We all have a favorite holiday, and we all have a favorite slasher. Sometimes the two can blend and you get something truly special like John Carpenter’s Halloween or Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. Soon, Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving will slash its way through cinemas, and perhaps another icon will be born. After all, Halloween gave us Michael Myers. However, there is another slasher who sometimes gets overlooked. I’m talking about the titular charter from Maniac Cop.
Officer Matt Cordell, the Maniac Cop, murdered his way through two holidays across three films. But Cordell remains undiscovered for many slasher fans. When compared with heavy hitters like Michael, Jason, Freddy, etc. it takes something unique to stand out.
The Maniac Cop film series did separate itself as far as standard slasher films go. The pictures opted for an action approach to the slasher tropes of the films that came before. Quite similar to the playbook of The Terminator. Cordell shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, and did whatever it took to bring down criminals and sometimes innocent bystanders alike.
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Filmmakers William Lustig and Larry Cohen even made attempts to cash in on the holiday gimmicks. In the first film, Cordell unleashes his wave of terror on the eve of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. An idea that would be homaged in a certain Batman film. In the next installment, the undead Officer stalks the streets of New York during the Christmas season. An idea that went unnoticed when compared to the zaniness of the Silent Night Deadly Night film series. The third installment didn’t hint at any holidays. Instead, its story involved voodoo magic and a bizarre romance angle.
The films also boasted a who’s who of actors. Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Richard Roundtree, and of course the legend himself Robert Z’Dar.
Maniac Cop is still undiscovered by a large faction of horror fans. Action horror films are not a new concept. But the Maniac Cop series did leave a lasting impression. In 2019, a television series remake was ordered with Nicholas Winding Refn producing, and John Hyams directing the pilot. Perhaps Officer Cordell will one day patrol the streets for a new audience. Until then, he remains an unsung horror icon.