An Unjust Cause: 'Maniac Cop' in Retrospect

The New York City streets are no longer safe when the Maniac Cop is on the prowl... Maniac director William Lustig and brings us this action-packed trilogy that closed out the 1980s with a bang! Featuring performances by Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, and other genre favorites, the Maniac Cop series is worthy of reproach for any of the Slasher fans out there. Prepare yourself for An Unjust Cause: 'Maniac Cop' in Retrospect!

Maniac Cop (1988)

The streets of New York are held in the icy grips of a sadistic killer cop, and it is up to a street smart police detective to track him down and stop him before he kills his way up to the mayor's office! Tom Atkins plays Detective Frank McCrae with his usual MO as the man's man, the blue-collared hero of Horror. Larry Cohen's dark script once again challenges one of society's safest institutions, this time the New York City cop, while director William Lustig brings the same cold, grimy aesthetic as he had before in 1980's MANIAC. The result is a bloody, violent, and unrelenting film that mixes action, suspense, and supernatural horror in even measures. Although Robert Z'Dar's intimidating performance as the spiteful Matt Cordell never earned him a spot beside the other icons of the genre, he would return from the dead to continue his murder spree in two sequels despite his lack of recognition. MANIAC COP still remains as one of the better late-80's Slashers, especially when considering the film's small budget.

Rating: 7/10.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

The 'Maniac Cop' is back on the beat, and still looking for revenge against the system that betrayed him. Matt Cordell returns along with a rag-tag team of inmates that he has assembled to wage an assault on Sing Sing, the prison facility where he was sentenced to die. MANIAC COP 2 is bigger and badder than the original in every way possible. While most genre fans regard the grimy exploitation classic MANIAC as his greatest work, MANIAC COP 2 is, without question, Lustig's most technically-accomplished film to date. It is filled with high-powered car chases, explosive action sequences, and ambitious camera work show a true progression in form for the director. Robert Davi steps in for Tom Atkins in a commanding lead, partnering up with Claudia Christian as a ballsy police psychiatrist. All of the suspense leads up to a bloody rampage through the police headquarters before the fiery finale in the cell blocks of Sing Sing. MANIAC COP 2 is the perfect blend of action and horror for Slasher and Cop Thriller fans alike!

Rating: 8/10.

Maniac Cop 3 (1993)

Detective Lieutenant Sean McKinney thought that clearing 'Maniac Cop' Matt Cordell's name would put his soul at rest, but a voodoo ritual brings the vengeful office back to life in order to expose another wrongfully accused female officer and claim her for his own. MANIAC COP is an anomaly in the series that feels incongruent with the first two films despite the fact that it retains much of the same cast and crew. The plot plays out more like a murder mystery and cop drama than a horror film, with very few deaths to keep the pace along the way. What's worse, the already-short 80-minute runtime is padded with over fifteen minutes of footage from the earlier films, which comprises most of the bloodshed in the first half. Even Robert Davi seems bored with the role at this point, although he is given his moment of glory during a hospital shootout. MANIAC COP 3 is sure to disappoint, but the action-packed finale may be enough to quell fans of the series.

Rating: 6/10.

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