Better Viewing Through Cosmic Cognizance By Fred E. Frederick
(a.k.a. Cosmic Charlie)
It’s day 4 of my Bruce Campbell movie review week, and already, the effects are starting to show. I’ve been having shortness of breath, an uncontrollable urge to say “Groovy!” every time I’m getting dressed, and I’ve changed my cat’s name from Bruce to Ash to Brisco to Lord Bowler and finally to That Character From Congo Who Dies In The First Five Minutes. It’s like a special part of Hell that Pinhead has saved just for me, and it’s full of Bruce…
…and I love it.
I’m a Bruce maniac, which is a better type of maniac to be than the titular subject of today’s movie of the day (remember kids, whenever somebody puts this movie on, scream real loud!!!! AAHHHHHHHH!!!! (for the entirety of the film!)), Maniac Cop, the 1988 horror movie that delivers with all cylinders firing. No, it isn’t a topical documentary about what happens when police accountability is non-existent, leaving police to kill without consequences, but rather, a fictional story about a cop who believed in shooting first and asking questions later. Yes, fictional, because all the people he kills are white, and therein lies the fantastical part of this story. The story of a cop who lost his mind and started killing innocent people… who were WHITE!!!
The film really does have two shining stars, both in the fact that they’re two amazing men, and the fact that they have practically identical screen time. Tom Atkins, who is probably the best hard-edged cop with a heart of gold actor of all time, and of course BRUCE. Young looking Bruce. Bruce plays an asshole cop who’s cheating on his wife which makes her think that he’s the killer cop and, well, things don’t go too well. Throughout the film you get dialogue cheesy enough to make Quentin Tarantino blush, but it nicely enforces the kind of super cop paradigm we’re supposed to already know and love, and accept. I dunno, maybe the actors just didn’t rehearse their lines enough, but some of the deliveries are a little bit like a plow going through a Kirstie Alley look-a-like convention, enjoyable as it may be to our carnal senses, you can’t help but grimace a little. Speaking of grimacing, Robert Z’Dar plays the titular role and has the kind of chin that probably make Bruce’s chin run an hide in its dressing room for two hours (yes, Bruce’s chin has it’s own dressing room). Rob would go on to have a great role in Tango & Cash, the Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell masterpiece that is partially responsible for giving Jack Palance a great year.
I also need to mention Richard Roundtree, otherwise known as Shaft, now as the police commissioner, William Smith, whose voice could crush a rock and who has appeared in several awesome crazy cheesy movies that puts him near to my heart, and finally, Ken Lerner, who I only know and love as the sleazy lawyer in The Running Man and the sleazy lawyer in Robocop 2, in this movie he plays a sleazy mayor and is good at it.
A point of grimace to be pointed out, the violence. Sure, maybe it’s a little tame by your horror-crazed-killer standards, but they really go at it with the knives in this movie. Lots of cutting. Maybe that’s a spoiler, but screw it, I’m letting you know up front here folks; throats, faces, wrists, lots of blood and cuts and stabs and dead bodies hanging from conveniently placed load bearing fixtures. Obviously that’s a part of what we’re all here for, but I still prefer an arrow through Kevin Bacon’s throatish region to all this realistic slicing hooplah. IT’S HOOPLAH I TELLS YAH! HOOPLAH!
All around a great B-movie cop-drama meets horror slasher mash up dealie. Think Friday the 13th combined with some cop movie from the seventies where a rookie cop is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and has to prove his innocence while being chased down by the very law men he swore his oath with that I should know the name of but do not know due to lack of knowledge and interest in said subject. There’s not much to be said really, its a cop who is a maniac and it develops from there. Simple but effective and and very much demonstrating the traits of the genres it’s representing. It’s fun when directors aren’t afraid to let their inspirations bleed through the canvas so to speak, or when they aren’t good enough in their skills to hide it more than they let get by. B-movies are notorious for being ripoffs of whatever was a hit at the time anyway, and it’s this kind of market that has sustained horror franchises well beyond the silver screen and into the home video department, leading to whole companies of home video only horror films. Maniac Cop is a perfect clichè popcorn at home good/bad movie to put on with friends and laugh, love, learn, scream, run, watch, and yes even maybe cry a little togethter before heading off to your local police protest rally demanding police accountability. Hell, you might as well glue the movie to your protest sign in order to draw attention to the similarities of these victims of the modern age to the other victims of the modern age. Or maybe write a letter to Obama asking him to make all cops watch this movie but to make sure to have someone explain what they are supposed to be learning from the viewing, and to not cheer in the wrong places. Then we’ll have our Utopian paradise. Maybe. Or not. Ugh, even in the future nothing works.
Bruce is shirtless in this movie by they way. Sorry, I should have just opened with that but it kinda makes anything else to be said about the movie seem kinda irrelevant. Again, sorry for the delay. SHIRTLESS!!!