William Lustig, an archetypal product of the Bronx of the late 70s and exploitation cinema, will forever represent a speci c conception of New York. Maniac, his masterpiece, Vigilante and the Maniac Cop series followed in the wake of Taxi Driver and Michael Winner’s Death Wish and are powerful offshoots or the B sides, as it were, of these seminal movies.
Lustig was to develop his entire career on the boundaries of exploitation cinema, which he discovered as a teenager in the movie theatres on 42nd Street. Working with his cult actor Joe Spinell in the early 1980s, he exposed his audiences to an unvarnished portrayal of urban violence. A nephew of the boxer Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull), he made shocking and troubling films where realism mingles with a nely wrought sense of the grotesque.
In the 2000s, he stopped making lms and set up the DVD publishing house Blue Underground, which specialises in re-releasing cult works and the preservation of exploitation films. The lmmaker thus morphed into guarantor of a film genre to which he made a very significant contribution.