Dir. William Lustig (1990)
The Maniac Cop teams up with a serial killer who is basically Zach Galifianakis to kill "criminals". Hilarity ensues.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
To continue the tradition of sequels that probably shouldn't have happened, Maniac Cop 2 opens with the ending of Maniac Cop. Bruce Campbell, hanging onto the paddy wagon as the aforementioned Maniac Cop drives it off the pier. To continue even more sequel tradition, this one turns the title character into a weird antihero, utilizing his serious murder skills to murder people who deserve it a bit more than the ones he killed in the first flick, at least from a proto-MRA perspective. Another joint production of William Lustig, Larry Cohen, and Bruce Campbell, I knew when starting the film exactly what I was in store for: a film showing the ugly side of pre-Guiliani New York.
Do you like my teefs!?
It gets even uglier with the sudden murder of Bruce Campbell's character Jack Forrest (spoiler alert), which paves the way for new leading man, Detective Sean McKinney (the always stellar character actor that you've seen a billion times before but never learned his name, Robert Davi). The description that the blind newspaper man gives of touching the Maniac Cop, relating it to his time in World War II when he was buried beneath freezing bodies, is delightfully creepy and sets the stage for the rest of this thrill ride. There's also a great scene where the lead actress is handcuffed to the steering wheel outside of a runaway car, which was actually a really cool stunt I've never seen done before.
The tagline for the film is "You have the right to remain silent forever... again!" I mean, come on... They didn't even pretend that this was going to be anything other than what it was. Look, when you watch enough horror movies you see a lot of crap, and anybody reading this knows that. The hit-to-miss ratio on horror movies is even lower than low-budget action movies. For every Exorcist or Halloween you have 10,000 wannabes by people with little to no talent and less budget. One of the primary reasons why I love horror movies is because, even in the worst cases, these movies are almost always entertaining, even if its just to laugh at the ineptitude of the filmmakers or actors. It's always intriguing when you get a movie like this, made by competent filmmakers and written by capable screenwriters. What you get is an air of skill and proficiency that is sorely lacking in 99% of horror films. That's what this, and its predecessor, has, and it's a nice change from all of the rest. Even the bit parts are decent actors, or at least good enough to not take you completely out of the film. Plus, the Maniac Cop has a specially fashioned police baton/knife. And he's ugly to boot.
A face only a mother and another serial killer could love.
The movie isn't scary, much like its predecessor, but it's not really supposed to be. As Lustig himself says, he "makes movies for the dishwashers, the messengers." It's not high art, it's not pretentious. It's dirty, it's action-filled... it's Michael Bay for horror fans. The great thing about horror fans is that this is not just acceptable, it's expected. How many times have you heard people bash Michael Bay for being "nothing more than explosions?" But, realistically, what else do you expect when walking into a Bay/Bruckheimer flick? If you're not there for the explosions, what the actual fuck are you there to see? Misogyny? I mean sure, you'll get that too, but that's only half the fun! At the end of the day, horror movies are there to be the fun escape from the mundane, bullshit reality of our everyday lives. Lustig and Cohen understand that, and that's why they make movies like this.
Who this movie is for: 80's horror fans (even though it's 1990); Sequel lovers; People who wished Michael Bay had focused on horror
Bottom Line: It's Larry Cohen and William Lustig. You know what kind of movie you're going to see when their name is attached, and if that's your thing, this is a good one for you. If you liked Maniac Cop, you'll probably like Maniac Cop 2. Maniac Cop was better than Maniac Cop 2, cuz that's the way things usually go. But at the end of the day, it's gritty, decent, and filled with enough action that it's an enjoyable ride even if it's not your thing.