Maniac Cop. Film Review


Arrow Films

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Laurene Langdon

Rating: 18

Duration 85 mins

Reviewed by Guy Adams

Good old Arrow Video, like a charity shelter for unwanted, flea-infested, funky smelling movies, they’ve spent the last few years taking the best of the worst under their wing, giving them a good wash, new suit and sending them back out in the world to stand proud.

Today’s tramp du jour is the late eighties thriller Maniac Cop. Born from an impeccable exploitation background, written and produced by Larry Cohen (The Stuff, Q: the Winged Serpent) directed by William Lustig (Maniac, Vigilante) and starring Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, you should already know if you’re going to like this movie without my needing to tell you.

Beyond its fun, eighties-entrenched atmosphere (the Jay Chattaway soundtrack, sadly only ever released on vinyl, is a joy) there’s a great deal to love. Its simple, yet effective idea perhaps seems a little less revolutionary given recent news events but it’s still accurately summed up in the movie’s opening sequence: a girl on the run from muggers sees a cop in the distance, thinks she’s safe and then discovers she’s in greater danger than ever. It’s played admirably straight and Robert Z’Dar is a perfect screen monster, a terrifying side of beef in an immaculate uniform, you have little doubt he could snap you in half the minute you crossed his path. It’s a fun, energetic 85 minutes and, frankly, far better than you might imagine it to be.

Arrow’s presentation is excellent, the movie looks and sounds a world away from my old Video Collection VHS (so many of these old pictures are entrenched in that format, it’s like listening to a knackered old cassette on CD for the first time). The disc comes with a trailer, a fun interview with star Tom Atkins (as well as an introduction that contains a massive plot spoiler which is perhaps ill-advised!) and a booklet from Calum Waddell. Highly recommended.