“You have the right to remain silent… FOREVER!” This is the tagline for the cult 1988 slasher flick Maniac Cop, a film which, by its title alone, needs no introduction. This is just one of the many random and hilariously bad films screened at the hipster-friendly movie theater the Nitehawk Cinema. Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this theater is home not only to current independent cinema but to a number of obscure films as part of its usual film series. Maniac Cop falls under its “August Midnite: I Heart New York Horror” series, a delightfully gory and over-the-top collection of horror films which take place in the Big Apple. Another series, “Live + Sound + Cinema” presents classic or cult films while live music is played simultaneously, sort of a throwback to the silent film era. The very cheesy sci-fi comedy Dark Star was also screened.
Maniac Cop is a truly ludicrous film with a premise that is so laughable, it’s not quite clear if the actors on screen realize how silly it is. Veteran B-movie actors Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead trilogy) and Tom Atkins (Halloween III: Season of the Witch) play cops hot on the trail of a psychopath who is murdering random citizens in New York. But what makes this serial killer all the more perplexing is that he (or it) might be a former police officer. The death scenes and acting are definitely the makings of a fun 80s slasher film. The acting and dialogue are so bad, they’re actually good.
Dark Star was even worse. Released in 1974, this very low-budget and embarrassingly bad film is one of sci-fi horror legend John Carpenter’s first. It is about a group of hippie astronauts who must do battle with a temperamental computer, a rambunctious alien and eventually each other. It is a satire of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a poor one at that. People may enjoy the film’s poor quality and it would be a prime candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000 to tear apart. The live music that was played consisted of two gentlemen playing a synthesizer and some sort of strange electric guitar. This created a unique experience combining live music with a cult film. Unfortunately, this did not help improve the film itself.
The Nitehawk Cinema certainly knows what they’re doing when it comes to weekend midnight film programming. The movies they show in these random and awesome themed series are truly zany and humorous. Maniac Cop is not an Oscar-winning picture by any means but it definitely gets points in the “fun” category. The presence of Bruce Campbell battling an undead creature never gets old and the Nitehawk Cinema knows this. Other films they are screening include Zombie, New York Ripper and lastly, Frankenhooker, all films guaranteed to provide mild shocks with intense hilarity. The August Midnite: I Heart New York Horror” runs through August 31. “Live + Sound + Cinema” is an ongoing signature series and in the future they will screen such random films as It (1927), Foxy Brown, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and The Cat & the Canary.