The story tells of vacationing American artist Jeff Farrell who becomes romantically involved with an older woman named Eve Beynat, in southern France, while harboring some attraction for her teenage stepdaughter Annette. Eve's husband/Annette's father Georges is in an asylum for, four years ago, using a blowtorch to kill a man who had raped Annette. Believing it will help make Eve his for life, Jeff agrees to assist her in springing Georges from the asylum. Of course, Eve has a completely different agenda in mind. Inspector Etienne sets up a plot to help trap the real killer and the climactic scenes are set at Les Baux-de-Provence in the huge stone galleries dug into the rock of the Val-d'Enfer on the road to Maillane.
Kerwin Mathews as Jeff Farrell
Nadia Gray as Eve Beynat
Donald Houston as Henri
Liliane Brousse as Annette Beynat
George Pastell as Inspector Etienne
Arnold Diamond as Janiello
Norman Bird as Salon
Justine Lord as Grace
Jerold Wells as Giles
Leon Peers as Blanchard
André Maranne as Salon
It was filmed in black and white in the Camargue district of southern France and the MGM British Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
Maniac was released by Hammer Film Productions on 20 May 1963 in the United Kingdom.
Andy Black wrote: "Maniac was written and produced by Jimmy Sangster, with Michael Carreras handling direction, and what an under-rated director he was. Donald Houston is George, an escapee from a French asylum (obviously Les Diaboliques had a big effect on Sangster, who also set Taste of Fear in France) who wants to kill his wife's lover. The wife is Nadia Gray, and the lover is Kerwin Matthews. Houston underplays, and also has a fetish for oxy-acetylene torches, with which he causes much panic. A brief eighty-six minutes and full of little twists and 'who's-behind-the-door' shocks, it really works first time you see it, but is not a film to watch repeatedly."
Turner Classic Movies wrote, "Maniac has excellent production values but labours under the weight of yet another gimmicky and obvious script by Jimmy Sangster....The acting is fine, especially that of Kerwin Mathews and Liliane Brousse."; while in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, "Maniac has one thing and has it in spades—a plot of extraordinary cunning...(It) takes on a twitching suspense that simmers, sizzles and explodes in a neat backflip", though he concluded, "Michael Carrera's direction is uneven and the characters are a generally flabby lot...Maniac remains a striking blueprint, with satanic tentacles, for a much better picture."