Maniacts (2001) Poster


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Poor mans Benny & Joon
The_Big_Yim20 May 2005
I agree with other users comments I picked this up as an ex-rental for about £1, thinking it was going to be remotely enjoyable pap. But it is a very funny, dark and original take on mental insanity. It has everything good gore, great dialogue, especially some of Jeff Fahy's one liner's, and a story & plot that keeps you interested & care about the two main characters. I can't understand why this has not had greater recognition, The cover does it no justice, as my summary say's it is a type of poor mans Benny & Joon, Eg two complicated souls trying to find themselves in society. The film is also dedicated to Jo Spinel of such fame as, Taxi Driver, Maniac, Fanactic & The Godfather. A fine film and worth seeing if you get the chance
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Heart and soul, blood and guts
mrgeetar12 August 2004
I'm a big fan of slashers and thrillers, so I grabbed "Maniacts" from the video store thinking it would be right up my alley. Imagine my surprise when it completely went against my expectations and left me stunned -- in a good way.

Joe and Beth are our "heroes" in this offering, convicted serial killers living in a corrupt insane asylum for violent felons. Once the two meet, we are taken on an increasingly gripping ride loaded with fascinating twists and turns. Director Curt Cressler has given us what may be among the finest pair of psychotic murderers/lovers ever presented, complemented that coupling with a well-played secondary protagonist and given us villains we can't help but despise from the get-go.

But what left my jaw hanging (almost literally) was the ending. The bizarre couple's relationship takes an unexpected turn, then leaves you throbbing in the chest and smiling all the way to the credits. I can't remember a finale this good on a budget this low in many years.

Definitely give this one a look-see. It's not high-dollar slick and overly filled with clichés, which should be all the more reason to check it out. I'm a gore monger and a thrill rider, and this film threw me for quite a (pleasant) loop.
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Blue Blood Is the Royal Blood Touched by God
claudio_carvalho2 September 2007
After being arrested for the murder of the doctor, lawyer and other persons that indirectly caused the death of his mother, the insane serial-killer Joe Spinelli (Jeff Fahey) is called by the press "The Blue Blood Killer". He is sent to the Edgemore Institute for the Criminally Insane, a mental institution administrated by a corrupt director and a sadistic doctor, having in the staff two mean guards. Joe meets Beth Windsor (Kellie Waymire), known as the Hitch-Killer, an also insane serial-killer who believes that has royal blood, and they fall in love for each other. After killing their torturers, they escape to the country of Arizona, are welcomed by an old farmer and begin a new normal life together. When Beth reads that Queen Elizabeth will visit Arizona, she convinces Joe to travel to the town to meet the British queen.

The first half of "Maniacts" is one of the best comedies of black-humor I have ever seen. After escaping from the asylum, the dark story twists to a gore road movie, ending in a drama. Therefore, the genre of this movie is never clear. However, the witty and intelligent lines, the unpredictability of the screenplay, with a refreshing story and the excellent performances give the status of cult-movie to "Maniacts". My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Insanos" ("Insane")
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The greatest cinematic romance I have ever seen
one4now414 August 2004
I was very surprised to see that "Maniacts" was not what I expected in the least. In this very effective and touching movie dedicated to Joe Spinell, Joseph Spinelli (Jeff Fahey) is a serial killer known as the "Blueblood Killer". He's killed those he found to be parasites who made their living off of lying and thievery. In a mental institution for the criminally insane, he meets (along with a corrupt and murderous array of administrators and staff workers) another inmate, a female serial killer named Beth Windsor (Kellie Waymire), who killed people who attacked her as she hitchhiked. As they continue to fall more and more deeply in love with one another, the administration sees them as a threat to the reputation of the institution. Eventually, they are on the lam, taking up residence with a kindly (and somewhat psychic) old farmer who has had trouble with bankers and gang members. I don't want to say much more about the plot for fear of spoiling the surprisingly down-to-Earth surprises within. Let's just say that it's definitely not as cliched as it may sound. Most of the actors hold their own very well, and the ones who don't still ably contribute to the often very comical feel of this unconventional movie. Every time it threatens us with a cliche, it defiantly resists. I highly recommend "Maniacts", as it is that rare occasion where the mix of hilarious dark humor, touching romance and drama, and airborne-gore-style ultraviolence is actually so well-concocted that it seems effortlessly achieved (even when it actually takes extreme and true talent to create something with this kind of power).
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Philbs1324 May 2003
I don't know who designed the cover art for this movie...but they have NO idea how to market a good movie. Based on the cover art, which depicts a ghostly, screaming face with metal things holding the eyes, nose and mouth open, I thought this was just another post-90s garbage, straight-to-video horror romp following in the footsteps of other crap like Python, Subterrano, The Vault, She Creature and Dead and Rotting. What I was presented with WAS IN FACT not a horror film by any standards. The film begins with the arrest of a psychopathic killer (Jeff Fahey) and an atmosphere of a cliche suspense. Then what follows is a tongue-in-the-cheek look at a corrupt mental institution where the inmates are abused by the guards. The humor, especially Fahey's impersonation of Christ on the cross and other antics which get him sent to solitary, and his romance with woman whose violence is induced when hit in the face, drive this relatively entertaining film that ultimate concludes in a literally depressing manner. Worth watching, provided you can force yourself past the HORRID box art.
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Stunning film
gareth-367 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I have always been attracted to Jeff Fahey movies. I find him reliable, however, some of the recent productions he has been involved in have been embarrassing, The Contract, Blind Heat and The Sculptress being some of the most rubbish. However, Fahey has been highly watchable in all, giving each film that little something to keep you going.

