Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Take good care of her, Frank.

I grew up in the eighties and had two older brothers. While that doesn't really mean anything at all, it does mean I've seen all the quintessential slasher flicks ever produced. In my formative years, no less. Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy and particularly Chucky were our favorites. We'd wear out the VHS tapes pausing, rewinding, and even slo-moing the bloody kills (and the occasional nude scene as well, if they were running things). And outside of the occasional creepy shaky cam shot with accompanying ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma, we always watched the killer. We never were the killer, right?

I mean, in my day, we had to use our imaginations.

Ah, modern horror. As generations of kids (and adults, I suppose) grow up on increasingly better looking video games, it appears the stakes have been raised exponentially in the horror genre. In the 2012 flick Maniac, we are treated to a film shot almost entirely in first person. While that may not sound like anything to you savvy folks, as a crotchety old guy in his mid-thirties, Maniac was a startling reminder of not only how far we've come, but how far we're willing to go.

I know, I know, I'm already annoying myself, but watching an entire slasher flick in first person kinda f--ked me up a little bit. Sure, it's a bit silly and not very scary, but it's also pretty f--king brutal, too. Seeing someone stabbed under their chin and through their open mouth can be a bit startling, sure. But seeing it in full first-person glory? Damn. And that's just the moment before the title card.

Technically, Maniac is very cool. The camera work and special effects are top shelf, to say the least. But, when you strip away the inspired insanity of actually being the guy cutting bitches up, I found myself not really giving a shit  

Yes, Frank (played by the tormented good son, Elijah Wood) is a very messed up little man. He's had a pretty awful childhood at the hands of a drug-addicted whore of a mother. Clearly he's been living in his own personal Hell for years, wasting away in an oh-so uplifting/not-at-all creepy mannequin restoration store. You know, that ol' place. Anyway, tortured soul that he his, it appears the logical thing to do is to stalk fine ladies in the emptiest city on earth and well...scalp those hos. Luckily for us, and other random ladies, the lovely Anna shows up, and she becomes the sole object of Frank's desires. She's a photographer who adores, wait for it, mannequins, and she wants to work with him, despite Master Frank looking like the most conflicted child predator ever.

Remember when Gollum was happily slapping that fish's head off a rock? That's Frank. Just replace fish with fine ass chick. And rock with knife. And Gollum with Frodo. And...okay, so it's not like that at all. 

Look, I'm not a huge horror guy anymore. I cut my teeth on groovy shit like Jason swinging a sleeping bag full of person into a tree, or Freddy dropping one liners on someone before slicing them open. My point, if I even have one, is this one simply didn't work for me. The more Frank killed, the more I wondered how this guy routinely murdered people (and outside of a lone newscast suggesting killer on the loose!) without any repercussion. And while reality has never been besties with the horror genre, I felt like this movie was trying to toe the line and it failed. If I'm going to be in the mind of this sick f--k, let me exist in a world that has some rules, some limits at least. I mean, there didn't seem to be an end in sight. This guy was almost invisible. Maybe he was wearing the Ring?  

Since this post appears to have no end in sight, lets unleash the Yays and Boos. They say, five years from now, there will be an entire horror movie from the knife's perspective. Visionaries, these two. Stupid, stupid visionaries.

She's hot here, right? Wait till you give her a massage!
  • Actress Nora Arnezeder is so beautiful. Seriously, I didn't want to kill her. just wanted to hang out and go to the movies again.
  • Man, whenever it is my wife finally comes to her senses and divorces me? Dating sites are pure gold! 
  • Speaking of, first-person "breast" fondling? Not quite Smack My Bitch Up great (though nothing ever will be), but still pretty ridiculous.
  • Honestly, the violence and carnage was a bit much for me in my delicate years, but holy shit did that bit in the parking lot rattle me. I think I grabbed my own heel in sympathy. Ooooo..that's gotta hurt.
  • Anna's boyfriend! While this guy was a one-note a-hole, I appreciate the move of drying your hands off on somebody. That makes the Dick Move Hall of Fame for sure, which is something to cheer about. Um, apparently.
  • Martin Nunez. (n) Sympathetic Gay Neighbor/Potential Ass Kicker. see also: Future Dead Guy
  • And finally, the crazy ass car sequence before the end. Not only was that all kinds of crazy, but it was so well done. I actually rewound that because I couldn't believe that happened. 
Hope you like awkward reflection shots.
  • What city is this? This place is a real shit hole. An impossibly empty shit hole. My vote is Philly. Sorry, Dan.
  • Okay, this guy is a bit crazy. Fine. But strangling a girl mid-felatio? Insanity!
  • Oh, man. What the Hell was with Blonde Agent Lady? Sure, her apartment rules, but I wanted that bitch cut in the worst way.
  • Oooh, but that bathtub scene? It was the right kind of creepy. Makes me wonder how many times I've had someone slide me my just out reach Cabernet mid bubble bath. Creeeeepy.
  • First person vomiting. Yum. That was even worse than that little boy mannequin. *shudder
  • You know, at some point, I've actually seen enough people being scalped. I know, I'm surprised too.
  • This whole film is just so ugly. The only beauty comes in the form of the women. And....they all get their hair sawed off.
  • What was with having Ken's junk? Hmm.
  • Hey Maniac, thanks for ruining the ending of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. A-holes.
  • Seeing your mom railed is pretty tough. In public? Marginally worse.
  • The ending. Wait, what? As much as I had hoped his actual face was torn off, I was slightly bummed the same way Fiona Apple's Criminal video did.
  • And finally, even though I love the guy, Elijah Wood. Granted, this is a pretty taxing performance, but sometimes his delivery is ridiculous. Let me massage you again. Goodness.
Look, even though it's a remake, the movie is at least original in its presentation. You gotta give it that. But then again, every shit I take is pretty unique, too. You probably wouldn't want to see that first-person, would you?

Ugh, imagine that. Wait, don't. Using your imagination isn't allowed anymore.


  1. I loved this movie, I thought the first person view was a nice touch. (But man, that ax scene was brutal) I agree with you on the vomiting scene, I could've done without that. Now I'm all grossed out thinking of it again.

  2. Loved it? That's great.

    I was probably in a shitty mood or something, but I wanted more. More what...I'm not sure. I remember seeing your review pop up right around the time one of my friends suggested I check it out. So...long story short...I think I may have only skimmed your post.

    I'll check it out now. See what you liked about it, heh heh.

  3. I've been on the fence about this one -- I think I'm just having trouble wrapping my mind around Frodo as bat-shit crazy psycho nut. Awesome review, as always.

    1. Haha, thanks!

      It's short enough to dabble with, and is technically pretty fricking cool. That said, I was rather bored for whatever reason. But, Brittani loved it, and she knows what's up, so maybe give it a shot and we can have a ruling majority.

  4. Great write-up. Will have to check this out. Enjoyed the 80s one too.

    1. I kind of want to check out the 80's version, too. First-person slasher is a pretty weird genre...if I do say so.