When Gene Siskel walks out of your movie a half-hour into it, you just might have a cult classic on your hands. The iconic television personality and film critic reportedly drew the line on 1980s Maniac during the films notorious Disco Boy scene, in which effects guy Tom Sevini, here starring as a disco-looking dude making out in the back of the car, gets his head blown off by the titular killer in graphic detail, with multiple camera angles and slow motion so gratuitous it could gross out even the most cynical horror fanboy.
That scene basically serves as a sort of microcosm of the film itself, which makes such 80s camp-sploitation fare as Friday the 13th look about as innocuous as Threes Company. The film follows central character Frank Zito, a man so deeply damaged by his late, abusive prostitute mother that he takes out his frustration by stalking and killing anonymous women and then dressing mannequins in their clothes. Theres also a plot, but its pretty inconsequential; the character is basically all you need to know to understand how, thirty years after it was made, Maniac is still one of the most truly disturbing horror movies ever put to film.
The gore-fest screens tonight at midnight at the Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing Street; tickets run $7.25, and nobody under the age of seventeen will be admitted. For more information, call the Esquire at 303-352-1992 or go to www.landmarktheatres.com.
Sat., Nov. 13, midnight; Sun., Nov. 14, midnight, 2010