Plot: A killer is loose on the streets, killing people at random in horrific fashion and leaving the public in a panic. As if a serial killer wasn’t enough to cause chaos, this killer chooses to dress like a police officer when he strikes. This spreads rampant paranoia, as people begin to suspect every cop they see is a twisted psycho. Now reports of suspicious cops pour in, while some citizens take more violent approaches. One woman shoots a police officer in the head during a routine traffic stop, worried that he might be the killer stalking his next victim. Lieutenant Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) is heading up the case and he is convinced the killer doesn’t just dress like a cop, but that he actually could be a police officer. Despite his insistence to check mental health records and consult police psychologists, he is brushed off in his efforts. Is the killer really a police officer and if so, are Frank’s concerns of a cover up justified?
Entertainment Value: A dark, violent police thriller, Maniac Cop is solid entertainment that boasts an impressive cast. Tom Atkins plays a dedicated cop with skill as always, while we also have Bruce Campbell, Robert Z’Dar, William Smith, Richard Roundtree, and others also on board. The movie was also written and produced by Larry Cohen, so there’s quite a lineup of talent in Maniac Cop. This slants more toward thriller than horror, but there are some elements of horror and light supernatural threads. Lustig is skilled at the street violence genre though, giving Maniac Cop a gritty texture and making great use of the urban locales. The pace dips at times and there’s more exposition than brutality, but the movie still entertains. The last third of the film ramps up the action and is a lot of fun to watch. Maniac Cop is a rock solid movie that has a number of genre mainstays, so fans of street justice type flicks should check it out.
A Robert Z’Dar shower scene, but that’s the extent of the nudity in this one. As far as the bloodshed, Maniac Cop offers some decent gore but not as much as you’d think. The highlight has to be the shower scene, in which Z’Dar takes a gangbang shank session of epic proportions. There’s some other assorted blood here and there, including a nice head shot and a very cool (but bloodless) scene where a guy is thrown out of a high window. I do think most new viewers will expect a lot more given the film’s reputation, but there’s just not that much blood. The writing is dark and serious in tone, leaving us with not much in terms of memorable dialogue. A few good lines can be found at times, but not really the kind that stick in your mind. The writing is good though. On the crazy scale, Maniac Cop is pretty reserved for a movie about, you know…a maniac cop. There’s some action and blood, but really this is a police thriller with a dark edge.