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October Horror Marathon Movie 3: Maniac Cop 2 (1990)



Dir: William Lustig, Stars: Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Robert Z’Dar

Notes: Watched this one on Hulu so I couldn’t get as many screencaps. I’m also switching up the title formatting a bit so I can stop pretending I’m watching one of these every day. My goal is to mainline 5-6 movies a weekend and see how close I get to 31 before the end of the month.

Maniac Cop 2 picks up where the first one left off, as the opening scene straight up reuses the footage from the climax of the first film as a way to quickly remind everyone what brought about the second “death” of the villain Matt Cordell. I’m not against reusing footage, but it’s done again later in the film, playing the exact same “Cordell goes to prison” flashback as in the first movie but without the good music and visual effects that made it effective there. It feels like they needed to pad the running time by a few minutes so they threw that in.

You know what else they threw in to pad the time? Strippers. Maniac Cop was relatively sober, for a movie about an undead cop wantonly murdering people, but 2 takes that same gritty vibe and just sleazes it up, throwing in an entire subplot that’s really only there so you can have a few women take their tops off and narrowly escape murder (or not). The secondary villain, a creepy military-surplus-jacket-wearing sleazebag is an absolute waste of space. He exists to do two things: choke women and, somehow, become the “monster-whisperer”, delivering all of the exposition related to the motives of the Maniac Cop.

The leads from the first film are quickly and unceremoniously replaced. Bruce Campbell’s complete lack of screentime makes me wonder if he wanted more money than was in the direct-to-video budget, or if he had something better to do. The replacements aren’t much of a downgrade, though. Robert Davi doesn’t really bring anything to the table as the grizzled old cop who serves as the “good” equivalent of Z’Dar’s loose cannon, but Claudia Christian is pretty great as an NYPD psychologist. She does all the heavy lifting in the film as far as being a relatable protagonist goes, and gets the second best action sequence in the movie when she’s handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car that inexplicably speeds away, continuing to accelerate through several scrapes and near-crashes.



Turns out, none of that matters. The end of Maniac Cop 2 is so incredible that it justifies every frame that came before it. The Maniac Cop, on fire, murdering every convict who wronged him and a bunch more besides before falling into a bus and exploding was immediately one of the most iconic horror movie endings I’ve ever seen. It’s. So. Good. It’s everything you want out of a horror movie. Practical effects are taken to an extreme as a good half dozen stuntmen are set on fire. Whoever’s in the Z’Dar costume has amazing stamina, as they hold on several long shots of him walking around slowly while his clothes burn, with no obvious cuts. My hat’s off to everyone involved.

Even if you don’t want to watch the whole movie (in the end, it’s alright), do yourself a favor and watch the ending on youtube.

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