Opening with a recap of the first Maniac Cop, we're treated to what looked a truly underwhelming TV movie style ending. The mightily chinned Robert Z'Dar, most famous perhaps for appearing as 'Conan' in "Tango and Cash", was clearly a bad, bad man and it was up to Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon to stop him, and stop him they did.
Or did they? Fortunately not, because there are sequels to be fashioned from the scraps of what has gone before.
The slick dark streets of New York provide a shimmering backdrop to this violent revenge caper. As with four out of five eighties flicks, it features a convenience store hold up. Why do people bother opening them? I cannot think of many more hazardous movieland professions, besides perhaps low-level thug.
Matt Cordell (Z'Dar) is an undead cop who has hauled his zombie corpse from the watery grave of the first film for another bout of cop killing. But what makes the Maniac Cop so nutty anyway? Well, his is a unique vision of law and order. He kills the innocent and lets the crooks go free. So perhaps being a criminal in the world of the Maniac Cop isn't so dangerous.
One time super-cop Cordell, you see, was stitched up good and proper, and wrongfully imprisoned by corrupt city officals. Brutally murdered during an ill-advised shower in the big house as revenge for locking up so many crooks, he now seeks revenge of his own on the fat cats down at city hall. All from beyond the grave, naturally.
It's a decent B-movie set up, yet Bruce Campbell's early death really puts a crimp on this film's potential. My hopes that he might at least add some cult value and humour really took a knocking, and I feared the worst.
And initially, I was right to.
Even for a low budget slasher there's scarcely any real gore of note. The death sequences are straightforward and brief - a promising "chainsaw wielding woman vs zombie cop" fight is squandered in extraordinarily poor fashion - and there's barely any tension or build up to speak of. A guy is getting his car towed, an arguement begins, WHAM! Maniac Cop kills the normal cop, and the scene is complete in under a minute.
Strangely, the aforementioned 'normal' cops are just as bloodthirsty. Innocent cab drivers are happily left to die at Cordell's hands as one of the officers rushes to escape (what happened to protecting and serving?) and the criminals that the Maniac Cop lends a helping hand to invariably end up getting wrongfully accused of his crimes despite no 'evidence' beyond being at the scene - "I don't believe your story about a big lunatic zombie cop doing it, despite everything that happened in the first film!".
Expectations are bound to be low for a film like this, but it does have enough low-budget acting talent to justify some hope. There are some cameos to look out for such as Danny Trejo, who has a non-speaking part as some cell furniture.
One plus side - you get to see some strippers take their kit off around the 38 minute mark. Things were looking up. I was even more delighted in the next scene, in which we are invited to join the top-of-the-billing stripper back at her place after the show. There are wigs and children's dolls to be spotted - a clear nod to director William Lustig's earlier (and superior) work in the field of the Maniac.
And it is from this point onwards that things get good. Perhaps spurred on by memories of glory days past, we are introduced to an intriguing character in the form of Turkell (Leo Rossi) a strangler-at-large, who befriends Cordell and even manages to get him to chill out back at his pad (not gay). These scenes provide not only the most comedy, but also the most interesting ideas. What do two loonies, well one loony and one zombie, say to each other? Happily, the film takes a definite upturn and the plot gets going. Simply having someone to cheer for makes it all worthwhile, and they don't come much more cheer-worthy than bosom buddies Turkell and Cordell, a pair just crying out for a cartoon spinoff a la Laurel and Hardy.
Other higlights include a blatant, but entirely justified, rip-off of the Terminator's infamous cop shop rampage, and some truly impressive stuntwork involving a firey Cordell.
Other lowlights, though, include one of the very worst raps ever recorded- "Maniac Cop Rap" - which runs over the end credits. It's thanks to Jay Cattaway, whose work we also 'enjoyed' in "Maniac" (starring Joe Spinell, to whom this film is dedicated) that we hear lines such as "He's big and ugly with a busted jaw, you know you're dealing with the WRONG arm of the law"
Speaking of Maniacs, Lustig clearly has a thing for them. One third of all films he has directed feature that word in the title, and he also made "Far Out Man" which falls just three letters shy.