Director: William Lustig
Starring: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith
You have the right to remain silent. Forever.
The grim and violent streets of New York becomes even more dangerous when a demented killer in a cop uniform starts to murder off innocent people. The police is putting the blame on a young and promising cop named Jack Forrest and almost everyone is happy with the closing of the case.
The leading detective Frank McCrae is not pleased though, and he continues to investigate the murders even after Forrest is arrested. Together with Forest colleague and lover, Theresa, McCrae has to finds out the identity behind the real maniac cop before they themselves become his newest victims.
Maniac Cop is the first in a trilogy of films that deals with the maniacal zombie cop Matt Cordell. The concept of a cop coming back to life to take revenge upon the police force that he once represented with pride is interesting, but this film plays out more like a silly 80’s action film than anything else. I think that the film could have had some more suspense added to it by having Cordell as a regular human being and perhaps rather bring him back from the dead in the second entry to the trilogy.
The film also tries to have three leading good guys, with Jack Forrest being one, detective Frank McCrae being another and Theresa Mallory being the third. I would much more have prefered it if the story focused more on only one of them instead, and if the choice was mine then that would have been detective McCrae.
Out of those three, McCrae is the most fun to watch since he is played by Tom Atkins. Atkins doesn’t have to do very much to shine the most in this film, but he does a good enough job to carry the story along fine. It’s not that interesting when the focus is put on Bruce Campbell, who gives a boring performance as Forrest. I guess he does give a better performance than Laurene London though, who is just terrible as Theresa. I should of course also mention that the maniac cop himself is perfectly casted by choosing the one and only Robert Z’Dar for the part.
It’s interesting to see who has behind this project as the screenplay was written by Larry Cohen and the director is none other than William Lustig. Both had of course already made their mark in the genre by this time, especially Lustig for me with his excellent 1980 effort Maniac. Although they went more in the “fun” direction this time around, the film still feels a bit lackluster to me and viewers should be able to expect more from veterans such as these two.
Maniac Cop might in one hand be a perfect example of a film that could only have been created back in the fun 80’s, but on the other hand it is not fun enough for me to recommend anyone except those who have nostalgic feelings towards the film. I never saw this as a youngster, and that might be why I didn’t have a great time checking it out today.