Old 05-30-2003, 10:57 PM
Maniac Cop


Talk about underrated. Sure, the Maniac Cop trilogy has found a comfortable niche in the horror community and is generally esteemed by genre nuts, but for whatever reason, it never caught on with mainstream moviegoers. The original is just as credible as any other supernatural slasher from the ‘80s. In fact, the script has more meat to it than your average F13/Halloween entry, so for all intents and purposes, it should have given its “popcorn horror” peers a run for their money at the box office. I might have just answered my own question. More than likely, audiences dismissed meat as drivel and returned to the comfort of vacuous slashers. Luckily for fans of mindless violence, Maniac Cop doles out recurrent death sequences and hearty action in addition to a unique storyline and a couple of likeable main characters.

You just can’t go wrong with the talent involved. This flick was penned and produced by Larry Cohen, the warped genius who brought us aberrant infants (It’s Alive) and deleterious, mind-controlling yogurt (The Stuff). It was directed by Bill Lustig, the “misogynistic deviant” responsible for Maniac. The cast boasts scream kings Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, and Robert Z’Dar. Sold yet? Maniac Cop doesn’t quite live up to the novelty of its cast and crew, but it’s apposite dining for the b-adherent. The plot concerns a beefed-up psychopath in a police uniform terrorizing the streets of New York City. This strains the NYPD, as citizens are now intimidated by the fuzz and in some cases, killing innocent cops. The film almost masquerades as a whodunit, but we know from the get go which pig is thinning out the populace – Matt Cordell. Wrongfully thrown (and disfigured) in prison, Cordell seeks vengeance on “the system” by giving the police force a bad name (understatement).

The cast is teeming with faceless nobodies, but that doesn’t draw any attention away from our heroes. We juggle two cult names in Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell. Since their characters aren’t directly correlated with one another, they don’t detract from each other’s limelight. Atkins is focused as Frank McCrae, a pragmatic police officer. The role doesn’t demand much versatility or remarkable acting chops, but Atkins doesn’t have to put much effort into being believable, even when his sincerity is jeopardized by uneven dialogue (“You must have been so afraid, Cassie.”). He does get the best line here, though. When asked the smartass question, “And you’re a cop?,” McCrae emphatically replies with, “Fuckin’ A, I’m a cop. What the fuck are you?” A priceless line delivered with gusto.

Unlike most, I’m not a rabid Bruce Campbell devotee, but he’s solid as Jack Forrest, a policeman under suspicion. My only complaint is that he doesn’t give Jack a distinctive personality. He basically plays a subdued Ash. Of course, some will probably view this as a highlight. Robert Z’Dar is burly and menacing as Cordell. He conveys a lot through movements alone, his most impressive character trait being vulnerability. The rest of the cast is substandard. Laurene Landon is shrill and uninviting as Theresa Mallory, Jack’s mistress. It doesn’t help matters that her character evokes everything but sympathy. How am I supposed to warm up to a flaky homewrecker? How am I supposed to warm up to a cop who screams bloody murder at the sight of a corpse? I mean, really. How many cops get flustered under stress or panic in perilous situations? It’s no wonder that these city dwellers don’t confide in those who allegedly “serve” and “protect.”

The pace is charged, sustained by plentiful death sequences, car chases, and shoot-outs. The kills aren’t excessively gory, but they were violent enough to whet my appetite for irrational butchery. Lustig utilizes clever techniques to veil Cordell’s scarred visage in secrecy throughout most of the film, but when he pulls the curtain, one can’t help but to chuckle at the crude make-up effects. Z’Dar looks like he dunked his face into a bowl of oatmeal. Thankfully, these effects would improve as the series progressed, as would the acting, the gore quotient, and the already slick cinematography (although the lighting is murky hither and thither). That’s not to say that Maniac Cop is an inferior sliver of horror. Rough around the edges, yes, but in my eyes, that adds to its allure. Where else will you find Atkins, Campbell, and Z’Dar in the same scene? The same fucking scene!!!!!

My rating-3.5/5
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Old 05-31-2003, 12:36 AM
I loves Larry Cohen. If i met him I would probably hug him (in a manly non sexual of course, I AM ALL MAN, WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT?!) ok with that homoerotic thing said, I have to say The Stuff rules and is quite entertaining. but enough about that movie. Maniac Cop is a pretty badass movie if I do say so myself. It's sequel is a bit more entertaining though, but I enjoyed this one. Part 3 was kinda blah though.
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Old 05-31-2003, 02:12 AM
Maniac Cop is the kind of film that hightens certain expectations of the genre. Gore is one and Nudity is two. I fully agree with the statement that gore doesn't make a horror film good but when a new film by William Lustig comes out, you sort of have the expectation that things are going to get messy considering his efforts on Maniac (the title proves my point).

