Maniac (1934). 51 minutes. Directed by Dwain Esper. Starring Bill Woods (as Don Maxwell), Horace B. Carpenter (as Dr. Meirschultz), Ted Edwards (as Buckley), Phyllis Diller (as Mrs. Buckley), Thea Ramsey (as Alice Maxwell), Jenny Dark (as Maizie), Marvel Andre (as Marvel), Celia McCann (as Jo), and John P. Wade (as embalmer).
Maniac is spectacularly bad—pretentious, gross, offensive, and unbearably confusing. I became aware of it because of Michael Adams’s book Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astrozombies, in which he details how he spent a year watching the worst movies ever made. To Adams, Maniac is one of the very worst that he screened and by far the worst film director Dwain Esper ever was involved in, even worse than his Reefer Madness (1936). Compared to Reefer Madness, which is a propaganda film, Maniac is not obviously on a mission to persuade us politically through preposterous means, and accordingly, it actually made my head hurt less. But at … Read the rest
Reefer Madness (1936). 68 minutes. Directed by Louis J. Gasnier. Starring Dave O’Brien (as Ralph Wiley), Dorothy Short (as Mary Lane), Kenneth Craig (as Bill Harper), Carleton Young (as Jack Perry), Lillian Miles (as Blanche), Thelma White (as Mae Coleman), Warren McCollum (as Jimmy Lane), Ed LeSaint (as judge), Mary McLaren (as Mrs. Lane), and Josef Forte (as Dr. Alfred Carroll).
Reefer Madness has been called one of the best worst movies ever made, ranking alongside such legendary failures as Ed Wood’s dreadful Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) in terms of its ability to provide campy thrills. The 1936 propaganda film’s crazed vision of marijuana abuse, with wild, wide-eyed users who hallucinate, kill, commit suicide, run over pedestrians, attempt rape, and have illicit sex is clearly meant to be a lesson to us all, but it is so over the top as not to be believed. Filmmaker Louis J. Gasnier made Reefer Madness with funding from a religious organization … Read the rest