This film is by far and away one of his best. Funny, thrilling, slightly gory and fairly fresh. A little slow moving but the gags keep it interesting (more subtle humour and a couple of wise cracks for good measure).

Fahey doesn't do much comedy so this is a welcome addition and he shows that there is a funny side to him. The film doesn't let the comedy get in the way of the drama, or the action. It successfully blends all the elements together.


The finale is one of the most emotional scenes I have experienced is quite some time. As Fahey looks to co-star Kellie Waymire in the last few seconds of his life, her realisation that he is going to sacrifice himself for her, a couple of 1 second flashbacks and Amazing Grace playing over the top really pushed me to well up. It was a stunning scene executed perfectly.


Another reviewer commented on the box art, to which I fully agree. I remember seeing a poster with Fahey and Waymire in straight jackets trying to hug. This picture would have been a great deal more fitting. Slightly humorous but more relevant to the subject matter of the system our heroes are forced into.

I thoroughly recommend this, it will help anyone who doubts Fahey's screen presence realise why he continues to work albeit he does make some hokey rubbish but he still stands strong throughout.

Also, its good to see Leslie Easterbrook outside of Police Academy. She is still rather sexy too.
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Good film but NOTHING like the poster and description
rooprect29 October 2019
It's hard not to have your attention grabbed by the poster for this film, a disturbing closeup of a demented face in "scream" pose with highly unsettling wire thingees going in and out of the face's nostrils, mouth and eyeballs. The marketing wizard who came up with that image needs to apply for a job at Asylum Films (the low budget studio that brought us such masterpieces as "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2: The Second One"). This film, "Maniacts" is actually a love story/road movie along the lines of Tom Tykwer's "Heaven", David Lynch's "Wild at Heart", or--this is a stretch but--possibly the Wim Wenders epic "Until the End of the World".

If you're not familiar with those flicks then I'll try to explain. The story presents an odd romance between 2 fugitives on the run, taking us through episodic events that are seemingly unrelated (sort of like a modern Alice in Wonderland) but ultimately bringing the story to a powerful conclusion. Yes, there are bits of action, violence and terror in the beginning, but these are handled with a very tongue-in-cheek attitude, and this soon evolves into a slower-paced drama as we follow the journey of these 2 oddballs in love.

Joe & Beth are convicted serial killers locked up in a torturous mental institution worse than anything we saw in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". This part of the film is a bit disturbing but that's offset by the satirical, comedic presentation which I really enjoyed. Joe is a bit of a simpleton, almost like the dumb loveable brute Lenny in "Of Mice and Men" while Beth is the brains of the outfit. Their initial meeting and acquaintance is really fun and entertaining, and their chemistry is phenomenal. Stellar acting by both, and sadly I must mention that the actress who played Beth (Kelly Waymire) died 2 years after this production with it being her final feature film. Real shame because if this movie was any indication, she was a very talented actress with extreme diversity.

The title "Maniacts" refers to 5 acts, or chapters, depicting their story. Intertitles introduce each one, such as "Art is a Maniact", "Love is a Maniact", "Faith is a Maniact", and so on. (Note: I may have miscounted, but I'm assuming that there were 5 because that's the standard Shakespearean dramatic structure, as well as the way your 10th grade English teacher probably taught you to compose an essay). The point being, there is an interesting structure holding this film together even though the different episodes may seem random at first.

I see that other reviewers really liked the direction the story took and the ending it gives us. Me personally, I didn't really like the way things were wrapped up because things shifted very suddenly toward the end, but that's just a personal opinion, not an artistic criticism. The cheeky vibe of the first 30 minutes evolves into something more serious, sentimental and dramatic, which was handled well, but it can be a bit hard to digest if you're not expecting it. I feel like the film could have been at least 30 mins longer so that the final events could slowly emerge rather than suddenly hitting us. But maybe if I watch it a 2nd time with that in mind (or maybe if you watch it forewarned) it'll be a better viewing experience.

