European Cult Nonsense

Obscure B-movies like Mania Killer (more commonly known as Maniac Killer) sometimes work as guilty pleasures, trapping audiences in their twisted storytelling and fever logic despite flimsy production values. Italian director Andrea Bianchi’s inept Mania Killer isn’t one such horror flick.

Mostly a lame thriller with hackneyed characters and mangled story elements, Mania Killer stars a trio of genre performers past their prime in Chuck Connors, Robert Ginty and Bo Svenson. A confused screenplay and hilariously inane performances from the supporting cast mark the low-rent cult product from Europe as poorly made garbage.

Mania Killer is a poorly paced cult thriller from the 1980s that offers little else but terrible filmmaking

Chuck Connors (Tourist Trap) plays famous biochemist Roger Osborne, a scientist conducting secret experiments studying the death process. He’s aided in his dark quest by a poor imbecile named Matthew who can barely communicate. Osborne uses his computer technology for speech therapy helping the young man.

Meanwhile, a local religious cult led by the mad Gondrand (Robert Ginty) tortures women into confessing their sins. There’s also Manny the pimp, who goes after the cult when his girlfriend/hooker is abducted. Attempting to boil the plot down any further would be pointless as the screenplay is a sloppy mess.

Mania Killer’s crude narrative leans heavily into the ridiculously cheesy torture scenes, which pop up whenever the story drags. Several writers are given credit for Mania Killer’s incoherent screenplay. The B-movie often feels like Bianchia and crew are making it up as they go along, producing a lazy and disjointed story. The performances, especially from the supporting cast, are dreadful. Actor François Greze as the mentally-limited Matthew provokes more laughter than sympathy with wild mannerisms in completely unintended hilarity.

Made by defunct French film company Eurociné, Mania Killer is a poorly paced cult thriller from the 1980s that offers little else but terrible filmmaking. It’s not fun and B-movie horror lovers will find more laughs here than frights. The exploitation value just isn’t there for a movie with such an overload of half-baked ideas.

Mania Killer Blu-ray screen shot

Video

Mania Killer is seen here on Blu-ray for the first time from Full Moon. Fully uncut, the 83-minute main feature is encoded in solid AVC on a BD-25, retaining the intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio mirroring its theatrical distribution across Europe.  Compression isn’t an issue but otherwise the presentation is disappointing. The dated film transfer is passable at best.

Mined from the vaults of cult French distributor Eurociné, picture quality is pedestrian and often gritty. Even making allowances for the 1988 film’s uneven cinematography, an inconsistent contrast and faded colors indicate a need for better treatment.

The underwhelming transfer comes from stable but fairly dull film elements badly in need of better color correction. It’s an older scan likely struck in Europe, probably using a telecine. There’s no substantial processing but the dated scan reveals lackluster definition and so-so fine detail. Some film wear such as gate hair and rough grain are seen.

Audio

Full Moon provides adequate 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Dolby Digital mono choices for Mania Killer. Originally produced by French film distributor Eurociné, the English language soundtrack is (very) slightly out of sync in select scenes. Likely a result of dubbing its dialogue after filming, fairly common on cheaper European productions during the 70s and 80s.

There aren’t huge differences in audio quality and fidelity between the monaural and “surround” mixes. The 5.1 mix is limited with a small soundstage and no truly discrete effects. Dialogue is always intelligible and the moody score has excellent dynamic range. They are serviceable soundtrack options which fit the low-budget B-movie.

No subtitles are provided, a common problem for Full Moon.

Extras

Full Moon includes no special features specifically for Mania Killer. The cult label includes a bunch of trailers which have been appearing on their recent Blu-rays. The BD is coded for all regions.

Full Moon Promo For Amazon Video (01:26 in HD) – A hype trailer for Full Moon’s streaming catalog on Amazon Prime plays before the main menu.

Euro Cult Trailers:

Barbed Wire Dolls (00:55 in HD)

Naked Girl Murdered In The Park (01:28 in HD)

Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (02:37 in HD)

Sexy Sisters (01:02 in HD)

Voodoo Passion (00:56 in HD)

Women In Cellblock 9 (01:00 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Mania Killer
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Tepid thrills and slap-dash storytelling characterize this underwhelming 1988 cult thriller from Italian director Andrea Bianchi

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: