As the midnight chimes of Big Ben resound around Victorian London, a top-hatted figure steals into a fogbound graveyard and knocks out the gravedigger who is about his business there. His desperate grey-gloved hands prise open the casket’s lid to find within the pale corpse of a young girl, on which they eagerly set about caressing face and body, visibly shaking with excitement. The scene quickly changes to a nearby hospital, where the gravedigger is operated on and his life saved by a doctor who appears to be the very person that dealt him the near-lethal blow in the first place.
Said doctor quickly makes his excuses and returns to his imposing home, where his attractive wife is entertaining a gathering of guests with a haunting piano melody. After getting the lascivious ‘nod’ from their strange housekeeper, the wife takes leave of her guests and joins her husband in a bedchamber draped in funereal black, where he ceremoniously lights candles before injecting her with an experimental anaesthetic. The drug renders her temporarily in a state resembling death, allowing the doctor to give vent to this, the very darkest of desires.
So begins the next great classic in the Italian Gothic horror canon; its visual style, deceptively high production values and, most of all, its transgressive nature, are already in evidence from these opening moments. Although steeped in Hammer iconography, the subject matter from the outset seems to be one that was surely beyond the pale for even those great shock impresarios at the time. Although the question of necrophilia could be said to hang in the air of every vampire film ever made, never had it been so explicitly referenced, let alone such a central focus of the narrative, as it is here.
Below: Richard Flemyng and Barbara Steele, ca. 1950s, 1960s, respectively.
1962: Black Sunday (1960) had been a huge hit for director Mario Bava at home and abroad, launching not only his tenure as a maestro of the fantastic but also Barbara Steele’s reign as mistress of the dark and indelible icon of horror cinema. With an increasing number of homegrown horror films being produced, what would later become known as the Golden Age of Italian Horror was getting well and truly underway. Since his horror hit with Steele, Bava had been bringing his fantastique eye to bear on muscular epics like Hercules in the Haunted World(1961) and Erik the Conqueror (aka Fury of the Vikings, 1961). Bava’s directorial mentor on I vampiri (1956) and Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (1959), Riccardo Freda, had been similarly busy on the ancient-world-fantasy front, helming two Masciste films and The Giants of Thessally (1961), but this would be the director’s first return to a Gothic milieu since the pair had worked together on the 1956 film.
The Notorious Horror Classic Returns In A New 4K Restored Limited Edition!
Frank Zito—a career-making performance by co-writer/co-executive producer Joe Spinell (Rocky, The Godfather)—is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocents.
Now Frank has begun a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro, The Spy Who Loved Me); yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a MANIAC.
Directed by William Lustig (MANIAC COP 2, VIGILANTE) and featuring landmark gore effects by Tom Savini (DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13th), this relentlessly shocking and disturbing film was originally censored all over the world due to its graphic violence. Now Blue Underground is thrilled to present MANIAC in a brand-new 4K Restoration from its recently discovered 16mm original camera negative, overflowing with hours of new and archival Extras!
Disc 1 (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:
Disc 2 (DVD) Extras:
Disc 3 : BONUS! MANIAC Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by Jay Chattaway
BONUS! Collectable Booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold
“Nature is often obscure or impenetrable; but she is not, like Man, deceitful.”
– C.G. JUNG
Sinister, slow-burn, creeping Gothic, no cheap shots or jump scares.
Those are words I like to see in a film review. So I gave it a shot,
Damn scary. And well worth your time.
The Suffering : A a Review from Dread Central
Starring: Nick Apostolides, Phil Amico, & Elizabeth Deo
Director: Robert Hamilton
‘While looking like I was in for just another haunted house film notch in my belt, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that director Robert Hamilton’s The Suffering was anything but. So what exactly was it, you ask? Well, step inside these creaky old doors, and let’s have ourselves a chat, shall we?
At the film’s onset you get the feeling that our main character, Henry (Apostolides), is in way over his head with his job as a real estate appraiser, and his latest gig at the request of the property’s owner, Mr. Remiel (Amico). From a creepy conversation with the appointed driver, to an even eerier dialogue with the ghastly maid, better judgement would tell the normal soul to get the hell outta Dodge, but with the amount Mr. Remiel is planning to pay Henry, monetary conscience usually wins out. The Southern gentleman fancies his piano playing, nightly cocktails by the fire, and an occasional labored walk through the grounds that he is handsomely forking over the big bucks for Henry to assess.
As if the previous two encounters wouldn’t have been enough to scare Henry off, one day while he’s glossing over the property, the sight of a seriously decomposed body in the attic seals the deal – he’s catching the next ride out of this joint! Mr. Remile politely reminds him of his financial obligation to his wife and unborn child… and let’s not forget the little honey on the side that he’s now trying to shake (shame on you, Henry).