Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, March 28, 2008

MANIAC (1963)

MANIAC (1963). Director: Michael Carreras.

Jeff Farrell (Kerwin Mathews, of 7th Voyage of Sinbad fame), is vacationing in France when he comes across an inn run by a pretty young woman, Annette (Liliane Brousse), and her stepmother, Eve (Nadia Gray). Jeff romances both but winds up falling for Eve, who tells him how her husband Georges (Donald Houston) was institutionalized after taking a blow torch to the man who raped his daughter four years before (this is detailed in the prologue). Eve has fallen in love with Jeff and hopes to free the hopefully cured Georges so he can get his life and daughter back, at least, while she goes off with her new love, Jeff. Jeff agrees to help Eve break her husband out of prison, but things go awry when Georges apparently murders the asylum employee who aids him in his escape. Now what do they do? Maniac holds the attention but it has absolutely no style or atmosphere and veteran cinematographer Wilkie Cooper's work is unimpressive. Just about everything about the movie is unconvincing, including the mostly flat acting (especially from Mathews and Gray, who generate little heat) and especially the twist ending, which comes as a surprise but seems to make everything a bit pointless. Jimmy Sangster's typically convoluted screenplay is not one of his better ones. Like other films, the title was supposed to create an identification with Psycho, but this is nowhere in the same league as Hitchcock's thriller.

Verdict: Worth seeing once but expect little. **.

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