The first Maniac Cop was a great, perky slasher movie with a difference. Everyday citizens of New York are being murdered by Officer Matt Cordell, one time hero cop, now an undead Juggernaut seeking vengeance (think Jason Vorhees with a badge) and it’s down to a framed Officer to bring him down. Wonderfully self aware and given a great gritty anti-sheen by how legitimately grimy The Big Apple was in the late 80’s, Maniac Cop was a satisfyingly solid movie that went about claiming it’s rightful title as a cult classic with style. Plus it had one of THE greatest tag lines in history: “You Have The Right To Remain Silent… FOREVER.”. Are you kidding me? That shit is MAGNIFICENT!
Well get this, the sequel (imaginatively titled Maniac Cop 2) is even better. Smart, fast and hugely endearing, the film straddles the horror/action line like a $20 hooker and even chucks in a new wrinkle or two to the standard hack ’em, slash ’em, shoot ’em, bash ’em fare.
The film makers wisely go full Terminator, blow a healthy chunk of the budget on loading up their stunt men on amphetamines and just let ’em rip. Set pieces fly past with ever increasing frequency and, more importantly, creativity. A woman is handcuffed to the OUTSIDE of an out of control car, Cordell mounts a one man massacre mission on a crowed police station and, best of all, the movie climaxes with the best “Dude On Fire” scene ever made.
No seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a vengeful, zombie police officer laying an epic beat down on an entire prison cell block while burning like a British barbeque. It’s dizzying low budget – high concept stuff, all punctuated by Jay Chattaway’s energetic score.
It’s nice to see the actors are all in on the joke too, former Bond villain Robert Davi steps into Bruce Campbell’s shoes as the protagonist as a Detective so stoney faced, anything broader than an sardonic smirk would crack his face like plaster. Leo Rossi also scores high as Turkel, a motor-mouth serial-killing, stripper-strangler, endowed with Kurt Russell’s Thing beard who, in a wonderfully original twist, plays chatty George to Cordell’s slower Lenny.
The fact that something exists that heavily references Of Mice And Men while simultaneously containing a scene where a lantern-jawed super ghoul guns down a line of police men in a shooting gallery simply goes to show how stealthily witty this movie really is. This is down to returning director William Lustig and script writer Larry Cohen, both innovators in low budget smarts.
But the more obvious star here is the late, great Robert Z’Dar as Matt Cordell himself. Barrel chested and upgraded from the rather basic scarred face from the original to a much more ravaged visage which, due to Z’Dar’s trademark enlarged mandible bone, makes him resemble an awesomely malevolent pumpkin. It’s also nice to see an on screen serial killer who has the common sense to use a gun…
In closing, this movie should be squarely filed under Awesome Movies You Haven’t Seen Yet.
Rectify this. Immediately. Before the wrong arm of the law gets his hands on you.