MANIAC COP (1988) Reviews and overview

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‘You have the right to remain silent… forever’
Maniac Cop is a 1988 American horror film directed by William Lustig (Uncle Sam; Relentless; Maniac) from a screenplay by producer Larry Cohen.

The Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment production stars Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon and Richard Roundtree.

The film spawned two sequels, Maniac Cop 2 (1990) and Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993), both also directed by William Lustig from Larry Cohen scripts.

Innocent people are brutally killed on the streets of New York by a uniformed police officer. A young cop, Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) finds himself marked as the chief suspect after his wife is murdered.

As Lieutenant Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) investigates, the death toll rises and he suspects a mysterious police cover-up. This “maniac” cop must be stopped, but it might not be so easy. He seems inhuman, and ready to take on the entire police force, hell-bent on revenge…

“Had Cohen and Lustig hit that satirical point a little harder, Maniac Cop would be as awesome as its title. Instead, it’s too often a routine ’80s genre piece, straight down to the synthesizer score, over-lit night scenes, and bandana-sporting street punks. But Cohen comes up with a few good lines…” AV Film

“While Atkins and Campbell give relatively cheese-free performances, their co-stars aren’t quite as subtle. Jack Forrest’s girlfriend is played by Laurene Landon, whose performance is so over the top it almost negates any kind of credibility Campbell builds during the course of the film.” Screen Anarchy

“From a production stand point, there is not a single area in which this film is lacking. The visuals perfectly set to mood, especially the kill scenes and the aforementioned flesh-back sequence. Pacing is never an issue…” 10K Bullets

“Only the odd line of dialogue and occasional bizarre detail hint at Cohen’s quirky signature; performances and camerawork are solid enough, but both cutting and direction are formulary and flabby.” Time Out London

Maniac Cop is a disappointing thriller that wastes an oddball premise and offbeat point-of-view […] Acting is deadpan and straight ahead. Sheree North has an interesting character role as a hobbling, crippled girlfriend to the maniac, combining bitterness and pathos.” Variety

Maniac Cop crams a lot into 82 minutes (look for Sam Raimi’s cameo) and is thus never boring. Cordell’s carnage-creating romp around HQ is expertly done; A scene where Malloy is handcuffed to a body; Car chases with slo-mo crashes, and all manner of creative shots and visual cues that serve to keep the horrors of the killer’s face out of shot.” Vegan Voorhees

“Sporting a decent premise and better characterizations than we’ve come to expect from slasher flicks, this is certainly an entertaining time with alright deaths, a steady script, a good finish that has some okay suspense and one almost skin-crawling flashback to our killer’s prison fate.” The Video Graveyard

” …with someone like William Lustig at the helm, I guess I was just expecting more… pizazz. And since Larry Cohen was at the word processor, I was hoping the social commentary would be a bit sharper; but oh well. But while the flick never quite lives up to its potential; it’s still entirely watchable and enjoyable.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

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