To be honest, I absolutely love trash like this! Maniac Cop is a film that clearly isn’t too caught up with trying to establish itself alongside the more professional efforts of the horror genre, and instead simply revels in it’s B-movie status. This gives the film free reign to do whatever it wants to do, as it doesn’t have to worry about coherency or logic and this helps it massively as the final result shows. Actually, surprisingly enough; this is a rather professionally handled B-movie and many of the reasons why it works are down to things like atmosphere and characters, which are the things that the film isn’t supposed to be bothered about. The plot is well worked also, and the way that the mystery pans out is exciting in all the right places. The story follows a problem in New York. Innocent citizens are turning to the police for help as usual; but one officer isn’t bowing to the law, and has taken it upon himself to dish out justice his own way. This maniac cop is exterminating the local population, and it’s up to framed copper Jack Forrest and his mistress Theresa Mallory to save the day!
The way that director William Lustig portrays the New York streets gives this film a lot of it’s power. It’s gritty, in the same way that many of the seventies cop thrillers were and this, when combined with the thick eighties trash crust, is what makes this film a winner. The scenes that see the maniac cop taking people out are fiendishly funny, but also quite shocking. The police are looked up to in most societies, and it would be a huge problem if one of them were to start dishing out the wrong kind of law themselves. Scriptwriter and B-movie god Larry Cohen seems keen to portray this too, with much of the action taking in the panic that previous events have caused. One of this film’s main assets is definitely the presence of Evil Dead’s Ash, Bruce Campbell. Campbell isn’t quite as over the top as he was in Sam Raimi’s classic trilogy – but he’s playing a different character and just seeing him is a good reason to see this film. He is joined by fellow B-movie actor Tom Atkins, as well as Laurene Landon and Robert Z’Dar, who is perfectly cast in the title role. This isn’t a film that will please fans of serious movies – but if you like your silly B-grade films, you’ll definitely like this!