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Once the killer's identity is established, no time is wasted in getting on with the action. The last third has a frenetic pace that includes a bloodbath at the police station, a spectacular car chase in which perennial whipping post Bruce Campbell is violently and hilariously thrown around the rear of a paddywagon, and the final confrontation between our hero (Campbell) and the title character. As we wind up at Pier 14, home of "maniac cop," Campbell jumps on to the paddywagon that "maniac cop" is attempting to get away in. A fistfight ensues between Campbell and "maniac cop" as the wagon is moving, and before we know what hit us we see a large pole aimed straight for the camera and "maniac cop."

A fistfight ensues between Campbell and "maniac cop" as the wagon is moving, and before we know what hit us we see a large pole aimed straight for the camera and "maniac cop."

A stake is driven through his heart, and the van flies off the pier. This sequence is executed perfectly. Lustig had five different cameras shooting this scene, one of them inside the van, and the rest all around it. As the van nears the edge of the pier, Lustig cuts back and forth between the cameras, making every shot in the climax of this horror movie as fresh and exciting as the rest of it. I call special attention to this because so often, when faced with the challenge of killing off the monster, directors try to invent new ways while just rehashing what's been done before. Not here. The cinematography, editing, direction, and dazzling stunt work by Spiro Razatos (in a stunt that looks like it could have killed him had he been an inch off) all make the conclusion work. This kind of excitement shouldn't surprise us, however, as Lustig repeatedly invents new ways of making things work within the genres he loves so much.

At the very end of MANIAC COP, a hand creeps out of the water. "Sequelitis!," cries director William Lustig on the audio commentary of the laserdisc. He is partly serious, but in keeping with the spirit of the MANIAC COP series, he is also laughing at the campiness of the idea. Unlike MANIAC, MANIAC COP and MANIAC COP 2 have a very strong side that refuses to take what they're trying to pull off seriously. It's as if it's so over the top that we need some comic relief to break the tension.

It's as if it's so over the top that we need some comic relief to break the tension.

The results leave you giddy, and in MANIAC COP 2 there are more moments of this, partly because Lustig and screenwriter Larry Cohen had a success on their hands with MANIAC COP. They had a very free hand in making MANIAC COP, and now with the same producers and a profitable franchise in the making, they had four times the budget. Thus, they were able to have a little more fun in their no-holds barred approach. They've also already let us know who the title character really is, so now they can just plunge into the action, and plunge in they do.

The first scene after the credits takes us into a convenience store in the process of being robbed. Things go completely awry, with "maniac cop" shooting the clerk and the robber getting shot through a plate glass window. When the dust settles after this very tense scene, we see a neon sign flashing over the now-dead robber:

"Miller, Made The American Way."

This comic relief comes at a perfect time as we need some kind of release after the scene. In fact, after almost every violent set piece Lustig creates in MANIAC COP 1 and 2, Cohen's script provides a moment just like the one described above. It's almost as if Lustig has taken the idea of catharsis that he speaks of on the MANIAC disc to another level. There, we confronted our fears and left them behind in the theater. Here we can leave our fears behind, but we can also laugh at them.

There is also plenty of black humor in the general storyline. In this film, MANIAC COP makes a friend. In MANIAC and MANIAC COP the killers had mother figures as protectresses, but here they are gone. Instead, "maniac cop" is befriended by a serial rapist/killer (Leo Rossi) who could easily pass for MANIAC Frank Zito's idiot child. The guy has pictures of women up all over his dingy pad so he can possess then, and claims to be a "crusader of the night against the whores of the world."

The guy has pictures of women up all over his dingy pad so he can possess then, and claims to be a "crusader of the night against the whores of the world."

Yes, he's a real lowlife, but he breaks though the title character's shell and even gets him to speak for the first time. While he may be kind to his friends, he isn't a very intelligent serial killer, and gets arrested, all the while claiming that his friend will get him out. This sets up the stage for a firing range bloodbath at the police station (littered with signs about gun safety), and a final showdown at Sing Sing Prison between "maniac cop" and the government officials that put him there in the first place.

In addition to the humor, there are also great performances by returning stars Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon, as well as Rossi and Claudia Christian. Robert Davi is passable as the cop who wants to save the day, but not much more. His leaden performance made me yearn for more Tom Atkins, who played essentially the same role in the first film, and really made you believe in what he was doing. Tom, however, went flying out a window, leaving Davi to fill his shoes. The rest of the film is so good , however, that Davi's performance doesn't bring it down at all. As stated above, they had four times the budget, so the explosions are bigger, the car chases are longer and more spectacular, and the stuntwork is crazier. In general, the movie is almost more fun to watch than it's predecessor. It's got a little bit less of a story, but consequently has more action scenes, which are often little stories in themselves. It's the one I've watched the most, but hey, don't take it from me. What do I know? Ask the director which film of his is his personal favorite, and he'll tell you in a heartbeat:MANIAC COP 2.    </end>

I would like to thank William Lustig very much for his cooperation in the making of this article.
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