A Maniac and a Parasite: movies viewed

For no logical reason I’ve long had the itch to see MANIAC COP (1988) so when the opportunity arose, I seized it (no, not because of the current police brutality). In the opening sequence, a young woman running from some thugs feels relief when she sees a big man in a police uniform — only to have him lift her by the neck and kill her. It’s only the first of several killings and when adulterous cop Bruce Campbell’s wife becomes one of the victims Campbell becomes the prime suspect. We, of course, know better.

We eventually learn that the real killer is Cordell (Robert Z’Dar), a Dirty Harry-type crimefighter who got too close to city government corruption; the powers that be had him framed and sent to Sing Sing, confident that one of the hoods he’d busted would eventually put him out of the city’s misery. Cordell, however, survived but brain dead; now he’s back to get revenge on his betrayers and arbitrarily kill anyone who strikes his fancy.

While the movie is watchable, the backstory works against it. It doesn’t explain how Cordell is now indestructible (“It wasn’t a bulletproof vest — I shot him in the face!”) or why he’s randomly killing people (murdering crooks would have made more sense). I presume it’s supposed to be because he’s brain-damaged, but he’s too calculating a killer at other times to buy it. And when we finally see Cordell’s scarred face, it looks more like a bizarre clown mask.  “Did you come up with this lunatic idea yourself, or are you on drugs?”

MANIAC COP 2 (1990) is supposed to be the best of the three films and it is better executed — Cordell’s scarred face looks much more monstrous here, for instance. But it has the same flaws as the first film, plus a subplot involving a serial killer targeting strippers that makes things more sexist. The best twist is that Campbell returns just long enough for Cordell to kill him, leaving Claudia Christian and Robert Davi as the main antagonists. I don’t know if I’ll bother to catch the third and final film. “I never thought I’d feel anything like that again — then I touched his hand.”

This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, PARASITE (2019) is a technically better film than those two, but somehow I couldn’t get into it. A young man from a sinking working-class family gets a job tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family in English. Sensing opportunity, he and his family squeeze out the other household staff and replace them but problems develop and the grift turns ugly … Well-made and well-acted but it just didn’t interest me, possibly because I’d gotten the idea it was a Get Out-style horror film. “Would you like to open that box with me, madame?

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