REVIEW: MANIAC COP 3: BADGE OF SILENCE

 

CAST

Robert Davi (The Bad Pack)
Robert Z’Dar (Tango & Cash)
Caitlin Dulany (Dark Justice)
Gretchen Becker (The Doors)
Paul Gleason (Die Hard)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Julius Harris (Live and Let Die)
Grand L. Bush (Demolition Man)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Robert Forster (Dragon wars)
Ted Raimi (Xena)
Barry Livingston (Argo)

Image result for maniac cop 3A priest practicing the Voodoo arts resurrects Matt Cordell (Robert Z’Dar), who takes his badge and comes back from the dead to do his bidding. Meanwhile, a pair of cameramen who are hoping to make it big come across a convenience store robbery, where a police officer named Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) intervenes in a hostage situation; she manages to wound the suspect but realizes that the clerk is his girlfriend, and she had let him in purposefully to rob the store. There is a crossfire, and while Kate is severely wounded, she ends up killing the clerk in return. When rushed to the hospital, she is rendered comatose and brain dead, much to the chagrin of investigating officer Sean McKinney (Robert Davi). McKinney catches the report of Katie using excessive force in a hostage situation, which portrays the clerk as an innocent victim and threatens to free the badly injured Frank Jessup. Meanwhile, stalking Katie’s progress, Cordell goes to the hospital to watch her. He kills one of her supervising physicians with defibrillator paddles, then exposes to high amounts of X-Ray radiation the physician set to sign the warrant to cut Kate’s life support. The reporters who had framed Kate are then murdered, as well.
Image result for maniac cop 3Meanwhile, McKinney and a physician, Susan (Caitlin Dulany), are investigating the murders and the strange behavior experienced by the comatose Kate. Their investigations lead them to Houngan (Julius Harris), who admits that he had brought Cordell back from the dead, and he is interested in Kate who is on the verge of death. At gunpoint, Cordell forces Houngan to attempt the resurrection on her, but he is unable to do so, stating her spirit is refusing to return from the dead to be with him. Cordell kills Houngan, and both he and Kate are set on fire in the process; she is immolated. As they escape, Susan and McKinney are chased by Cordell, who survived the fire while remaining ablaze. He chases them in a beat up police car, while they ride in an ambulance. They manage to throw an oxygen tank into the burning car before both crash. However, before Cordell can back up on the other disabled vehicle, the canister goes off, blowing up the car. Later, the charred corpse of Cordell is rolled into a morgue, next to the burned remains of Katie. While the lone coroner, who rolled Cordell into the morgue, is busy with his computer, the camera pans to the bodies, which shows Cordell’s hand moving over to hold Katie’s hand.Image result for maniac cop 3Yet again the maniac cop Matt Cordell is back on the streets, this time he has been resurrected from the dead by voodoo, the story goes in a different direction but is still a great cult horror making the series up to a classic trilogy to upgrade your DVD its worth it.

REVIEW: MANIAC COP 2

CAST

Robert Davi (The Bad Pack)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Michael Lerner (Omen 4)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Laurene Landon (Airplane 2)
Robert Z’Dar (Tango & Cash)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Clarence Williams III (The General’s Daughter)

