For the fans of shlock and crappy horror movies all around, there is no bigger name in the biz than Bruce Campbell. To them the man is a veritable living god, but even hardcore Bruce Campbell fans would have a hard time placing Maniac Cop as one of his better films in his oeuvre. But in it’s own right, Maniac Cop, and it’s two sequels, are all very successful at what they set out to be. All of them are fun, sometimes gory, always entertaining films about a cop, who is also a maniac. Or a zombie. Or half-dead braindead guy who was revived and somehow gained super strength from that. I have a hard time remembering, because I’ve never watched the film sober.
Anyhow, the movie is one of those films that is undeniably cheesy, yet so memorable and enduring, that it manages to retain an audience years after its release. Which leads us to the headline news itself. While initially I thought Nicolas Winding Refn was remaking it, it turns out to be he’s producing a tentative prequel. Which I find a puzzling choice, since we had the identity and origin of the Maniac Cop explained in the original. Now nothing is definitely confirmed, nor is his actual status as director locked in yet, but the likelihood of him deciding to helm it as director is not out of line. Truth be told, I’m hoping he comes around to the idea of just remaking it, since it’s one of the few films I can name off the top of my head, that would really suit to being remade. (The other is Logans Run. Holy crap that would be awesome.)
Nicolas Winding Refn is certainly a very talented director, who since his Pusher trilogy, seems to be finding a niche by very successfully imitating other famous director’s stylistic storytelling, cinematography, and aesthetic design. Valhalla Rising was a modern Ingmar Bergman film to its core, Bronson was a Kubrickian attempt at a bio-pic, and last year’s Drive was a breakout Michael Mann-esque, 80’s action movie through an urban noir filter. If there was anybody who could take a source material as cheesy and borderline laughable as Maniac Cop, and make it GOLD, it’d be Refn. He’s one of the few people to make Los Angeles look new again as he did in Drive, and I’d be very interested to see his take on giving new life to the streets of New York. Factor in the fact that he could pull off the whole mystery subplot of the original Maniac Cop much more competently, and in Drive and Valhalla Rising he effectively pulled off visceral scenes of gore, he’d be pretty much the perfect guy to remake it, and have it actually be really good.
Even if it does turn out to still be a prequel, it’ll at least be interesting to tackle the same ideas the original came from, and have it expand the depth of the franchise, even if it’ll be wildly different in quality from the other three. In a good way, I mean.