Maniac On The Loose (2008)

Steve Hudgins

Nick Faust - Dr. Franklin Grimm
Steve Hudgins - Max
Randy Hardesty - Alex
Jessica Cook - Melissa
PJ Woodside - Dr. Lewis
Tom Dolan - Ryan

Genre - Horror/Serial Killers/Independent

Running Time - 94 Minutes

Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4

Whenever I get sent a screener for some independent film, I get a bit apprehensive. I mean, a majority of them that I've seen aren't really all that good. Hell, they're downright terrible. When Sarah [Fatally Yours] offered her staff of writers screeners to pick from a while back, I wanted to pick a film that sounded like it could be decent. That's when I saw MANIAC ON THE LOOSE on the list and decided, "Hey it sounds cool. Maybe it'll be good." So I requested it and days later, I received it through the mail.

After opening the package, I found a note from the production company, Big Biting Pig Productions, telling me not to reveal any of the twists and plot devices in the film. I was like, "Oh no, this film is trying to be THE USUAL SUSPECTS. This can not be good." So I went in watching with low expectations - only to be surprised that MANIAC ON THE LOOSE is a pretty good indie horror flick! Who knew?

Some crazy dude from a mental asylum escapes the joint, heading back to the neighborhood he once grew up in. Before you can say HALLOWEEN, the head of the asylum and the movie's prick on a stick, Dr. Franklin Grimm (Nick Faust), does his best to keep the situation out of the public's eye because not only could he lose his job, but ruin his respected reputation as well. What a caring individual.

Meanwhile, some chick named Melissa (Jessica Cook) gets into her car and drives over to some dude named Alex's house. Apparently they met on some internet dating site [without photos no less - smart broad] and they plan to have a blind date. She turns on the radio to hear some report about the escaped mental patient, warning people to be on alert because the guy has no remorse for his actions. As a matter of fact, he's some famous family serial killer named John Bromley. It's always nice to have a famed serial killer in your town. Gives the neighborhood some personality. Anyway, Melissa and Alex get caught up into the maniac's plans, leading to twists and turns in the story that must be seen to believe.

This will probably be one of the shortest reviews I've ever written, since I can't spoil anything but talking about certain stuff about the film. I will say that MANIAC ON THE LOOSE is one of the better screeners I've received to review. Like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, what you see isn't always what it appears to be. Plus like PULP FICTION, the story has a non-linear narrative where the past and present collide to give us insight to the situation and how it came to be. Usually many filmmakers use this tactic as a way to look better as a director and screenwriter, but failing miserably when nothing makes sense and end up confusing the viewer even more. MANIAC ON THE LOOSE, fortunately, doesn't end up confusing anyone because it all makes sense once it reaches its conclusions. Hell, I didn't get some of the twists while watching it until they were presented on screen. Pretty impressive filmmaking there.

Writer/director Steve Hudgins has crafted together a very good indie flick. Hudgins doesn't have a lot of money to work with, but the visuals were still good. The flashback stuff and the transitions revealing the twists in the film were very well done. Not once was I confused by what I was watching. There is also some gore and stuff, and the shots of the gorier scenes were cool. The pacing was great. The editing was great. Hudgins did a nice directorial job overall. One of the better looking indie horror flicks I've seen.

The acting was very good. The performers were all unknowns and all had a place in the film. There were some moments of maybe being a bit over the top when it came to acting, but other than that, I was fine with it. I wish I could talk more about it but that would be spoiling things. Still, it was a nice job overall.

There are also special features on the DVD I received, such as a blooper reel, two trailers, and three deleted scenes. They don't really add much to be honest but at least the thought and attempt was there.


- If you want to escape from a mental asylum, wear grey footie slippers. No one will hear you walk, open doors, or sound any alarms. So that's how my stalker, I mean my number one fan, did it...

- Melissa had beads hanging in her car. I sense a flasher! Whoo-hoo Mardi Gras! Titties!!

...Sorry. I got carried away there. I can act like such a boob sometimes.

- Dr. Clark felt that his talents were wasted at Dawson's Springs. I'm sure James Van Der Beek felt the same when he lived by that creek with the same name. Remember: You don't want to wait for your life to be over.

- Don't ever lick your lips at a woman. Unless you're LL Cool J, you're just gonna ruin any chances of doin' it and doin' it and doin' it wild.

- "Max" licked the rim of Melissa's glass of water before serving it to her. I prefer soap and water for cleaning gunk off of my drinking glass, but I appreciate the late effort.

- Dr. Grimm told Dr. Bloomfield [who happens to know his actors and films] that he should quit medicine and become a critic. Okay, who read my journal and based a character on me? I hope no one makes a film about the "sticking just the tip in" incident...

- During a forced sexual situation, Melissa spat in the face of her attacker. Damn, I was hoping she swallowed. Boo!

is a good indie horror flick that's worth more than a single watch. Instead of being some HALLOWEEN clone like it could have been, it offered some originality by creating a series of twists and turns that worked in its favor. Just like HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, I'm more untrustworthy of the people in my neighborhood. Who knows if that friendly neighbor is doing nothing more than setting me up in a trap? What a messed up world we live in.

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