Tag Archives: Maniac

Underrated Slashers Presents, Frank Zito of ‘MANIAC!’

Horror takes many shapes and assumes various forms in order to affect us. Be it monsters, killers, or simple catastrophes, horror is there to incarnate both our deepest fears and our darkest sense of humor. By far, the Slasher Genre is my favorite kind of horror to watch, and there are hundreds to choose from out there. So much so that too many of them go overlooked and remain underrated. For that reason I, Manic Exorcism, gladly pull back the tattered veil to shed some sinister light upon these underrated slasher killers.

 

MANIAC (1980)

Why hello again. Come and gather around the hobo fire. Have your pick of any select hooker to scalp (they always come in plenty around this side of town), because today on Underrated Slashers we’re heading into some very sketchy places and getting extra sleazy, my little Nasties. Today we’ll be looking at one of the 80’s all-time best slasher films, William Lustig’s MANIAC!

The world of Frank Zito is a vile one indeed. One of the uncontrollable desires, lust, a cruel obsession for the flesh, and – above all else – murder. Brought to us by the larger-than-life performance of Joe Spinell , Frank Zito’s is a tale of atrocities and tragedy. A man controlled by need and ruled by his addiction. An addiction not for narcotics, no, but for something far more seductive. The addiction for perfection and beauty. The lovely victims who fall prey under his serrated knife are not innocent, at least not in his diluted sight. Afterall, they were told not to go out tonight.

The Midwest Film Journal
image via The Midwest Film Journal

The 80’s were the golden years of the Slasher Genre. Ah Hell, that decade gave birth to the genre. That was the golden age of Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and Michael Myers! When the big baddies wet the screens red with the blood of the innocent, and we fucking loved it! That’s also the decade that was pumping out slashers on nearly a weekly basis, so much so that we could barely keep up with them. Sadly, as the bigger names were given limitless sequels as their box office success rose like the smoke off a cannibal pyre, there were single films that got woefully overlooked in the great crowd of murder and mayhem. And by no means does that mean these lesser-knowns were in any way inferior. Quite the contrary, as in the case of MANIAC, often times they were either equal to or superior to the hell unleashed upon Elm Street or Crystal Lake.

rotten tomatoes
image via Rotten Tomatoes

In the case of Frank Zito, the blood was realistic and the outcome was gruesome. As a matter of fact, this may very well be one of the most unpleasant films in the genre to sit through. You can feel the humidity of this film. I swear at times you can even smell it. You get that rancid stench of neglected trash filling the undercity’s gutters, and the odor of cheap cologne mingled with heavy sweat just permeates nearly every scene. It kinda smells like Old Spice and spicy sausage with a hint of uncontrollable BO.

Make no mistake, this is a very dirty movie. Every minute of the film makes damn sure you understand that. It’s a film that makes you want to shower after watching it, and fuck it all that’s why I love it! Few movies can have that kind of an effect on an audience.

Life Between Frames
image via Life Between Frames

We do not simply watch Frank Zito’s life, we are thrust into it. We walk the darkly wet streets with him. We sit in the corner of his dingy flat, and we are up close and personal with his obscenities.

ORIGINS

Every good serial killer must have a beginning, thus keeping that ancient riddle of nature vs. nurture alive – are maniacs born or built? In Frank’s case, we learn that he was constantly abused by his prostitute mother, and honestly, there is a wide-open door left here for us to explore the psychology of a killer through studying our nasty friend, Franky.

scumcinema
image via scumcinema

So, with Freddy we have a child killer who was provoked by his alcoholic father’s sadism, in Jason, we have an innocent child who was bullied, picked on, then left to drown, but who also had an overly-loving mother who was ready and all-too-willing to kill for her beloved Jason. Frank Zito was victim to his mother’s sick perversities. Zito had no supernatural powers, but he kept New York City in a grip of scarlet terror and still proves to be just as deadly as his fellow murderers.

I’ve said it before, but really that’s the kind of killer that makes us all squirm. They live in the flat down the hall, just like Dahmer. They aren’t the type we’d want to spend an afternoon with, but we would never expect to find a hidden museum of the macabre waiting behind their locked doors.

bocadoinferno
image via bocadoinferno

And trust me – and without giving anything away – Frank has a grotesque little shrine built out of sin itself. For gorehounds, this is a film you won’t want to pass up! For slasher freaks, this is one underrated hit you have to finally see.

