Biscoito18’s review published on Letterboxd:
*Part of HOOPT🎃BER 5.0: “You don’t believe in the Boogeyman? You should.” challenge.
A shepherd dog betrayed by the other shepherd dogs that, now, no longer protects any sheep. For him, there's no difference between wolves, sheep and dogs. There's only him and the others.
A city so indifferent to the suffering of others (a man only observes while a young woman is attacked by two men) is also responsible for providing the ideal playground for this super predator with its empty streets.
In many ways, they're hunting for a monster created by themselves. A monster that uses the little hope that the population still has in the police to lure its victims.
"Maniac Cop" features great shots of the 80s' New York night, well-known names fill the characters with charismatic performances (Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Richard Roundtree ...). They curse, make fun of each other and talk like real people.
The fast pace doesn't waste time establishing the situation and its main characters. At fifteen minutes of film, the maniac has already made three fatal victims. At 20, the film is already addressing conflicts beyond the acts of the maniac, like a wave of hysteria with the population now attacking cops thinking that they might be the maniac. This is what I call commitment to creating a believable universe for your story.
The script is clever in addressing the conflict between institutions (police, politicians, media...) as one of the main elements.
All this basic structure (with radios reporting murders and TVs broadcasting interviews with ordinary citizens, for example), a lot of scenes filmed in the streets and the various conflicts that are caused by this situation give life and movement to the plot.
The maniac attacks are just the initial trigger for a series of events involving various characters and their personal conflicts. From the police commander about to retire and who intends to incriminate quickly the first suspect to the cheating husband who ends up being caught in the middle of this whole mess as scape goat.
All of these characters have some of their personal conflicts revealed and taken into account in the overall context of the film. This is a basic concept of how to write good characters to lead a story, which unfortunately, many don't care. But Larry Cohen and William Lustig do their homework.
Despite the abundance of characters, the script knows how to fit them well into the central mystery and the fast pace give each of them enough exposure time. A pity that the ending leaves the fate of some characters open, probably thinking about sequels.
With a simple but very well structured storyline and several charismatic characters, "Maniac Cop" is a little hidden gem from the late 80's.
7.5/10 - VERY GOOD