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Mania Killer (or Maniac Killer if you want to go by the title card used on the print scanned for this release) was directed by Andrea Bianchi, the man who gave us Burial Ground, Malabimba, Strip Nude For Your Killer and Cry Of A Prostitute, trash classics all. The film stars the eternally toothy Chuck Connors, tough guy Bo Svenson and The Exterminator himself, Robert Ginty. By all accounts, this should have been an amazing film…
…but it is not an amazing film. It starts off pretty well. A prostitute with giant eighties hair argues with her pimp outside a Parisian nightclub. He leaves, and she heads home only to get abducted and brought to an underground torture chamber where a weird old dude in a red robe brandishing a ‘sacred scepter' (which is a stick with a plastic snake and some fake gems glued onto it, all spray-painted gold) watches as a hulking brute of a man rips off her clothes and pinches her nipples. She screams, and that's kind of the end of that scene.
From there, we catch up with a nosy mailman and his pals at a bar as they discuss the abduction. They're interested in the details. Elsewhere, a seemingly kindly old scientist named Professor Roger Osborne (Chuck Connors) and his maid, marvel at the new computer setup he has. A mentally challenged mute named Matthieu (François Greze), who looks like kind of a young Nick Cave, hangs out, Osborne noting that the computers might just be able to help him verbally communicate at a base level. Matthieu, however, is more interested in poaching animals off of the property nearby that belongs to Countess Silvano (Paulina Adrian) and her husband, Count Silvano (Svenson).
When another abduction happens, the mailman and his pals get involved with the cops who hope to catch the fiend before he strikes again. While all eyes are on Osborne, given that he's doing unorthodox experiments on the animals that Matthieu has been poaching, a rich weirdo named Gondrand (Ginty) hires a foxy redhead and a schlubby bald guy, Lysia (Suzanne Andrews) and Sam (Stanley Kapoul), to do his evil bidding.
Mania Killer is a mess, even by the standards of Eurocine, the infamous European schlock house responsible for producing it. There are elements here that will entertain exploitation enthusiasts, mainly the torture scenes as they offer up a bit of nudity and, well, torture, but don't go into this expecting any actual gore as aside from a few squibs used in a single shoot out, there isn't much here at all. More importantly, there's no suspense. We know who is responsible for this pretty early on and the script can't be bothered to give us characters to care about. We know nothing about the abductees and while obviously we know what's being done to them is bad, there's nothing to invest in here and the acting is never convincing enough to convince us that anything believably horrible is happening to these characters. It's laughable in a few spots, sure, but not intentionally so and there isn't enough of a ‘wtf factor' to the movie to really propel it the way it should.
With most of the film made up of a plot that goes in a bunch of different directions at once without really resolving most of them, the film therefore depends on the cast to carry the picture. Connors is amusing to watch here, he chews the scenery nicely. Ginty seems to sleepwalk through most of the film, though at least he gets to hang out in a cool room with a nice bar and a KISS pinball machine. Svenson isn't really given very much to do except sort of stand around at a party and enjoy a fireworks display. François Greze grunts and moans his way through his part to the degree that he isn't entertaining so much as he is annoying, and the various supporting players that populate the picture are less than memorable. At least Luis Bacalov's score is solid, but this really should have been a lot more entertaining than it is.
Mania Killer arrives on Blu-ray from Full Moon in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and taking up 18.8GBs of space on the 25GB disc. Full Moon's packaging touts the fact that the transfer is uncut and remastered from the best available elements, but the image is soft and occasionally a little smeary looking. Colors never quite pop the way they probably should, though they don't look completely lifeless. Black levels are okay but not reference quality. Detail is better than standard definition could provide, to be sure, but the image doesn't look super crisp. Some of this very likely has to do with the original cinematography but after watching the movie you're definitely left with the impression that it could look better than it does here.
The main audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here. Although this is a lossy track and obviously not as good as a lossless option, overall it sounds fine. There are a few spots where the levels jump a bit, the screaming in the torture scenes is really loud, but otherwise it sounds okay. A Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is also provided, which spreads out the score into the surround channels a bit but keeps the dialogue up front.
Extras are limited to a few promo spots for other Eurocult titles available from Full Moon, menus and chapter selection.
Mania Killer is a mediocre movie given a mediocre presentation. The film has a few moments of exploitative goodness that will amuse fans of European trash cinema, but mostly it's kind of dull. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.