I remember seeing this waaaay back when it appeared on (VHS) video in the late eighties (early nineties) and was eager to see how it stood up twenty-odd years after its release. And it still kinda works.
The plot is basic, to say the least, but sufficient. A killer cop is roaming the streets killing innocent people. One cop (played by Bruce Campbell no less) is framed for the killings and has to prove himself innocent.
The film thankfully starts with the maniac cop killing then fills in the details later which I much prefer to the story first, bad guy later, that seems so prevalent now-a-days. A woman is fleeing from some muggers and spots a cop. Having run to the cop to explain her predicament, he grabs her by the throat and snaps her neck like a twig.
From then on the maniac seems to have an agenda. He seems to be killing particular people. Is he getting help from the inside? And who is he? All is revealed as the film comes to a close.
There’s really not much gore at all in the movie, which is a shame. I think of this movie as a Friday 13th but without the spectacular deaths and gore. Come to think about it, the maniac cop does kinda sulk about in the shadows like Jason.
Not only does Bruce Campbell play the framed cop, but Sam Raimi makes an appearance as a TV news reporter which was a nice touch, and with Tom Atkins playing the main detective, you really can’t go wrong. Add some eye candy in with the framed cops lover (who’s also a cop and was in an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares and Matlock – so she must be good) and you’ve got yourself a veritable visual extravaganza.
The film is a bit lame here and there as it pads out it’s time and fills in the who, what, why, where, when of the manic, and the main detective seems to be psychic in that he gets ‘a feeling’ (oo-er!) which is inevitably spot on.
For all the bad things I’ve said about it, it’s still a pretty enjoyable film. Now I’ll have to watch the two sequels.
Some folks made a short movie, in 2008, to try and resurrect Maniac Cop, you can watch the full short via IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi411632665/