Director(s): Michael Carreras
IMDB Rating: 5.7
Kerwin Matthews, playing a dissolute drifter down on his luck, is stranded in a cheap bar in France where he falls for Annette, the pretty daughter of the proprietor, played by Nadia Gray. Nadia Gray gradually shifts the young mans attentions to herself, rather than her daughter, and together Matthews and Gray concoct a plot to help Grays estranged husband, now a homicidal maniac confined in an institution after a grisly series of killings dubbed The Acetylene Murders by the press, out of the mental institution so he can escape from the country.
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Wayne Malin (24 April 2013)
American artist Paul Farrell (Kerwin Mathews) is visiting France. Hefalls in love with hotel owner Eve Beynat (Nadia Gray). He helps her toget her husband George (Donald Houston) out of an asylum...and theneverything falls apart.Well-directed with some beautiful b&w cinematography--but that's allthis movie has going for it. The plot is old hat and the twists andturns that come fast and furious during the last half hour are nowfamiliar and obvious. To make matters worse the acting is prettyterrible. Mathews is tall, handsome, hunky--and totally blank as Paul.His face NEVER changes expression. I actually smirked when he gives noreaction at all to finding a dead body. Even worse is Liliane Brousseas Annette and her thick French accent doesn't help. Gray and Houstonare OK in their roles. This is OK to watch if you have nothing betterto do but don't expect much. I give it a 6.
cynthia_h_49509 (24 April 2013)
I enjoyed the first part of this thriller produced by Hammer. KerwinMatthews is very appealing as the leading man and the first half of themovie I wasn't sure where it was going, who to trust and who wasdeceiving who. But the twist at the end made the actions of some of thecharacters in the first half of the movie illogical. When a films givesyou a twist at the end, I like to be able to look back and say, oh wow,now I see it. "Ten Little Indians", 1965, and "The Sixth Sense" ,1999,both are good examples of surprise endings that make sense when youlook back. This one doesn't. "Spoiler" When Eve's real motivations arerevealed at the end and we find out who Georges really is, the wholefirst part of the film unravels and Eve and "Georges" behavior isinexplicable. " Spoiler" I would recommend this to other fans of 60'sEnglish Cinema with the caveat that it is worth watching for theactors, and the scenery (even in black and white) but the plot has lotsof holes.
ferbs54 (19 April 2013)
Up until recently, I had been aware of only two films with the title"Maniac": the 1934 camp classic directed by Dwain Esper and therepugnant 1980 picture with Joe Spinell as a deranged mannequin lover.The existence of the British "Maniac," a 1963 product from the greatHammer Studios, thus came as a nice surprise for me. Part of the Hammer"Icons of Suspense" six-film box set, the picture shares a DVD with thestudio's 1958 film "The Snorkel," with which it shares manysimilarities. Both are finely crafted exercises in suspense, shot inbeautiful B&W, written by Jimmy Sangster and taking place on theMediterranean coast. In "Maniac," we meet a hunky-dude American artist,Geoff Farrell (appealingly played by Kerwin Matthews, who many viewerswill recall from the Ray Harryhausen films "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad"and "The 3 Worlds of Gulliver"), who finds himself marooned in the wildsouthern region of France known as the Camargue after breaking up withhis wealthy girlfriend (Justine Lord, known to this viewer best asSonia, from my favorite episode of "The Prisoner," "The Girl Who WasDeath"). Staying at a small "pension," he gets lustily involved withthe attractive proprietress, Eve (Romanian actress Nadia Gray, who I'donly previously encountered in another "Prisoner" episode, "The Chimesof Big Ben"), AND her beautiful young stepdaughter, Annette (LilianeBrousse, who reminds this viewer a lot of the young Marianna Hill). Toobad, though, that the gals' husband/father--a homicidal nutjob who had,four years earlier, grotesquely murdered a man with an acetyleneblowtorch(!)--has escaped from his asylum and is now seeking newvictims...."Maniac" is surely a film that will keep the viewer guessing, and hasbeen cleverly plotted--perhaps overly plotted--by Sangster. Indeed,there are at least three plot twists in the film, one too many for thisviewer, although the story does manage to cohere together. Personally,I preferred the simpler story line and greater suspense of "TheSnorkel," but that's just me. To his credit, director Michael Carrerasdoes a fine, imaginative job here, exhibiting a shrewd sense of cameraplacement; he would go on to helm such Hammer entertainments as "TheCurse of the Mummy's Tomb," the shlocky camp dud "Prehistoric Women"and "The Lost Continent." Like "The Snorkel" again, "Maniac" featuressome beautiful nighttime photography, and its evocation of place isvery well brought off, whether the film was shot in France or not (Idon't believe it was). Matthews, as usual, makes for an enormouslylikable leading man, here playing a basically decent person whosuddenly finds himself in way deep over his head. Viewers, by the way,might enjoy making a drinking game out of "Maniac," taking a shot everytime Farrell does (I counted at least 10 such instances!). The filmfeatures an unfortunately weak ending, taking place in what appears tobe a deserted quarry of sorts, and, at the risk of belaboring a point,this denouement pales greatly in contrast to the supremely satisfyingdouble ending to be found in "The Snorkel." Still, the 1963 pictureremains a perfectly acceptable and riveting entertainment, and easilythe best exemplar of the filmmaking craft as compared to those othertwo "Maniac"s mentioned above!
