Grindhouse Double Feature - Episode Eight : The Centerfold Girls and Maniac
The Centerfold Girls
Ultra-sleazy 70's exploitation slasher, filled with gratuitous nudity, misogyny, sex, and violence. Shot on grainy 16mm with little flash or flare, a grimy seedy atmosphere, mostly unsympathetic characters, and a general over all mean-spiritedness. Centerfold Girls is quintessential 1970's grindhouse exploitation fair.
The Centerfold Girls is the fairly simple story of pin-up models being stalked by geeky creepy god-fearing serial killer. It has two things that make it standout though. One is it's novel three part story arc structure. Centerfold Girls almost plays like an anthology, with three separate unrelated short stories linked together by the serial killer character. The second is cult movie favorite actor Andrew Prine. Prine steals the show with an intense performance as the deranged, fanatical, morally obsessed killer, Clement Dunne. After picking his victim from a pin-up magazine, Clement stalks and harasses them with phone calls telling them that he wants to help them. However, before their final confrontation with Clement each of the girls meets up with and is taken advantage by a sordid collection of callous, opportunistic characters.
Controversial early 80's slasher, directed by William Lustig and starring Joe Spinell, from Rocky and the Godfather, who also co-wrote from a story he developed. Spinell plays, Frank Zito, a middle aged over weight schizophrenic loner living in New York. During the day he's the landlord for a small rundown low rent apartment complex, but he spends most of his nights stalking and killing women. Frank scalps them, and brings the scalps along with their clothes back home to use in dressing one of his collection of mannequins. The mannequin then becomes a surrogate for Frank's deceased abusive prostitute mother with Frank carrying out a one sided relationship with it, before growing tired of it and moving on to the next mannequin.
The filming of Maniac was extremely low budget, forcing much of it to be shot guerilla-style, as the production could not afford shooting permits. It was never submitted to the MPPA, as it would have surely have gotten an x-rating for it extremely graphic violence. Instead it was released unrated, as was the practice at the time for the ultraviolent films of the time. The film's most infamously graphic scene, involves special effect master Tom Savini blowing his own head off (a dumby of himself) with a 12 gauge shotgun at point blank rage through a car windshield.
Maniac was nominated for a Saturn Award, by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA, for Best Low Budget Film in 1981. Joe Spinell had planned to make a sequel to Maniac entitled Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie. In it, Spinell would have played the host of a kid's television show who murders the abusive parents of his fans. Although a short promotional film was made in 1986, but he was unable to secure financial backing for the production before his death1989.
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