Once those expectations are put aside, you can tell that this movie is for action buffs mainly and not just horror fans. It's a gritty film lacking the gore punch of Maniac but providing a fun quotiant that keeps the film alive.

7/10, I agree with Count's review.

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Old 05-31-2003, 05:37 AM
I own it and I think it is a good slasher movie and I like how New York is depicted.
I also like the fact that the killer is a cop so the population is even scared of the cops ( remember this scene where a woman in his car is so scared she just shoot a cop without even seeing him )
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Old 06-01-2003, 05:42 PM
I have been looking for this one, but to my despair have yet to see it for sale or rent.

I agree that Cohen is just a badass, everything he writes has some of the most solid attributes in characterization and beleivability. I also love that he is able to adapt to many situations and genres. From horror, sci-fi, and even realistic almost documentary.

Also, have any of you noticed that Bruce basically plays two different personas? He plays them well, I grant him that. But usually its ultra cocky-bad-ass-Ash or common man in a bad situation... I have just noticed that from what I have saw mind you.

good review though, I hope to be finding this and that darn Daimajin trilogy at some point in my eccentric, egotistical, balderdash life.

Can anyone fill me in on the worth of the sequels and Cohen and Lustig's newer pair up, Uncle Sam ?
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Old 06-01-2003, 07:29 PM
Gluttony, Part 2 is a great movie and is worth watching, if you ask me. 3 is kinda ok and entertaining enough. Uncle Sam was ok too but not really that entertaining. Thats just my two cents.
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Old 06-01-2003, 07:38 PM
Originally posted by Gluttony
Also, have any of you noticed that Bruce basically plays two different personas? He plays them well, I grant him that. But usually its ultra cocky-bad-ass-Ash or common man in a bad situation... I have just noticed that from what I have saw mind you.
I know that it’s not a popular opinion around these parts, but I’m inclined to agree. I dig most of his roles and I acknowledge his talent, but I don’t deify him as most genre fans tend to do. I have a feeling that he’ll blow us away with his performance in Bubba Ho-Tep, though.

As for the sequels, I just posted a review of MC2, and I hope to have a review of MC3 (the weakest entry) up by tomorrow. As for Uncle Sam, it’s harmless slasher schlock. The “acting” is horrid, but the clever premise and the fun kills won me over. All the same, it’s Lustig’s worst outing.
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Old 06-03-2003, 06:32 AM
Originally posted by countchocula
I have a feeling that he’ll blow us away with his performance in Bubba Ho-Tep, though.

Your feeling is correct. His portrayal of Elvis was one of his best performances ever. Hopefully I'll get to see this film again very soon.

Anyway, Maniac Cop was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid, the only thing I can remember about it that was naff was the music.
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Old 06-05-2003, 03:38 PM
Maniac Cop is a good series.

Maniac Cop-7/10
Maniac Cop 2-8/10
Maniac Cop 3-5/10
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Old 06-06-2003, 09:37 AM
Originally posted by The Claw
Uncle Sam was ok too but not really that entertaining. Thats just my two cents.
Claw Claw Claw...are you crazy! I didn't know that he directed Uncle Sam but I'm pretty sure he should be locked up for it. The most putrid, boring, lame piece of dookie ever committed to celluloid. I want to track the kid down who starred in that and shit on his face...and I want the 60 minutes of my life back (I gave up and turned it off)
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Old 06-08-2003, 03:06 PM
Uncle Sam wasn't that bad. Yeah, the child actor was cancerous, but the film works on an "incompetent slasher" level. And the third act is the best. That isn't saying much, but you missed out on a death by fireworks and a nifty flagpole impalement!
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Old 07-01-2003, 05:11 AM
*Spoilers* 10/10

This is a very underrated/unheard of film! It's a great movie, the plot is better than most of the movies of the eighties, and Bruce Campbell is on top of his game. The whole concept was great and I wish I could get ahold of a copy of it, but it's now out of print. This movie is more than mere horror, it was pretty suspenseful and you just didn't really see a of movies like it. The indestructable cop (okay, indestructable killer, VERY original), was a good concept but the real twist here was that he was a cop put into a prison with criminals he put away, was presumed dead, got info from some lady in the station, and framed Campbell's character. This movie just was incredible. 10/10
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:56 PM
"Maniac Cop" 1988

Directed by: William Lustig ("Uncle Sam")

Written by: Larry Cohen ("It's Alive")

Starring: Bruce Campbell ("The Evil Dead"), Tom Atkins ("Halloween III"), Laurene Landon ("It's Alive III"), Robert Z'Dar

Tagline: You have the right to remain silent. Forever.

