Manic Cop (1988) - A Peggy Christie Drunken Monkey Review

Maniac Cop (1988) – Yet Another Drunken Monkey Review


Happy nearly ¼ of the way through 2024 folks. My drinking game has gotten off to a weak start this year but here’s to hoping it improves.

Or worsens, depending on your POV.

I figured for my next series review here at Malevolent Dark, I should probably pick something that’s relatively short. Aka a franchise with fewer than 27 sequels and prequels and remakes and re-imaginings. Anything with five or fewer flicks should work nicely, yes? So let’s get started with the three-and-out Maniac Cop franchise.

Spoiler Alert: My editor has taken a sabbatical to hitchhike across the United States with a bunch of senior citizen hippies in a love bus so I will be spilling plot points here and there.

First up is the OG Maniac Cop from 1988.

Where to Watch

Maniac Cop (1988)

The story goes that someone is dressing up as a NY City cop and going around killing innocent people. While that’s not very nice, it also makes things rather difficult for NY City’s finest. Not in the sense that every cop believes there’s NO WAY an actual cop would go around doing such a thing, but it seems in this story, every cop SUSPECTS every cop of being capable of doing such a thing.

Which, honestly, is a bit of a nice switch.

Maniac Cop 1b
I guess I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.

It Has Tom Atkins…

Tom Atkins, playing Detective Frank McCrae, does not believe that the two thugs arrested for the first known attack are involved in any way. The injuries alone committed against the young female victim indicate a much larger individual as responsible. He’s getting some resistance from the commissioner, who is also just kind of an ass, as is the captain of the local precinct (Richard Roundtree and William Smith, respectively). They just want to keep it all quiet.

Fuuuuuuuck that shit. After another murder, McCrae immediately goes to a journalist he knows to get her to break this on the news. Take that, Commissioner Ass Hat.


Of course, the natural response of the public being informed that a police officer is killing innocents, is to freak the fuck out and start killing back (totally by accident, of course.)


Aaaaaand Bruce Campbell….

It’s here that we are introduced to Red Herring Number…I don’t know. But it’s little baby Bruce Campbell as Officer Jack Forrest. He’s set up by the real killer, and the cops all pat each other on the back knowing that they GOT THEIR MAN.

Jeff very good

Again, McCrae ain’t buying their bullshit. He knows Jack was set up, as does the woman Officer Jack’s having an affair with, Theresa Mallory (played by Laurene Landon). Once she and McCrae start to work together, they quickly figure out WHO is responsible. And not long after, they discover the WHY. Well, sort of.

The Legend of Matt Cordell

There’s a legend in the NY Cop scene. His name was Officer Matt Cordell (played by an actual Renaissance Man, Robert Z’Dar – just read his IMDB profile.) Oh sure, he was the “shoot first, ask questions later” kinda cop but in general, he was a good guy. Big softie, even had a sweet little gal pal. But he got arrested over some bullshit (you know, something LAME like personal rights violations) and the mucky mucks at City Hall put him in the same prison with all the criminals he’d ever arrested.

I mean, the Records Keeper at the precinct was NOT wrong when he said, “the bastards down at City Hall murdered him by putting him in jail like that.”

I’m just saying…

But Cordell was jumped in prison, cut to shreds, and murdered. Wasn’t he…?

Turns out, the prison doc snuck Matt out of jail and into the custody of his former girlfriend. I mean, he figured Matt was basically brain dead so what’s the harm? By the time this is all over, Mr. Doctor Man, I’d say a body count in the dozens is a quite a bit of harm, yeah?

After a fuck ton more deaths, a massive man hunt and shootout, complete with crashing paddy wagon into the Hudson River, the dust settles, and the good guys have won.

Or have they? Tell that to the hand of Matt Cordell as it reaches up from the dark water to grasp a pylon of the pier.

Maniac Cop 1a
We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty!

I mean, this was 1988 and the “the killer really isn’t dead” trope was ubiquitous and egregious.

(You like those $5 words? Huh? Do ya?)

Working the Beat

While the slasher trope horror film at this point in time is quite common, I enjoy the hell out of it. Director William Lustig (who will go on to direct Maniac Cop 2 and 3, and who also brought us the 1980 gem, Maniac) gets fantastic performances from his cast, even if some is a little exaggerated or completely over the top. Atkins is always great but his character knew the first victim. So when he said to her corpse, “You must have been so afraid, Cassie. Then you saw a cop.”, I’m not gonna lie. I teared up.

IU Cry

The cinematography is fantastic. It combined the bleak, grittiness of the underbelly of NY with some honest heartfelt emotions of a group of people charged with protecting and serving the public, and how much of a weight that places on their shoulders.

The story is a good mystery on top of the slasher idea (hat tip to writer and legend, Larry Cohen.) It’s not just this automaton mountain main killing a bunch of people for no real damn reason. Uh…well, maybe some of it is. If you ask me (which you didn’t but shut up) Matt Cordell had a hell of a lot more justification for his murder spree than some pre-pubescent, dead-eyed nutso who didn’t like his sister getting bizay with her boyfriend.

Weak ass punk bitch.

While some of this does get me head scratching from time to time (why is Matt still killing ERRBODY once he gets the City Hall fuckers?) overall this flick is an absolute joy. Is it a perfect film? Fuck no. But anything that might fall flat or just miss its mark is easy to ignore while you’re strapped in for this roller coaster ride.

4 margaritas out of 5

4 margaritas

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