TajLV’s review published on Letterboxd:
Part of the Todd Gaines Xanax & Strippers Movie Challenge
24. Any movie starring Tom fuckin' Atkins!
Tom Atkins is New York City police investigator Frank McCrae, assigned to a case involving the brutal murders of innocent people by a uniformed police officer. The chief suspect is an adulterous cop named Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell), who is being set up by the real killer and an unknown female caller. When Jack's wife Nancy (Marcia Karr) ends up in a sleazy motel room with her throat slit, he's quickly arrested and jailed.
Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree) and Captain Ripley (William Smith) want a conviction. Apart from McCrae, the only person convinced of Jack's innocence is his girlfriend Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon), a vice cop who works undercover as a hooker. It doesn't take long till they cross paths with the "maniac cop," who goes on a rampage, leaving plenty of bloody bodies in his wake.
Others appearing in the film include Nina Arvesen as TV News Anchor Regina Sheperd, Barry Brenner as the coroner Dr. Gruber, Sheree North as police records clerk Sally Noland, and Robert Z'Dar as Sally's former fiancé and disgraced hero cop Matt Cordell. As slasher action films go, it's nothing earthshaking or groundbreaking, relying on some pretty standard gimmicks, such as not showing the killer's face and inserting jump scares liberally.
Although the film did not do very well at the box office, there was enough interest generated among fans to justify sequels in 1990 and 1993, giving birth to the "Maniac Cop Trilogy." All three films were written by Larry Cohen and directed by William Lustig, so I don't think I'll be missing much by giving Parts 2 & 3 a pass.