Maniac Cop (1988)

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This movie drove me crazy!  On one hand, I enjoyed it quite a bit as it’s a very well made horror thriller.  On the other hand, the inconsistencies had me pulling out what little hair I have on my  head and yelling, “what? how? why????”

Maniac Cop was directed by William Lustig (also known for Maniac, Maniac Cop 2 and Maniac Cop 3 among others) and he did a great job!  This is definitely a good movie with solid build-up, tense scenes and payoffs for those scenes.  There is plenty of gore for the gore fiends yet not so much as to not be able to receive that coveted “R” rating.  And of course how can you knock a movie that stars Bruce Campbell?

Given the movie’s title, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what it’s about.  Like any good slasher film, once the plot is established and we watch in delight as one victim after another is stalked and killed – primarily by strangulation, stabbing and cutting – we want to watch the good guys eventually figure out what the bad guy’s weaknesses are and stop him.  And that drove me crazy!  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Three or four people get killed in the first 10 minutes; one victim is a woman outrunning muggers only to get killed by the maniac cop.  I forgot the others.  Then we’re introduced to Jack Forrest (Campbell) who is having an affair with fellow officer Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon).  After Forrest’s wife follows her husband to a cheap motel and catches him in the act, she is found brutally murdered.  This inevitably makes Forrest a suspect for the recent killings and he and Officer Mallory go to work to figure out what’s up.

We eventually learn the history of the maniac cop; that he used to be a well liked but overzealous hard ass who went to prison for some unrevealed reason and was apparently killed.  And therein lies the rub!  What happened to him?  Is he a corpse that came back from the grave?  Is he a mad scientist’s experiment gone awry?  His makeup job is pretty good, with his face covered in scars and gashes.  But why is he impervious to bullets yet feels pain when impaled by a metal pipe?  The bullet proof vest theory is out of the question since one character shoots him in the head and he still lives.

And I don’t want to give away the ending but I’m going to have to.  He gets impaled by a spike while driving his car off a pier.  When the car is pulled up by a crane, he isn’t in it so he disappeared leaving the ending open to sequel, right?  Then, seconds later, his hand reaches out of the water.  You’re thinking, “so what?”  Let me explain why this drove me up the wall.  If he were to have just disappeared like Michael Meyers in Halloween this would be fine.  However the people were still on the scene, so ultimately what is the movie saying?  That maniac cop was too lazy to continue killing people once the credits rolled?  Do you get what I’m saying?  The characters have to believe that the bad guy is dead before the credits roll.  Otherwise the end is left completely open!  There’s no conclusion!

So, if this movie was just a cheaply made pile of crap, then I can understand this lazy plot hole.  The fact that the movie is well made and drew me in makes the plot holes that much more egregious!

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