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Maniac Cop 2 (Review)

Maniac Cop 2

Maniac Cop 2 William Lustig
1990
Written by Larry Cohen
Directed by William Lustig

Maniac Cop 2 William Lustig
Maniac Cop is crazy. Maniac Cop 2 is crazy to the infinite power! Imagine everything from the first film, but turned up to 11. Director William Lustig said he usually has a need to top himself, and since he had done so much with Maniac Cop, he felt he just had to keep pushing for the sequel. The result is what he considers his best film, and was my favorite of the screenings. Lustig described this entry as Frankenstein meets The French Connection

William Lustig said he and stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos watched a lot of Hong Kong action cinema in Chinatown theaters, which gave them inspiration on how to handle a lot of the scenes. And with that statement, suddenly the inspiration for what happens in certain sequences is clear. It’s not a direct riff, but the manic energy and just visceralness of Hong Kong cinema is what’s used to power scenes of Maniac Cop blasting his way through a police station, or the crazy car chase on flaming rims while Susan Riley (Claudia Christian) is handcuffed to the steering wheel. There is even an extended fight sequence while Maniac Cop is on fire! This is all real, no CG or anything (though Lustig did say he used a bit of digital work on the digital print to erase wires that were now too visible, and to touch up the flames that were too dim under the restoration. But nothing major, and it doesn’t show.)
Maniac Cop 2 William Lustig
I saw Maniac Cop 2 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.

Set right after Maniac Cop yet somehow jumping from March to December (just ignore that bit!), Maniac Cop 2 begins with the ending of the original, the jumps right to a robbery in progress that the Maniac Cop stops…by shooting the store own and the cops on the scene and thus framing the robber. Maniac Cop continues on a killing spree as such, slaying cops and others take the fall, while last movie’s heroes Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) and Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) are cleared of trouble, but no one believes them when they say the Maniac Cop is still alive. Soon they are bumped off as we move to this film’s heroes, Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi being the most Robert Davi he can be) and Police Counselor Susan Riley (Claudia Christian). McKinney knows something strange is going on, and he’s one of those tough cops who’s not into things like therapy.
Maniac Cop 2 William Lustig
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

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Maniac Cop (Review)

Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop William Lustig
1988
Written by Larry Cohen
Directed by William Lustig

Maniac Cop William Lustig

You have the right to remain silent…forever.

Maniac Cop is a timely film to watch the week I saw it, as Ferguson, Missouri was having yet another night of protests and police crackdowns due to the murder of an unarmed black man by the cops. Heck, the latest round of trouble was happening while I was watching the Maniac Cop trilogy! Some of the same elements are there, people trusting the police less because of the killing(s – because there have been several unarmed black men killed by police just this year), a media firestorm, and lots of violence. Maniac Cop was made in an era before increased police militarization was normal (though elements of that filter into the sequels), otherwise we might see Robert Z’Dar running around in SWAT gear in addition to the patrol uniform. Maybe that’s something that will be present in the rumored remake.
Maniac Cop William Lustig
Maniac Cop features the twisting of a symbol of trust into an instrument of fear. The juxtaposition of the police, who protect and serve, and one of their own who has become a killing machine plays into the plot, as the media firestorm causes all sorts of tragic results. But the police not always being a symbol of order is hinted in several spots, especially a “man on the street” bit as citizens are interviewed about the Maniac Cop. A black interviewee mentions how he knows several people who were shot in the back by police. They even say cops like killing. It’s chilling how this narrative hasn’t changed in decades. Lustig frames this with elements of film noir, the cynical style fits in perfectly with the concept of police killing people and lone detectives trying to prove who the real killer is.

I saw Maniac Cop at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (yes, Maniac Cop was screened at a museum!) 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 the second 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.

Of all six films, Maniac Cop was the only one I had seen previously, approximately 20 years ago on cable. I remembered vague things about it: Bruce Campbell, gunshots doing nothing to the gigantic Maniac Cop, the cop running over people, the final stunt off the dock, and the final cliffhanger shot.
Maniac Cop William Lustig
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 21, 2014 at 7:43 am

Categories: Bad, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,