Maniac Cop (1988)


“A killer dressed in a police uniform begins murdering innocent people on the streets of New York City.” — IMDb

UGH, this movie. Look, I wanted to like it, I really did. It’s got the perfect 80’s vibe goin’ on, it’s a RIDICULOUS and awesome plot, and it’s got both Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins. You’d think this would be a no brainer. But this movie just wasn’t good, and is certainly not worthy of any kind of cult status. Like, really, a bad movie from the 80’s should not be automatically escalated to “cult movie” status. That is a title that should only go to movies truly deserving due to the perfect balance of entertainment, ridiculousness, and quotability… not just ANY movie that bombs.

Anyways, from the opening credits — complete with SO MANY freeze frame shots of the titular “Maniac Cop” putting his uniform on — I knew I was in for SOME kind of ride. The basic plot is that there’s a man in New York City dressed as a cop, but rather than protecting and serving he’s slashing and killing. Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell, who is one of very few things that make this movie watchable), a cop himself, sets out to solve the mystery after his wife (Victoria Catlin) suspects that HE is the killer (shortly before being murdered herself). He pairs up with his girlfriend-on-the-side, Theresa (Laurene Landon), to figure it out and clear his own name. It’s eventually discovered that the killer is Matt Cordell (played by uber villain Robert Z’Dar), an officer that was legendary among the police force but was jailed for brutality and killed by fellow inmates. He’s now back to exact revenge (I think? Except he’s just killing random people?). Horror classic Tom Atkins is there alongside Campbell and plays Lieutenant Frank McCrae, good guy cop who is doing his best to help. Cool, right? YOU WOULD THINK SO, WOULDN’T YOU.

I don’t mind it not having much substance. I don’t even mind it being straight up brainless at times. I’m alllll about a mindless gore fest. But THE KILLINGS WEREN’T EVEN FUN. At best they provided a moment of “oh, neat” and at worst they were straight up laughable — and I don’t mean I’m laughing because it’s so over-the-top ridiculous, I’m just laughing because it’s sad. The paddy wagon flying off the pier was pretty neat, I’ll give it that. And I’ll watch literally anything with a shirtless Bruce Campbell. But those were, sadly, the only highlights of this movie.

Rating: 2/10 | Director: William Lustig | Writer: Larry Cohen | Music: Jay Chattaway | Starring: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Robert Z’Dar, Sheree North


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