Maniac Cop is a 1988 American action slasher film directed by William Lustig and written by Larry Cohen.

The film was released on May 13, 1988, and grossed $671,382 from a budget of $1,100,000. Despite negative reviews on release, Maniac Cop has become a cult film. It was followed by two sequels, Maniac Cop 2 (1990) and Badge of Silence (1993). A remake is in the works.


In New York City, a waitress named Cassie Philips is on her way home from work and is assaulted by two teenage muggers and seeks aid from a police officer, who picks her up by her neck and breaks it by squeezing it. Over the next two nights, this "Maniac Cop" commits two more murders, prompting Lieutenant Frank McCrae, who was told by his superiors to suppress eyewitness accounts that the killer was wearing a police uniform, to pass on information to a journalist in an attempt to warn and protect civilians. Unfortunately, this causes panic and dissent among the city and results in an innocent patrolmen being shot to death and many more avoided on the streets by paranoid people.

Ellen Forrest, a paranoid woman (who also read a newspaper clipping about a fourth murder by the Maniac Cop) who suspects that her husband Jack may be the Maniac Cop, follows him to a motel, where she catches him in bed with a fellow officer, Theresa Mallory. Distraught, Ellen runs out of the hotel and is grabbed by the Maniac Cop, who pulls her into a van and kills her (off-screen). Her body is then discovered by a motel maid the following morning. Jack is arrested under suspicion of murder, but McCrae believes Jack has been framed. McCrae gets Jack to tell him about his relationship with Mallory, who is attacked by the Maniac Cop while working undercover as a prostitute. Mallory and McCrae fight off the killer, who is deathly cold even through his gloves and does not appear to breathe. Even though they shoot him several times, the killer appeared completely unfazed.

Mallory hides out in McCrae's apartment while he investigates Sally Noland, the only person Mallory told about her affair. McCrae follows Noland to a warehouse, where she meets with the Maniac Cop and refers to him as "Matt". Returning to police headquarters, McCrae discovers files on Matthew Cordell, a fellow officer who was imprisoned in Sing Sing for police brutality and closing in on corruption in city hall (having killed at least five criminals prior). While McCrae is looking into his past. Meanwhile Cordell is having a flashback about being killed in Sing Sing by three inmates there.

When McCrae and Mallory visit Jack, they tell him that they think Cordell is the real killer and plan to visit the chief medical examiner at Sing Sing. McCrae leaves to go to the clerical room, and he is attacked by Sally, who is in hysterics, convinced that Cordell is going to turn on her. After finding a policeman hanging in a noose, Sally is grabbed by Cordell and beaten to death. Hearing the commotion, Jack and Mallory break out of the interrogation room and find the corpses of six more officers strewn about the halls of the building (also an additional two are mentioned to have been killed in a bonus scene). Jack tells Mallory to go to McCrae's car while he searches for Cordell, who disappears after throwing McCrae out a window, killing him. Jack, who looks like the one responsible for the carnage to responding officers, flees with Mallory.

The two go to see Sing Sing's medical examiner, who admits that while he was preparing to autopsy Cordell, the officer showed faint signs of life. The examiner secretly released Cordell into Sally's care, convinced he was completely brain dead. During the 50th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, Jack waits outside as Mallory warns Commissioner Pike and Captain Ripley (who were both involved in Cordell's framing) about Cordell, but the two refuse to believe her and have her arrested. Cordell stabs Pike and Ripley to death, then targets Mallory, killing the policeman Fowler left to guard her. Mallory escapes through a window, while Jack is arrested and placed in a van, which Cordell hijacks.

Mallory and officer Bremmur chase the van, which Cordell takes to his warehouse hideout, running over the watchman on the way in. Cordell attacks Mallory and Jack, kills Bremmur, and tries to escape in the van when backup arrives. Jacks clings to the side of the van and fights for control of it, distracting Cordell and causing him to drive into a suspended pipe, which impales him. Cordell loses control of the vehicle, which crashes into the river, and sinks. The van is fished out, and, as it is searched, Cordell's hand rises out of the water, completely unnoticed. Everyone then realizes that Jack Forrest didn't commit the murders.

