I had such amazing time watching this. I only got acquainted with Spinelli through watching the original Maniac very recently and he really is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. It’s incredible how much Spinell can alter his entire presence by just becoming a bit sweaty. He goes from a chubby, very mild mannered looking fella to a complete creep in an instant when you add some drops of water on his face, it’s uncanny.He’s such a force of nature that he carries the entire movie just by his sheer charm.
In essence the movie is the perfect combination of comedy and horror. It builds suspense very effectively and keeps up the momentum with nicely timed murders and brilliant use of foreshadowing by doing cuts to a close up of a film splicer where the featured film cells spotlight the next victim whose head the murderer then manically scratch off with a knife. You laughing throughout the entire movie with all the small and bizarre antics Joe’s character gets into when he treads around Cannes, trying to get his film idea off the ground, stalking his favorite actress and turning his hotel room to resemble a demented shrine. Setting the story in Cannes really lent itself to form a very exotic setting and the background also plays well with the film making obsession Spinell’s character is consumed by. I knew the big twist in the end thanks to having read the entire story synopsis on Wikipedia, but the movie did a remarkable job of not letting that bother the story. The set up for the serial killings and the way the movie manipulates you to aim your suspicions regarding the real killer’s identity are very well done.
Joe really gets to show a lot of his acting range in this movie, especially in the magnificent daydream sections where he’s imagining himself as both a famous and flamboyant maestro style movie director with a completely white suit and cape(!) as well as the polar opposite of that in a more wormy, sweaty, awkward bowtie wearing movie fanboy version of himself. And then there are his antics in the hotel room where he amongst other things fondles a still image projection of the movie starlet played by Munro who Joe’s character has basically been stalking like a maniac through the entire movie. The surreal elements just come out of nowhere and give you a hard slap in the face, at which point you’ll immediately ask for seconds. It feels entirely bizarre to me that after making such a great movie as this, David Winters the director went on to make something as awful as Space Mutiny only few years later.