One thing you have to give it to the “Maniac Cop” movie series (as well we William Lustig and Larry Cohen) it that it tends to off the more interesting characters without much preamble amounting to some great plot twists. I never expected Tom Atkins to die in the original “Maniac Cop,” and it’s kind of a surprise to see Bruce Campbell, the dashing hero from the original movie, murdered brutally by the titular Maniac Cop. It’s a great entry way in to such a weird, zany slasher series.
It’s not often that we get crime thrillers that unfold in real time, but Josh Becker’s indie “Running Time” takes a shot and does a great job of it. “Running Time” is true to its word, a movie that unravels over the course of a little over an hour, and the run time for the narrative is apt. The movie is not too long, refusing to pad the story, buts it’s never too short to where we’re left asking questions. It runs a good pace as a tense drama that feels kind of like a prologue to “Reservoir Dogs.” Campbell is stellar and the movie almost makes it to the finish line without a hitch. Almost, but not quite.
Steve Villeneuve’s “Hail to the Deadites” is a documentary about “Evil Dead” that touts itself as not featuring any kind of footage from the original films at any point. You’d think that would hinder the experience, but that only benefits the feature in the end. “Hail to the Deadites” is an unabashed love letter to the fans and the fans only. It explores the various facets of “Evil Dead” fandom, how all three movies have affected their lives, and how Bruce Campbell has become a source of inspiration to many.
You have to love Bruce Campbell’s attitude toward “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” He’s like that angry dad who you keep asking for bike for your birthday and he keeps telling you that he has no money, and to shut your trap, or he’s locking you in the basement with the other bad kids. Then on your birthday, he shows up with a brand new bike and says “Well I got it because… you know… you’re a good kid, and you wouldn’t shut up about it. Now go get me a pack of smokes.” Bruce is that kind of man who loves his fans despite the gruff exterior and rewarded us with “Ash vs. Evil Dead” because we wouldn’t shut up about it. And because, you know, you can’t have Ash without Campbell. Just in time for Halloween, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” gets everything right about the “Evil Dead” movie series.
Here were are many years later, and Ash is finally finding a life for himself that he’s happy with. Granted he lives in a trailer, picks up sleazy women at bars, and works at a store where he’s despised by his boss Mr. Roper, but it’s a life he’s comfortable with at least. After hiding out for many years from the deadites, they’ve finally found him and are hell bent on destroying him and the world. And it all happened because of Ash and a pot fueled bender with a gorgeous woman one night that caused him to irresponsibly read from the Necronomicon in an effort to impress her. All roads begin to converge as Ash begins getting horrifying signs from Deadites, causing him to pick up and move his trailer once again.
I admittedly had little to no faith for the prospects of an “Evil Dead” remake. As many horror fans like myself originally perceived it to be nothing but a cash grab, I expected really nothing but a faint half assed reconditioning much like Platinum Dunes is want to do. Thankfully the 2013 version of “Evil Dead” is not only an excellent horror film, but a rather brilliant character study to boot. It works as a remake, a sequel, and a companion piece. However fans want to think of it, the movie works in that function, thus resolving any aggravation hardcore Sam Raimi buffs will have toward this new version.
Matt Cordell is back and it was only a matter of time before he continued to seek pure vengeance on those who wronged him in his past life. Going back to the events of the first film, “Maniac Cop 2” traces its steps from the original film to continue off where Cordell started his journey for revenge against the people who framed and jailed him, leaving him to die at the hands of inmates he’d busted years before. “Maniac Cop 2” is a film intent on not only continuing the narrative but finishing off the loose ends of the original film.
William Lustig is no stranger to films that dabble in the anarchic and try to play with our conceptions of paranoia and fear. The director is responsible for one of the most infamous slashers to ever come out in theaters “Maniac,” so delving in to the opposite spectrum of the premise is not surprising. “Maniac Cop” is almost an unofficial spin off of “Maniac” in where the former title was about a maniacal psycho on the loose in the city, the latter is about a maniacal authority figure on the loose in the city. Lustig doesn’t detract from the same tone and atmosphere that “Maniac” succeeded in and injects much of the same chaos and paranoia in this slasher film.