In terms of ‘80s cult classics with a ton of cultural cache, you’re probably not going to see Maniac Cop at the top of many lists. It’s not exactly They Live, but it’s an interesting, grimy little film—the tale of a serial killer in a police uniform on the loose, which takes a turn for the supernatural. Starring Bruce Campbell, a year after he turned into a cult icon in Evil Dead 2, it’s one of the more notable late ‘80s slashers, but still not the sort of film you really expect to see get a modern remake.
Well, that’s not stopping Nicolas Winding Refn. The visionary director of Drive and others is producing a new Maniac Cop remake, which was written by Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s Ed Brubaker and directed by Universal Soldier series rejuvenator John Hyams. Against our better judgement, this actually sounds pretty interesting. Speaking with The Movie Crypt, Hyams talked about how different his modern take on Maniac Cop would be, especially with Refn involved with the project.
“It will be a completely different thing tonally,” Hyams said. “I think that’s why I was hired. I think the reason why Nick 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.”
Now that sounds quite a bit different from the original, which is literally about an undead Robert Z’Dar, his giant chin hidden under a bunch of putty, strangling random people. According to Bloody Disgusting, the remake is “set in the present, following a determined L.A. police officer who sets out to reveal the truth about the brutal murders of innocent people by one of their fellow cops.”
Does that not sound much more like a film made in the #BlackLivesMatter era than an ‘80s slasher? It will be interesting to see how Hyams walks the tightrope of entertainment and social commentary on this one.
We’ll bring you more news on the Maniac Cop remake once it arrives.