Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

You Have The Right To Remain Silent…Forever!

Matt Cordell, the killer cop, is back from beyond the grave and out for revenge against the people who foiled his plan the first time around. Teaming up with another prolific serial killer, Cordell has the city in panic and the cops tearing their hair out. Hot on his heels is Detective Sean McKinney who enlists the help of the only other people who believe the maniac cop is still alive – the survivors of his original massacre. With the streets turning into a killing field, something must be done to stop Cordell.

 

Released two years after the original, Maniac Cop 2 could quite easily be ranked alongside the likes of Aliens, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Dark Knight. What am I talking about? That’s right, sequels that are considered better than the originals. This is a select club and it’s always open to interpretation (after all Alien and Aliens are two different types of sci-fi/horror flicks) but there can be no doubting where Maniac Cop 2 stands. The original was a low budget B-movie slasher about a killer cop which has gone on to become a cult classic. With a larger budget, Maniac Cop 2 clearly sets out trying to remake its predecessor but enhancing and improving upon it’s weaknesses in the process.

Playing less like a slasher and upping the action elements, Maniac Cop 2 comes off as more of a sophisticated picture, relying less on the exploitation elements of the original and deciding to go for broke with the action stakes. It follows the unwritten rule that sequels must be bigger and better than the original and proceeds to blow a few shotgun rounds in it in the process. The film opens right at the cliff hanger ending of the original with the events that led to the apparent death of Matt Cordell. We know he isn’t dead so it isn’t long before Cordell is back doing what he does best and that’s dishing out his brand of law and order.

The kills are bloodier and more brutal than they were in the original. There are a few terrific action set pieces on show here. There’s an extremely unsubtle The Terminator-style moment as Cordell ploughs his way through a police station, shooting anyone who gets in his way with bloodier results, particularly for one unlucky cop who is sent crashing through about four walls after getting in Cordell’s way. I’d say it was better than The Terminator shoot-out too. Car chases are staples of cop dramas so there’s a couple here, the highlight being one where Claudia Christian’s character is handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car from the outside as it charges it’s way down the street through heavy traffic. Watch the film and dare tell me you’ve never seen better in such a low budget movie. The direction by William Lustig is competently handled throughout. He trades the original’s suspense for a more traditional balls-to-the-wall sense of anything can happen at any time. He puts everything into the film to give you the illusion that the budget was way bigger than it obviously was.

The cast for this sequel is tremendous too. I like to see continuity in sequels if the story allows for it so when the survivors from the original Maniac Cop are brought back here, I was loving every minute of it. Even if they aren’t in it for very long, the additions of Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) and Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) into the mix make for a welcome enhancement to the story. With characters you already recognise, it’s a lot easier to get to know new characters since more time can be allocated to their development.

Unfortunately due to the nature of the revenge plot, both Campbell and Landon don’t last too long so it’s left to the newcomers to make an impression and that they do. Robert Davi steps into Tom Atkins’ shoes quite easily and is a worthy successor, taking command of the screen with his unmistakable presence, even if his tough-talking detective character is a little too clich├ęd. Davi’s role would be expanded further in the next sequel where the cast was less crowded and allowed him more time to shine. It’s weird to think that he was starring in Licence to Kill the year before (as one of Bond’s most memorable villains, the vile drug lord Sanchez). Michael Lerner does his authority-figure stuff to a tee. And the towering Robert Z’Dar returns as Matt Cordell, once again using his bulk and intimidating presence to instil Cordell with the utmost physical horror. Forget Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, when Cordell gets motoring, all bets are off!

 

Maniac Cop 2 is a great sequel and head-and-shoulders above the original. Bigger and better all around, it’s one of the most thrilling low budget films ever made and that’s credit to William Lustig and his cast and crew who all do impeccable jobs of bringing to life the return of the maniac cop.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

 

 

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