title: MANIAC COP
cast: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Sheree North, William Smith
Director William Lustig makes horror and action flicks with a murky, shadowy Film Noir vibe where the night is a character in itself: and not too friendly. Centering on a killer cop, faceless through most of the film, the first half is a mystery/thriller, making every policeman, including tough and growling William Smith, a possible suspect. Tom Atkins serves as the thankless investigator, sure an actual police officer, and not an impersonator, is on the loose. Bruce Campbell is a beat cop and cheating husband both, making him a crooked kind of hero only writer/producer Larry Cohen could create. Most of the bloody fun is the Maniac Cop going from victim to victim. And he could be a zombie, or something otherworldly, because even bullets can’t do the trick. Once the killer's identity is revealed, followed by flashbacks and a b-story about his crippled lover (Sheree North), the action subsides into a much slower, less involving pace. Yet it’s all original throughout: leading to a somewhat overlong car chase, and then a battle with Campbell versus the Maniac Cop. And once his grotesque face is revealed, things rush to a predictable conclusion. But despite the sporadic flaws, it's an action/horror that always keeps the beat.