Rating: 7/10

Plot: A killer dressed as a police officer is handing out more than parking tickets in New York City. As the body count rises the public becomes increasingly frightened and the cops are looking to put the case to rest. One of the good guys is framed and must find the rogue killer before it's too late.

Review: Countchocula really nailed this one in his review. This is a slasher film that's not just gristle and fat. This is like a nicely cooked rare porterhouse- plenty to chew on, fills you up, but in the end squirts out some red juices like any other steak.

Fans of either Larry Cohen or William Lustig need to drop everything and check this one out. The combo are at the top of their game here. The combine to offer movie lovers some likeable characters, a menacing killer, the requisite blood, and some very nice visuals. The prison flashback scene in slow-motion (and with almost a lullaby score) really gave me goosebumps.

The story follows a fairly standard slasher formula. The biggest difference here is the film is a bit of a who-done-it for awhile. Is the killer a rogue cop, a ghost, OJ, or someone else. It actually achieves this goal with a credible sideplot of a cop being framed for the killings as well. The film doesn't get bogged down with witty dispatch lines and bad puns though I found the tagline terrific. All in all the film gives off a feeling of almost reverence for the slasher film and is a beautifully sinful experience.

The cast is damn good. Bruce Campbell is well known in the genre but often more as a ham than a serious actor. He keeps his character in check until the ending where it gets too slapstick for my liking (karate kicking away the shotgun?!) and does get to show his acting chops. Tom Atkins easily exudes the air of the grizzled detective and is imminently likeable. Robert Z'Dar is genuinely creepy as the near mute, brutish Matt Cordell. The weak link is Laurene Landon who disturbed me with her crimped 80's hair and shrieking hyena performance.

The kills are varied. There isn't anything too extreme here: stabbings, shootings, beatings, hangings, etc. It works mainly because of the menacing cop appearance in the shadows. That bastard could have been killing people with pillows and it would still be freaky due to his bulky, uniformed, silent ways.

"Maniac Cop" is like gold for horror fans. A slasher that has some story, exceptional talent behind and in front of the lens, and still gives us what the body count we depraved fans crave. Grab a cold one, sit back, and see if you can't help but think of the LAPD while you watch it.
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:16 AM
i loved Maniac Cop, i also really liked the 2 sequels as well (the second is the best), the acting isn't always that great but it didn't bother me since the film was so much fun with some very cool scenes. the villain was good and Bruce Campbell is always great


Maniac Cop 2 - 9/10
Maniac Cop 3: Badge Of Silence - 8/10
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:19 AM

To protect and to SEVER!

Maniac Cop blew me away last night. Having watched so many baaaaaaaaaad movies over the past couple of weeks (AHEM, CREEPSHOW III!) I really needed something to kick my ass again. I'm glad to see that William Lustig pulled through for me this time, unlike when I rented Uncle Sam. That's a whole different story though.

Tom Atkins continues his streak of ass kicking movies for me. Yeah Night of the Creeps was awesome but I also enjoyed Halloween III. How can you go wrong with pairing him with Bruce Campbell? This is like horror's golden duo even though they really don't have much screen time together.

I have to say the story was pretty damn original. Especially considering our derivative genre. The Maniac Cop was badass! I loved that the city was in a panic over him, fearing the police, and even going as far as showing a civilian murdering an innocent cop.

Nearly everything worked for me. The music, the murders, the flashback, the action sequences... the one thing that left me feeling cold was Bruce's girlfriend. Definitely the weak link of the story. Her hairstyle is even more 80's than most other slasher vixens.

When our we getting a Maniac Cop trilogy box set so I can check out the sequels dammit!

Maniac Cop - 10/10

Well thats all for now GOoD JOURNEY my fellow schmoes.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:52 PM
Just received the Bluray as an early Christmas gift.

Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2 are among my favorite slashers outside the Big Three. They are more tightly written and directed then most slashers and feature one badass Killer in Matt Cordell. They both move at an effortless pace and provide the no frills entertainment I love from my schlocky 80s slashers. Both films are definitely ahead of the slasher curb and stand on their own two feet in the genre.
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