Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop ★★★

23 of 33 for HoopTober 6/6/6

Larry Cohen's sophisticated commentary binds this to reality, preventing it from just being sub-standard New York sleaze. Horror as verisimilitude: police brutality, distrust of power, bureaucracy, and lack of police accountability. Man-on-the-street interviews give voices to the working class, the impoverished, minorities. Cops killing unarmed citizens isn't new, it's an everyday occurrence. It's still an everyday occurrence. When two officers pin an impossible crime on two Puerto Ricans, it's stirring but not surprising. "Cops like killing, that's why they're cops." proclaims one interviewee. Even the cop you're supposed to root for, Bruce Campbell 's Jack Forrest, is sexually unfaithful. Those first 30 minutes are a perfect synthesis of William Lustig's aestheticised vulgarity and Larry Cohen's incisive commentary, but as it progresses ⁠— indulging more in its slasher and thriller modes ⁠— the anger and urban paranoia eventually melt into the background. Flabby subplots take up valuable oxygen like Forrest's relationship. The reveal of the titular Cop's motivations, and in turn his suggestively supernatural nature, slightly undoes the realism of its first act, muddying everything more. More The Terminator or Friday the 13th than one hopes initially. That climactic stunt-work is marvelous though.

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