You have the right to remain silent... forever!
— A tagline so nice they used it thrice
The Maniac Cop
franchise was a trilogy of horror movies spanning from the late '80s to early '90s. The first two films were directed by William Lustig and produced by Larry Cohen
and the third film had both on co-status.
The first movie, which was released in 1988, told us the story of Matt Cordell (played by Robert Z'Dar in all three films), a former NYPD officer who was sentenced to prison for his excessive Police Brutality
. He suffered heavy abuse in jail from the scum whom he had arrested himself, was left heavily scarred and brain-damaged from their attacks, and is now presumed by most people to be long dead. Cordell starts wreaking havok in New York by dressing as a cop and murdering innocent civilians, which leads to city-wide panic. Detective McRae (Tom Atkins) is set to work on the case and is later joined by Officer Forrest (Bruce Campbell
) who is framed for the killings and must clear his name.
The second movie was released 1990 and continued where the last film ended. This time Cordell ties up some loose ends and teams up with serial killer Turkell to cause even more chaos in the good ol' NY. This movie introduces Detective McKinney (Robert Davi) as the protagonist for the rest of the trilogy.
The third and final movie was released 1992 (with Badge of Silence
as the subtitle) and it's the one where things start to get weird; Cordell is resurrected from the dead by a voodoo priest who wants him to do his dirty work. But Cordell has other plans, as he learns about a certain female officer Sullivan who was framed for a crime that she didn't commit. Seeing a kindred spirit in her, Cordell stars killing everyone involved with the case, from the real perpetrator of the crime to the doctors who plan to cut the life-feed from her now-comatose body. After he is done, Cordell wants to make Sullivan his bride. McKinney tries to put end to the mayhem.
These films contain examples of:
- Axe Before Entering: If Cordell wants to go through a door, he will.
- Barehanded Blade Block: In the second movie, Cordell manages to do this to a chainsaw.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Cordell's prsion stay was pretty much this. Justified through brain damage.
- Big Applesauce
- Blown Across the Room: Jessup's shotgun usage in the third film is an egregious example.
- Bodybag Trick: McKinney fools some criminals with this in the third movie.
- Burning Rubber: During the second film's first chase scene, the pursued car is driving only on it's rims and it leaves a trail of sparks behind.
- The third movie features an extended carchase where Cordell and his stolen police car are literally on fire the entire time.
- Camping a Crapper: Jessup's death in Badge of Silence.
- Car Cushion: Cordell drops Detective McRae into one. Cordell and Turkell drop into a bus in second film's climax.
- Chainsaw Good: Detective Mallory tries defend herself from Cordell with a chainsaw.
- Chase Scene: In every movie.
- Clear My Name: Jack Forrest in the first movie.
- Clear Their Name: McKinney does this in the second movie to Cordell, causing him to stop his and Turkell's jailbreak plan in the last minute.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: McKinney uses Cordell's severed burning arm to lit his cigar in the third film.
- Cowboy Cop: Cordell before he was sent to prison. Officer Sullivan in the third film.
- Creepy Cathedral: The voodoo priest in the third movie resides in abandoned church under the hospital.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The X-Ray and defibrillator kills in the third movie.
- The guy drowned in wet cement in the original.
- Cut Himself Shaving: McRae says this when questioned for his injured hand.
- Decoy Protagonist: McRae is killed off halfway through the first movie. Jack Forrest takes over as the protagonist. Forrest himself dies five minutes into the second movie and Mallory dies half an hour later. McKinney takes over but survives both second and third movies.
- Detective Mole: Sally Noland, Cordell's girlfriend before he was arrested.
- Dirty Harriet: Theresa Mallory, Officer Forrest's girlfriend, works for vice squad and she is seen working undercover as a prostitute in the first movie.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Turkell's victims in the second movie are all strippers.
- Disposable Woman: Forrest's wife is killed off to advance the plot.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Cordell and Turkell showing off their big knifes in the second film.
- Double Take: Ambulance driver gives one when he sees Cordell during the third film's climactic chase scene. He then promptly jumps from his car.
- Dr. Jerk: Dr. Myerson in the third film.
- Driven to Suicide: Cordell's girlfriend attempt this when he is sent to prison.
- Driven to Villainy: Cordell.
- Electric Boogaloo: Seriously, "Badge of Silence"?
- Even Evil Has Standards: Implied. While Cordell and co. are on their way to Sing Sing, convicted criminal Blum tries to make moves on kidnapped Officer Riley but leaves her alone when Cordell gestures to him menacingly.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Cordell's hands are described to be as cold as corpse's even before he became undead.
