Maniac (1934)

MANIAC (1934)
Article #96 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-20-2001
Posting date: 11-3-2001

An insane doctor and his insane ex-actor assistant perform bizarre operations on the dead. When the assistant kills the doctor, he uses his makeup skills to impersonate him.

I pity the psychiatrist that uses this film as a primer on the various types of madness that it purports to represent. Instead, what they’ll find is an exploitative rehash of various themes from Edgar Allan Poe. Dwain Esper specialized in movies like this, which were made outside the auspices of the Hollywood system and could thumb their noses at the self-censorship imposed therein; so this film treats us to some early nudity, some nasty and rather sick violence (two women attack each other with hypodermic needles) and a man pulling out and eating the eye of a cat. It also has some of the wildest overacting you’re apt to see in a long time, especially from a man who is injected with superadrenaline and rants about his brain being on fire. It’s pretty bad, but as an artifact of sorts, it can be quite fascinating at the same time.

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