Maniac Cop (1988) — You have the right to remain silent forever

“They don’t make cops like him anymore. He was one of a kind.”

Justin’s rating: Call in a 788 (cop tropes run amok)

Justin’s review: Maniac Cop has been on my to-watch list for literally decades now, mostly for the association with Bruce Campbell (who stars as Officer Jack Forrest) and Sam Raimi (who shot some extra footage and provided a cameo). And, to be honest, if it wasn’t for Mr. Campbell, I probably wouldn’t have jumped into yet another cheesy ’80s slasher series. Probably needed to be done, though, because Maniac Cop’s certainly gained a bit of a cult following in the years since its release.

All you really need know about this is that it stars chin-affluent Robert Z’Dar as a hulking, disfigured police officer who’s both undead and a homicidal maniac. So, a zombie cop. I guess the idea here was to give the killer an extra dimension of terror by having him operate under the guise of an assumed protector, but really, when you’re 225 pounds of armed, walking undead, you don’t need a badge to make you scarier.

As a mysterious figure masquerading as a police officer starts a bloody rampage across the city, officers Frank MacRae (Tom Atkins) starts an investigation about who this guy really is and why he seems so hellbent on random killing people performing petty crimes. One of his chief suspects is Forrest, but since Bruce Campbell can do no wrong, he’s a case of mistaken identity and decides to help out Team Find Bad Guy.

It is mildly interesting to see the cops struggle with finding the killer while the whole city suspects anyone wearing a badge. But the detective approach isn’t quite as much of a unique angle as the filmmakers probably hoped. Because at the end of the day, we all know that this is an excuse to debut a Jason Voorhees clone. Nothing more, nothing less.

The “Maniac Cop” is revealed to be a former police officer named Matt Cordell, who was as famous as he was a little too brutal. He gets arrested for being far too gung ho on the job, is killed in prison, and comes back to life because of the injustice of it all. So Cordell is out to get revenge on a system that failed him instead of using his second lease on life to take up crochet or pilates. Doesn’t quite explain why he’s taken to killing random people who don’t deserve it, but whatever, this movie needs a body count.

Perhaps the only really good part is when Cordell rips through an entire police precinct building in his quest to take out witnesses while Forrest and his cop girlfriend try to make their way out of there. Unfortunately, it’s too short of a sequence for what could’ve been the true centerpiece.

As much as I have respect for Campbell and Z’Dar, Maniac Cop isn’t much more than a standard slasher with a bit of cosplay on the cover. It’s not scary, it’s not clever, and it doesn’t boast enough quips to cover up for the rest. It definitely was trying to add more human drama and surprises (the “final girl” isn’t who you think it is), but the pieces just didn’t click together in the end.

Didja notice?

  • Dude, give this girl her own movie, she’s feisty!
  • Suffocation by wet concrete. Don’t think you have to jackhammer him out, really.
  • “This isn’t about romance. It’s about murder.”
  • That’s some impressive hair on the female cop
  • Cordell takes a whole lot of bullets
  • It’s Shaft!
  • Bruce Campbell flying kick!

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