Maniacs, The / I maniaci (1964)

3.5 out of 5

Don’t expect maniacs of the axe-wielding variety in Lucio Fulci’s ninth film as director. His often charming comedy, composed of a series of sketches, instead aims to show us how crazy we all are with our idiosyncrasies and grasping ways.

Amongst the best is a tale wherein a struggling writer visits an egotistical literary giant, played with relish by Enrico Maria Salerno, who encourages him to add generous helpings of sex and violence to his serious historical novel. The writer takes his hero's advice only to later find him on a panel set up to ban his work as an obscene publication.

Horror icon Barbara Steele shows a great flair for comedy in two unconnected vignettes; in the first as a cosmopolitan wife who doesn’t seem to mind her husband having affairs, but can’t contain her curiosity when she thinks he’s having another with someone she hasn’t vetted first; in the second as part of a married couple who are playing a desperate game of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ with their neighbours; to the death!

The final tale, an all out slapstick bedroom farce featuring ‘funnymen’ Franco Franchi and Ciccio Igrassia, is saved only by an amusing turn from Margaret Lee. The English actress subsequently starred in several films with the madcap comedy duo, including Two Idiots at Fort Alamo and Fulci’s Two Public Enemies.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics