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November 3, 2012

Movie Review: American Maniacs (2010)

Directed by C.M. Downs

Starring Ashlynn Yennie, Jason Miller and John Redmond

In most horror/thrillers there is a distinct line drawn between the characters which dwell within it. You've got the good guys on this side, the bad guys on that side. The victimizers over here and the victims over there. American Maniacs has no hero's, there is no one to root for here because every single character is deeply disturbed in their own special way. Think “The Jerry Springer Show Meets Ed Gein” You've got Clyde (Jason Miller) a hillbilly failed actor who has abducted a group of christian kids who happen to have AIDS and is keeping them locked up in a chicken coup in the barn. You've got Clyde's wife Starlene, (Ashlynn Yennie of Human Centipede fame) a meth-head stripper who married Clyde for the sole purpose of getting her hands on a stash of money she thinks he has hidden somewhere in the barn. You've got Punch (Shawn Smith), a meth dealer who is fucking Clyde's wife and is determined to get his hands on that stash of money. And then you've got sheriff Lewis (John Redmond), who is not very good at his job and has some seriously fucked up sexual issues going on in his life.



If you took out the characters of sheriff Lewis and his wheelchair-bound wife who is on a ventilator, American Maniacs is your average run-of-the-mill crazy hillbilly serial-killer flick. There is plenty of gratuitous nudity, sexual depravity, a killer in a gimp mask and some torture and dismemberment scenes which one would expect in a movie like this, with the basis of the movie being one big lead-up to this showdown in the barn between the meth-heads, the psychopath and the sheriff, with all involved ending up with “the shit end of the stick” so to speak. There were a few minor holes in the story though, the fate of the last two girls in the chicken coup is never revealed, and I'am still wondering why their characters were forgotten in the melee of the final scenes. Aside from that, the characters which really made this movie for me were the disturbed sheriff Lewis and his wife. We have just a very weird and tragic dynamic going on between these two characters which I personally found enjoyable to watch, like a good train-wreck.

In one scene we find him bringing a young girl into his home where he is giving her the choice of going to jail or sucking him off in front of his disabled wife. When the girl finally relents and starts doing the deed, the sheriff's wife chimes in, telling the girl, “Lick his balls, he likes to have his balls licked.” Not surprisingly, the young girl freaks out and the sheriff tells her to go home. Very weird stuff but nothing compared to the final scene of the movie where the sheriff comes home after the bloodbath in the barn, tells his wife he loves her and then removes her ventilator tube and fucks her in the neck. Once he see's she is dead he puts the gun to his chin and finishes himself off.

These, along with the barn scene where Clyde is furiously jacking off while watching his dogs eat his wife, showed me director Christopher Downs knows how to shock and disturb his audience. And although the camera work was a bit “iffy” at times, he did manage to create a nice dreary atmosphere. My only gripe being, it took quite a while before we got to the juicy, vulnerable under-belly of the movie.

Does American Maniacs rise above the fray? On many counts, yes. I can definitely see director Downs' potential and look forward to seeing what his sick mind will come up with next time.

6.5 out of 10 Reviewed by KennyB

1 comment:

  1. The guy fucking Clyde's wife is actually Griffin Cryder, Punch's buddy, played by Kurt Hannover.

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