Tired of re-watching the Leprechaun movies? Maniac Cop should do the trick!
I’ve always loved the opening scene of Maniac Cop, released in 1988. A young woman is attacked by two muggers on her way home, and she begins running for her life. But she’s relieved when, off in the distance, she spots a cop. Her hero. He’s surely going to save the day. She runs over to the cop who, well, he proceeds to grab her by the throat and brutally throttle her to death.
With that chilling opener, director William Lustig tells you everything you need to know about the movie. The villain isn’t a burnt demon or an otherworldly monster. It’s a cop. An undead cop.
It was nothing if not a unique set-up for a slasher film, and equally unique was Maniac Cop‘s setting. The film takes place entirely on the streets of New York City, predating Jason Takes Manhattan by one year. And Maniac Cop mostly delivers everything Jason’s eighth outing failed to: we get to see a hulking brute roam around and kill innocent civilians all over NYC.
With an action movie aesthetic and a cast that includes horror faves Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins, Maniac Cop is a true ’80s horror gem, but what makes it so special on a day like today is that it’s one of the rare horror films that (partially) takes place on St. Patrick’s Day – even in the Leprechaun franchise, the only one actually set on March 17th is Leprechaun 2. The film’s climactic chase sequence is set against the backdrop of NYC’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; and believe it or not, that portion of the movie was actually shot during the city’s actual parade!
As William Lustig explains on the Blu-ray, the parade footage was shot before production even began on Maniac Cop, and the ’88 film gave him the perfect opportunity to put it to use.
Oh and yes, that’s totally Sam Raimi in a cameo appearance as a parade reporter.
Whenever horror sites list off movie recommendations for St. Patrick’s Day, the pickings are so slim that they usually only include the Leprechaun films and anything made by an Irish filmmaker. But one film we never see on those lists in Maniac Cop. Not that you ever need a reason to revisit Lustig’s standout slasher flick, but there’s truly no better day than March 17th to do so.
Or you can just watch Raimi’s parade cameo below, if you’re pressed for time.