Upon its release in 1980 (on Christmas Day, no less), the slasher classicManiac, directed by William Lustig, was outright panned. Perhaps I’m being coy: It was charged on and seized as if it were the kingdom of a medieval conqueror who had raised a hellish army whose mission it was to do nothing but massacre the innocent, defile women, feed on the leftover flesh, and quench their thirst with the puddles of excess blood. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel very nearly issued a fatwa in the name of cinema, imploring viewers ofSneak Previews to boycott the film and deeming it unwatchable and vacuously cruel. Feminist groups nationwide went into an epic tizzy over the film’s grotesque depiction of women’s deaths in studio lofts, seedy motel rooms, and on subway platforms throughout Manhattan. New York City parents, taking their kids along with them to see First Family and passing by the poster with a woman’s decapitated head gripped in one hand and a bloody knife in the other, wrote letters to local politicians and newspapers, made irate phone calls to radio stations, and screamed their heads off at PTA meetings.