The 50 Best New York City Movies

48. Maniac (1980)

Director: William Lustig
Leading Actors: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini
NYC Neighborhoods Featured: Upper West Side; Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn

There's something about New York that'll turn you into a sweating murderer with interesting hair and a fondness for looping and cracked internal monologues. Though it's a vastly different film from Taxi Driver, William Lustig's Maniac walks a similar path, depicting Manhattan as a filthy nightmare where the only possible reaction is violence. Joe Spinell, something like a less hirsute Ron Jeremy, plays the titular maniac, who gets his rocks off scalping women and then nailing the bloody scalps to the heads of department store mannequins he then sleeps with. Sometimes, if he's feeling pretty, he'll style the hair of the dead. For urban cinephiles unsatisfied with Bloomberg's Newyorkland, please check out the very long build-up to a murder in the 59th Street subway station bathroom, back when the bathrooms were still open to the public. Spinell's character, Frank Zito, pursues a nurse into the station—watch her use real subway tokens!—where she seeks refuge in a bathroom stall. Admire the graffiti, and Zito's way with a sword. —RS

"Gritty Realism"voiceoverVoice-overboroughOuter Borough

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