Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #10: MANIAC (1934)

It's baffling that anyone could hate this ludicrous and slender piece of grindhouse history.  It's only 51 minutes long and at least half of that running time is cackling.  In true grindhouse/roadside spirit, it was cobbled together with exploitable elements and, in a move that was the forerunner of today's test screenings, it was re-edited after a dire initial release with lots of ladies, in underwear and out of it.  

Fear thought is most dangerous when it parades as forethought.
The plot, if that's what you want to call it, concerns a mad scientist experimenting with re-animation and his assistant, who finally gets to live out his dreams of impersonating people.  Later, a cat gets its eyeball plucked (changing its breed and color over the course of the scene), one of four women in bedroom wear uses a weird exercise machine, and two ladies fight each other with giant hypodermic needles.  Needless to say, don't go into this expecting some wonderfully-realized piece of plot craftsmanship.  This is pure proto-psychedelia.
You?  Actor?!  HA HA HA HA!
The performances are universally SHRIEKED AND SCREAMED, with actors usually filmed lurking behind test tubes and lab equipment or filmed in the most blurry fashion possible.  The dialogue that is not hollered is incomprehensibly mumbled, apparently by drunks, making the convoluted story even more impossible to understand.  
To my notion, those that monkeys with what they got no business to gets queer sooner or later!
Plus, my copy of this is 1/50th of one of those terrible Brentwood box sets, so the print is extra-tarnished and awful, which actually works in MANIAC's favor.  If you were to open an insane person's skull and connect her cerebellum to a coaxial cable and then connect that to a VCR and record her dreams, then bury the tape in a swamp for a decade, then have it digitized on a Lenovo by archivists' moms, it would be MANIAC.  
I think too much of Satan to use cats as experiments!
Those captions are actual lines of dialogue, by the way.  It's so weird to think of people in the thirties, who were old when my grandma was young, going to see this.  It's more proof that the alleged "good old days" were pretty bad in a fun way.
I must get her out of here, she must have oxygen
Watch it for free at Internet Archive!

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