Maniac (1980, William Lustig)

Right after a double murder on a beach we wake up screaming with a dude who sleeps next to a bloody mannequin head in a room full of lit candles, who then puts on the same hat and gloves the killer wore. Coincidence?

It’s no coincidence and there’s no mystery, our dirty dude Mr. Zito (Joe Spinell, Italian-American tough-guy regular in Rocky and Godfather movies) is clearly the maniac, and next he runs up to a car where Tom Savini is macking on a girl and explodes Savini’s head with a shotgun. Zito’s got a mommy crisis, and tries to calm the voices by mounting murdered women’s scalps on his mannequins.

Watched this because it appears on horror lists, but without high hopes since the same director’s Maniac Cop wasn’t too good… but this was! It takes some turns – Zito’s no moron, can handle himself in conversation and goes on a proper date with a hot photographer, half attempting to live a normal life and half finding new victim opportunities. A tense stalking scene in a subway restroom is an all-timer. Good ending too, as he’s apparently tormented by the mannequin voices into doing himself in, the useless cops arriving too late.

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