Maniac Cop (1988) Review: Bad Cop, Bad Cop
“Sometimes help can be dangerous.”
Synopsis: A killer dressed in a police uniform begins murdering innocent people on the streets of New York City.
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Let’s be up front, here: Maniac Cop is kind of a mess, and could have been a lot better. The main reason to watch it is Bruce Campbell‘s name on the cast list, but for those who are used to his wisecracking asshole side, there isn’t much to work with here. As a rookie being framed for murder, Bruce Campbell as Jack Forrest is pretty straight-laced. In fact, the entire movie put on fairly deadpan, considering the plot.
This ’80s flick is more crime thriller than horror movie, despite the slasher aspect of its plot. Someone dressed in a policeman’s uniform is murdering civilians; the cops and politicians are at a loss. The murders are fairly fun, as is the civilian reaction to cops once the news leaks out. There are a lot of competing priorities as the city struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
Honestly, Maniac Cop should have either gone full camp or full pulp detective movie. As a slasher, it’s weirdly serious, but hard to take seriously. The shaky plot and dumb backstory also mean the movie is uneven at best. It’s also hard to tell who the audience should be rooting for – over the course of the movie, we’re introduced to four people (including Tom Atkins) as though they were going to be main characters. One dies immediately, and another dies about three quarters of the way through. We aren’t even introduced to Bruce Campbell’s character until quite a bit into the movie. There really just isn’t a good unifying thread for the movie, even if you take it as a slasher where everyone should die.
Maniac Cop isn’t completely terrible, but neither does it deserve top billing. Put it on in the background while you’re hanging out with friends, and you’ll get about as much out of it as you can.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C-
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