Maniac

June 27, 2008

Ask people to name the best movie of all time and you’re going to hear a lot of answers. Ask them to name the worst and the list shrinks to a few titles. Plan 9 From Outer Space. Manos, the Hands of Fate. The Phantom Menace. Bad, yes, but all Oscar-bait compared to the cinematic trainwreck that is Maniac.

Produced in 1934 by Dwain Esper of Reefer Madness fame, Maniac (originally “Sex Maniac”) was a roadshow film – too lurid to be shown in reputable theaters, screened only in sideshow tents and burlesque houses. Today it is remarkable mostly for its stunning lack of production values and a gaping deep-space vacuum of talent on either side of the camera.

When I say this film is worse than Plan 9 from Outer Space, I’m not just whistling in the wind — Plan 9 scores a lofty 3.5 rating on IMDB, compared to 2.6 for Maniac.  That’s a whopping 25 percent less good than the film many believe to be the least good ever made.

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