Image result for maniac cop 2After being impaled by a pipe and plunging into a river at the end of the previous film, the undead Maniac Cop Officer Matthew Cordell acquires a junked police cruiser and continues his killing spree through New York City. Finding a convenience store in the middle of a robbery, he kills the clerk; the thief is subsequently killed in a shootout with police. As Cordell stalks the streets, his enemies Officers Jack Forrest and Theresa Mallory are put back on duty by Deputy Commissioner Edward Doyle, who has the two undergo a psychiatric evaluation under Officer Susan Riley. While Jack is content that Cordell is long gone and wants to go on with his life, Theresa is convinced that Cordell is still alive and plotting his revenge.
imagesAt a newsstand, Jack is stabbed through the neck by Cordell, which leaves Theresa distraught and prompts her to appear on a talk show to inform the public about Cordell, as the police have kept Cordell’s supposed return covered up, as Commissioner Doyle was involved in originally framing Cordell and sending him to Sing Sing. While en route to a hotel in a taxi, Theresa is joined by Susan, and the two are attacked by Cordell, who kills the cabbie and forces Susan and Theresa off the road. After handcuffing Susan to the steering wheel of a car and sending her into the busy streets, Cordell kills Theresa by snapping her neck. Gaining control of the car, Susan crashes and is found and given medical attention.
maniac-cop-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000Elsewhere, a stripper named Cheryl is attacked in her apartment by Steven Turkell, who has strangled at least six other exotic dancers. As Turkell brutalizes Cheryl, Cordell arrives, disposes of a pair of officers earlier called by Cheryl, and helps Turkell escape. Grateful for the help, Turkell befriends Cordell and takes him back to his apartment, where Cordell stays for a short while. After Cordell leaves, Turkell goes out to find another victim but is identified at a strip club by Cheryl. He is arrested and placed in a holding cell by Susan and Detective Lieutenant Sean McKinney. Turkell taunts Susan, telling him Cordell will break him out. Turkell’s assumption proves correct, as Cordell breaks into the police station and massacres the bulk of the police force in a hail of gunfire. Using Susan as a hostage, Turkell, Cordell, and another criminal named Joseph Blum hijack a prison bus and head to Sing Sing, where Turkell believes Cordell wants to free all the inmates and create an army of criminals. McKinney and Doyle follow, and McKinney convinces Doyle to reopen Cordell’s case and rebury his casket with full honors on the assumption that this will appease Cordell.
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Cordell bluffs his way into the prison using Blum’s paperwork, and the others kill a guard for his keys. Shortly after entering death row, Cordell is contacted over the prison PA system by Doyle, who admits to Cordell that he was set up and states that his case has been reopened. After hearing Doyle’s announcement, Cordell abandons Turkell, Blum, and Susan and heads deeper into the prison, where he is attacked with a Molotov cocktail by the three inmates who originally mutilated him. While burning, Cordell kills the three convicts and assaults the other prisoners, only to be attacked by Turkell, who realizes Cordell used him. As Cordell and Turkell fight, the two crash through a wall, fall onto the bus below, and seemingly die when the vehicle explodes.
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Sometime later, Cordell is buried with full honors alongside other fallen officers; Susan and McKinney attend his funeral. As Cordell’s casket is lowered, McKinney throws Cordell’s badge into the grave, leaves with Susan, and delivers a monologue about how there is a little bit of Cordell in every officer, and that every member of the force needs to rise above becoming a Maniac Cop. Before the credits roll, Cordell’s hand bursts through the lid of his casket and grabs his badge.Image result for maniac cop 2It’s great to see the return of Bruce Campbell, and with a Larry Cohen written story this film really is an enjoyable sequel. It may come under the horror banner, but I found the movie to be more of an action one. I was stunned to find out the film cost only 4m to make- Lustig has made good use of that money. And look out for many classic shots of New York 89/90 style. Maniac Cop 2 is a real surprise and is worth a watch.

REVIEW: MANIAC COP

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Tom Atkins (Halloween III)
Laurene Landon (Wicked Stepmother)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
William Smith (Fever Pitch)
Robert Z’Dar (Tango & Cash)
Dan Hicks (Evil Dead 2)
George Flower (They Live)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)

suburban-mayhemIn New York City, a waitress on her way home is assaulted by two muggers and seeks aid from a police officer, who breaks her neck. Over the next two nights, this “Maniac Cop” commits more murders, prompting Lieutenant McCrae (Tom Atkins), who was told by his superiors to suppress eyewitness accounts that the killer was wearing a police uniform, to pass on information to a journalist, in an attempt to protect civilians. Unfortunately, this causes panic and dissent among the city and results in innocent patrolmen being shot to death by paranoid people.
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Ellen Forrest (Victoria Catlin), who suspects that her husband Jack (Bruce Campbell) may be the Maniac Cop, follows him to a motel, where she catches him in bed with a fellow officer, Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon). Distraught, Ellen runs out of the room, and is slain by the murderer. Jack is arrested under suspicion of murder, but McCrae believes Jack has been framed. McCrae gets Jack to tell him about his relationship with Mallory, who is attacked by the Maniac Cop while working undercover as a prostitute. Mallory and McCrae fight off the killer, who is deathly cold even through his gloves and does not appear to breathe; though they shoot him several times, the killer appears unfazed.
maniac-cop-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000Mallory hides out in McCrae’s apartment while he investigates Sally Noland (Sheree North), the only person Mallory told about her affair. McCrae follows Noland to a warehouse, where she meets with the maniac cop and refers to him as “Matt”. Returning to police headquarters, McCrae discovers files on Matthew Cordell, a fellow officer who was imprisoned in Sing Sing for police brutality and closing in on corruption in city hall. While McCrae is looking into his past, Cordell flashes back to being mutilated and killed in a shower room in Sing Sing.
Image result for maniac cop 1988When McCrae and Mallory visit Jack, they tell him that they think Cordell is the real killer and plan to visit the chief medical examiner at Sing Sing. McCrae leaves to go to the clerical room, and he is attacked by Sally, who is in hysterics, convinced that Cordell is going to turn on her. After finding a policeman hanging in a noose, Sally is grabbed by Cordell and beaten to death. Hearing the commotion, Jack and Mallory break out of the interrogation room and find the corpses of numerous officers strewn about the halls of the building. Jack tells Mallory to go to McCrae’s car while he searches for Cordell, who disappears after throwing McCrae out a window, killing him. Jack, who looks like the one responsible for the carnage to responding officers, flees with Mallory.
Image result for maniac cop 1988The two go to see Sing Sing’s medical examiner, who admits that while he was preparing to autopsy Cordell, the officer showed faint signs of life. The examiner secretly released Cordell into Sally’s care, convinced he was completely brain dead. During the 50th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Jack waits outside as Mallory warns Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree) and Captain Ripley (William Smith) about Cordell, but the two refuse to believe her and have her arrested. Cordell stabs Pike and Ripley to death, then targets Mallory, knifing the policeman left to guard her. Mallory escapes through a window, while Jack is arrested and placed in a van, which Cordell hijacks.
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Mallory and another officer chase the van, which Cordell takes to his warehouse hideout, running over the watchman on the way in. Cordell attacks Mallory and Jack, kills the other officer, and tries to escape in the van when backup arrives. Jacks clings to the side of the van and fights for control of it, distracting Cordell and causing him to drive into a suspended pipe, which impales him. Cordell loses control of the vehicle, which crashes into the river, and sinks. The van is fished out, and, as it is searched, Cordell’s hand shoots out of the water. Everyone then realizes that Jack Forrest didn’t comitt the murders. In the extended cut, corrupt mayor Jerry Killium relaxes in his office, content Cordell is gone. After Killium’s assistant leaves, Cordell, who was hiding behind a curtain, murders the mayor offscreen as the credits roll.Image result for maniac cop 1988Maniac Cop is an enjoyable amalgam of the action, horror and mystery genres with great set pieces and a interesting plot.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)