Recently, MANIAC has been enjoying a much-needed revival thanks to my friends over at Eibon Press. They specialize in bringing the crassness of grindhouse classics back to life with new twists and insidious depth. Their first issue of MANIAC is a must-have for any fan of the sleazy classic. And for the truest of sickies, issue 2 promises to pit Frank Zitto against the New York Ripper himself. So holy fuck! It’s a manic dream come true! To read more on the insane awesomeness of Eibon Press please click here and see what you’ve been missing in your life.

Wicked Horror
image via Wicked Horror

So there you have it, my Nasties. Frank Zito is out there in the dark corners of your world. He waits in the shadows and looks out through wild eyes of craven lust. Once he decides to strike there is no escape. So be careful when you walk away from here, and always keep your head turned towards those grimy alleyways, that parking garage you think is empty, or, if you’re really unlucky, outside your front door.

Eibon Press and the Future-Past of Horror Comics!

It’s time to crack open the forbidden tomes of Eibon, faithful followers. Here we bid a long farewell to our flesh. Beyond this point, there shall be no return. The mind will melt and the soul filleted as such oozing spectacles assault our vision from the Beyond.  Forsake ye all hopes for a restful grave at the sure ending of life, because a hideous power, one of wickedness and dread, this way quickly comes. Eibon has been reopened forthwith ushering us into fresh circles of Hell.

 

. . . The Book of Eibon, that strangest and rarest of occult forgotten volumes … is said to have come down through a series of manifold translations from a prehistoric original written in the lost language of Hyperborea.
—Clark Ashton Smith, “Ubbo-Sathla”

 

Eibon Press is proving themselves to be the unrelenting future of horror comics. With a lethal eye trained for macabre details, they are undoubtedly the undisputed masters of their craft. By blending gruesome art with fiendish tales they masterfully weave new layers of terror into some of our most cherished exploitation films and cult classics, thus ensuring their secured place in horror history.

 

EPFbP 1
image via Eibon Press Facebook Page

 

Horror naturally prospers in comic book form, mainly because the MPAA can’t step in with their bitchy attitudes and erase away any sight of blood, guts or sexuality that might make them blush with a bad case of the vapors. Many of our favorite horror franchises have suffered needlessly beneath the rigorous afflictions of uptight censorship, thus ruining some perfectly good horror movie opportunities in terms of those messy little meaty details. Friday the 13th, at least the later films, were systematically abused by the righteous endeavors of the MPAA. Luckily, the grimy halls of comic books are unspoiled by such convictions and their haunted halls are rife with maniacs who freely kick down our doors, raise their chipped hatchets and cleave our puny good sensibilities into a bloody and gurgling pulp.

 

Eipbon Press
image via Eibon Press

 

Now, if you’ve had a chance to read anything from Avatar Press – I’m thinking especially Wormwood, but especially Crossed – or just about anything by Garth Ennis, you’ll know immediately what I mean here. Comic books are not safe, and woe to any who thinks differently. No one who appears in such macabre volumes shall be spared. Their eyes will melt and their flesh decay, no one, not even our most beloved of heroes, are safe beneath the ink of those given to this expression of Art. These writers and artists will not hesitate to shove us down and kick our teeth in.  Oh no, horror comics are not safe, and they never should be.

 

EPFbP 4
image via Eibon Press Facebook Page

 

This is an unshakable fact Eibon Press knows about very, very well. In the hands of these master sadists, the Art has taken a new form in order to distribute the Evangelium of terror. To gross someone out is honestly not in the least bit complicated, and believe me, many have (failingly) attempted to gain an audience by simply defiling their readers’ eyes through shocking gross-outs. But to craft an engaging story, to make the Art come to life, to beget something that will continue in the minds of their audience long after the reader puts away the book is only a thing masters of the craft can accomplish.  It takes truly insidious talent to breathe something into existence that invades our normal everyday lives, plaguing us with visceral images and ghoulish scenes we won’t soon forget. Not just anybody can achieve this level of the Art. Junji Ito is able to do this effortlessly and has been my reigning favorite horror artist until I met with Eibon Press and witnessed what they have to offer.

Just like horror movies have many genres, the same is equally true of horror comics. In the case of Eibon Press, they’ve skillfully dominated the sodden field of exploitation experiences. Be it a grimy alleyway with dripping echoes of sweltering lust and shame, perhaps the humid gates of everlasting Hell, or a restless cemetery where the rotting dead rise out of the mire and mold – Eibon Press depicts some wonderfully dreadful landscapes you will traverse once you crack open their pages. Violence awaits and there will be no turning back once you enter. It is a horror fan’s paradise.

