(1988)1.5Donald GuariscoWith its out-there premise and huge dollops of over-the-top violence, Maniac Cop is an unapologetic exercise in pulpy exploitation filmmaking. That description may alienate viewers with more mainstream tastes, but those who are predisposed to such offbeat fare will discover that the film actually delivers on all the action and horror promised by the title and is surprisingly stylish to boot. Maniac Cop's key strength is Larry Cohen's script, which infuses the film's comic-book premise with plenty of his trademark eccentric characters and a few unexpected twists that will keep viewers on guard. Maniac Cop will also please B-movie fans, thanks to its cast of seasoned character thespians, including John Carpenter regular Tom Atkins as a grizzled detective and Evil Dead hero Bruce Campbell as the beleaguered cop who has to prove he isn't responsible for the title character's rampage. The supporting performances are just as engaging, especially biker film veteran William Smith as a creepy police official and Sheree North as the crippled police clerk with something to hide. Director William Lustig, a seasoned vet of both the action (Hit List) and horror (Maniac) genres, creates a nicely paced blend of story and action and crafts a number of impressive set pieces in the process. Highlights include a scene where Laurene Landon has to escape the title character while handcuffed to a dead man and the impressive car chase that caps the film. In the end, Maniac Cop is probably a little too pulpy and gleefully gruesome for the average viewer, but provides a colorful, action-packed treat for anyone in the mood for classic drive-in-styled entertainment.