Shot on a dime for the exploitation market, these two oddities from Dwain Esper (paired on a KINO DVD) are siblings with a difference. MANIAC is a campy, DIY attempt at a Universal Horror pic; think zero-budget FRANKENSTEIN with a bit of ‘nudie’ action tossed in the mix. Fodder for the Mystery Science Theater wiseguys* and not far from Ed Wood territory. Whereas NARCOTIC, made just the year before, is something else again. A supposed exposé of one man’s decent into drug addiction, it's less the work of someone who’s never made a film then of someone
who’s never seen one. Jumping around in time, place & action with the logic of an unintentional Dadaist, Esper seems to be making up his own film grammar & syntax as he goes along, we might be deciphering the cries of a babbling baby. What did patrons of the day make of it? The best scene, if you can call it that, is a little drug shindig with a smorgasbord of stimulants, guests in formal garb and a glossary’s worth of the hep slang of the day in addict terminology. Little approaches this level of deconstruction in MANIAC, but within the stock footage Esper haphazardly puts in to pad out the running time is some truly nasty animal atrocity stuff and a remarkable clip from an Italian silent pic that’s superimposed over some villainy. KINO gives us a clip of this from the original film, MACISTE IN HELL/’25, a sort of Hercules in the UnderWorld pic, which looks pretty cool . . . in its creepy way. Sort of Italian-UFA style, and well worth checking out if you can find it.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Why listen to those MST guys? Do your own obnoxious comic commentary.
DOUBLE-BILL: It’s its very own Double-Bill.