This week's movie is one I'm excited to finally be able to show - the 1934 exploitation/mad science film, Maniac! It was made by independent filmmaker Dwain Esper, who throughout the 30s made some of the wilder non-Hollywood pictures.
This one has some outrageous stuff going on it it, especially wild when you consider it was made in the early 30s. Esper peppered his films with as much craziness as he could get away with, then took his film town to town screening it wherever he could get away with. When sales were a bit lackluster for this one, he re-titled it SEX MANIAC and audiences lined up around the block to see it. There is a mad scientist keeping disembodied organs alive, experimenting at bringing the dead back to life, body snatching, murder, eyeball gouging (and eating), cat mutilation, and more.
People like to mock this one for being a "bad" movie - and yeah, it is rough around the edges and the acting is over the top - but it has more entertainment value than many modern "quality" pictures. You have to admire Esper, who got into filmmaking because he won a film lab in a settlement and decided to start churning out his own pictures. I always admire the indy spirit of low budget pioneers, even sleeze peddlers like Esper, who showed films like "Narcotic" that showed people actually shooting up, "Sinister Harvest" about marihuana smoking, Marihuana (1936), and "How to undress in front of your husband." He was also involved with the distribution of the re-release of Freaks, taking it town to town and screening it with his own films. Always an exploitation man, he once rented the mummified corpse of an old west outlaw named Elmer McCurdy and displayed it in the lobbies of theaters when screening Narcotic, claiming it was a victim of drugs!
Check out his magnum opus MANIC this Saturday right here in the Cinetarium website, also streaming on the Necat Roku Channel at 10pm central and airing on Nashville's Comcast CH9 at 9pm central as well!