Terror Tape of the Day: Night of the Creeps

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I, like many of the HND writers, am an avid collector of VHS tapes. To some, collecting out dated technology is less a hobby and more the early warning sign of a serious psychological disorder. But there was a certain magic to VHS tapes that never made the transition over to DVD or, subsequently, Blu-ray. Sure the picture quality isn’t as good, but that is by no means the point of collecting. VHS represented a new and incredibly lucrative home video market and there were bajillions of films released on the insanely popular format. Many of these were horror movies and many of those never made the jump to DVD; the tragic orphans of technological progress. So therein lies one facet of their appeal. But even those films which are now readily available on the “superior formats” suffer from inferior cover art. In fact, compared to the beautiful, intricate, and often hand-painted VHS box art, lazily photo-shopped DVD covers are embarrassing. In other words, these movies came standard with genre-tastic pop art in tow.

In an effort to celebrate these works of art, we will be featuring one horror movie VHS cover every day. Be kind, rewind, and click on through to see this week’s tape…

MANIAC COP Review. [A Year in Film]

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Directed by William Lustig, 1988
Written by Larry Cohen

Welcome back to AYIF.  That’s right people, I have returned from the grave to bring you more wonderful treats form my must-see list.  Sorry for the delay, but I have been hard at work helping Pete over at Horror Squad.  So I’ve been lax in my writing about horror so that I can…write about horror.  Yeah sorry, not sure how that one works.  Today’s film is Maniac Cop.  I have had this movie on my radar since I was a kid and saw the cover art at my local, hopelessly corporate videostore.  I added to my must-see list only a month or so ago because I saw that it was available on the Netflix streaming on the XBOX.  If you have an XBOX and you have Netflix, you have to look into this.  It is easily one of the greatest advances in movie-watching technology.  Me likey!  Anyway, let’s take a big bite of this cinematic cheeseburger.

This film takes place in NYC while it is in the grip of a panic.  A rouge police officer is dishing out his own brand of law and order by dispatching both criminals and innocents alike.  The result of this panic is that citizens begin shooting anyone with a badge who comes near.  Luckily, the police arrest a patsy on whom they can pin the whole affair; happens to be an NYPD cop so that fits nicely.  Turns out the murdering cop is former NYPD detective Matt Cordell who, although considered a hero by most, was sent to prison on account of his itchy trigger finger.  Tired of all the lawsuits against Cordell, certain city officials arrange to have him killed by other inmates.  Despite his deceased status, he is gleefully butchering New York citizens and crooks left and right.

Technically, this is a bad movie.  The story is preposterous, the acting is ham-fisted at best, and some of the action sequences seem like nothing more than people awkwardly falling over.  And I loved every last second of this!  This is exactly the type of cheesy 80’s horror that makes me giggle inside like a nine-year-old girl trading “who’s got cooties” stories with her BFF.  It has classic slasher film elements with the gore effects, the shadowy killer, and the revenge-from-beyond-the-grave plot.  But I liked the added irony of the slasher being a cop; playing with the established exemplars of safety and order.  Sure Jason is scary, but if you see a guy in the woods wearing a hockey mask and brandishing a machete, you are not likely to approach said creep.  But everyone knows that cops are the paradigm of protection so there is no risk in approaching them right?  Wrong!

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