About halfway through Maniac (also called Sex Maniac, for no reason), a minor character gets an accidental shot of adrenaline and performs a monologue that has to be seen to be believed: “Creeping through my veins! Pouring in my blood! Oh, dash the fire in my brain! Stabbing me! Agony!” It goes on and on. The magic of 1934’s Maniac is that, despite its fifty-minute runtime, this isn’t even the craziest scene.
Is the craziest scene when the suicide victim comes back to life, licks her lips, and then is instantly forgotten by the rest of the cast? How about the cat-breeding next-door neighbor (a man in drag) complaining in total deadpan that the scientist next door keeps doing “queer” things like making too much noise and bringing dogs back to life? Perhaps it’s the big ending, which shamelessly rips off an Edgar Allan Poe story for no reason whatsoever.