Maniac Cop (1988)

Although this is directed by William Lustig, it comes at no surprise to see Larry Cohen’s name in the credits. This is directly from the school of Cohen: The shots are rudimentary but striking, the mood and atmosphere are perfectly tailored to disreputable cinema standards, and the story is pure B-horror catnip for genre fans. Bruce Campbell makes a typically engaging protagonist here, and he’s well-matched by a series of character actors like Richard Roundtree and Tom Atkins that bring a grungy gravitas to the proceedings. The titular antagonist is menacing and downright brutal, and Lustig makes judicious choices to keep the camera and lighting unfocused whenever he’s on screen, which makes his many appearances feel effectively disorienting and unsettling. This isn’t Masterpiece Theater, but it’s downright perfect for horror fans.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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