Maniac (a.k.a., Sex Maniac) (1934).
This roadshow exploitation classic – from Dwain Esper and Hildegarde Staide, the husband-and-wife team behind “Marihuana” and other such hysteria – purports to be an exposé on criminal insanity, but takes a quick left turn into, well, complete insanity.
A neighborhood mad scientist and his assistant, a vaudeville impersonator on the lam from the law, are busy at work in their research into reanimating corpses. When the vaudevillian bungles a body theft, he and scientist get into an argument that ends with the scientist getting shot. And then it really goes off the rails with eye eating, a rapist who thinks he’s an orangutan, some gratuitous nudity, and a cat rancher with a fool-proof plan for vast wealth. And all in under an hour!
The production values, technical quality, hectoring screen crawls and poor acting are exactly what you’d expect from a 1930s roadshow picture. It’s hoot-worthy and then some. But what really sets “Maniac” apart from its genre is its absolute commitment to its bizarre situations. A lot of films feature strange creative choices, but few can follow through on them with such full-bore, over the top bravado.
It’s really something else. Find a way to watch it if you can. This one goes straight to the top of the “créme de la weird” list.
“I got a thousand cats. Wanna see ‘em?”
The story is supposedly based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. If you squint hard enough you might be able to see elements of “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Black Cat” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
“Reefer Madness” (1936) and “The Wild World of Batwoman” (1966).
Take a Look:
This clip doesn’t need any set-up:
How not to win an argument: