This week, we have another classic from the 1980's, Maniac Cop. It co-stars the man of a thousand chins, Bruce Campbell. So you have the right to remain entertained, as we enter yet another SPOILER zone...
The movie starts out showing a cop getting into his uniform. You don't see his face, but every time he zips, buttons or snaps something into place, the movie does a freeze-frame. Hey, just for kicks, restart the movie and take a drink every time it does a freeze-frame!
After Officer Doe is finished getting dressed, we see a deserted city strret late at night. A young woman is walking to her car, when a mugger shows up. He and a buddy attack the woman, but after the briefest of struggles, she slips away.
She starts running, and hides in a dark subway station. When she crouches in the shadows, the pair of thugs show up too. She escapes to the street level again, and the muggers follow from a distance. Wow, cautious muggers...weird.
The frightened woman spots a cop, and runs in his direction after shouting "Officer!" about 17 times in a row. As the would-be muggers watch, the cop snaps her neck and throws her to the ground. Ouch!
There's an investigation, followed by a pair of detectives taking a stroll down to the morgue. The medical examiner tells the 2 detectives that the woman was shaken so hard that her head was damaged by the motion, and that the killer's grip was strong enough to crush her larynx. Oh, and the medical examiner has a rockin' mullet that needs to be seen to be believed.
After the medical examiner gives them some space,the detectives begin to argue over how she died. The older one, Frank, is skeptical about 2 teens having the strength necessary to kill the woman. He's also the first person to propose that her killer was a cop, given that several were on a "friendly" basis with her.
Next up: more footage of New York(I guess) at night. A young couple are grinning, laughing, and possibly driving toward their doom. Oh, and they're also drunk, which nearly causes them to speed through a red light. Whoops!
While sitting at the light they kiss, and a certain cop of the maniacal variety knocks on the driver's window. The driver gets out, and Maniac Cop uses a dagger to cut both sides of the guy's face. Then MC picks him up, and tosses him through the windshield of the car, while the poor girlfriend screams.
She manages to get the windshield wipers going, which is always the best way to remove dead boyfriends from the windshield, and she speeds away. Does she escape? I guess so, because the scene just ends right there...
The next scene is in the Cmmisioner's office. Frank pays him a visit to share his theory about the killer being a cop. When he finishes, The Commish doesn't agree. They argue over it, and that's about it.
Another scene at night means another attack. This time it's a man walking to his car. He pops the trunk to put his briefcase in it, and Maniac Cop magically appears. MC handcuffs his arms behind him, then roughly shoves the man against his own car, He once again draws a bladed weapon, and the frightened businessman decides to try to make a run for freedom.
He finds an apartment building with an open dooway, and makes a beeline for the intercom. Because of the handcuffs, the guy uses his nose to push a random buzzer, and begins to shout for help. Rather than wait for a response, the guy decides to lean his head out to see if any sharp blades are coming at him. Smart fella!
He resumes running and shouting, all to no avail. The chase ends when he trips, right in front of some freshly-cemented part of the sidewalk. MC catches up, and holds the man's face down into the wet cement until he dies. When the police arrive the next morning, they have a couple of construction workers drill out the entire square of sidewalk, to preserve the evidence.
Frank calls an old flme, a TV reporter named Tina, and has her meet him at an intimate restaurant. Tina assumes that Frank wants to re-kindle their old spark, but he honestly just wants to warn the public about the killer dressed as a cop. Also, given that Tina has a large audience, due to her talent and beauty, he figures her reporting of the story would do the most good. He then hands her a folder with all of the information she needs, and lets her get started.
Tina's story airs that night, and has the whole city talking about the killer by the next morning. She cites Frank as an anonymous source, but also implies that people should be much less trustful of police officers until the killer is caught. Nice.
That segues into a sequence where a woman is having trouble starting her car. She sees a cop pull up behind her, and immediately assumes the worst. When he puts his face next to her window to offer assistance, the woman removes a gun from her purse, and puts a bullet in his forehead.
The Commish hears about the incident and goes through the roof. Plus, the emergency switchboards are being bombarded by "tips" regarding dangerous police officers, many of which turn out to be grudges by people who've been arrested, as a way to get even. This is almost as bad as the Rodney King riots!
The next scene opens with an anymous cop getting into his uniform. A worried-looking woman in the kitchen is busy clipping out an article about the Maniac Cop. When her husband enters the kitchen, they argue over going to a marriage counselor, and it's pretty obvious that she thinks that he might be the killer on the news.
But he isn't, and do you know why? Because he's Bruce "The Baddest of the Bad-asses" Campbell!!!! Yup. the Chin that defeated more Deadites than you can shake a boomstick at is on the scene. That instantly makes this movie more watchable.
