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MANIAC (1963)

Article 2777 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 12-14-2008
Posting Date: 3-21-2009
Directed by Michael Carreras
Featuring Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston
Country: UK

An American artist finds himself stranded in a small town in France, and ends up striking up a romance with the married owner of a restaurant. The owner's husband is in an insane asylum after having killed a man with an acetylene blowtorch years earlier. The husband agrees to give up his wife if she and her lover help him to escape the asylum and depart the country. However, these plans are a cover for something else....

Generally, I like Hammer's black-and-white thrillers, but this one really tests my patience during the first half; after the opening murder, the story bogs down in a long sequence that sets up a fairly obvious love affair; it takes forever for the story to even get around to mentioning the insane husband. Things do pick up once the escape gets underway, and there are a goodly number of surprising plot twists in the story. However, I'm not sure all of the plot twists were strictly necessary, and some of the sequences (the need to dispose of a dead body) are good for the moment, but don't really lead anywhere satisfactory in the long run. It holds the interest, all right, but don't look at it too close afterwards, as it begins to look pretty far-fetched. At least the method of murder isn't one of those that's overused in horror movies.

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