Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop (1988)

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A police officer (Robert Z'Dar) starts murdering innocent people seemingly at random. Another cop (Bruce Campbell) becomes the prime suspect when he is framed for murdering his wife (Victoria Catlin). With the help of the officer with whom he was having an affair (Laurene Landon), and some other cop (Tom Atkins) - I think he was their superior or something but I have no idea how police rank works - he finds out that the mysterious maniac cop was once a regular cop who went to jail for copping too hard and got murdered by fellow inmates... but did he really? He did. But... did he really?

This has a little bit more substance than the average slasher flick - half the movie is basically a mystery concerning the identity of the maniac cop, the other half involves like a conspiracy or some shit to do with how maniac cop got sent to prison in the first place. That's not necessarily a good thing.

I spent most of this movie trying to figure out what exactly the point of it was, then I realized I didn't care and just sat back and enjoyed Bruce Campbell.

I understand why this movie is a cult hit. It's got Bruce Campbell in it, and though his performance is pretty half assed, fuck, it's still Bruce Campbell. Plus the maniac cop himself is pretty savage. Basically, he's Jason Voorhees with a badge. But overall, man, the whole thing seemed kind of daft.

I got the feeling throughout that the filmmakers didn't really know what they wanted to do with it. Like, it was really serious which was not what I was expecting. Not that the subject matter doesn't necessarily warrant a serious treatment, but it also seemed like they were really lazy about making a serious movie. It was like they wanted to make a movie that made a statement, but they didn't care enough about actually making a statement.

They had the perfect opportunity to say something about the weird relationship between police and civilians and, I mean, they do. The best part of the movie is when the story of the maniac cop is leaked to the media, causing everybody in New York to get scared and hostile towards the police, culminating in an officer getting killed by a woman he pulled over for running a light or something stupid. That caught my attention because it's a really good premise and I wanted to see the results of a fall out between the people and law enforcement while the maniac cops stalks and murders both parties. It's a great idea for the movie.

It also has some interesting things to say about the limitations of the police force, with regards to the use of excessive violence towards innocent people versus equally violent people. Which is a really interesting dilemma, but this movie doesn't dwell on it.

Instead, this movie shoots off in another direction, focusing on Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon's struggles - i.e., being on the run from the law despite being cops - and the confusion over whether or not maniac cop is actually alive or not. Like, okay, he died after getting the shit stabbed out of him, but he was resuscitated, but the prison doctor didn't tell anybody and sent him to his wife, but he was basically a vegetable, but he got better, but he can get shot a lot of times with no ill effects, like what the fuck, I don't care. It's almost as frustrating as trying to figure out whether Jason was undead throughout the Friday the 13th series or whether he was fully alive at some point.

I keep drawing comparisons between this movie and Friday the 13th because it rips that movie off pretty good. Particularly in the relationship between maniac cop and his maniac wife or girlfriend or whatever (Sheree North), also a cop, who helps him with framing Bruce Campbell for the murders. The idea that this woman would continue to help her partner despite him killing all kinds of people is sort of interesting, but then she just gets unceremoniously killed while he's ripping through the rest of the police department, so there goes that.

Furthermore by the end of the movie we find out that the maniac cop is out for revenge against some guy, I forget if he was the mayor or the police commissioner or what, but he was behind maniac cop getting sent to jail. So if his motive was to kill the people responsible for him going to jail, why the fuck was he just going around killing innocent people? Why not just go kill the people he wants to kill? Because this movie doesn't know what the fuck it's about, that's why.

Anyway, I just didn't really care about anything that happened in this movie and it wasn't schlocky enough to hold my attention in that way. That being said, I think the idea definitely has all kind of potential and it's something that could benefit from a remake, especially since the tension between police and civilians hasn't dissipated in the last thirty years.

- Bruce Campbell is in this movie (+1)
- Jason Voorhees as a cop (+1)
- Music was occasionally groovy (+1)
Total: (+3)

- Most ineffective cops ever (-1)
- Way too serious (-1)
- I don't give a shit about any of the characters in this movie (-1)
- The plot makes no sense (-1)
- Maniac cop makes no sense (-1)
Total: (-5)
Final Score: -2 Stars

Directed by: William Lustig.  Written by: Larry Cohen.  Starring: Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Tom Atkins, Sheree North, Robert Z'Dar, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Nina Arveson, Victoria Caitlin.

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