Maniac


Year 1934

Horace B. Carpenter   as Dr. Meirschultz
Bill Woods as  Don Maxwell
Ted Edwards as  Buckley
Jennie Dark as Maizie
Phyllis Diller as Mrs. Buckley
 
Director - Dwain Esper
Screenwriter - Hildegarde Stadie  

Want to play a game? How about word association? You tell me, "Maniac." I'll tell you, "Sleazy."

If it weren't for the really poor acting and improbable seques, this one would have made the Weirdies list. At a brisk 57 minutes, you can't avert your eyes from the oozing wound.

Auspiciously this is a film cataloguing different types of maniacal behavior. But that lame justification is nothing more than a vehicle for the screenwriter to give vent to sadistic and masochistic fantasies. Want the previous statement to be even more loathesome? The screenwriter is the director's wife.

Yep.

Where to begin...

There's enough going on so that I have to spend a little time spinning and weaving the parts together. Mad scientist Dr. Meirschultz (Horace B. Carpenter) has concocted a serum that brings the dead back to life and thence into bidders of doing or doers of bidding or something. To prove that his serum really, really works, he asks his assistant Don Maxwell (Bill Woods) to kindly put a bullet through his own heart. Dr. Meirschultz even offers Maxwell the gun.

There's an old Jack Douglas story from My Brother was an Only Child. (Very funny book if you can find a copy.) The bank examiners caught an embezzler and offered him a gun while saying, "You know what to do." Jack Douglas then wrote, "He did. He shot the bank examiners."

Well, Maxwell knew what to with the gun as well. He shot the doctor. Then Maxwell walled him up with a black cat that knew the right time to let out a yowl.

So far, only the slightly odd has been described.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro!"

Maxwell, a master of diguise, keeps up doctor's good work and gets his first body from the morgue by impersonating the coroner. One of the morgue workers remarks to another that the coroner was probably interested in a recently deceased women. "She's real pretty," he tells his companion.

So based upon that scene, necrophilia is pretty much a common place occurrence down at the morgue.

Weird yet? No. Of course not!

Mrs. Buckley (Phyllis Diller (no, not that one)) brings her husband to see the Doctor, who is dead and being impersonated by Maxwell. Why does her husband need to see the Doctor? Well, her husband thinks that he's the orangutan from Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue".
Idiot: "My uncle thinks he's a chicken."
Foil:"Are you going to have him cured?"
Idiot: "No. We can always use the eggs."

Seriously. An orangutan? Well, it prevents anyone paying the slightest bit of attention from missing the Poe reference.

About the time that the pretty girl from the morgue, Mazie, takes her first post-death steps, Maxwell injects Mr. Buckley with "superadrenalin" which causes Mr. Buckley to chase down Mazie and rape her.

Apparently it's no big deal for Mrs. Buckley, because while this is going on she starts propositioning Maxwell regarding the serum. She's thinking that if she kills Mr. Buckley and brings him back to life with the serum, he'll not only be submissive, but his orangutan days will be over.

Maxwell likes the whole submissive thing. To try it out, he molests Maize every chance he gets.

Then, there's also a Mrs. Maxwell who shows up halfway through the movie. She's scantily clad along with three similarly lingerie wearing roommates when we meet her. There's even an exercise machine in their shared bedroom, the kind of machine that jiggles a belt that people wrap around their lard butts. If you like to see 1934 cellulite move in ways that make others retch, then this is the scene for you!

But wait, there's more! First, the setup. There are scenes of cats chasing mice and then fighting with each other. Guess what's coming? Right! Catfight between Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs. Buckley. This is complete with hair pulling and ripped clothing.

Sleazy enough for ya?

No? Then let's try campy. Maxwell applies pressure to a cat's head until an eye pops out. "Like a grape or an oyster," he muses before he eats the eye.

Still not convinced? One of the characters, a neighbor who raises cats, is obviously drunk in the two scenes in which he appears. He raises cats for their fur! What? To feed the cats, he makes sure that there are prenty of rats for them to dine on. What does he feed them? Cat carcasses, that's what.

The acting stinks. The dialogue is inane. To add credibility(?), there are excepts from some Chicago study of dementia that flash on the screen on occasion.

This same husband and wife director/screenwriter dynamic duo would later submit the world to Reefer Madness but without the nudity. Yes, there are a couple of shots of Maize with her top off. This is 1934. I'm sure that the Hays Office didn't allow this one to be shown in theaters.

Without Dwain Esper to use as a shining example, there may have never been an Ed Woods or a Coleman Francis.

There are more little sanity bombs strewn throughout the movie like superimposed scenes from other movies. The scary part is, that I'll probably watch this one again because I can't get over it.


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