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cast: Jeff Fahey, Kellie Waymire, Leslie Easterbrook, Mel Winkler, and John Furlong

writer and director: C.W. Cressler

90 minutes (18) 2003
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Rob Marshall
Wonderfully trashy, but with brief moments of surprising poignancy, this comedy romance about two serial killers is bursting with hilariously sick humour and wry spoofs of movies like Badlands (1973). While they're incarcerated in a prison for the criminally insane, crazy Joe (Jeff Fahey) falls in love with the homicidal Beth (Kellie Waymire). Unlike the admirably loony antiheroes, the asylum prison staff are irredeemably corrupt, especially the archly sadistic Matron Knull (played by Leslie Easterbrook, best known for her recurring role as officer Debbie Callahan in most of the Police Academy comedy films). Practical joker Joe has a child-like sense of trust, and he allows his 'soulmate' Beth to make all of his moral decisions for him. Though slim and girly, Beth proves herself to be physically stronger than Joe and, when attacked, she's capable of crushing a man's skull with her bare hands.
   During an inspection tour by outside authorities, Joe uses a lapse in security to escape, leaving poor Beth to be tortured by the warden's goons. When he returns later, to rescue her, an adrenalin-charged frenzy of violence ensues as the comedy drama slips effortlessly into splatter movie mode. On the lam from police and the warden's bounty hunters, Joe and Beth find sanctuary at a farm run by crusty old father-figure, Boley (John Furlong), who been fending off a buyout from property developers, but the happy couple's future looks rather depressing when a gang of armed thugs track them down...
   Wacky and subversive, Maniacts has chapters exploring themes of death and sacrifice as if they are forms of artistic expression (Joe pantomimes Christ on the Cross) and finds much dark wit in juxtaposing scenes depicting love and murder. The director, C.W. Cressler, doesn't take anything except the main characters too seriously, and this gives full rein to Fahey and Waymire, who get the most savage fun possible out of their roles. In this twisted story of underdogs on the rampage, it's almost impossible to predict what may happen next, and the delirious ironies are all the more enjoyable because we rarely see them coming.
   The DVD has sound options of Dolby digital 2.0 stereo, 5.1 surround or DTS. There are no special features except some trailers.

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