Directed by Michael Carreras [Other horror films: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)]
I can’t say that this Hammer film is exceptionally good, because it’s not. By no means a bad movie, Maniac has a pretty decent story and a somewhat stellar ending. Even the method of murder is interesting (when it pops up), but all of that said, I don’t know if it’ll end up being all that memorable.
One thing that doesn’t necessarily bother me, but does make me question the sanity of Kerwin Matthews’ character, is when he falls for Nadia Gray over Liliane Brousse. Nothing against Gray, who certainly wasn’t unbecoming, but Brousse looked quite fantastic throughout, but I guess that the heart wants what the hearts wants.
Otherwise, it’s a solid story, and has a pretty fair conclusion, the likes which somewhat reminded me of the 1972 mystery-horror film Endless Night (though I still think Endless Night has a better finale), though I do think there was a change or two this movie could have made to make the ending even better. That said, it was a solid ending still for what they cobbled together.
I’m not familiar with any of the names in the cast – Kerwin Matthews (The Boy Who Cried Werewolf being one of his few other horror roles) was pretty decent, had a good look to him, and though I can’t say I care for his romantic choice, still seemed a solid guy. Nadia Gray didn’t do poorly, but I never thought much of her character, especially in the beginning when she was obviously trying to pull Matthews’ attention away from Brousse’s character. And as for Liliana Brousse (who was also in Hammer’s Paranoiac, which came out earlier in 1963), she was quite cute and I felt for her throughout. Donald Houston (A Study in Terror) was appropriately threatening.
While I do wish that Maniac had a bit more frights in it than it ultimately ended up having, I think the suspense was decent enough for what they had, and overall, it’s one of the lesser-known Hammer films that might be worth checking out. I have to admit, though, that others they made around this time, such as Paranoiac, were superior.