Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop (1988) movie poster

(1988) director William Lustig
viewed: 11/02/10

I think it was my Larry Cohen (It’s Alive (1974)) angle, mixed with the Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi angle, or whatever, but that’s what got me to queue up Maniac Cop in my movie queue.

I’d never seen it.  William Lustig directed the film, but it was written and produced by Larry Cohen.

The film opens with a sort of earnest tale set in late 1980’s New York City in which a man dressed as a police officer is randomly brutally murdering people, and not just criminals.  And like a typical Cohen film, it’s populated by a myriad of interesting character actors who give the movie a lot of flavor.  And the story, as it develops, is a mystery as to who the real killer is.

It’s a fairly fun ride.  It’s a little more down-to-Earth than such a free-for-all of whacky craziness, though the film does get into a stranger and stranger series of plot twists.  Interestingly, Bruce Campbell plays a fairly straight role, a good-looking good guy who is framed for the crimes.  If anything, he’s under-used here.  Raimi shows up in a cameo.

I’ve been thinking that this film falls into this weird subcategory that I’ve been drawn to over the last couple of years, a portrayal of the pre Rudy Giuliani New York City, a place not as clean and friendly or corporate as the modern incarnation.  In fact, probably my favorite things about this film have to do with its portrayal of the city of its time, a New York now that’s part of history, which would probably be quite interesting (and potentially amusing) to people familiar with the city and its changes over the past 30-40 years.

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