One of my favorite actors of all time happens to be horror icon Bruce Campbell… I mean I have enjoyed everything he has ever been in, from The Evil Dead series, to The Adventure of Brisco County Jr. to his hilarious cameo’s in the Spider Man series. I even went a few months ago to the Weekend of Horror’s annual Horror movie convention with my buddy Matt and got my picture taken with Mr. Campbell and had him sign it!
With that said, it came as a surprise to me when I was in a video store one day and I came to discover that he was in the first Maniac Cop Movie! (I had seen most of Maniac Cop 3 on Cable back in the 1990’s) Well of course I had to snatch that one up for movies to watch on Halloween!
Written by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive) Directed by William Lustig (Vigilante) and starring Bruce Campbell (The Demolitionist) Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon) Laurene Landon (Hundra) Robert Z’Dar (Tango and Cash) and Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Maniac Cop tells the story of a legend gone wrong! Matt Cordell (Z’Dar) was a living legend on the NYC police force, having captured dozens of the worst of the worst of the criminal element in New York. Low and behold though, his methods and tactics end up proving to be dangerous and hostile against other people and due to his last case (He was trying to put away some people in the mafia who had connections with City Hall at the time.)
It is orchestrated by the future Mayor, the chief of Police and others to send him to the one place he would never make it out alive from… Sing Sing Prison: A place where many of the people that Cordell had put away over time had been housed at!
Now we cut to present day New York. In these mean streets is a killer running around killing innocent people seemingly at random. Now this murder happens to be a little bit different, because according to eye witness accounts, this killer is dressed like a Cop!
The latest victim being a waitress that serves a lot of Police Officers. Investigating this murder is Detective Lieutenant Frank McCrae (Atkins) A slightly unbalanced Detective who at one point after loosing his partner ends up trying to commit suicide! Because of this and the fact that he actually accuses a un-named Police Officer for the murder of the waitress makes him a pariah in the police force.
With that said and as the body count is beginning to rise, and Detective McCrae trying to prove that it is a cop doing these killings, it becomes more and more well known that a man dressed up as a Police Officer is killing innocent people.
The Police Commissioner (Roundtree) thinks that Detective McCrae might really be nuts and doesn’t believe him. The mayor is ready to cover up the fact that a guy dressed like a Cop is commiting these crimes.
Now we cut to Jack Forrest (Campbell) A young patrolman, who is living in an un-happy marriage, with his wife Ellen that is slowly going insane, and is sleeping with a vice cop working the prostitution circuit, Theresa Mallory (Landon). One night while Forrest is getting ready to go out on patrol he is confronted by his wife who is slowly getting more and more afraid of him, but still loves him very much and does not want him to go.
So when he does leave to go to work, of course Ellen runs in to their room and grabs a gun and then runs out to follow him. She follows Forrest to a sleeze bag motel, where she sees Forrest going in to a room. Getting a key from the motel clerk she opens the door and walks in to the bed room area where she discovers Jack and Theresa are in bed together. When Jack discovers this, he does the best he can to try and let her down gently, and confronting her with the fact that he has been sleeping around on her (Of course in true Hollywood fashion, she pulls the gun she had taken for her own protection and points it at Jack with the intent to kill him.) Now with Theresa’s urging Jack lets her go…
As she is walking down the street she gets pulled in to a van by the mysterious killer in a cops uniform and is murdered and left for dead in Jack’s motel room! The next day when the maid comes in she discovers Ellen Forrest lying in her own blood on the bed that her husband and his mistress had occupied with her throat slit!
When this is discovered Forrest’s Captain, Captain Ripley (Played by William Smith) comes in to the squad room where Jack, along with his other fellow officers are listening to their superior. Captain Ripley pulls Forrest out of the room and over to a part of the hall that they can talk quietly in. Captain Ripley then goes ahead and lets him know that his wife had been murdered. To which of course a confused and upset Jack admits that he had been in the hotel room that evening. Ripley then goes forward and arrests Forrest for the murder.