jim riecken (19 April 2013)
Hammer apparently wanted to branch out from the "Grand Guignol" gothichorror thrillers they were cranking out at the time, and began turning outseveral psychological thrillers vaguely in the PSYCHO/DIABOLICmode.PARANOIAC (1963) and HYSTERIA (1965) are two examples along with the film indiscussion here; MANIAC. MANIAC stars Kerwin(7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD) Mathewsas an unhappily American in France who gets involved with a married womannamed Eve Beynat whose husband is locked away in a mental hospital for thewelding torch murder of the man who tried to rape his daughter Annette.Mathews gets tricked into helping Eve's "husband" escape from the mentalhospital thinking this will allow him to have Eve to himself. As canexpected, not all is what it seems. I won't reveal much more cause thatwould be a spoiler, but the film has good twist ending.MANIAC is not the best of Hammers psychological thrillers, but it is stillinteresting and worth viewing. Kerwin Mathews who was fine in films withlots of physical action is a bit out of his depth here, but over all hegives an acceptable performance. This seems to be the last film of thelovely Liliane Brousse. She seems to have disappeared from the screen afterthis picture.
JohnRouseMerriottChard (16 April 2013)
Maniac is directed by Michael Carreras and written by Jimmy Sangster.It stars Kerwin Matthews, Nadia Gray, Lillian Brouse, Donald Houstonand George Pastell. Music is by Stanley Black and cinematography byWilkie Cooper.Vacationing in the Carmarque region of France, American artist JeffFarrell (Matthews) gets more than he bargain for when he becomesromantic interest for mother and daughter Eve (Gray) and Annette(Brousse) Beymat...Out of Hammer Film Productions, Maniac is one of a number of psychopaththemed thrillers that followed in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock'sPsycho. Filmed in black and white on location in Caramarque, the filmopens with a tremendous whack as young Annette Beynat is abducted onher way home from school and raped (off camera) by the side of theroad. This crime is witnessed by a local man who fetches Annette'sfather who promptly captures the rapist and gets medieval on his asswith a acetylene torch (again off camera). It's quite an opening, butthen the film settles into a leisurely pace for the next hour asCarreras and Sangster build their story in preparation for a bigfinale. Then things get tricky, and I'm not just talking about forhandsome Jeff Farrell...Realising they have gone for a "major" slow build and are desperate toadd some added bite into what was becoming a bona fide sub-genre ofthrillers, the makers cram so much into such a short space of time itcollapses under its own weight. We know there's going to be a twist,the whole story is geared towards this fact, but they instead keeptwisting, and twisting until it no longer becomes interesting. Whilethe actual finale is something of a damp squib. There's a big problemwith the location as well, Carreras' flat direction is unable to drawanything substantially atmospheric from the locale. True, a chase andreveal at the climax gets a splendid back drop in which to unfold, butit's a rare moment of inspiration and you are kind of taken out ofbecause of piecing together the threads and implausibilities.It's a very frustrating film, one where the usually great Sangster overreaches himself and Carreras doesn't come up to the standard of TerenceFisher or Freddie Francis. It holds the interest, is decentlyperformed, has good production value and is fleetingly attentiongrabbing, but this should have been much much better. Both visually andwith plot machinations. 6/10
lorenellroy (16 April 2013)
Hammer Studios will always best be remembered for the horror movies theymade but their ventures into other styles were by no means negligible andthis neat little mystery is a good example of the thrillers they embarkedupon now and again.Kerwin Matthews is Paul Farrell ,an American stranded in a small Frenchvillage in the Camargue ,where some four years earlier a young girl had beenraped and her attacker murdered by her father ,who is languishing in prisonfor the crime.The girl works at the hotel/bar where Farrell is staying andshe falls in love with the personable young American who in turn isattracted to her mother ,Eve ,played by Nadia Gray.Together Farrell and Eveplot to help her husband escape and flee the country so they can be free topursue a relationship.The plot goes awry and soon they are coping with a body in the trunk oftheir car and mysterious activity in their garage .The twist ending is neatand unexpected .The acting is a little under powered but the whole thing is a neat littlepiece of double bill fodder that will keep an audience diverted till themain feature arrives.
