1988’s Maniac Cop is pretty damn far from a horror classic, but all the same there’s a certain something about its grungy grindhouse charms. It was the perfect kind of movie to perpetually haunt the horror shelves of VHS rental shops, and as such has gradually gained a reputation as a cult classic (having Bruce Campbell in it probably also helps). Anyhow, proving that a good horror property can never stay dead for long, there’s been persistent talk of a reboot or remake of the film, to be produced by Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning helmer John Hyams is currently attached to direct and he recently appeared on The Movie Crypt podcast, where he talked about his vision for the project, saying:
“It will be a completely different thing tonally. I think that’s why I was hired. I think the reason why [producer] Nick [Winding Refn] was interested in me was because he saw what I had done with Universal Soldier, in the sense that I took it and made it my own and went completely off the reservation with it. Nick Refn loves exploitation cinema as much as the next guy, but he also is not interested in paying homage to things. He loves Maniac Cop, he loves the idea of it, he loves everything it represents, but he has no intention of making a tribute story.
“We’ve spent the last several years now developing this thing and… what we’re trying to do is make something that we’re taking the ideas of Maniac Cop and exploring them in a deep way,” Hyams continued. “Our hope is that this is something that people who are fans of the original will find great pleasure in what we’re doing, because if you’re into genre storytelling you’re going to be into it, but I also think we’re telling a story about something bigger than that, which is really the breakdown of society.… It’s a big story that needed a larger canvas.”
I have to admit that in the current extremely charged political climate, a movie about a former police officer returned from the dead as a homicidal monster could really turn some heads. Given how much controversy and anger there is about police officers discriminating against African Americans and the perception that they don’t face consequences when they kill someone, a post-BLM Maniac Cop might well have something important to say about contemporary society.
But hold onto your horses, as the original film’s writer, Larry Cohen has an alternative viewpoint, claiming that the project won’t happen unless he gets paid. In comments earlier this year, he said the following:
“As far as I know, that’s not happening anymore, and if it is, they might be trying to keep it a secret, as they’d owe me $250,000. As far as I know, [Refn] was the one trying to get the money raised to make the picture, and he didn’t get it, so now it’s not happening. If it is, I would like to be paid, or I’m going to call my lawyer, and it’s getting shut down.”
So, it seems that before we see people terrorized by a killer cop, we might have to put up with killer lawyers. But in any case, as more on the Maniac Cop remake surfaces, we’ll be sure to let you know.