Back before Hammer films discovered Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to become various vampires, mad doctors, and Rasputin, they churned out a number of “thriller” movies in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. These movies tended to have a decent British cast but them feature an American actor in a lead. This one is no exception — Kerwin Mathews (The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jack the Giant-Killer) plays an American artist whom we never see put brush to canvas who ends up in a little village in the Camargue region of Southern France. There he smooches a young girl whom he discovers was sexually assaulted some years prior, so her dad (the titular Maniac) kills her assailant using his acetylene torch. He goes off to an asylum in Marseilles, leaving his daughter and her stepmother to run the inn. Apparently this information makes Kerwin feel all icky towards the daughter so he does the next best thing, which is schtup the stepmother. Nice.
The stepmother, though, decides that she wants Kerwin to help her spring the maniac-husband from the slammer, and then the rest of the movie has more plot twists and surprises than any 90-minute movie should, which by definition should be exciting, but the end result is really just kind of …. blah. It’s much less Maniac and much more Slightly Perturbed and Just Really Kinds Bitchy.
So what was the K.C. knitting while watching this?