Neil Doyle (14 April 2013)
So much of the dialog exchanges between a French mother and daughter ishardly discernible (to American ears), that MANIAC, with its complexplotting, is sometimes difficult to follow. Only Kerwin Mathews, as thehunky artist who finds himself attracted to both women, is fullyunderstandable. Not so understandable is why he allows himself to betaken in so easily by the manipulating Nadia Gray.The acting is only so-so, almost indifferent when it should be strong,so the suspense is further undercut by the underwhelming performancesof the principal cast. Only Donald Houston, as the villainous Henri,gives a vivid and chilling performance.Filmed in B&W amid some interesting locations, it has too many twistsand turns before it ends rather limply in a deserted quarry. But thosethick French accents really needed a good dubbing job.
melvelvit-1 (14 April 2013)
American landscape painter Geoff Farrell (Kerwin Matthews), stranded inEurope, is attracted to Annette, a young French barmaid, but ends upfalling for her seductive step-mother, Eve (Nadia Gray), instead. Fouryears earlier, the teen-aged Annette was raped on her way home fromschool and her father, Georges, institutionalized for taking anacetylene torch to her assailant. Eve soon convinces Geoff to help herhusband, now a local hero, escape from the insane asylum but, oncefree, a frightening series of events makes it look like Georges was ahomicidal maniac after all...In the wake of PSYCHO, England's Hammer Studios made a few black andwhite "mini-Hitchcock" thrillers that tried to emulate the "Master ofSuspense". PARANOIAC, MANIAC, and HYSTERIA all featured real orimagined madness, murder, sex, and deception -along with numerous plottwists- to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with varying degreesof success. There's a stark, creepy, noir-like quality to MANIAC andthe unseen rape, torture and murder in the beginning is quitedisturbing. The location shooting in the isolated region of the FrenchCamargue is a decided asset and the compelling story, written by JimmySangster, includes a number of suspenseful sequences before a surpriserevelation that is near impossible to see coming. I've read complaintsthat this wasn't directed by Freddie Francis but Michael Carreras doesjust fine with the gialloesque material. Recommended.
planktonrules (02 April 2013)
The film begins with a very sick and brutal murder with a blow torch!!While you could understand why the man killed, how he did it wasnaturally quite unsettling! Four years later, Kerwin Mathews iswandering about Europe aimlessly when he arrives in a small town inProvence, France. Here he stumbles upon a beautiful pair of ladies whoare mother and daughter. What happens next, I really don't want to sayas it would spoil the excitement and twists.The early 1960s brought us a lot of films about maniac killers. PEEPINGTOM seemed to be the film to start the craze back--debuting just beforePSYCHO. PEEPING TOM was probably the best of these films and for aboutsix years afterwords, there were a bunch of similar productions thatfocused on a mad killer. STRAIGHT-JACKET, HOMICIDAL, DEMENTIA 13,PARANOIAC and HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE are among scores ofpsychopathic killer films.In the middle of this mad killer craze came the film MANIAC. Like theothers, it involves a brutal killer who was seen as hopelessly crazyand the film had lots of nice twists and turns to keep the viewerguessing. Compared to these other films, I'd say that MANIAC is aboutaverage--very engaging but not among the cream of the bloody crop. Wellmade--just now good enough to put it among the best of the genre.
lastliberal (01 April 2013)
Hammer films are usually enjoyable, so I take the time to tune in towhat promises to be an interesting story.I don't know much about Liliane Brousse (Annette). She only made 12films in a short period, and this was the next to last one. She plays ayoung girl who helps an artist (Kerwin Mathews ) who is stranded intown.Her stepmother Eve(Nadia Gray) has plans for the young man. Plans thatinvolve her incarcerated husband.Plenty of double-crosses to keep you interested, but you are leftwanting something that is not provided.
Brian Walker (24 March 2013)
A good script from Hammer stalwart Jimmy Sangster who also wrote theexcellent Paranoiac, and matched by sharp direction and photography. Ashame, then, that the cast are such a let-down. The well-known hamDonald Houston lives down to his reputation - his voice was dubbed, apity that his performance couldn't be erased. The French actressLillian Brousse is excellent as the innocent daughter, but the AmericanKerwin Matthews makes for a very anodyne lead. The rest of the cast areBritish, utilizing French accents straight out of 'Allo 'Allo. Hammerhave made some excellent non-horror movies such as Taste of Fear, andbut for the dreadful acting this could have been one of them.
