Maniac Cop (1988)



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!

Blackenstein (1973)



Please realize that my giving Blackenstein (a.k.a. Black Frankenstein) a grade of three out of four iron crosses is more of a reflection of my horrible taste in films, than of the film’s actual quality. The customary complaints of budgetary restraints, poor acting, bad dialogue, plot holes, unexplained character motivation and technical issues don’t even begin to describe how bad this movie is.  But one thing that really surprised me was how much gore it had!  I thought it was going to be tame like Blacula, which is a PG rated American International release, but, oh no!  “The monster” goes around ripping out organs and pulling off limbs, and there is some full frontal nudity.  So the film definitely earned its R rating.

The plot begins when a cute little doctor/nurse/whatever named Winnifred (Ivory Stone) begins assisting Dr. Stein (John Hart) in his makeshift mad scientist lab, full of cheap props, Tesla coils and things that create lightning for no reason.  Yet this is supposed to be his “state of the art” medical facility where he uses “experimental” techniques to help people.  Mind you, he IS a good guy and not a mad scientist; he apparently is actually helping his two patients, a 90 year old woman who wants to maintain a youthful appearance and a Russian amputee to whom he attached new limbs.

Anyway Winnifred tells him about her lover/fiance (we talked through that part so I didn’t get what the official title was), Eddie (Joe De Sue), who lost his arms and legs in Vietnam.  Stein agrees to try an experimental procedure to give him new limbs from recently deceased corpses.  Everything would have gone according to plan if not for Stein’s other assistant, Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson), who, out of desire and jealousy, screwed with the DNA formula and, as a result, turned Eddie into a monster that goes around killing people.

Uh, okay so, plot holes?  They keep Eddie locked up, I think?  Yet he manages to make nightly rendezvous where he finds random victims (and one not so random bigoted male nurse!).  They are all unmotivated and completely unnatural.  His victims incude a middle aged couple and their dog, the girl who left her date’s presence after he was too forward with her, the couple outside the nightclub and so on and so forth.

Oh yeah!  I should mention that there is a pointless nightclub scene.  You could argue that director William Levey was establishing locale but, for some reason we see a comedian Andy C perform minutes of his routine and a nightclub singer Carmello di Milo sing a number or two.  These are entertaining scenes for what they are, but they disrupt the flow of the film.  Not that this film has much flow, but hey!

Also, I wasn’t going to bitch about this too about continuity, but where the hell did he get that suit from?  First he’s in his prison – right, the doctor and nurse, for some reason keep their patient in a prison like cage – where he emerges wearing a suit!  A fucking suit!  I suppose they’re trying to keep with the Karloff’s monster but you know, they still didn’t answer where he got a suit from.  Oh and bullets don’t harm “the monster” but really sharp k-9s do, hint, hint….

The acting is mostly crap although there wasn’t much to work with.  John Hart and Ivory Stone do okay at their on dimensional parts but Roosevelt Jackson is hilariously bad!  His character stares and ogles his love interest with no subtlety at all!  The movie tries to show that he has romantic feelings for Winnifred, but he stares at her like a rapist, and I don’t think that was intentional.  Okay, later he does try to rape her, but I don’t think the director was employing the subtle technique of foreshadow.  In fact I’d say I don’t think he was thinking anything when he made Blackenstein aside from “yerp, gotta kill people and uh, have the monster walk and stuff and like, uhh…”