Maniac Cop: How the storyline was almost changed at the 11th hour


Maniac Cop celebrates it’s 30 anniversary this year. However, the story that we are all familiar with narrowly escaped being changed.

Flawed Hero

Maniac Cop is one of those guilty pleasures in life. Written by B movie god, Larry Cohen and directed by seasoned exploitation vet William Lustig, this film about a murderous brain-dead policeman follows your typical 80’s slasher formula.

You have your flawed hero, Jack Forrest played by Bruce Campbell, his nervous wife Ellen (Victoria Catlin) who suspects that he might be the killer, Jack’s blonde bombshell partner, Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) and determined hard-nose cop Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) who is in hot pursuit of the dangerous perp, Matt Cordell (the late, great Robert Z’Dar). Each of these characters stories intertwine with one another and are dependent on the outcome of the movie.

According to GoodBadFlicks, William Lustig screened the film for the producers which is standard procedure but one of them had a problem with the storyline. Jack Forrest is cheating on his wife with his partner. Ellen follows him one night and walks in on him and Theresa in the throes of passion. Seems innocuous, right? Not so fast.

The producer pointed out that Campbell was the hero and “you can’t have the hero cheat on his wife!” When you stop and think about it, this was a ridiculous concern. First of all, not all “heroes” are “Gary Stus” or “Mary Sues.”

As a writer, if you are crafting a realistic story and one that is compelling enough to hold the interest of your targeted audience, your protagonist needs to have some flaws. As in life, nothing is ever black or white. Shades of grey do exist but apparently, they didn’t for that producer.

The Art of Storytelling

Larry Cohen was one of those writers that believed characters needed to be “layered,” much like real humans. Of course, the producer pushed his point and wanted the scene taken out of the movie along with the B story.

There were several problems with his demands. First of all, this plot point was central to the film. Ellen ends up being murdered by Cordell. That act sets in motion McCrae’s pursuit of Forrest and the misdirection in thinking that it was Jack committing the killings.

Another detriment to removing Forrest’s infidelity was costly reshoots. Usually producers are very concerned with the bottom line so this situation is sort of mindboggling in and of itself. Prior to this incident, GoodBadFlicks points out that the studio gave Lustig and Cohen “complete control over their content.”

Next. Bruce Campbell: I don’t have time to go back and play Ash again. dark

It is also pointed out that the producer came onboard after the production was already in progress. If he would have been there from the get-go, Maniac Cop might have ended up being another film entirely. Luckily for the fans, Lustig and Cohen were able to retain their vision.

Are you a fan of Maniac Cop? Did you know this information? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. We want to hear from you.