During his teenage years, Lustig avidly watched a huge volume of lowdown trashy exploitation fare at numerous 42nd Street grindhouse theaters in Manhattan and also worked as a movie theater usher in Fort Lee, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, he took a few film classes at New York University.
In 1980, Lustig found himself at the center of a storm of controversy when he made the grim, gory and disturbing slasher sleaze splatter landmark “Maniac,” which boasts an incredibly intense performance by the legendary character actor Joe Spinell as a vicious depraved psychopath and plenty of hideously graphic and gruesome make-up effects by genre icon Tom Savini. In 1982, Lustig followed up “Maniac” with the tough, gritty and exciting New York urban revenge opus “Vigilante.” In 1988, he delivered another winner with the terrific “Maniac Cop,” a violent horror action flick about an undead New York police officer on a killing spree which was the first of several cinematic collaborations with fellow maverick independent filmmaker Larry Cohen.
Lustig followed up with the 1989 stirring action item “Hit List” and the suspenseful serial killer thriller “Relentless,” starring Judd Nelson and Robert Loggia. In 1990, Lustig made the favorite of his films, “Maniac Cop 2,” which many consider superior to the popular original. Lustig’s last film as a director to date was the nifty and enjoyable 1996 fright flick “Uncle Sam.” Recently Lustig produced the well-received remake of “Maniac” starring Elijah Wood, and is now producing the reboot of “Maniac Cop.”
Since 1997, William Lustig went on to initially produce DVDs for Anchor Bay and now currently runs the outstanding home entertainment label Blue Underground, which restores and re-releases popular and little seen cult movies and other grindhouse horror, thriller, action, and western films.