9/28/08

He's a Maniac, A Maniac on the Force and He's Killin' like He's Never Killed Before.

There are a lot of Bruces I admire. Bruce Lee. Bruce McCullough. Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Wayne. Cousin Brucie. Robert The Bruce. Bruce Willis. You get the point. There's a bunch of guys named Bruce, but there's one Bruce who's special to just about everyone that likes cult or horror films. That man is none other than Bruce Campbell, the Olivier of B-Movies. Apart from starring in the Evil Deads and one of my favorite TV shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Come on give the Sorbo some love.), he's also written some great books and made some commercials that almost changed the scent of my underarms (Then I remembered that Old Spice smells like old guys and child molesters). On October 31st, in a limited release, his film My Name is Bruce will finally see the light of day. In it he will be playing himself (something Bruce does exceedingly well), but he's mistaken for his alter ego "Ash" and forced to fight an ancient evil. Now, I'm not sure what films those people have been watching. While Ash generally comes out on top, he fucks up everything in his path to get there.

However for the moment, let's take a trip down memory lane. It's 1988 and coming off his second turn as Ashley "Ash" J. Williams, Bruce joins the cast of a film featuring another cult icon, Robert Z'Dar. We're lucky the world didn't end that day. The day that chins collided.

Maniac Cop (1988) starring Tom Atkins, Robert Z'Dar, ad Bruce Campbell. Directed by William Lustig.

William Lustig, not satisfied to just have crafted a Maniac in his 1980 movie, helmed this project about law and order slasher style on the mean streets of New York City. When innocent people around the city begin to get knocked off by a man in a policeman's uniform, Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree, he's one bad ---shut your mouth-- I'm just talkin about Richard Roundtree!) wants answers, and Detective Frank McCrae (Atkins) is out to get them. However, Pike doesn't like McCrae's assertion that a killer may well be on the force and tells him to put a lid on it. McCrae, being the stereotypical loose cannon, has other plans and leaks his ideas to TV reporter Regina. He asks her to run with the story and make it "bigger than AIDS". I shit you not folks; that's the line.

Once the story hits, paranoia breaks out in the city causing one lady to shoot and kill an officer who was just trying to help with her stalled out car. Meanwhile Officer Jack Forrest (Campbell) is just getting ready for his night shift, and with his nagging wife and rocky marriage, he's more than ready to get going. After he leaves, his wife gets a mysterious call accusing Jack of being the Maniac Cop. She leaves the apartment and follows Jack only to find him cheating on her. She brandishes a gun at the philanderer and his date, but storms out of the hotel where she found them only to get snatched off the street. The next morning her body is found in the room Jack had rented the night before. The city finally have a suspect in poor old Jack. The lesson here folks is don't fool around on your wife. She will nearly shoot you, and then get killed in a frame up job just to spite you. Women, can't live with them, can get falsely accused of multiple homicides without them.

Jack gets thrown in the slammer, but he won't give up the name of his mistress and alibi. Turns out the mistress, Theresa, is an undercover cop working the vice beat. The Maniac Cop knows all about her and comes after her while she's "working the streets". After unloading her gun into the monster fuzz, she escapes with the help of the well timed Detective McCrae. Theresa helps McCrae come up with who might know about her and Jack, and all the signs lead to crippled records clerk Sally Noland. McCrae follows Sally down to an abandoned warehouse where he overhears he talking to the killer and calling him "Matt". From there McCrae unravels the mystery of the Maniac Cop's identity, but can he save Jack, and himself, before the Maniac Cop's reign of terror continues, and the bodies of good cops start stacking up.

The film is pretty entertaining, and one of the things that stands out, which is always the case with movies like this of this era or before, is how much of a character New York City was. This is still the New York of grime and sleaze before it got made over as a Disney-fied wonderland. The plot is pretty solid, and everything about works right up until the end which feels unfinished (although it picks right back up there with Maniac Cop II). Campbell and Atkins both turn in fine performances, and Robert "The Chin" Z'Dar is menacing in that Frankenstein's monster kind of way as the titular cop. The movie suffers in it's special effects, or lack thereof. The murders are fairly standard affairs, and when a body is thrown out a window, it is so atrociously bad in its lack of even trying to pass for the actor it's supposed to be. If you're a fan of '80's horror, then it's a must to check out. If you're a fan of Bruce Campbell, well, while seeing him all young and slender is fun, Bruce is relegated to the supporting cast until the last 30 minutes or so of the film. So check it out, Moonies, and feel a tad more nervous the next time you get pulled over for speeding.

Bug Rating

Don't forget to stay tuned tomorrow for the second installment in The LBL's 3 week series Kill Quentin. Until then Moonies!


2 comments:

  1. Nice Review!
    I haven't seen this film in ages - I think it just may be time to wipe the dust off of the box :-)

    How are the sequels? (I've only seen the 1st one - as I said, years ago)

    By the Way - Hercules (and Xena) were excellent shows! :-)

    Also, check out the USA Network Series Burn Notice - that also stars Campbell :-)

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  2. I haven't had a chance to see Burn Notice, bu I hear it's very good. As far as the sequels they're uneven at best. Robert Forster of 70's flicks and Jackie Brown fame stars in the third in the series.

    as an aside I recently saw that the studio behind Xena and Herc is baout to make a new show based on the fantasy books of Terry Goodkind.

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