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Maniac Cop (1988)

DVD Cover (Synapse)
Genres:
Action, Crime Thriller, Horror, Police Detective Film, Slasher Film
Director:
William Lustig William Lustig
Starring:
Tom Atkins Tom Atkins
Bruce Campbell Bruce Campbell
Laurene Landon Laurene Landon
Richard Roundtree Richard Roundtree
William Smith William Smith

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 12, 2008
If you can't trust the cops, well, who in the hell can you trust? I say this while trying to ignore the numerous incidents in which cops have detained and beaten innocent civilians in recent years, and of course, I'm trying to avoid mentioning the infamous "Don't tase me, bro!" case from last year. Obviously, most cops are good guys and don't go around randomly slaughtering people; in a perfect world, the cops are the guys you turn to when you're in trouble, but what happens when one of these cops uses his uniform to lure his victims into a sense of false security? That's the premise for tonight's film, a film which would go on to spawn two inferior sequels down the road.

Yes, there's a murderer (Robert Z'Dar) posing as a cop who is roaming the streets of New York, and instead of, you know, knocking off the drug dealers and the petty thieves, this particular killer decides to almost exclusively slaughter innocent civilians. Detective Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) is assigned to the case, and what he finds is that the police department is trying to brush the entire thing under the rug; after all, if word of a killer disguised as a cop got out to the general public, there would be mass chaos in the city. When the body count rises, our frustrated hero lets the details slip to a reporter who goes on to sensationalize the entire affair. Naturally, the aforementioned mass chaos does indeed ensue.

Enter Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell), a police officer who finds himself in a compromising position when his wife turns up dead just hours after discovering that Jack was having an affair with a fellow officer by the name of Theresa (Laurene Landon). Eager to put an end to this case, Jack's superiors decide to pin the case on him and inform the public that the madman has been caught. Of course, Jack really isn't the murderer and Frank knows this, so with the help of Theresa and lady luck, our heroes set out to clear Jack's name, find out who the killer really is, and put an end to his reign of terror once and for all.

To put it simply, Maniac Cop is a trashy film from an era when the quality level of a horror film was measured not in scares, but in how outrageous the film could be while still having some degree of credibility. A horror film had to have a somewhat unique killer (because a normal guy with a butcher knife usually wouldn't cut it), we had to witness dozens of inventive kills (usually involving objects which were never intended to maim or mutilate), and of course, we had to have some sort of schlocky storyline to tie everything together. Maniac Cop delivers the goods on all accounts, and as an added bonus, the amount of b-movie heroes who pop up throughout the running time are almost too numerous to count (Richard Roundtree, Sam Raimi, and William Smith also get a little screen time in addition to the leading men and women).

You want kills and gore? Maniac Cop gives you plenty of that. While it's true that there are a number of "mundane" deaths (after all, this cop's weapon of choice is a blade built into the handle of his police baton), there are also a couple of scenes that just wouldn't fly in today's world of "torture porn" films and horror flicks that take themselves way too seriously. Where else will you see a man killed by being suffocated in a section of freshly poured concrete or a cop being hung with his own belt? They just don't make 'em like this anymore, and it's a crying shame.

Now, this is not to say that the film offers viewers nothing more than grisly kill after grisly kill as there's actually a decent storyline tying everything together. Granted, it's not Oscar-caliber material or anything, but it was surprisingly detailed especially when compared to other films from the era. We get numerous heroes to rally behind, a solid villain that is shrouded in mystery up until the very end and who is also appropriately menacing, and there's more twists in this storyline than you could shake a stick at. The action and the story never feels monotonous or derivative, and once again, that is a feat when compared to other films from the eighties (and this is coming from a fan of that particular decade).

Is it a perfect film or a piece of high art? Of course not, but Maniac Cop is a damned fun film that is sure to please fans of eighties trash. For that, I have to go with an 8/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 05/28/2007, 11:15 AM
Easter Egg? More like a mistake. I'm not sure you grasp the concept behind Easter Eggs. It's a shame this doesn't end up in a discount bin near me, because I paid $24.99 for it. I'm still not sure if it was worth it or not. It's a good movie, just not $25 good. 7/10
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 05/28/2007, 07:43 PM
Love "Maniac Cop", the first one. Didn't really care for the sequels. I still have this one on VHS and watch it occasionally when I want some Bruce Campbell action. Great eighties horror flick. 9/10.
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