I’m in the process of watching a Maniac Cop marathon of sorts. It doesn’t really fit in with the Christmas spirit, but I recently found out that Netflix has all three movies online to watch so I’ve jumped in. What’s Maniac Cop you ask?
Maniac Cop is a series of films that vaguely fall under the “slasher” formula starting Robert Z’Dar as a cop back from the dead inflicting death upon those who wronged him when he was an NYPD…. And anyone else who gets in his way. The first film up is Maniac Cop from 1988, the one that started it all! And by all… I mean the other two sequels.
The first Maniac Cop movie is surprisingly good in premise if not in execution, with a chilling open, and a downright haunting score by Jay Chattaway. This film also features Bruce Campbell in one of his lesser known roles. I mean, you always hear people talking about Bruce, but no one ever brings up Maniac Cop!
The movie is uneven at best, with a good performance from Tom Atkins as the detective trying to figure out who’s killing people in NYC. Everyone else doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of acting and even Campbell seems a bit tame. There are a few good supporting characters, but the movie isn’t pieced together well enough, nor are the characters fleshed out enough. Unfortunately the movie suffers elsewhere as NYC feels like a tiny city where no one ever seems to go. Some of the plot points are rushed, or never clearly explained at all. There’s also some good effects mixed in, but some bad ones as well. Not to mention a really long police chase that seemed to be padding out the run time, more than advancing the plot.
Atkins character is the central figure for the first half of the movie, until the movie flips and makes Bruce Campbell the central character. Campbell is a NYPD who is brought up on charges that he’s the psycho cop who’s been killing innocent people in the city. The movie doesn’t immediately reveal that it’s not Campbell and I think Bruce is a good choice because of his large chin, which Robert Z’Dar also sports. Although it’s pretty clear Campbell is nowhere near big enough to be the killer.
I guess I should now mention that Robert Z’Dar is a freaky looking dude. We always called him “Big chin man” when I was a kid, but I don’t think that’s actually accurate. Yes, he has a big chin… But he also has huge cheekbones. Check out Z’Dar over at his official site Z-Dar.com and see what I’m talking about.
Maniac Cop works because the camera work is very clever. They avoid showing Maniac Cop’s face for most of the movie. All you see is his hulking frame and huge cheekbones. The rest is blacked out. In fact, by the time you see Z’Dar’s face it doesn’t come off as creepy. They put some scarred makeup on him, but it’s not very good looking. It just looks like he’s got acne and bad teeth. I think they’d done better by just making Z’Dar’s face very pale with maybe just a hint of scarring. Because Z’Dar is creepy looking as is.
In the end, Campbell is cleared, Maniac Cop is dead and all is well… Or is it? Maniac Cop 2 is next. This time Maniac Cop returns from the dead again and looks much more dead this time. I’ll go on record now for saying that Maniac Cop is one of the few slasher flicks of the 80’s that could actually USE a Hollywood redo. The story isn’t as convoluted as Freddy or Jason and there isn’t a ton of emotional attachment to any particular element. It could be tinkered with and improved upon. So long as Robert Z’Dar gets a cameo!
I mentioned how creepy Z’Dar looks and here’s a picture of him with another man who’s made a career out of looking strange, Mr. Michael Berryman. These guys are true throwbacks to the old days of Hollywood horror cinema when you could get a job based on your creepy looks instead of makeup. These guys are modern day Boris Karloff or Vincent Price! They sell the macabre on their natural features, no CGI or prosthetics required.
Sam from Trick r’ Treat
2 Inch Scale
We’re on something of a Funko kick during the 31 Days of Halloween although it’s not necessarily by design. Funko has just been at the forefront the past few years with spotlighting horror toys and that’s exactly what we have for you today. It’s another figure from their Mystery Minis line, we covered Freddy Krueger from that series earlier this week.
