"He's a maniac, maaaaaniac on the force...
(Some of you in the back there were just mouthing the words. We can tell.)
Sadly, Maniac Cop has nothing to do with early Eighties discotronic go-go girls shakin' their hosed-down groove things on stage -- rather, it is the story of the men in the New York Police Department and the psycho killer who gives them a bad -- uh, worse name by dressing as a cop while indulging himself in a murder spree.
Determined to roust this killer from their midst, the cops follow the clues and track down one of their own -- Jack Forrest, played by Bruce Campbell. Campbell, normally one of our favorite actors, is strangely taciturn in this film, as if the director had specifically asked the man better known as "Ash" to tone down all the things that make him fun to watch. Forrest is, of course, innocent (though hardly a nice guy), but the truth of the killer's identity is so strange that he can scarcely believe it himself.
As is so often the case in this type of movie, returning for vengeance after a traumatic experience has inexplicably imbued the villain with superhuman strength and near-invulnerability. Thus it is that Cordell can take multiple gunshot wounds and keep coming back for more punishment. Why none of these movies ever bother to explain the source of these talents is a real sore point; are we supposed to assume that every psychopath with a grudge is awarded the standard Murderous Maniac package of Unlikely Abilities? We long for the days of films like The Phantom of the Opera, when dangerous villains got by on smarts and careful planning instead of a convenient immunity to bullets.
As with every mediocre slasher movie of the Eighties, the villain disappears at the end, in a manner that he seemingly could not survive. Will there be a sequel? Will the main characters from the original film survive the opening credits? Will part two borrow a good ten minutes of exposition footage from part one? Even Ash could answer those questions.
Review date: 2/11/00
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