Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Review #1,252: 'Maniac Cop 2' (1990)

Picking up immediately where the events of the first film left us, Maniac Cop 2 is one of those rare examples of a sequel surpassing its predecessor in almost every way. Of course, this is hardly The Godfather Part II or Toy Story 2, but, with an increased budget and B-movie maestro Larry Cohen back on writing duties, director William Lustig pulls out all the stops to deliver a hugely entertaining, if formulaic, slasher follow-up. Jack (Bruce Campbell) and Teresa (Laurene Landon) are also back, although they don't last very long, as we are replayed the climax of Maniac Cop, where the seemingly bullet-proof psychopathic ex-cop Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) was last seen in the driver's seat of a van heading straight into the sea.

Naturally, Cordell's body is nowhere to be found and he is soon spreading terror once again across New York City, gunning down an innocent convenience store clerk who was in the process of being robbed. Deputy Police Commissioner Edward Doyle (Michael Lerner) doesn't believe Jack and Teresa's wild claims of the disgraced and heavily-scarred former officer returning from the dead, until they are both brutally murdered and the body count starts to rise once again. Enter tough, chain-smoking detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi), who is currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation by Susan Riley (Claudia Christian) following the suspicious death of a criminal he was hunting. Meanwhile, serial killer Steven Turkell (Leo Rossi) is murdering strippers. His path soon crosses with the vengeful Cordell, and the two become unlikely roommates.

Maniac Cop 2 offers little in the way of originality. If you've ever seen a slasher film, then you'll likely be able to guess most of what happens next in the story, although it does throw in the surprise of killing off its previous two main characters without batting an eyelid. What it does offer, however, is a number of memorable set-pieces, including a woman handcuffed to the wheel of a moving car whilst she is outside of it, and a pretty astonishing climax involving a prison rampage and a full body burn, which looks as though it must have been tricky to film. Larry Cohen also writes the characters with his trademark quirkiness, with Lerner in particular appearing to be having a blast, and Davi providing a more compelling leading man than Campbell. There is still no explanation to what exactly granted Cordell his superhuman powers, but we are given more insight into his background, despite his rather odd friendship with a scumbag you expect to see hacked apart within seconds of appearing on screen. Maniac Cop 2 offers way more than is expected of a sequel to an 80's slasher.

Directed by: William Lustig
Starring: Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Robert Z'Dar
Country: USA

Rating: ***

Tom Gillespie

Maniac Cop 2 (1990) on IMDb

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