After ascending to heights unusual for a modern B-movie in MANIAC COP 2, the series drops back a couple of notches with this latest entry, which seems at a loss to find new things for its horrific antihero to do.
The scarred, undead killer cop Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) is brought back to life by Santeria priest Houngan (Julius Harris). The ritual involves a human head, and detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi), who helped stop Cordell's rampage, discovers a decapitated corpse with a chicken stuffed
into the neck in an alley. At the same time, young officer Kate Sullivan (Gretchen Becker), a close friend of McKinney's, confronts murderous, drug-addicted thief Jessup (Jackie Earle Haley) as he's holding a woman hostage in a drugstore. She shoots and wounds Jessup, but the "hostage" (actually
an accomplice) shoots Kate, who in turn kills her; Kate is then shot again by Jessup. The incident is filmed by unscrupulous TV news cameramen Bishop (Bobby DiCicco) and Tribble (Frank Pesce), who then edit the footage to make it appear that Kate killed an innocent hostage in the course of
Kate herself now lies in a coma, but when McKinney goes to visit her, she has a vision of Cordell coming for her and shows signs of life. McKinney reports this to her doctor, Susan Fowler (Caitlin Dulany), who tells him that she's seen a cop leaving Kate's room. Following his trail to tunnels
under the hospital, McKinney finds himself in Houngan's Santeria church, where the priest confirms that he's brought Cordell back. The zombie cop has in fact been watching over Kate from afar, and murders Dr. Myerson (Doug Savant) when the latter refuses Dr. Fowler's requests to give Kate another
The hospitalized Jessup sues the city and the police department for his predicament, and police official Hank Cooney (Paul Gleason), anxious to avoid a scandal, convinces head doctor Powell (Robert Forster) to terminate the brain-dead Kate's life support. Cordell kills Powell before he can do
so, however, then murders Bishop and Tribble and leaves the original tape of the drugstore shootout in McKinney's car. McKinney finds the tape and realizes it can clear Kate's reputation; at the same time, Cordell frees Jessup, giving him a gun. The crazed killer shoots both Cooney and his own
lawyer, but is later shot and killed by McKinney. Cordell spirits Kate's body down to Houngan's abode; the pursuing McKinney and Fowler discover the shaman about to restore Kate to life as a bride for Cordell.
But Kate's soul refuses to rejoin her body, and Cordell kills Houngan and starts a fire that consumes him and Kate's corpse as McKinney and Fowler escape. As they leave the scene via an ambulance, however, the still-flaming Cordell appears in a police cruiser and pursues them. McKinney throws a
gas canister into the pursuing car, blowing it to pieces and apparently destroying Cordell; he and Fowler head off to their future together while Cordell's corpse is "reunited" with that of Kate in the morgue.
A fine example of too much of a good thing, MANIAC COP 3 retains some of the basic qualities of the previous films but also serves evidence that there's not much more that can be done with this particular villain. With the main storyline centering on Kate, the potential Bride of Maniac Cop,
Cordell does little but hang around on the periphery of the action for quite a while, finally surfacing to indulge in some gruesome slaughter around the halfway point. His presence is further diluted by the addition of a new villain, Jessup, to the proceedings, without affording them any scenes
together, similar to the bizarre team-up between the Cop and Leo Rossi in the second film.
Not all the blame for the film's blunted impact can be placed on director William Lustig and scripter Larry Cohen, though, as producer Joel Soisson (credited with "additional scenes") had a heavy hand--in both senses of the phrase--in crafting the final version. Soisson reportedly would not let
Lustig prepare a director's cut of the movie, and star Davi apparently insisted on inserting a lot of new romantic scenes for McKinney that add little to the finished product and distract from the horrific material. In addition, the opening reel seems to have been edited with a blender,
cross-cutting among three important scenes and upsetting the pacing and tension of all of them.
There are diversions along the way. Cohen's dialogue is as sharp as ever, and he provides his typical lineup of quirky supporting characters who are far more interesting than the cardboard targets of most mad slasher films. In particular, the characters of Bishop and Tribble allow him to take
some well-aimed satirical shots at TV news. Lustig's gift for economical but startling action scenes is still in evidence despite the tampering, and with the help of stunt co-ordinator/2nd-unit director Spiro Razatos, he pulls off a reasonably thrilling final chase scene, even though it's no match
for the runaway car sequence from COP 2. With the Cop presumably out of their systems, let's hope this creative team will now tackle some fresh material and prove what they're really capable of. (Graphic violence, adult situations, substance abuse, excessive profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: After ascending to heights unusual for a modern B-movie in MANIAC COP 2, the series drops back a couple of notches with this latest entry, which seems at a loss to find new things for its horrific antihero to do. The scarred, undead killer cop Matt Cord… (more)