Saturday, May 7, 2016

Maniac Cop 2

You can't keep a good cop dead. Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) is back for Maniac Cop 2 (1990), and he's not only still psycho: he's a zombie. Well, he returned from the dead in the original and didn't seem to be bothered by gunshots, but now, he's all decayed and absorbing even more ridiculous amounts of punishment.

After recapping the end of Maniac Cop, Maniac Cop 2 picks up immediately from there. Officers Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) and Teresa Malloy (Laurene Landon) have been cleared of any wrongdoing, although their story about Cordell - that the framed super cop who was murdered in Sing Sing came back for revenge - is dismissed.

Naturally, Cordell is still out there, but now he's teamed up with a serial killer (Leo Rossi) for ... I don't know, some reason. Meanwhile, Det. Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) and police psychiatrist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian) pick up the trail and try to convince Commission Doyle (Michael Lerner) of Cordell's threat.

The mystery and atmosphere of the original Maniac Cop are gone, and the story is rather slim: Cordell's still doing his thing as our heroes try to stop him. Instead, the movie focuses more on pumped-up, over-the-top action scenes and stunts, and let me tell you, they are something. Early on, Cordell handcuffs Susan to the steering wheel of a car and then pushes the car downhill into traffic while she dangles outside of it, and later, he storms the police station, shooting up the place like the Terminator, and it is wild. In the climax, he's engulfed in flames and still going after people.

Maniac Cop 2 is less of a horror movie than its predecessor. More than anything else, it resembles Robocop: a violent, outrageous comic-book style splatter movie with an unstoppable title character and touches of dark humor. Cordell is still stalking the shadows, and director William Lustig limits our views of him, but we do see more of him. He's less of a slasher this time around and more of an unstoppable killing machine. You won't see him sneaking up on you, but by the time you see him, he'll be right in your face.

Writer Larry Cohen also throws in his usual dark humor and ironies. In his first return, Cordell stops a robbery at a convenience robbery, but then he kills the clerk, leaving the perp to take the fall for the murder. Even the tragic nature of Cordell the monster, brought to more prominence here than in the first movie, is recurring touch of Cohen's.

Overall, Maniac Cop has the better story and mystery, but Maniac Cop 2 is more consistently entertaining in effect. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and the action scenes are pure fun and better than those in a lot of mainstream action movies. The movies serve each other well, and once Lustig and Cohen assembled a fine cast.

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