I’m not a fan of a lot of horror remakes.While I can safely say I might not “Like” them, There’s only been one occasion where I have actually despised one.This happens to be it.The 2012 remake of Bill Lustig’s “Maniac” originally released in 1980 not only does it not hold a candle to the original in any way,shape or form, but I feel very strongly that it is a complete slap in the face to the original film, and its writer and star Joe Spinell.
First off, Film for me is more than entertainment.Film serves a lot of times as somewhat of a time capsule.So many films are products of their time that allow us to view periods of time we might not ever had the chance to.Case in point, Grindhouse theaters of New York city in the late 70’s and early 80’s were nothing like the movie experience we have today.Many were located in Times Square and were common hangouts of drug dealers.prostitutes and homeless people.Seedy theaters in seedy neighborhoods to say the least.A serial killer film set in New York, Released just a few short years after the infamous “Son Of Sam” murders and shown in locations such as this would certainly have many theatre goers a bit of an uneasy feeling as they left the theatre that night.The infamous scene where Tom Savini is shot in the head while on the make, was borrowed right out of the case file.Knowing something similar happened not to long ago might have reminded some New Yorkers of the terror that had gripped their city.
Second off, It’s seldom that an actor makes a film what it is.Joe Spinell makes the original.I found Elijah Wood to not only be as unthreatening as a kitten playing with a ball of yarn, But not ONCE did I enjoy his performance as Zito. Spinell WAS New York.He had been a bit player in films such as “Rocky” and “The Godfather” and this for me is his crowning achievement. Because he wrote the source material he knew exactly what to give the character, He poured everything he had into his performance.There were times where he could be sinister,cold and intimidating, And there were also a lot of moments when you almost felt sympathy with him.You could tell he was tortured and deranged.There’s been only one other performance that I would compare this to, And that would be Michael Rooker’s in “Henry:Portrait Of A Serial Killer.”
Now because I film with an 8mm camera, I tend to be critical of camera angles and lighting.When it’s done well it’s done well.The remake’s not so much.Using a POV technique was great in “Halloween” but here it just seems corny and completely out of place for a film of this nature.The original was filmed almost covert-like due to Lustig’s inability to secure any permits, Which greatly adds to the films atmosphere.
In short, Go watch the original.Don’t waste a moment of your precious time with this one.