Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence
Written by Larry Cohen
Directed by William Lustig and Joel Soisson
The final chapter of the Maniac Cop trilogy is a disappointing finale that fails to live up to the standards of the prior two films, but does sort of make up for it with the last reel and the simply crazy stunts. While Maniac Cop 2 was Frankenstein meets The French Connection, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence is Bride of Frankenstein meets The French Connection!
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence had a lot of problems getting made. The original script from Larry Cohen focused on Santería rituals and had a black detective lead character. Funding for the film require presale rights money from Japanese distributors, who were very happy with the prior two entries and were mysteriously dragging their feet on this installment, but wouldn’t give the exact reason. When the suggest was made to bring back white actor Robert Davi, suddenly the Japanese distributor was on board for funding. So…yeah. That meant the script had to be heavily rewritten to switch out the character, thus changing some supporting characters. They started shooting with only 70 pages of script (which is ~70 minutes of film, but probably less), not enough for a full feature. The producers were frantically trying to add pages as production went on, and an increasingly distracted and annoyed William Lustig (who was also working on a different film as producer at the same time) was losing interest in Maniac Cop 3. This eventually lead to him leaving production and Joel Soisson stepping in to film the scenes needed to pad out the running time. Which means the Frankenstein theme extends to the film itself!
The padding is obvious in a few cases, scenes seem to go nowhere or go on far longer than they should, and a few others are repetitive and just repeat the same information or give us extra evidence certain people are jerks. It becomes a distracting mess, and Maniac Cop spends most of his time hanging around a hospital killing whoever stands in the way of saving his promised bride, another cop who was shot in the line of duty. She’s supposed to be resurrected as his bride, but he keeps characters from pulling the plug on her, which is sort of weird. Maybe the Santería priest who brought Maniac Cop back from the dead needed some time to recharge?
I saw Maniac Cop 3 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in their Bay Area Now 7 program, under the Invasion of the Cinemaniacs! heading, specifically the part curated by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks of Midnite for Maniacs, who hosted two William Lustig triple features (a sextuple feature?) spread across two days. All three Maniac Cop films screened on Saturday night, while Friday featured Maniac, Vigilante, and Hit List. William Lustig returned for the second night of screenings and gave some more entertaining Q and As, some of which is peppered into the Maniac Cop reviews.
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence again takes place soon after the prior entry. The dirt is barely shoveled into Matt Cordell grave before he’s raised again by a Santería priest, who needs the Maniac Cop for “dark days” ahead. What exactly those dark days are, we will never know, because nothing like that happens.
Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi)’s friend Officer Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) is involved in a shooting, where she’s framed as a murdering cop by unscrupulous roving freelance news cameramen. Sullivan is in the hospital brain dead, kept alive by machines despite the efforts of an arrogant brain surgeon (who is later wacked) and Dr. Susan Fowler (Caitlin Dulany), aka the incredibly hot doctor love interest for the detective.
Maniac Cop stalks the hospital because Sullivan is his promised bride, but because of reasons we don’t need to know about, it takes time for that promise to happen, and Maniac Cop kills off some random characters in the meanwhile. Because Maniac Cop is just sitting around waiting, this makes things about as interesting as a random slasher taking place in a hospital. Where is the history of quasi-political statements? Sorry, got to kill some arrogant guy for being arrogant.
We get more stock footage of how Maniac Cop Matt Cordell was made, the exact same stock footage from Maniac Cop used in Maniac Cop 2. It’s like seeing an old friend…unless you’re watching all three films in a row in the theater, in which case it’s deja vu.
Now, things meet their predictable end, with Maniac Cop burning alive in a church and all is good, Detective McKinney and Dr. Fowler escaping in an old school ambulance. Until… Let’s just say the audience cheered, and one of the most spectacularly ridiculous chase sequences happened. It was awesome, it’s kept being awesome, and it ended with an awesome coda. Worth working through Maniac Cop 3 for this sequence alone.
Special shoutout to Robert Forster as a doctor who takes far too many x-rays, and Grand L. Bush as one of Detective McKinney’s friends (both Bush and Davi played characters named Agent Johnson in Die Hard) Fun times for all.
In closing, I’d like to thank the YBCA, Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, and William Lustig for this awesome marathon. Also special thanks for the free DVD of Heroin Busters I scored upon exit (everyone who stayed to the end of Maniac Cop 3 got a prize). Until next time there is a crazy marathon that sees me traveling late night Muni owl buses home until 3am!
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