Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Maniac Cop Marathon

Last week, Tuesday to be exact I had myself a little movie marathon which is not something I do often. The last time I watch a trilogy of films back to back was the Omen films which I highly recommend if you're a fan. It was an immersed experience; one can really loose them self in those films. And the final film, not being a very good one is a suitable book-end to the series, especially that final shot. 

But back on topic, this time it was the Maniac Cop trilogy which spanned five years, 1988-1993. I've been a fan of the series since I was a kid and I still remember vividly seeing the trailer for Maniac Cop 2 on a VHS copy of Predator 2 that my Dad hired one night; it scared me green but I was fascinated at the same time. It wasn't too long after that when curiosity finally got the better of me and hired out the original and part 2, believing there were only two films at the time. So after owning Maniac Cop on DVD for a number of years I thought it was finally time I get my hands on a copy of the other two films and do the whole marathon thing. Please enjoy my thoughts on the films below.

Maniac Cop (1988)

Matt Cordell was a hero cop with a knack for overkill, a legend amongst his peers. But he was wronged by the system for "getting to close", he was sent to prison where he was brutally murdered; so everyone thought. Now he's back for revenge, terrorising the streets of New York City in full police uniform; murdering both the innocent and guilty, hence the film's title.

This is a pretty straight forward slasher/action film despite its high concept. It's got a dark and grimy atmosphere which is effective; production value is quite low, you can tell it's a cheap film. Overall it's entertaining but the film never really takes off. The kills are fairly simplistic, we don't see a lot but it's more of a case of less being more which I'm a big fan of. And like most slashers we don't see our killer's face until the end which I admit was a little disappointing due to some ordinary make-up.

The film features Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins. Their performances are neither good nor bad but I liked Tom Atkins' character and there's a cameo from Sam Raimi. 

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Now onto my favourite in the Maniac Cop trilogy; the one that made the biggest impression on me as a child. 

Matt Cordell is back and out to finish what he started. This is the point where it's pretty much Jason Voorhee's dressed as a cop and the film has more of a supernatural overtone.

Robert Davi is the main protagonist in this one; he plays a NYC detective who looks like he belongs in old film noir. He's really cool in this film; grizzled and doesn't say a whole lot. He is by far my favourite character.

Overall Maniac Cop 2 is a better made film. A lot more happens, including a short but awesome police station shoot-out scene which is reminiscent of 

The Terminator. And the make-up is a lot better; it goes for a more demonic look that's genuinely creepy to look at.

You could easily watch this film without seeing the original as they show a flash back of what originally happened to Cordell, which was also shown in the first film but a slightly longer version. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out the plot. 

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993)

A few years after seeing part 2 and wishing so bad for another sequel, turns out there was actually already one made and released. But for some reason it didn't appear on the shelf at my local video store until 1995. I can still hardly express how excited I was when I just happened to notice the it one afternoon when I just got out of school.

The tagline for Superman (1978) was "You'll believe a man can fly". Well Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence will make you believe a zombie can drive a car while on fire.

He's back again; Matt Cordell isn't one for lying down on the job. This time he's working his way through a hospital getting revenge sort of not really. Actually he's kind of an after thought in this third instalment as the main plot seems to be based a female police officer who is on the path of suffering the same fate as Cordell once did.

This film is a bit of a mess and not very consistent. It's suppose to take place in New York City but it's so clearly shot in Los Angeles that it's not even funny. There's a black magic element and just a whole bunch of random shit; it's really over the top at times. But Robert Davi is back which is great, he's best thing about this film and probably it's only redeeming quality.

Maniac Cop 3 is the weakest in the trilogy but it's alright. I'm glad there haven’t been any more sequels after this.

The DVDs

As I mentioned above I've had the original on DVD for a some years. But the other two were a little tricky to find. You won't find them down at your local Target , Big W or JB Hi-Fi put it that way. In fact I don't they have officially been released on DVD here in Australia. But a friend of mine put on to a web site Utopia Records that offer them for a reasonable price. 

All three releases are very basic with no bonus content but all very much watch-able.

Maniac Cop: Region 4 - Paramount Pictures
Maniac Cop 2: Region 1 - First Look Studios
Maniac Cop 3: Region 1 - First Look Studios

The Maniac Cop trilogy was directed by William Lustig who also directed the 1980 New York City slasher flick Maniac. He must have a thing for maniacs, if not just for the word itself.

Overall it was fun revisiting these three films. They're by no means perfect but that is what I think adds to the enjoyment of them. If you're a fan of the genre I do recommend embarking on this marathon for yourself. 

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