I still remember watching William Lustig‘s original Maniac (1980) …on a VHS tape rental in my bedroom in high school; I had lugged the TV set and VCR in there because I was stuck in bed nursing a flu at the time.
I’m pretty sure Maniac (along with a few other serial-killer horror movies; I saw Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer at SIFF in 1990 and purchased my first purse-sized canister of pepper spray shortly after) was a big part of the reason I took the first “Self-Defense for Women” class I could find (and the second, and the third, and the…) and developed habits that I keep to this day, like always having my car keys in my hand by the time I left a building to walk through the parking lot to my car, even if it’s only ten yards away. Also probably among the reasons why, after dark, I keep them in my hand, with the self-defense trick of holding them in your fist with the pointy end of the keys jammed between my fingers and pointing out, so you have a better chance of breaking your attacker’s skin, or putting out an eye, if you need to strike out to defend yourself.
Frank Zito’s victims get themselves some payback in the fucking blood-curdling, nightmarish finale of the original Maniac (1980).
Here’s the HD red band trailer for the Maniac (2012) remake – there’s a separate piece coming on why I’m actually optimistic about the chances of it being successful. Don’t expect to see the titular character Frank Zito even remotely resembling Joe Spinell, though!
*I didn’t actually SEE it in 1980 (that’d be a great movie for a girl still in elementary school to watch, scarred for life? Check!), I think it was 1984. My mom would buy me a Fangoria–and even Famous Monsters Magazine– in 1981, though. Towards the end of the run of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I had a subscription. I wish I’d held onto it!