Sunday, January 21, 2007

William Lustig's Maniac.


I usually don't post on the weekends, and I certainly don't post at 3 AM, but I just finished watching William Lustig's Maniac and now I think I'm going to have to sleep with all the lights on and episodes of Taxi on all night. Not really, but jeez.

There was a lot I kind of hated about this movie. It was as much horror as it was a psychological thriller, and so fell into what seems to me1 to be the most common pitfalls of the genre. Namely 1) a troubling rendering of women, and 2) it never ever ever ever ever leaves you wanting more.

I had other complaints, too, specific to this film.
3) He wasn't abused nearly bad enough to end up as messed up as he was. That's a pretty big generalization on my part, but the whole movie seems to build up to the revelation, and when I found out I thought, that was it? We should all be homicidal maniacs.
4) The film is an hour-and-a-half long, and at least the middle hour is quite predictable, plotwise. During the last third I really wasn't frightened at all because the film only had one trick, and it was possible in the end to acclimate.
5) There are a couple really inexplicable twists at the end, quite outside what is reasonable for an audience since this is built up from the very beginning as a sort of psychological thriller. But the twist is fun, if nothing else, and ought to appeal to Kennedy, Sawyer, and Meridith. That list, actually, probably is a pretty good hint at what the twist is.
6) Finally, this is yet another one of those films with the moral "hot people shouldn't date weird looking people, because the weird looking people of the world are psychopaths who will impale you and then cut off your scalp to put on a mannequin."

Oh, and it was supposed to be disgusting. I guess it was certainly pretty disgusting for 1980. But it was still less grisly than Day of the Dead2, which approximate marks the line where my stomach starts to get a little queasy.

But I'm basically just doing all this complaining to stall the point, which was that the film scared the crap out of me. It's been a couple years, at least, since a film left me leaving this soiled and distressed. This is basically because:
6) It is told almost continuously from the serial killer's perspective, and with an admixture of voiceover, dialogue, and on-screen mumbling, it does a really good job putting you inside his demented head.
7) You have to wait a ridiculously long time for what is going to happen to happen, even when what eventually happens is what you'd probably expected in the first place.

So that's that. The Ring is kid's stuff compared to this.

1. A necessary qualification since I am not as film-1337 as the rest of you.
2. There was actually one film that made me physcially want to vomit, and it was the English version of the 1960 film "Eyes without a face." I seriously almost lost it at Palevsky cinema.



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