‘White-hot terror! Cold, clammy fear!’
Maniac – aka The Maniac – is a 1962 (released 1963) British psychological thriller directed by Michael Carreras for Hammer Film Productions from a screenplay by producer Jimmy Sangster.
The movie stars Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray and Donald Houston. It was filmed in black and white and “MegaScope” in the Camargue district of southern France and the MGM British Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England.
In the US, Mill Creek Entertainment is released Maniac on Blu-ray, double-billed with Die! Die! My Darling (aka Fanatic) on March 6, 2018.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com
Vacationing American artist Jeff Farrell (Kerwin Matthews) becomes romantically involved with an older woman, Eve Beynat (Nadia Gray), in southern France while holding some attraction for her teenage stepdaughter Annette (Liliane Brousse).
Eve’s husband/Annette’s father Georges is in an asylum for, four years ago, using a blowtorch to kill a man who had raped Annette. Believing it will help make Eve his for life, Jeff agrees to assist her in springing Georges from the asylum. Of course, Eve has a completely different agenda in mind…
Reviews [may contain spoilers]:
‘Maniac has one thing and has it in spades – a plot of extraordinary cunning… (It) takes on a twitching suspense that simmers, sizzles and explodes in a neat backflip … Michael Carreras’ direction is uneven and the characters are a generally flabby lot… Maniac remains a striking blueprint, with satanic tentacles, for a much better picture’. Bosley Crowther, The New York Times
‘Sangster”s script includes some thoroughly unexpected twists in its final stages. In this regard, the film cheats outrageously during the early part of the film but it would be unfair to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet and ultimately this knowledge just adds to the enjoyment, showing the efforts the filmmakers did go to fake the viewers out.’ Tipping My Fedora
‘Maniac toes the line between its noir tendencies and its straight-up horror elements. It’s both a grisly and slick little crime story that keeps you on your toes until the very end; it’s well-written pulp, the type of story that employs cheap tricks and cheaper thrills, but it works.’ Brett Gallman. Oh, the Horror!
‘Maniac’s Psycho-like midpoint twist, meanwhile, is actually the crux of a double fake-out; its shower scene moment only seems to eliminate its Janet Leigh. That gives Maniac a unity of tone and purpose that Sangster’s other early-60’s thrillers lack, but that isn’t always a point in this movie’s favor. A few more disorienting revelations or whiplash-inducing subgenre shifts might have disguised the glaring unlikelihood of the twists and turns that it does take.’ 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
Cast and characters:
- Kerwin Mathews as Jeff Farrell
- Nadia Gray as Eve Beynat
- Donald Houston as Henri
- Liliane Brousse as Annette Beynat
- George Pastell as Inspector Etienne
- Arnold Diamond as Janiello
- Norman Bird as Salon
- Justine Lord as Grace
- Jerold Wells as Giles
- Leon Peers as Blanchard
- André Maranne as Salon