Dwain Esper officially took the directorial reins in this follow-up to Narcotic, and if anything Maniac is more salacious and unbelievably outrageous than its predecessor. Starting off like a skid row remake of Frankenstein, with a mad scientist reviving the sexy corpse of a dead woman, it quickly jumps tracks to borrow from Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat when the assistant is tormented once too often and kills the doctor, taking his place with greasepaint and wigs. But the plot is really just an excuse for outrageousness: a mental patient is injected with an experimental drug and turns into a raving maniac, kidnapping the revived corpse, tearing off her flimsy gown, and molesting her on the run! Thrown in for good measure are cat fights (both literal and figurative), gratuitous displays of young women prancing around in underwear and negligees, and the doctor popping out a cat's eyeball and tossing it in his mouth like a grape. The script is irredeemably stilted, the acting is either wooden or flamboyantly over the top, and everything about the film reeks of cheapness--especially the hopeless attempts to frame the whole exercise as an educational report on mental disease. But this poverty-row cocktail of titillation and exploitation excess, while certainly not good, has that jaw-dropping "Am I really seeing this?" quality that overcomes all questions of aesthetics, judgment, and good taste. --Sean Axmaker
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