Anyway, the wife starts to ask him why he always has to be on patrol at night, and he tries to make her feel better. Even though it's obvious that he can't be the killer, the writers sure want us to fall for it. After he leaves for work, the wife even gets a call from an anonymous woman, cackling about how he's going to kill again.
The wife decides to do a little snooping, and she follows her husband from a safe distance.... After taking a small gun from her nightstand, of course. She sees him go into a motel room, and manages to get a key from the person in the front office without having a panic attack. When she gets to the motel room and unlocks it, she finds her husband in bed with another woman. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! (...or "Maury! Maury! Maury!", if you prefer.)
When he tries to talk his way out of being caught, she pulls out her gun. He gets out of the bed and talks her down, and she ends up running away. Well, at least she didn't damage the chin....
Back outside the redundantly named Motel Budget Inn, the kooky wife is naabed by someone in a dark van. Gee, I wonder who it was? The next day, a maid knocks on the door of the motel room, and finds the "other woman" dead, with a deep wound across her throat.
A cop arrives at morning roll call to speak to Bruce, whose character turns out to be named Jack. Jack assumes that his superior, named Ripley, is there on a social call, or is there to discuss Jack's marital issues(because Sarge mentions his wife), but he is quickly informed that she was found murdered. And by the other man's tone, it looks like Jack is their main suspect.
Ripley and Frank question Jack together, in what would best be called a game of "Angry Cop, Bored Cop". They bring out the scrapbook the wife made of the articles about Maniac Cop, and mention that several witnesses saw him at the motel and/or heard the fight that they had. When Jack tries to explain the part about her drawing a gun, they obviously don't buy his version of events.
Luckily, that's about the time when his lawyer shows up. The lawyer shoos them out, then sits down to discuss the case with bJack. Too bad that he thinks that Jack killed her as well. In fact, as soon as he sits down, he tries to get Jack to agree that he killed her while in a state of mental fatigue and under delusions. Nice.
Frank and Ripley go to a bar, and watch a reporter on TV interview random people about how little they trust the police since the killings were made public. Frank expresses the opinion that he believes that Jack is innocent in all of this, and Ripley actually laughs at him. Undeterred, Frank shares another theory: that perhaps Jack is taking the fall for the murders to protect someone else. Ripley scoffs at that one as well.
Frank pays another visit to Jack in his cell, and asks him if he's been protecting his mistress, or maybe some other cop they haven't turned up. Jack firmly tells him that she has nothing to do with the killings either. Then he drops a bombshell on Frank: the girlfriend is also on the police force. He reveals that her name is Theresa, and that she's currently on duty. Instead of doing any kind of follow-up on this information, we get whisked away from Jack's cell, and plopped down on a street corner. Great segue.
In the grand tradition of cop movies, Theresa is going undercover as a hooker. A creepy doofus pulls up to the curb and asks her for a fun time, and she plays dumb, When he grins and asks her if she's a cop, she is honest about it, even encouraging him to go home to his family. He keeps grinning like a fool, and drives away.
Theresa steps into a nearby alley to have a cigarette, and Maniac Cop shows up, While she nervously tries to figure out if he's someone she knows, Frank pulls up to the street corner where's she's supposed to be standing. While he scans the faces of the hooker to try and identify her, Theresa pulls her gun, and shoots at Maniac Cop, hitting him in a few places. He continues walking toward her, his dagger drawn.
Frank hears the commotion and drives right into the alley. By the time that Theresa runs out of ammunition, Frank is out of the car with his gun, and fires several rounds into MC. After he and Theresa escape, MC has been shot in the chest, arms, legs, and even took a shot to the face, yet still walked away from the battle.
They talk about the incident over drinks, and Theresa admits to Frank that she revealed her affair to Sally, a desk cop who works in the filing department. After making sure that Theresa gets settled in at his place for safe-keeping, Frank decides to meet Sally, and heads back to the station.
Sally turns out to be a hardass. Frank drops some details about what happened earlier, to see if she is helping the killer. Sure enough, she leaves the station, and Frank follows her. The drive takes him to the harbor, where he sees Sally speaking to MC.
She tells MC that he should only go after the specific targets that he has a vendetta with, and stop killing innocent people. Frank finds a place to hide, but he bumps into something, and the noise startles Sally and the killer. She calls MC "Matt", and he vanishes from the rendezvous site.
Sally fires a gun, but misses Frank. Then she begs Matt to come back, to no avail. Frank leaves as well, and gets scared out of his wits by some random guy who just happens to be wandering around.
Back behind his desk, Frank reads a file about a former cop named Matt Cordell, AKA Maniac Cop. He was supposedly a crooked cop, and was sent to Sing-Sing, where he was savagely attacked by several other prisoners. They mutilated both his body and face, and it's implied that he was killed.
