Tag Archives: william lustig

“Maniac Cop” (1988) REVIEW

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This one has been shit on for years and I really don’t know why. It stars the great Bruce Campbell and the great Tom Atkins and it was directed by William “Maniac” Lustig.

The premise isn’t spectacular, but it’s still creative: a by-the-book cop (Robert “The Chin” Z’Dar) gets jailed on a technicality, and while incarcerated, is attacked by several inmates he helped lock up. Left for dead, he’s removed from the prison and sent to the morgue. Soon after, criminals and bystanders alike are being killed on the streets of New York. When the wife of a young cop (Bruce Campbell) winds up dead, it’s assumed that he’s been doing the killing all along. However, Campbell aims to prove his innocence and find out who has actually been doing the killing. Eventually he uncovers the truth: Z’Dar wasn’t actually killed in prison — just maimed and disfigured — and now he’s out for revenge on everyone.

Sure, the plot has some loopholes, the main one being: he wasn’t killed in prison, he merely had a faint pulse (as admitted by the coroner)…but how come he’s suddenly able to withstand getting shot numerous times, including in the head? Like, did getting jumped in the shower somehow make him supernatural?

Look, you’ll just have to suspend disbelief and roll with it. It’s 80s horror at it’s best: crime, undead cops exacting revenge, and New York – as filthy as ever.

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“Maniac” (1980) REVIEW

maniac081811You know the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance? It was inspired by this film. The songwriters simply changed the lyrics about the killer so it could be used about an obsessive dancer instead.

That tidbit should be enough to make you want to see this 1980 slasher classic. It was directed by William Lustig (who also directed Maniac Cop, proving his affinity for the word ‘maniac’), and the make-up was done by none other than 80s effects wizard of gore Tom Savini. This movie is infamous for a scene involving a shotgun blast to the face. Bless you, Mr. Savini.

The movie is about a schizo loner named Frank Zito (played by a sweaty, scary, and super creepy Joe Spinell, RIP) who likes to go out and scalp women. He brings their scalps back to adorn several mannequins he has lying around his apartment. He’s so lonely – he just wants the company!

The is one of those low-budget, guerilla-style labors of love that really show how dedicated some people are to the genre. The movie only had a purported budget of $550,000.