The VHS Stack - Maniac Cop

(1988) William Lustig.

Maniac Cop (1988)Larry Cohen, the screenwriter of Maniac Cop and a frequent director of his own glib lurid scripts, has the ideal career - cranking out semi-artful, narratively whipcracked, socially conscious, B-movie genre pictures and TV shows, with a positivity of creative control, attracting a random stock of solid C-list actors (but A-list in the grindhouse), with minimal sacrifice to artistic code. Maniac Cop is a hulking uniformed police officer in the old-timey tunic and belt who stalks the empty, sinister late-80s Manhattan streets, killing innocent civilians with a saber drawn from his nightstick. The Larry Cohen punchline antics begin when a young girl flees muggers (down Prince Street, right outside the old Rocks In Yer Head record shop), and the girl encounters a cop but the cop senselessly murders her in Washington Square Park as the muggers hide and watch. After a spree of similar attacks on everyday citizens, the public no longer trusts the men in blue, and old ladies are soon blowing away traffic officers. Maniac Cop causes social distortion in his vengeance against the City. Instead of directly attacking the mayor & police commissioner (who eventually get thrashed by the saber) he starts at the pedestrian level, the most trustworthy of urban caste. A welcome new twist in the vigilante movie, a genre that works well in reference to its own immediate time and place. That is why The Brave One sucks, and Observe & Report is inspired.

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