William Lustig was born on February 1, 1955 in Bronx, New York. During his teenage years, Lustig avidly watched a huge volume of lowdown trashy exploitation fare at numerous 42nd Street grind house 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.
Lustig began his film career in his mid to late teens, working behind-the-scenes in various minor production capacities on a handful of hardcore X-rated porno pictures as well as a production assistant on both “The Seven Ups” and “Death Wish.” He made his debut as a director, producer and editor with the hardcore porn features “Hot Honey” and “The Violation of Claudia.” Lustig directed both of these movies under the alias Billy Bagg.
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 horror 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” were likewise on the money excellent and entertaining offerings. However, the two “Maniac Cop” sequels were strictly hit-or-miss affairs: the second one was a worthy successor to the superior original and the third one was a regrettably mediocre entry in the series. Lustig’s last film as a director to date was the nifty and enjoyable fright flick “Uncle Sam.”
Since 1997, William Lustig went on to initially produce retrospective DVD documentaries for Anchor Bay and now currently runs the outstanding DVD label Blue Underground which restores and re-releases popular and little seen cult movies and other grind house action, drama, and horror films.