Maniac of New York takes the idea of the modern horror movie slasher to terrifying new places with new twists on some of the genre’s enduring tropes.
One thing most fans of the Friday the 13th movie franchise will unanimously agree on is that Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is arguably the most disappointing of the bunch. But not because it’s a bad movie. Most of the complaints center around the fact that the majority of the movie doesn’t even take place in Manhattan. The few scenes with Jason actually stalking the streets of the city that never sleeps are some of the best of the slasher’s killer career.
But Aftershock Comics’ Maniac of New York (by Elliot Kalan and Andrea Mutti) takes a similar character and firmly plants him in the heart of the ‘Big Apple’ – and keeps him there. Dubbed “Harry” by the people of New York, this slasher is deadlier, more aggressive, and absolutely relentless. Driven by a supernatural force, Harry is so unstoppable that the city has given up on trying to stop him and just accepts that living in fear of him is part of life in the big city.
For horror fans, arguably one of the most fun aspects of any slasher movie is the thrill of the kill. In particular, the Friday the 13th franchise prides itself on the many creative ways that Jason dispatches his victims. However, with Harry, it’s a bit different. In Maniac of New York, it’s not necessarily how Harry takes out his prey, but the sheer masses of people he kills in one sitting. The story takes a quantity over the individual quality of the kill approach and does it well.
The first issue opens with Harry in his bloodied hockey mask and trademark machete in hand, standing over a mound of dead bodies in Times Square on New Year's Eve. As the police attempt to get Harry to drop his weapon and surrender, the news reports that he killed 79 people in one sitting. But with Harry, it’s not to glorify the violence, but rather the pure absurdity of any one person being able to wreak so much havoc on their own. It’s a feat that Jason Voorhees could only dream of accomplishing.
Despite Maniac of New York being a simple slasher story at its core, the themes working with what’s on the surface make it so much more than just horror. The politics at work in a city that has failed to protect its citizens provides a layer of disbelief to the story and amplifies the fact that it takes place in a bustling urban setting. This is something that is rarely seen in the horror genre, as most slasher movies take place in rural areas or the suburbs. It's an interesting subversion of the idea that communities need to be isolated for a slasher scenario. Thus, completely turning the idea of “safety in numbers” on its head.
In addition, the two protagonists drive the story of the hunt for Harry in a way that simultaneously gives hope and hopelessness. On one side, there’s the politician that is desperate to help the people of New York but has her hands tied by the mayor’s office. Then, on the other side is the disgraced NYPD detective that is looking for redemption. Together with Harry, they create a dynamic that is rarely seen in the slasher subgenre of horror. Though it’s always exciting placing bets on how the next helpless camper is going to meet their end, Maniac of New York shows that it’s much more fun watching Harry plow through a loaded subway car, taking all hopes of a "Final Girl" with him.
Adam Crohn is a Freelance Writer, artist, and puppy papa that refuses to leave the 80s. He runs his blog www.theeverydayrobot.com, and produces and hosts the horror podcast ‘Death by Podcast’, and the Star Wars podcast ‘I Have Spoken’. As a toy/character/concept designer, he founded www.actoydesign.com in 2010 where he also occasionally YouTubes. Adam’s life goal is to travel back in time to supplant Daryl Hall and become a founding member of Crohn and Oates.