- Eyes Open: In the opening of third film.
- The Faceless: In the first film Cordell's face is usually obstructed by shadows and is not shown until the end.
- Famed in Story: We only get secondhand information from Cordell's hero cop days.
- Frameup: Officer Forrest is framed for the killings in the first movie by Cordell's ex-girlfriend.
- Friend to Psychos: Cordell's girlfriend.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Cordell's flashback in the first film show him fighting inmates in the shower.
- Gambit Roulette: The chain of events leading to Forrest's frameup in the first movie.
- Glasgow Grin: One of the many scars that Cordell received from his prison stay.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: As mentioned above, Cordell was left horribly scarred from his prison stay.
- Great Escape: In the second movie, Cordell and his partner-in-mayhem Turkell hatch a plan to break out Sing Sing's deathrow inmates to cause more mayhem.
- He Knows Too Much: Cordell was a hero on all accounts, but his arrest was arranged by corrupt politicians for accidentally getting too close to them.
- Hollywood Voodoo: It's used to resurrect Cordell in the third film.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The climax of the first film takes place during St Patrick's Day, while the events of the second movie take place during Christmas time.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder
- Immune to Bullets
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Cordell accidentally impales himself whilst escaping in the first film's climax.
- Impersonating an Officer: Cordell is an undead former police officer who was framed for Police Brutality and still dresses in his old uniform while he carries out his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: Officer Noland doesn't notice the tailing McRae in the first movie.
- Infernal Retaliation: Cordell in the ending of the second and third movie.
- Insane Equals Violent
- It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: New York is celebrating St. Patrick's day in the first film.
- Killer Cop: Guess who.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Cordell, fitting his heroic past.
- Leitmotif: Cordell has a distinctive two-note song that sometimes expands into full theme.
- Lock and Load Montage: First film's opening credits.
- Made of Explodium: The prison transportation bus in the second film's climax.
- Menacing Stroll: Cordell. However he is shown giving a short jog in the first movie.
- Neck Lift: Cordell does it often. Usually followed by:
- Neck Snap
- Never Found the Body: In the ending of the first movie.
- New York City Cops
- No Peripheral Vision: Detective Mallory suffers from it in the first movie.
- No Tell Motel: Forrest's wife caughts him in one with another woman in the first movie.
- Numbered Sequels
- Off with His Head!: Some poor schmuk's severed head is used by a voodoo priest to resurrect Cordell in the third film.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Cordell performs this couple of times in the first movie.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: Basis of Cordell's flashback theme.
- Orphaned Punchline: In the first film.
- Outside Ride: Cordell forces Riley into one when he cuffs her into a car and sets it off in the second movie.
- Police Brutality: The extreme example.
- Power Born of Madness: Cordell's insanity has given him inhuman strenght. Multiplied when he comes back undead.
- Previously On: Second film opens up with stock footage of Cordell's attempted escape at the end of the first film.
- Psycho Supporter: Turkell in the second film.
- Ramp Jump: Happens once in the first movie.
- Reading Your Rights: See the tagline above.
- Scars Are Forever: Cordell's Glasgow Grin.
- Selective Squeamishness Suppression: Along with the coroner, Detective McRae isn't bothered about the corpses in the morgue in the first film. The fellow detective with him, not so much.
- Sequel First: In Italy, Maniac Cop 2 was released as "Maniac Cop", and the first film was released later under the title "Poliziotto sadico - Maniac Cop 2" ("Sadistic Policeman").
- Serial Killer: Cordell and also Turkell in the second film who partners up with him.
- Soft Glass
- Stalker Shrine: Turkell has one in the second movie.
- Stock Footage: Both sequels show Cordell's flashback montage from the first film.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Forrest's and Mallory's fate in the second movie.
- Sword Cane: Cordell's weapon of choice is blade hidden in a billy club.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Cordell, surprisingly. Lessened in later films where he has no redeeming qualities.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted in the second movie as one of the main characters (Riley) is a police therapist.
- Theme Tune Rap: One plays over the credits of the second film.
- Title Drop
- Tragic Monster: Cordell given his backstory.
- The Undead: Cordell becomes one in the third film. He is Type V.
- Villain-Based Franchise
- Villainous BSOD: Blum, who is used by Turkell and Cordell to infiltrate Sing Sing, gets one when the plan falls through and he realizes that he has come to stay.
- The Voiceless: Cordell for most of the time, but he opens his mouth once during the second and third movie.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Noland's fate in the first film.
- Your Cheating Heart: Forrest cheats his wife with his future girlfriend Theresa Mallory in the first film.