Maniac Cop 2 is the best of William Lustig’s trilogy and is actually what he considers his best film to be. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it is everything it needs to be: more violent, more sleazy, more nasty than the first without going overboard the way the third did.
At its heart, Maniac Cop 2 is a combination of zombie and slasher film. Officer Matt Cordell is an undead disgraced cop who has come back to humiliate the police force and local New York City government after he is murdered while wrongfully held in prison due to the machinations of corrupt local officials. To do this, he creates panic by killing the innocent and letting criminals go, all while still wearing his uniform. In the first film, he scared the populace into distrusting the police. In the second, he openly hunts his chosen targets, including the heroes who bested him the first time around.
In fact, not only does he hunt them, he bests them. This is a movie where Cordell’s plan works out exactly as he wants. By the end, his revenge is complete, and he can rest in peace…or will he? Maniac Cop 3 says no, but in that one he’s purposefully recalled via voodoo. But enough about that movie, what is it that makes Maniac Cop 2 a solid film?
First, Robert Z’Dar, the man playing Matt Cordell, is huge and more scarred up than ever in this movie. He is massively physically imposing over the other actors, and the sound alone of him spinning his baton effortlessly as he stalks the night is intimidating. He makes a great and creepy villain, but also one you root for as you realize he’s just a man who was wronged greatly.
Second, everything is bigger in this movie: more violence, more blood, more gratuity, more more more. Cordell attacks a police station in this first film, but it’s nothing compared to him getting an automatic weapon and walking calmly through doors and walls as he silently picks targets and unloads. The scene of him opening fire from the darkness of a shooting range is sheer bloody brilliance. He also kills the previous film’s heroes almost effortlessly and even takes a chainsaw to the hand in the process without flinching. Later he teams up with a hooker-hunting serial killer to break into Sing Sing, and once he’s inside, the stunt work is incredible as a burning Matt Cordell hunts down the inmates who brutally stabbed and slashed him to death years before.
In a way, Maniac Cop 2 is a great payoff, and I’m glad I watched the series out of order and didn’t finish with Maniac Cop 3 instead. I am happy to send off this trilogy this way, on a high note that I feel it deserves. This is quality B-movie entertainment.
And it’s still way WAY better than Psycho Cop.