Recuring / Notable Guest Cast

Paula Marshall (Gary Unmarried)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Lethal Weapon)
Richard Belzer (Scarface)
Robert Hooks (Star Trek III)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Wayne Pére (CLoak & Dagger)
Justin Burnette (Hearts Afire)
Biff Manard (The Wrong Guys)
Mike Genovese (ER)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Clarence Clemons (Blues brothers 2000)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Miguel Fernandes (Relic Hunter)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Chuck Hicks (Dick Tracy)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Jonathan Brandis (IT)
Perrey Reeves (Child”s Play 3)
Kirk Baltz (Face/Off)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight)
Adam West (Batman)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Lois Nettleton (Centennial)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Anthony Starke (Hand of God)
Sherrie Rose (Black Scorpion)
Gloria Reuben (Lincoln)
Deborah May (The Walking Dead)
Christopher Neame (The Prestige)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Jay Arlen Jones (Eight Legged Freaks)
Joyce Hyser (The Wedding Pact)
Timothy Stack (My Name Is Earl)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Kimberly Neville (Noises Off…)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (The Green Inferno)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager)
Michael Champion (Total Recall)
Lisa Darr (Popular)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
François Chau (The Tick)
Lenny von Dohlen (Electric Dreams)
David Cassidy (The Partridge Family)
Signy Coleman (The X-Files)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Matt Landers (Die Hard)
Victor Rivers (Hulk)
Claire Stansfield (Xena: WP)
Corinne Bohrer (Veronica Mars)

 The series is a mash-up of the Barry Allen and Wally West eras of the comics. The show’s producers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, wisely chose to use the Barry Allen version of the character (played by John Wesley Shipp). This was probably due to the greater story possibilities that Allen’s job as a police forensic scientist could offer. It didn’t matter that Barry had been killed off in the comics five years prior to the show. The character of Dr. Tina McGee (played by the savoury Amanda Pays) comes from the Wally West comics. She is a scientist who helps Barry understand and cope with his new powers of super speed.  The solid performances of the core cast make this show work despite its cartoony conventions. Barry Allen is an easy character to like because we can appreciate and empathize with his underdog-makes-good nature. Barry has always been inferior to his Dad and his overachieving older brother Jay. When he gains his extraordinary powers we can’t help but think that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

