Maniac Cop is a slasher directed by William Lustig (director of the original Maniac eight years earlier). The film stars Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon and Tom *motherfucking* Atkins.
The story takes place in New York City where a maniac dressed in a police uniform is killing innocent people. Jack, a police officer, is arrested after his wife is found dead, leaving behind a journal in which she expresses her fear that Jack might be the maniac cop. It is up to him and a fellow officer to catch the real killer to put an end to the rampage and clear his name.
Maniac Cop has a simple yet great premise. Unfortunately, the film abandons ideas as soon as they are introduced. The result is an entertaining slasher but not a memorable one. The film’s cult status might be largely due to Bruce Campbell’s and Tom Atkins’ fans because Maniac Cop is pretty tamed for a 80’s slasher. It is not particularly bloody and the murders are not graphic. Furthermore, our main villain is not nearly scary enough (if more efforts had been put into the make-up, the film would have benefited greatly and been scarier).
Though the film never takes full advantage of its promising story, it is never boring. There is enough intrigue and the characters are likable enough to keep you wanting to get to the bottom of it. Don’t expect any fascinating pay-off because this is not what Maniac Cop has to offer.
In the end, Maniac Cop is more of a cop drama than a proper horror movie. It uses New York City as a playground and a reassuring figure (police officers) as an antagonist. The film is well-made, simple with a certain charm to it and definitely deserves your attention.