Maniac Cop (Special
††Sound: B- ††Extras: B+†
have the right to remain silent... Forever!" - The tagline for Maniac Cop.
Maniac Cop (1988) is one of the many
off-beat exploitation films from the mind of Larry Cohen, a B-movie
specialist known for putting subversive spins on low-budget genre flicks.
Cohen has directed some of his own screenplays (such as Black Caesar, It's Alive and The
Stuff) while writing many more that were directed by others (such
as Best Seller, Guilty as Sin and Phone
wrote and produced Maniac Cop, while
leaving the directing chores to another B-movie vet, William Lustig (1980's
infamous Maniac, Vigilante and Uncle Sam, the latter of which was also written by Cohen).
Cohen and Lustig would repeat the same duties on two direct-to-video
sequels, Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
and Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence
In Maniac Cop, which had a brief
theatrical run in '88, Cohen takes the slasher/serial-killer genre and puts a unique
spin on it by making the killer a police officer, while adding plenty of
killer is stalking the streets of New York City, and a veteran homicide
detective played by Tom Atkins (Night
of the Creeps, 1980's The
Fog) immediately suspects the culprit is an NYPD officer. Naturally,
the police commissioner (Richard Roundtree) doesn't want to believe him, and
when word leaks out, a worried public turns against the men in blue.
a young patrolman named Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, the big-chinned
actor best known for Sam Raimi's Evil
Dead movies). Forrest's own wife thinks he's the killer cop, but
he's really been sneaking out at night to shack up with
a female police officer (Laurene Landon). So when Forrest's
wife ends up dead from a throat slashing, he becomes the prime suspect.
out, though, that Forrest is really an unfortunate victim
of circumstance, and the real killer is a hulking former cop named Matt
Cordell (Robert DíZar).† Remembered
as a hard-nosed, Dirty Harry-style cop, Cordell was railroaded and
sent to prison by slimy politicians, who wanted to make an example of him
simply to get votes.
was brutalized by other prison inmates and supposedly died behind bars.
But nobody counted on Cordell barely surviving the vicious attack and
being let go by a sympathetic coroner. Now the hideously scarred Cordell is
back as a vengeful madman who'll kill anybody who crosses his path, even
perfectly innocent civilians.
this is totally ridiculous, but it can be fun when accepted on the
level of a violent black comedy. What helps the film immeasurably is
its entertaining cast of B-movie veterans, which also includes William Smith
and Sheree North. Just watching the cynical, hard-boiled
Atkins interact with the other seasoned cast members makes the
however, Atkins departs the proceedings about two-thirds of the way
through, and the movie loses steam once he's gone. We're then
left with Campbell and Landon to battle the maniac cop, and neither
of them are good enough actors to carry the film.
Campbell has a very pronounced chin while D'Zar has a jawline and chin that
rivals Jay Leno's. As a result, Maniac
Cop ends up being a battle of the big chins. But hey, you
know what they say about guys with big chins.
Films' special edition DVD of Maniac
Cop comes with a new 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer mastered in
high-definition from the original vault materials. Even so, the picture
sometimes exhibits a grainy look during the nighttime scenes, which probably
has more to with the original film stock than this transfer. The
sound, however, is much better, and viewers have the option of
listening to it in a new DTS 6.1 track, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or the
original 2.0 Dolby Digital.
extras include an enjoyable feature-length audio commentary originally recorded
by Cohen, Lustig and Campbell in the mid-1990s for the film's 12Ē LaserDisc
release. There are additional scenes later shot for Japanese
television that introduce the entertaining character of a
weasely mayor responsible for Cordell's persecution.
Plus theatrical trailers, TV spots and a new retrospective interview with
the maniac cop himself, Z'Dar.
information about this and other great titles from Synapse Films, be sure to
visit their site at the following link where you can also order these discs:
- ††Chuck O'Leary