Also noteworthy is the impish chemistry between Shipp and Pays. Their characters have an intimate, yet platonic relationship that is almost as charming as Pays’ accent. Alex Désert is underused as Barry’s friend and coworker, Julio Mendez. Désert’s easy-going, friendly presence provides a necessary counterpoint to Barry’s no-nonsense ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude. It’s too bad that he didn’t have more to do than set Barry up on blind dates and make wisecracks. The show was produced in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The mood and tone of that movie is a huge influence on the first few episodes of The Flash, especially the Pilot episode, “The Origin of a Super Hero.” That episode begins with an establishing shot of Central City that is a blatant copy of the opening scene in Batman where we first see Gotham. We also see the same ‘evil steam’ shooting up from the sewers and citizens scurrying to get indoors, away from all the immoral activity that abounds on the mean streets of Gotham . . .er. . . Central City. Later on, the confrontation between Flash and the bad guy is also an obvious lift from Batman, complete with the “You made me!” line.As the series progresses, it stops trying to ape the manner and feel of Batman and takes on more of a 1940s film-noir motif – only a lot more colourful. The ‘Tim Burton Effect’ still lingers though. One such pastiche, which ironically is not in the Pilot episode, is the use of period props such as 1950s automobiles. Burton can get away with such an aesthetic because his films often take place in an ambiguous timeline where stylistically, anything goes. In The Flash, the out-of-time props are an unnecessary distraction. They’re especially irrelevant during the episode titled “Ghost in the Machine” where The Ghost, a villain from the 1950s, comes out of a deep freeze to again wreak havoc on Central City in 1990. It’s hard to buy into The Ghost’s future shock when people are still wearing trilbies and driving around in Ford Fairlanes.
The show didn’t have great villains but like most genre entertainment, thinking is the real enemy. The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, is definitely the show’s greatest and most memorable antagonist, even if he is just a check-in-the-box inclusion of a Joker-like homicidal clown. Hamill is great, playing the character as an obsessed, erotomaniacal master-of-disguise while the script, unfortunately, wants him to be a poor man’s Joker. Ironically, he would later go on to recycle his Trickster performance as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Even Captain Cold works reasonably well within the context of the series, reinvented here as an albino mercenary with an ice gun. Actor Michael Champion plays the role relatively straight and plausible, as if shooting people up with frost is an everyday occurrence. He even gets to deliver the line, ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ six years before Arnold Schwarzenegger would as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.

Michael Nader’s stone-faced overacting as outlaw motorcycle gang leader, Nicholas Pike is way too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Casting soap opera or sitcom actors as villains is always a bad idea. The difference between Hamill and Nader’s performances is that Hamill is trying to be humourous, Nader isn’t. David Cassidy and his widow’s peak are unfortunately a non-presence as Mirror Master in “Done with Mirrors.” He comes off as more of a Bizarro-Keith Partridge than a threatening adversary. One of the highlights of the series is “Fast Forward” where Flash is accidentally propelled 10 years into a bleak future where his powers are unstable. He’s got to find a way to get back to his own time and set things right. Every super hero / sci-fi show has to have its ‘evil parallel universe’ or ‘undesirable future’ story and The Flash is no exception. This episode reminds me of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon where Spidey would be sucked into some twisted alternate dimension that he would have to fight his way out of. The scene where Flash is “falling” into the psychedelic void is a direct homage to that show. It really is an entertaining story if you can plow through the painful first act of Nader’s scenery chewing and hamming it up.One episode that is way more endearing than it probably has any right to be is “Twin Streaks” where an obligatory mad scientist type tries to clone Flash and ends up creating a sort of Bizarro-Flash in a story that vaguely resembles Bride of Frankenstein. The laughs, intentional or not, are effortless. Bizarro-Flash or Pollux as he’s called, wears a blue Flash costume. It would have been a nice wink-nudge to the fans if they had given him a yellow suit as a reference to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Zoom was mentioned in another episode, after all. One of the show’s major clunkers is “Be My Baby” where Barry has to care for an infant that was left on his doorstep. It’s nothing but recycled humour from 3 Men and a Baby and countless sitcoms. This episode reads like an attempt to inject some feel-good, warm fuzzy moments into the show. I actually felt sorry for the then-unknown Bryan Cranston, who had the thankless job of playing the bad guy on this one. If the show’s producers truly wanted to feature more heartwarming stories they could have done an episode or episodes that focused on the heroic endeavors that Flash has performed for the medical community. There was one story from Mike Baron’s run on the comic where Wally West was charged with transporting a human heart across the US to a transplant patient. Story lines such as these could have been an untapped goldmine of drama and suspense as long as they didn’t get too sappy with it. It also would have been a welcome break from the hit-or-miss villain of the week.

Shirley Walker’s score music is tailor made to suit the flavour of each individual episode. “Beat the Clock”, a story about a jazz musician falsely accused of killing his wife, appropriately has a lonely sounding Chicago jazz score while “Watching the Detectives” features music that evokes old private-eye films of the 1940s to compliment that episode’s subject matter. The Flash’s opening theme song is composed by Danny Elfman and sounds like a recycled version of his Batman theme. The Flash is a keen show that had the potential to be much greater than it was. Its adherence to the original source material and the earnest portrayal of the characters by the core cast give the series its irresistible allure. This is essential viewing for comic book and sci-fi fans and it definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.