Also be forewarned that this is a "low budget" production, meaning there's no Hollywood gloss. But that doesn't mean that it looks cheap. It's actually very well done within the constraints, and I imagine if this were ever remastered in Blu-ray HD (as I type this in 2019, eighteen years after the film's release, the only available copies are VHS and DVD, both at full-screen 4:3) it might be a real treat for the eyes especially when they get to the natural desert landscapes of Santa Fe where it was filmed. But alas, this is probably the best we'll get so you'll have to lower your viewing standards a bit. If that doesn't scare you off then this is definitely a worthwhile watch.

In any case, do NOT judge this book by its cover. It's not horror, it's not really a thriller or an action flick or even a comedy, even though all those elements figure in. Think road movie romance with a dark, violent setting & quirky characters, and proceed from there. One thing I'm sure everyone can agree on: if they ever reissue this on home media, I hope they change that damn cover!
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A black comedy and works a treat.
RatedVforVinny7 December 2019
A quirky dark comedy about a love interest between two killers, who meet in prison. The story sees them break out and take their revenge on the people who did them wrong. Contains a lot of social and political comment but this does not get in the way (or interfere), with the solid and sometimes crazy entertainment.
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Great Movie
nrotic17 December 2001
I saw this movie at the Santa Fe Film Festival in the beginning of December I also worked on it for a day, I thought it was great, witty and intelligent a fun movie. I recommend anyone who notices this movie coming to there town go see it, we had 3 sold out showings in Santa Fe and nothing but good things were said about the movie.
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I really, really hated this one.
poolandrews2 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Maniacts starts as a serial killer known as 'Blueblood', whose name in reality is Joe Spinelli (Jeff Fahey), is caught by the police & sentenced to be locked away in the Edgemare Insane Asylum. There he meets fellow serial killer Beth Windsor (Kellie Waymire) & the two fall in love, those in charge of the Edgemare Institute are corrupt & abusive to the inmates there expect a kindly old ex-cop who helps Joe escape when it becomes clear the administrator & doctor's want Joe dead. Free in the outside world Joe decides to break back into Edgemare & free Beth which he does & they both head out to the country & find a kind old farmer who gives them a place to stay & some work but it's not long before the serial killer's past catches up with them...

Directed by C.W. Cressler I have to say that I hated Maniacts with a passion, I hated every single moment of it from start to finish & this was one of the most painful viewing experiences I have had in recent times. For a start the meaningless title Maniacts has no relevance to anything & apparently the film actually had the working title ManiaX, a film of two halves (although both are equally as bad as each other) the first half of Maniacts is set in an insane asylum & focuses on Joe & Beth falling in love before one of the guards decides to let Joe, a serial killer, just escape for no good reason before Joe gets back inside the asylum with no explanation given as to how as he just literally 'appears' there next to Beth. The second half sees the odd couple out on a farm in the country before a rubbishy forgettable ending. Sometimes you watch a film & say that it's awful because of low production values, a silly story, bad acting, poor direction or whatever & then there are films such as Maniacts which just make you want to hate them, everything about Maniacts is awful from the horrible character's to the terrible dialogue to the poor script to the incoherent plot to the deeply, deeply unfunny comic moments mixed in with some very cheap looking & poorly edited gore scenes. The script tries to make some judgements & pass comment on the system for the criminally insane but it's generally lost in the awfulness of it all & it doesn't follow through on these issues anyway. I think the main reason I hate Maniacts so much is because of the two main character's who I just found so unlikable & annoying, most good films have character's you can relate too, root for & emphasise with but those qualities are complete;y lacking in either Joe or Beth & that just killed the film for me. I don't want to spend 90 odd minutes of my time following character's whom I hate & add that to a rubbish plot Maniacts is a complete disaster in my eyes & the worst film I have seen in quite a while.

A cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) along with a bit of Benny & Joon (1993) & some Bonnie and Clyde (1967) mixed up with some serial killer thriller like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) this is far worse than any of those & it's mix of romantic off beat comedy & horror film with it's cheap gore set-pieces meant it felt like a total mess to me. There's a bit when a head explodes, someone has a large flagpole stuck through their body, there's a sliced off hand & some gunshot wounds as far as the gore & violence goes. The end is supposed to feature a parade attended by the Queen of England & like a lot of film Maniacts makes the (trivial) mistake of playing bagpipes on the soundtrack which are Scottish not English when it really should be God Save the Queen which is the national anthem.

Filmed in Santa Fe in New Mexico the production values are reasonable if forgettable, the special effects are cheap & there's no real style to it. The acting was poor in my eyes, Jeff Fahey seems to sleepwalk through this, I hated Waymire as Beth while Leslie Easterbrook has a small role as an evil doctor.

Maniacts is a film that I hated, it's one of those films which just rubbed me up the wrong way, it's nowhere near as clever as it likes to think it is, it's not funny in the slightest & I just want to completely forget about this as soon as possible. Thanks for reading, now you don't have to sit through this, seriously there's no need to thank me.
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