A couple of years ago I reviewed Trick r’ Treat and didn’t give it a glowing review. I’ve softened some on it, and I think I was probably a bit too harsh back then. Maybe I’ll re-review it this year, but we’ll just have to see. One thing I did recognize even then, was that Sam, the little character who sort of weaves the various anthology stories together, was destined to become iconic. Funko have paid tribute to him here, including him with such horror luminaries as Freddy, Jason and Pinhead. That says a lot and he doesn’t seem out of place amongst that bunch. Continue reading
3 3/4 Inch Scale
As we continue our walk down the long and winding road to Halloween, what better way than to spotlight the masked maniac from the movie Halloween? John Carpenter’s Halloween helped define a genre and springboarded the slasher movie to the forefront of cinema. While it wasn’t the first of it’s kind, it set the tone and helped establish that these sorts of movies could have an effective story told and haunt people’s minds with sharp visuals, stunning score and iconic villains. Halloween went on to spawn numerous sequels, some of which are quite good and others that are downright dreadful.
However, the one thing that the Halloween series never had, was action figures. Sure, NECA, Mezco and others have cranked out Halloween figures in recent years, but it’s a bit of a surprise that during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that no toys came out for the franchise. By the time A Nightmare on Elm Street hit box offices, toys were part of the game, but Michael Myers never had such luxuries. Funko sought to rectify that and released this retro figure of Michael Myers from Halloween, imagining how a toy like this might have looked in 1978. Continue reading
2 Inch Scale
The 31 Days of Halloween continue with a look at Funko’s Mystery Mini version of the man who provided A Nightmare on Elm Street. I’d say he probably provided a lot of nightmares elsewhere too. But now here he is in a tiny, fun little desktop toy. I’ve held onto this little guy for about a year, just so I could review this figure (and several of his friends) in our Halloween Countdown. That’s either dedication or procrastination, I’ll let you be the judge.
Freddy once claimed in a popular rap song that “You’ve got the body and I’ve got the brain”, and I think that’s apropos here because now we can get a good look at what’s inside my brain as I take a look at this little figure of his body. Funko has cranked out quite a few of these Mystery Minis in recent years, riding the popular super deformed blind box trend. It’s annoying for customers as sometimes our favorites are hard to track down, but it’s obviously a pretty good strategy for sales. So is burnt up Fred worth tracking down? Continue reading
Directed by Adam Wingard
Starring James Allen McCune and Callie Hernandez
In Theaters Now
I wanted to like Blair Witch. I really did. I wouldn’t call myself a “die hard” fan of the original, Blair Witch Project, but I still contend that it’s one of the most inventive and deeply chilling horror films of all time. While it may have more or less kickstarted the “found footage” genre, it made smart choices. Perhaps part of the charm of the Blair Witch Project is that it wasn’t hampered by all the cliches that have become so commonplace in the found footage genre. Or maybe it was because it was smartly written, brilliantly acted and while it had some creepy elements it made you create the horror in your own mind. A lot of people I’ve met who don’t like the Blair Witch Project, aren’t that smart. And while I wouldn’t contend that you have to intelligent to understand it, the more you allow your mind to wander, the more you can create something pretty terrifying out of that 1999 film.
Which brings us to the sequel. While this is technically the third film in the Blair Witch series, the less that’s said about Blair Witch 2: Electric Boogaloo, the better. That film took a meta approach weaving the movie and a traditional horror plot together for something what wasn’t satisfying on any level. Blair Witch (2016) has the benefit of going back to what worked in the original. Unfortunately, it far too often strays into the same problems that have bogged down the genre since the original.
One of the things I did like about this movie is that it’s a nicely devised concept. Heather from the original Blair Witch (sadly no cameo) had a kid brother that we never saw. He’s grown up wondering what really happened to his sister and is convinced to go out to the Black Hills to find her. Of course, there’s some plot holes you could drive a semi-truck through as well. For example, Heather’s brother James, isn’t the one on the quest, but rather his friend Lisa is. She’s also making a documentary, because, of course.
Naturally we know that these characters are going to end up in the woods and bad things are going to happen. I don’t think I really need to give spoiler warnings, because nothing in this movie is really going to be spoiled by mentioning these particular plot points. I mean, everyone knows that there will be creepy woods stuff in a movie about the Blair Witch. Continue reading