Maniac (1934)

Rating: *
Review Date: 12/23/15
Director: Dwain Esper
Cast: Bill Woods

A horror film that attempts to masquerade as an educational film about various mental illnesses. A mad scientist has come up with a formula that can bring the dead back to life, and now he wants to try it on a human body. For whatever reasons, he has an ex-vaudeville actor named Don Maxwell (Bill Woods) as a lab assistant who he threatens to hand over to the police if he doesn't help him. Maxwell reluctantly agrees, and they snatch a beautiful young corpse from the morgue and bring her back to life. Then the scientist commands Maxwell to kill himself so that he can bring him back to life, which is the last straw. Maxwell kills the scientist instead and assumes his identity by disguising himself as the late doctor. His downward spiral into madness continues, and leads him to convince two women (including his estranged wife) to kill each other with syringes and baseball bats. Thankfully, a nosy neighbor saves the day by calling the police, and they drag the insane Maxwell away.

A terrible film in every regard, but shocking in its content. It contains nudity, rape, gore, and violence that are completely off the charts for a film from this time period. The rape scene is raw and unsettling, and the girl fight at the end is surprisingly rough, but the most outrageous scene is when Maxwell squeezes a cat's head so hard that its eye pops out, which he then proceeds to eat. In its ridiculous attempts to be an educational film, placards describing various psychoses are periodically inserted, which have absolutely nothing to do with what's happening in the film. The acting is appallingly bad and the production values are very poor. The girls that are used in the topless and lingerie scenes are quite attractive, but that's the only nice thing I have to say about the film.