MANIAC COP (1988) Review

Directed by: William Lustig
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Richard Roundtree

The MANIAC COP trilogy is in my personal opinion one of the most underrated in the horror genre. Although none of the three movies feature amazing storytelling or award-winning performances, they are truly entertaining. As is usual with trilogies, the first film is the strongest. It also has one of my all time favorite taglines.

Somebody is roaming the streets of New York City at night and violently killing innocent and unsuspecting civilians. What makes this even more frightening though is the fact that this killer is no average Joe. He's a cop!
Or at least a guy who dresses like a cop. Anyway, once this fact is made public the residents of the city go into a panic. If they can't trust the police, who can they trust?
Soon after this Detective Jack Forrest (Campbell) is accused of being this so-called 'maniac cop' after the body of his wife is found in his hotel room. As he tries to clear his name he is joined by Lt. McCrae (Atkins) and together they discover the identity of the real killer. A supposedly dead police hero named Matt Cordell. But can they prove it?

MANIAC COP is really half slasher and half police thriller. It's a good mix though and Lustig takes what he needs from each genre and splices them together seamlessly.
New York City in the 80s is a perfectly seedy backdrop to this film. It's rain-soaked streets and grimy alleyways giving the city an uneasy vibe especially in the night scenes and are the perfect location for the high-speed car chases, explosive shootouts and violence that follow.
Accompanying these fast-paced scenes is some of the best B-movie talent of the time. Bruce Campbell of course at his most popular after starring in The Evil Dead II the previous year. Tom Atkins from such films as Halloween III and The Fog, and of course Richard Roundtree the one and only 'Shaft'. All of their performances are above average, but it is a shame that Bruce doesn't get to showcase his humor.
I should also mention the fx / makeup which for the time are actually pretty good, especially on the villain's face.

Of course the movie has it's bad points too. The story isn't terrible but honestly it's pretty predictable and generic. And why exactly does this maniac cop seem to be invincible? It's never really explained, I guess it's just one of those slasher clich├ęs. The movie is very dated too what with the 80s music, the hair, the shoulder pads etc. But even with these negative points, MANIAC COP succeeds in being a very entertaining film and  a great setup for the two movies which follow.


  1. I loved this movie.


    I can't say the same for everything that Lustig has done in this style, as I totally hated Uncle Sam... but Maniac Cop is great.

  2. Maniac Cop is one of the few trilogies I actually like. The third one isn't great, but all together they make for a solid trilogy.
    Oh, and I have to agree with you about Uncle Sam.