MarieGabrielle (23 March 2013)
portrayed by the lovely Nadia Gray, Roumanian born actress. Thissuspenseful thriller is a nice surprise, and it has Polansky undertonesto it which make it chilling.The idea of a maniac with a blowtorch, and no one knows who or what ishis next target. The actor portraying said villain was very good, andmenacing as well as believable.Eve has a daughter whose father is languishing in prison. He may be theblowtorch killer. He may have committed crimes. We don't know until theend.Some of the scenes with the outdoor markets reminded me of Montmartre.So real and well photographed. A must see for any suspense film fan.9/10
getcater (16 March 2013)
As a Hammer film, Maniac comes as something of a surprise. One normallyassociates the brand with studio-based horror films of average to lowquality, typical Brit-flick production values and a home-grown cast ofstolid, reliable faces. If that's what you've come to expect fromHammer, Maniac will either disappoint or delight.Shot extensively on location in the Camargue, in high contrast blackand white 2.35:1 widescreen, the movie makes effective use of somestartlingly dramatic scenery that's exploited to the full by a clearlyabove average director of photography. The film noir mood andatmosphere are reminiscent of 1962's Cape Fear, and whilst Maniac failsto match that film's pitch of sustained suspense and repressed anger,it's a creditable attempt by Hammer to do something a bit darker andmore mature than usual.The acting is efficient, if somewhat underplayed, and it's a surpriseto see an actor of the calibre of Donald Houston being dubbed (itsounds like Roger Delgado Â any offers?) Thriller fans will bedisappointed at the lack of any truly scary moments, and the plot has afew more twists than are absolutely necessary; but if you appreciategood black and white photography and films that don't slavishly tickall the predictable boxes, Maniac has much to recommend it. A goodrestoration would certainly find an audience on DVD.
(15 March 2013)
Maniac is one of those rare Hammer films, a truly suspensefulhorror.Its wonderful to watch, and so much better in widescreen. The unseen storyintrigues, where the visual whets the appetite.A truly twisted story of intrigue and unrequited love, with a macabre twistthat could only come from the studio that bred Christopher Lee and PeterCushing as the ultimate horror team.Although not as good as some of their other work, nevertheless, I was keptguessing as the plot became more complex, and enthralled by the scenery andstyle.What is more, it is a contemporary film (well, 1963) and set in modernFrance, with real French actors!
laffinsal (14 March 2013)
A Hammer production, filmed at M.G.M., and released through Columbia.Sound confusing? Well, so is the plot to this attempt at out-psycho-ing"Psycho".Kerwin Matthews is actually pretty good, in this tale of an Americanartist visiting France, who gets mixed up with both a young woman, andthe woman's stepmother (notice she's a "stepmother"; hint, hint, wink,wink). For some reason I had an easier time believing Matthew'sinterest in the young woman, but not so much in her stepmother (whosehigh painted eyebrows, and puffy bouffant hair reminded me of Divine).Along the way Matthews learns of the older woman's husband, and how hecommitted a crime trying to protect his daughter years before. They tryto help the husband escape from an asylum (so they can be together),and then the confusion starts.Though the location footage, and stark black and white photography helpthis film create a good atmosphere, the direction is somewhat muddled,as is the dialogue, which at times I found difficult to follow. TheFrench accents, in addition to some questionable dubbing make it hardto understand what they are saying. When I could understand thedialogue, it seemed forced and elementary; characters having to explainthings that just happened, to further the story (and make sure that weget it).Overall a slow start and a bunch of interesting twists in the latterhalf, but only a couple mildly startling moments. I found myself ratherunsatisfied at the end. Perhaps this would have benefited by beingdirected by Freddie Francis...his collaboration with Jimmy Sangsterthat same year, for "Paranoiac", produced a much better film then thisis.
Woodyanders (13 March 2013)
Handsome nice guy American drifter Paul Farrell (a solid and appealingperformance by Kerwin Mathews) finds himself stuck in rural France. Heseeks room and board in the home of the alluring Eva Bryant (wellplayed with beguiling sexiness by Nadia Gray) and her sweet, butequally fetching teenage daughter Annette (a charming portrayal by theadorable Lilliane Brousse). Paul agrees to help Eva break herdangerously unstable husband Georges (a suitably menacing turn byDonald Houston) out of an asylum. Sound good and exciting? Well, alasthis middling Hammer thriller doesn't amount to much because of MichaelCarreras' competent, but pedestrian direction and Jimmy Sangster'sstrangely bland, talky, and uneventful script. The key problem is thatCarreras and Sangster let the meandering narrative plod along at tooleisurely a pace and crucially fail to generate much in the way oftension or momentum; it's only in the last third of the picture thatthe story finally starts cooking to some moderate degree with a niftydouble twist surprise ending. On the plus side, Wilkie Cooper's crispwidescreen black and white cinematography offers plenty of breathtakingshots of the lovely French countryside scenery and Stanley Black'sswinging jazzy score hits the right-on groovy spot. Moreover, the castdo their best with the blah material: Mathews, Gray, and Brousse areall fine in the lead roles, with sturdy support from George Bastell asthe no-nonsense Inspector Etienne and Arnold Diamond as affable localconstable Janiello. A strictly passable time-killer.
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