It’s amazing to think that Michael Sembello’s 1983 hit “Maniac” from Flashdance was originally written as the title track to William Lustig’s splatterfest Maniac. Then again, the film’s serial killer protagonist Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) would no doubt have loved to get his hands on Jennifer Beals’ private dancer. A Son of Sam-ish madman with serious mommy issues and a thing for women’s pretty locks, Zito stalks and scalps his female victims so that he can use their hair for his coterie of bloody mannequins. A precursor to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Lustig’s film depicts this lunatic in a somewhat compassionate light, making sure to complement Zito’s grisly slayings with moments of schizophrenic introspection as he mumbles to himself about the childhood abuse (and maternal abandonment?) that scarred his psyche. Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg’s script, however, stops short of trying to elicit outright sympathy, a wise decision given Zito’s bloody habit of stabbing whores in seedy motel rooms – an act that, like so many of his killings, has an overt sexual component – and shooting lovers at point blank range with a shotgun (leading to horror make-up expert Tom Savini’s infamous exploding head cameo). Spinell’s committed performance as the slovenly, misogynistic fiend has a frenzied intensity that only somewhat compensates for the implausible plot, which eventually involves Zito’s relationship with a way-out-of-his-league photographer (Caroline Munroe). But as a grimy snapshot of early ‘80s Manhattan and an unapologetically twisted study in pathological murderousness, Maniac still exhibits a hideous pulse.