Directed by William Lustig [Other horror films: Maniac (1980), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1992), Uncle Sam (1996)]
This is a film I’ve seen before, and my initial positive feelings I had after first viewing it haven’t much changed. It’s not an amazing movie, but it’s a very solid late 80’s slasher with supernatural underpinnings.
My biggest complaint with the film is that some scenes strike me as oddly cut, as if there was supposed to be a bit more to them. Nothing story-wise is missing, and it mostly only happened during the first thirty minutes, but it was certainly noticeable. Another thing is story-based – while I enjoy movies focused around revenge, I generally like having some sense of sympathy for the individual seeking revenge, which was entirely lacking here.
I’m not much a fan of police, given the history of their brutality toward various minority communities (at least in the USA), not to mention outright murder and other sickening, indefensible acts, so when there’s a cop who is thrown into prison for police brutality, as the killer cop in this film was, and he ends up getting attacked in prison, I can’t help but cheer for the prisoners. Many cops are bad enough, but the violent, zero tolerance officers, as Cordell seemingly was, are certainly not worth sympathy.
Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps and Halloween III: Season of the Witch) does well here, though I can’t say I overly care for where his story takes him. More interesting is Bruce Campbell (of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II fame), who is fun to see here. He doesn’t necessarily blow the roof off the building, but his character was pretty interesting. Laurene Landon isn’t a name I know, but she does fine here, thought she’s nothing overly special. Someone who is special, though, is Robert D’Zar, with his imposing physique that totally makes the character of Matt Cordell the memorable killer that he is. Though he has little dialogue, D’Zar really steals the scenes he’s in.
There are some great death scenes in the film, and also a solid use of flashbacks. For the kills, perhaps the breakout sequence, along with the St. Patrick’s Day scenes, are my favorite, but most of the deaths here, even the strangulations, are solid. I did enjoy the flashbacks, giving us more meat to the story, and certainly never boring (which is something that could really be said for most of Maniac Cop, as it consistently keeps up a good pace). Also, while it was somewhat quick, I enjoyed the conclusion also.
As the movie stands, Maniac Cop isn’t amazing, like I said. It’s certainly a lot of fun, and I love how Cordell’s character has a consistent aura of mystery around him (such as obscuring his face until the finale), but it’s not a film I’d rate nearly as high as some other 80’s classics. This all said, Maniac Cop is a good viewing, and a solid rewatch, certainly one that I’d recommend to anyone interested.
This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss it and having fun.
8 thoughts on “Maniac Cop (1988)”