While talking to another cop, Frank discovers that Sally was Matt's girlfriend. And now that he's seen them together, he also realizes that the full story isn't yet known. With that in mind, Frank chooses to pay a visit to the prison.
Matt has flashbacks, and they reveal that his time in prison was terrible. The other inmates obviously resented him because of his status as a former cop, and made life difficult, even before the attack. Then came the day that made him Maniac Cop....
Matt is taking a shower, and som of the inmates begin to go after him with knives and homemade weapons. He tosses the first few around like rag dolls, but they second wave of attackers overpower him. They hold Matt down and stab him everywhere, including slashes to his face, and leave him on the floor to bleed out.
After that cheerful encounter, there's a reunion between Jack and Theresa, with Frank along to make it awkward. He excuses himself so that they can get all snugglebunnies together, and decides to pay another visit to Sally. The office is empty, so Frank decides to go through her purse, but it only contains a single glove.
Before Frank can do anything else, Sally attacks him from behind with her cane. He manages to get it out of her hands, and Sally tries to get away by holding onto walls and furniture to prevent a fall. She almost does escape, until she finds herself trapped by Matt's latest victim.. Sally screams, and both Theresa and Jack hear her.
Frank comes to the rescue, but MC ambushes him, and proceeds to kick his ass. Jack and Theresa manage to escape the cell during the chaos, and they get another cop killed in the process. MC finishes off Frank, then throws his body through a window.
Theresa and Jack decide to return to Sing Sing, to see if there's anything else they can learn about the attack. They meet the prison doctor, and he confesses that he faked a death certificate for Matt Cordell. He did it because he knew that MC's brain was barely functioning, and another attack by the other inmates would really kill him the next time.
When Theresa and Jack tell him that Matt's been the killer the media's been talking about, he refuses to believe them. But he also has the decency not to call the cops, when he recognizes Jack. He gets them out of his office, just as his nurse mentions that he needs to wear something green, because it's St. Patrick's Day.
As you might expect, the parade for the holiday is swarming with police officers. Jack has an incredibly stupid plan: he wants Theresa to convince the Commish to speak with him, so that he can tell him the entire story about Maniac Cop. While she's doing that, Jack's going to wait out on the street, where anyone can see him, and just hang out.
Theresa finds the Commish and Ripley getting ready to be in the parade, and tells them everything about Cordell, but the Commish spins a version where Jack is doing the killings. Then he calls in a cop to arrest her, while he and Ripley head out. While Theresa is trying not to get raped by the sleazy cop, the 2 other men are ambushed by Maniac Cop.
After finishing them off, Matt goes after Theresa and Lt. Grungy. He stabs the sleazeball in the gut, leaving Theresa with the task of dragging his heavy body to each possible exit, as they are handcuffed to each other. It's as silly as it sounds, trust me. Meanwhile, Jack gets restless, and decides to join her inside.
After locking herself in a small kitchen area, Theresa goes through the dead cop's pockets to find the key for the handcuffs. As she finally accomplishes that single task, Maniac Cop starts to destroy the door to get to her. At the same time, Jack is spotted by several officers, who run into the same building that he just entered.
Theresa escapes onto a building ledge, just as Jack is getting roughed up by the cops. They then force him into the back of a police van. Then Maniac Cop throws the driver out of the vehicle, and speeds off, with Jack as his hostage. Theresa's close behind, after convincing a rookie to follow the van. Both vehicles head for the pier.
Somehow a third car gets in the way, allowing MC to shake the police car's pursuit. Then he injures a guy at a security post, before finally crashing and stopping at a warehouse on Pier 14. Theresa arrives seconds later.
She runs into the building, and Matt finally shows his face, which is scarred and discolored. He prepares to shoot Theresa and Jack, but the dumb rookie wanders in, and dies for being a distraction. Matt then throws Jack across the room, gives Theresa a long look, and drives away in the van again.
Jack chases the vehicle, and manages to hang on to a handle while whipping around like a doll. He distracts Matt enough to send the van sailing into the harbor. Jack jumps away to safety, and he and Theresa watch with a crowd of bystanders when the vehicle is pulled out of the water, empty. Underneath the pier, you see a white glove emerge from the water, to get a firm grip on the pier. THE END
Boy, what a kooky movie! Crazy action scenes, Bruce Campbell mostly playing it straight, and women who were glammed up and frizzed out, in pure '80's style. I have to admit, despite the weirdness, I enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 killer trees for this one.
And what did I learn after seeing Maniac Cop?
-Well, if I ever get stabbed and beaten within an inch of life, I'll become superhuman!
-All cops act like characters in a Mickeyb Spillane novel.
-Going to a seedy bar solves any problem in the world.
Next up, I'll be watching Wishcraft, starring some guy who co-stars on House, and a blond who I've seen in a few other horror films, but damn I can never remember her name. Fun times. See you sometime in the next week!