Wood to be one of the biggest bros to ever exist in the film industry. If playing Frodo wasn’t enough to solidify badass actor status he decided to go further and seemingly just take roles that are fun to him. Check out some of his recent acting gigs: Wilfred (a hilariously dark show about a man and a human dog), Red vs Blue (webseries aren’t above him) and Grand Piano (a movie that is as ridiculous as Phonebooth, Buried and an elephant wearing a hat piled into one). Elijah Wood just makes fun stuff, for himself and the viewer. He’s a great actor too and seems like the nicest guy too. Now, I could be completely wrong and he can just be a total prick that does it just for the money, but I hope that’s not the case.

That’s all I really want to say to let you know about Maniac. I don’t know too much about it, apart from the trailer, so I’m kind of just going off of what I know from the original and the filmmakers involved in the new one. If the trailer interests you or if these kinds of movies are your thing definitely check it out. Watch the original too for a little bit of exploitation movie history if you feel like it. These movies aren’t for everyone, but if you have any interest in violent and disturbing cinema than Maniac, its original and remake, are musts for you to check out. If you so choose you could also wait until I inevitably do a Stuck Up Cinema review on it, but that won’t be for the longest time… it’s better if you just watch it yourself.

Until next week!


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