 

Eibon press
image via Eibon Press

 

They make gritty somehow beautiful. Ascetically brilliant, they make full use of color to accentuate the full volume of gore at hand. I can guarantee gore hounds will not be disappointed! And as for tone, well this is like the equivalent of your favorite death metal albums in illustrated form. There will be slaughter and lots of blood.

But all is not just blood, guts and eroticism. These guys are better than that and build upon plot and focus on the characters who must face all the horrors Hell has to offer. If you think this is just an-all out splatterfest…well, you’d be correct! It gets very sticky as you turn the pages, but I assure you it’s the stories they’ve released that will keep you turning those pages.

Eibon Press specializes in embellishing upon the beloved cult classics of Lucio Fulci, and I love them for that! I’ve always been a Fulci fan so I approached these comics with a critical eye. I was not disappointed, but very much the opposite. I was impressed by how much love and care they handled the material with. It didn’t take long to realize these guys love Fulci’s work as much as I do.

 

EPFbP
image via Eibon Press Facebook Page

 

I did say they embellish on the stories. For example, when reading Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead) we get a lot more details of the evil priest who hangs himself at the beginning of the movie. With the use of some good narrative, the team gives us a fuller and broader story to the lores we already love and know. If you think you know everything there is to know about Zombi, think again. There is so much more to glean from that vicious story, and with the comic Zombie, Eibon proves this to be true. For example, you know how Zombi 2 ends? Well, Eibon extends the story and takes us right into the chaotic-strewn streets of the city. Put on your big boy pants because it just keeps getting more and more savage.

In case that’s already not enough to have you ready to order their entire line of comics, let me tempt you even further. In their epic Gates of Hell title, not only is Eibon giving us the hellish story of City of the Living Dead, but this is only the start of the Saga of the 7 Gates line. A series that begins with CotLD and will involve both The Beyond and House By the Cemetery, mummy! And I’m pretty sure Bob won’t be anywhere near as annoying in comic form as that little shit was in the movie. “Mummy, I see a girl in the window, Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!”

Ok I got it out of my system. That fucking voice though! Screw you, Bob!

They have also adapted both Maniac and Laserblast into comic form. Laserblast, people! I never in my sickest fever dreams would have ever expected that to be a comic storyline! Oh, you’re uninitiated into the silliness of Laserblast. Here, check this out.

 

 

Isn’t that just glorious? Only diehard fans of horror would take the time to adapt a movie this spectacularly cheesy into an art form and share it so a new generation may discover it. And after a speaking with these guys, I know they are indeed fans of the genre.

As a bonus feature for both of these (Maniac and Laserblast) you can get a truly unique VHS sleeve. Oh, that’s another thing, not only are we treated to some of the best gore in comics today, but, just like any great DVD release, we are also given loads of bonus content with every comic purchase. Bookmarks, fliers, collectible cards and (in some cases) music tracks. Yeah, they give codes for exclusive music content relating to the comics. When’s the last time Marvel did that? These guys treat the fans!

I can’t kiss the publisher’s ass enough. And no, I didn’t get a special deal from them. I’m still paying full price plus shipping, and that’s fine by me. I’m just a fan who wants everyone else to know what they’ve been missing. So let’s hurry up and fix it.

 

The Dead Walk
image via The Dead Walk

 

Eibon also has a totally original run called Bottomfeeder which is as pretty as a truckstop outhouse. That’s not a criticism either. It’s a story set in the 80’s and features some all-time favorite cult faces who regularly make cameos throughout the story. You can call it detectivesploitation as our asshole anti-hero is set against Roger Corman’s Humanoids From the Deep. Holy shit! Just typing that line was exciting.

 

Eibon Press Facebook Page 2
image via Eibon Press Facebook Page

 

These guys go for the jugular and never apologize for it. These are wickedly dangerous comics and you’ll need your manliest pair of britches to get into them, but you will not regret it. Fair warning these are in no way safe for work or around kids. There is explicit nudity in them all. And if child death affects you I would advise you stay away. Like in any good Fulci film kids are known to get a bad case of dead here.

 

Eibon Press 2
image via Eibon Press

 

Out of all the horror comics to choose from out there these guys are my absolute favorite. You cannot find these titles in stores, however, so be sure to visit their website here and don’t be scared to buy. Already Zombie is in its third printing and sells out like mad. Pretty sure I’ll be doing a review of that run fairly soon.

I’ve been talking with Eibon on the possibility of there being a Madman comic, and the idea is out there. So fingers crossed.

This has been Manic Exorcism once again hoping you stay scared and dare to open these forbidden Gates and unleash a little Hell.