Now everybody can breath easy… or so you might think! The Commissioner is happy, the Mayor releases a statement letting a city that had been gripped in a state of paranoia about the Police Department had been captured! Even Detective McCrae for the moment seems convinced that Jack had done it…
At least until the interrogation that is! McCrae and Captain Ripley pull Jack in to an interrogation room trying to convince Forrest in to giving them a confession (something that of course Jack won’t do, because he didn’t commit the crime.) Forrest continues to be interrogated until his Lawyer (played by John F. Goff) arrives. When the Lawyer arrives he kicks McCrae and Ripley out of the room, where in Jack alludes to the fact that the only witness to the fact that Jack had not killed his wife, is a fellow police officer that he would rather not mention her name if he didn’t have to because it would ‘ruin her career.’
Later on McCrae discovers this fact and goes to visit Jack in his cell, and asks him about who this female officer is. To which he decides to let McCrae know that it is Theresa Mallory who is the other Police Officer that he was with that night and that she can confirm that he had definitely not killed his wife.
After McCrae goes after Mallory to confirm Forrest’s story, he believes that Jack did not kill his wife or any of these other people because when he meets up with Theresa she is currently on the ground, shooting at the mysterious murderer in the Cop’s Uniform. When McCrae discovers this both he and Theresa pump the murderer full of bullets, until the murderer runs off.
After the murderer leaves McCrae helps her up and they head off to get McCrae’s hand looked at (It had been sliced open by the murderer’s dagger/night stick. They then head over to a bar where Theresa tells McCrae about Sally Noland (Played by Sheree North) a police file clerk who had been working in that area for so long that she had almost become like a den mother for all of the female Police Officers that work in that area.
McCrae then decides to put Theresa up for the night and pursues this lead. While doing so he discovers that not only does she know all about it, but that she dated and is currently protecting the murderer.
The closer that McCrae gets to discovering who the murderer is, the larger the body count becomes. Until one day when he discovers who he is believed to be… He is believed to be former Police Officer, Matt Cordell, the same man who had been betrayed by those in office way back then… He goes to confront Sally Noland about this and in the process helps get Theresa in to see Jack.
Here is where it begins to get really interesting. When he gets there and after a confrontation with Sally Noland, he comes face to face with the killer who had snuck in to the station and had killed several of the Police Officers trying to get to Sally Noland! The killer(who in truly awesome slasher movie fashion) is significantly stronger then McCrae is, and Cordell ends up shoving McCrae in to cabinets in a similar style that Arnold Schwarzenegger did to Robert Patrick in Terminator 2!
During this time Theresa and Jack are trying to get out of the interrogation room. When they finally are able to they discover one of the officer’s is lying on the ground. Jack quickly steps to action and gets Theresa out of there and then goes after Mallory. Of course while Jack is off looking for McCrae, McCrae comes flying out of a window after having been pushed by the killer!
Jack and Theresa, now on the run, and with the only person that can do something to clear their names being dead, and with the Police now chasing them. They are now on the hunt for the guy they believe to be Matt Cordell before they get caught, but is it Cordell, who is considered dead by everyone, or is there another Maniac Cop out there taking justice in to his own hands?
Why is this an awesome B movie? Simply put, the story! I mean the police are the symbol of truth and justice, and doing whats right. But what happens if there was an unknown Police Officer that took justice in his own hands and began killing everyone around him? I just find that to be a very fascinating story idea.
I also like the character development in this story. In a lot of these low budget slasher films, they don’t always do the best job of developing all the characters, which oft times for me when that happens, makes me have no interest when that character is taken out! But this story does not do that. Actually all the characters are so well developed that people like Jack Forrest and Theresa Mallory you can easily root for, and people like Mayor Killium or the killer you can grow to both hate and root for at the same time!
Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet, then I highly recommend that if you get a chance, that you do watch it, as I think that you might really like it.