In Renato Polselli’s own words: “Mania started out as a story that was quite good, but it was a story that was already finished, written by a guy who had no experience in the film industry and wanted to invest some money. He told me he wanted to be an actor. These are the kinds of compromises you often have to accept, and he acted in it, financing almost the entire film. His screen name was Brad Euston but I don’t remember his real name. Once the film was completed, with a few visual effects nods to Argento, with these marvellous colours…
There was a skeleton in there as well, all covered in maggots. After all, maggots are worms that feed off the dead. So, they’d pull back the clothes and find all these little maggots. It had quite an extraordinary effect on me as well.
The film didn’t come out too badly, but then there were some arguments with the distribution company and, given that he had financed the film, he (Brad Euston) said; “Okay, I’ll take it back and distribute it myself.” I’ve tried every possible way to get hold of a copy but I haven’t been able to find one. The problem is that I can’t find Brad. The film had a very limited distribution.
A few people who saw it have told me they were really impressed with the scene with the maggots, which really was outstanding. You can shoot a skull fifty times but it was one of those ideas that we just came up with on the set. I saw a real dead body in Arce where we have our family grave and I watched them burying a corpse and saw all these little worms crawling all over it…
I did find Brad again once because he’d tried to pull one over on me, but I didn’t actually see him. During the shoot I had given him some cheques as a guarantee that I’d finish the film. Ten years later, after he’d completely disappeared off the radar, my old bank called me and told me I was in debt because of those cheques – I didn’t have an account with them anymore because I’d switched banks. I couldn’t believe it, those were the cheques he’d never given back because he said he had lost them – and I had to pay them. I was furious, but by a strange coincidence I played the lottery that day and won back the same amount of money I’d just paid out.”
You can watch the interview here – all credit to Pete Tombs
Mania did resurface some time in the mid 2000s when a very good condition print was deposited in the Cineteca Nazionale archives in Rome. Sadly, Renato did not get to see it because he had passed away just a few earlier. Screened twice at the cinema Trevi in Rome (the last screening was in September 2016) a telecine copy has since surfaced online.
The film was heavily censored but an outline of the original plot and many cut scenes do appear in a cineromanzo (photo novel) published around the time of the film’s release. Curiously, there doesn’t appear to be a censor’s certificate deposited in the national film archives. There is more info (in Italian) in this lengthy and highly informative thread over at the Gentedirispetto forums and you can see some of the (NSFW) censored scenes from the cineromanzo here courtesy of the Cinemaitalianodatabase.
Review from Italian newspaper ‘La Stampa’ from 1974:
‘You can also smile in the tunnel of fear’
Mania by Ralph Brown, with Isarco Ravaioli, M Rossi. Italy, colour. Cin Maffei.
(s. c.) Driverless cars, severed heads, monsters with disfigured faces and shriveled fingers, lights suddenly switching off or doors that are mysteriously locked. For Lisa, returning to the villa where she left her husband to die in the flames, her stay is anything but relaxing. Looking after her are a young deaf-mute servant and her brother-in-law who was left disabled after a terrible accident. None of them have any plans to help her forget her past traumas and the woman screams hysterically from the beginning to the end in one sequence after another of ghastly apparitions. Neither the scriptwriters or the director have managed to find the right balance of craftsmanship with the cheap special effects that fill the story. It’s like being in one of those ‘tunnels of fear’ that hucksters in theme parks recommend to young couples looking for a grand guignolesque thrill. Spectators have more chances to smile than scream, but poor Lisa has to bite her fingers and grimace for over an hour.
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