In the extended cut, corrupt mayor Jerry Killium relaxes in his office, content Cordell is gone. After Killium's assistant leaves, Cordell, who was hiding behind a curtain, murders the mayor offscreen as the credits roll.

List of deathsEdit

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Cassie Philips Lifted/neck snapped Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Sam Face/throat slit with baton sword, thrown as car windshield Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Musician Drowned in wet cement Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Officer Davis Shot in forehead through car window with handgun Woman Yes Accident
United Nations Delegate Killed Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No Mentioned
Ellen Forrest Throat slit with baton sword Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Hung from light fixture in belt noose Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Officer Sally Noland Face repeatedly slammed against wall Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Police Officer Face slammed against metal bars Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Strangled with handcuffs Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Hung from ceiling in belt noose Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Killed Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Killed Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Police Officer Killed Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No
Detective Lieutenant Frank McCrac Thrown through 6th floor window/lands on taxicab Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Commissioner Pike Chest impaled with baton sword Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Captain Ripley Chest impaled twice with baton sword Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Officer Fowler Stomach impaled with baton sword Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Watchman Hit with police van Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Officer Bremmer Shot in chest with shotgun Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell Yes
Mayor Jerry Killium Impaled with baton sword Officer Matthew ´´Matt´´ Cordell No Revenge for framing him of a crime he didn't commit and having him sent to prison

Cast Edit

  • Bruce Campbell as Officer Jack W. Forrest Jr.
  • Thomas Atkin as Detective Lieutenant Frank McCrae
  • Laurence Landon as Officer Theresa Mallory
  • Richard Rountree as Commissioner Pike
  • William Smith as Captain Ripley
  • Robert Z'Darsky as Officer Matthew "Matt" Cordell
  • Nina Arvesen as Regina Shepard
  • Sheree North as Officer Sally Noland
  • Victoria Catlin as Ellen Forrest
  • Ron Holstrom (uncredited) as Building Superintendent
  • William Lustig makes a cameo appearance as a Motel Manager
  • Sam Raimi as "Parade Reporter".

Release Edit

Maniac Cop was released May 13, 1988. It played in 50 theaters and had a U.S. gross of $671,382.

Home media Edit

The film was first released on DVD on April 8, 1998, by Elite Entertainment and included a commentary by director William Lustig, writer Larry Cohen, star Bruce Campbell, and composer Jay Chattaway as well as a trailer and deleted scenes. Later, on November 14, 2006, a "special edition" DVD was released by Synapse Films. This version includes the film restored and re-mastered with a DTS soundtrack. In October 2011, Synapse Films released a Blu-ray edition of the film.

Reception Edit

Rotten Tomatoes reports that 46% of 13 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5/10. The film was mostly panned by critics at the time of its release. Variety called it a "disappointing thriller that wastes an oddball premise". Caryn James of The New York Times called it an amateurish film with stiff acting and dialogue. Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times wrote that film quickly becomes an uninteresting Friday the 13th clone. Time Out London criticized the film as formulaic and said that it might have been better had writer-producer Cohen directed it himself. Richard Harrington of The Washington Post called the script "undernourished and obvious".

Reviewing the Blu-ray release, J. Hurtado of Twitch Film wrote that despite its faults, Maniac Cop deserves mention as one of the last grindhouse films set in New York City. Tom Becker of DVD Verdict called it "a fun, mindless gorefest". Bill Gibron of DVD Talk rated it 4.5/5 stars and called it "one of the era's finest forgotten gems", deserving of a critical reappraisal. Noel Murray of The A.V. Club rated it B- and called it a goofy film that was always meant to inhabit the shelves of independent video rental stores. Gareth Jones of Dread Central rated it four out of five stars and called it a cult film that is "amongst the cream of the crop of late-eighties low-budget horror". Bloody Disgusting rated it five out of ten stars and questioned why the film has a cult following when it has a poor script and direction, uneven tone, and boring kills.

Campbell said of the film that it was "not a good movie" when viewed in hindsight, but it initially struck him as "perfectly legit."

Legacy Edit

Sequels Edit

The film was followed by two sequels, Maniac Cop 2 in 1990, and Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence in 1993.

External Links Edit

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